Zoe – princess of the Broads hire fleet

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Zoe sails by

A few of the Norfolk Broads boats available for hire are celebrities in their own right, and one of my favourites is the 1897-built 27-footer Zoe, which is available from the Broads Yachting Company at Horning.

Originally named Jubilee because she was built for hire in the year of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, Zoe’s amazing working life has spanned six English monarchs. I’d guess that she’s almost certainly the oldest yacht in the hire fleet, and I understand she’s the only one with a counter stern.

I’m told she’s quite small inside – even though she’s 27ft long, she only has berths for two – but she’s nevertheless in great demand. One of the staff at the yard told me that she’s almost always in hire, even at times when the other boats are less busy. I guess the reasons are partly her age and cute looks – but also that she has an optional topsail and is advertised as being suitable only for experienced sailors.

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