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  1. Saturday 23rd September Both of us awoke early this morning, well before the alarm, so decided to get up and get on our way to Wroxham as early as possible. Graham packed the car whilst I took Seren for a dawn walk. We managed to get on our way just before 7am. We did our usual stop-off at the Caxton Gibbet Costa’s (coffee and sausage toasties) and continued on to Wroxham arriving around 9.30am. Graham took Seren for a walk whilst I went to do the food shop in Roys. After that we went for a wander around Wroxham. Checked out the gap under the bridge (just over 7’, but then it wasn’t that long after high tide), had a look in the pet shop near the bridge for a toy for Seren, but didn’t see one cheap enough (she tends to tear them apart). We eventually found one in Roys Garden Centre, where they invited Graham to take the dog in. I got three Chris Crowther books in the Chandley, having bought the first two on our last visit. Had another walk along the river and the railway station before looking for somewhere to eat. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really hungry, so didn’t fancy anything off either The Old Mill Menu nor the Riverside Caff menu. Graham had tea and a brownie from the latter, sitting at their outside tables, whilst I tried to dissuade Seren from barking at swans. Making our way back to the car I popped into Roys again and bought a Steak Slice for my lunch. It was lovely; really freshly made. Around 12.30 we made our way to the boatyard (Norfolk Broads Direct/Faircraft Loynes – whatever) found the customer parking and had a bit of a nose around. We went to reception just before 1. I’d emailed them a few days earlier to ask whether it might be possible to pick up the boat earlier than their normal 4pm pick-up and they had replied that they’d put us down for a 1pm arrival. Although the boat wasn’t quite ready (we were early!) we had a very friendly welcome, were signed in, paid for the dog (not sure why they don’t charge for dogs in advance) and Tracey took my mobile number so she could call me when the boat was ready. We went back along the quay as far as The Boatshed pub and back and were about to walk back to Hoveton when I had a call from Tracey (pretty much dead on our agreed arrival time of 1pm). The chap that came to do our handover just took us through the essentials before moving the boat out further along the dyke around 2pm and hopping off the boat. We soon felt like idiots though, as we were both completely flummoxed by the throttle. I did my usual panicky thing and asked Graham to take over when I felt I couldn’t control the boat, but he didn’t fare much better. The two Ferry Marina boats we’d hired previously had responded to the slightest movement of the throttle. This throttle did nothing for ages – you moved it forward, and a bit further, and a bit further, and even further before anything happened. In our confusion and lack of forward steering we drifted across the dyke and had to fend off the opposite key heading. Thankfully we managed to get it into gear by the time we got to the main channel. The main difficulty then was following a boat that was (commendably) ticking down through Wroxham at about 3mph. Unfortunately, our minimum speed seemed to be ever so slightly faster than that, so I had to try to slow down now and again by going into reverse slightly so as not to catch them up. I was starting to hate that throttle as it wasn’t immediately obvious when we had forward motion and when not – not until we got used to it anyway, and that took several days. I did like the fact that the boat had GPS though. There were lots of other things that we liked about the boat, but I’ll cover those in a review. We were lucky with the weather today: had some rain on the car journey which had dried up by the time we got to Wroxham, and by the time we picked up the boat the sun was just starting to come out. There were quite a few cruisers about but far fewer sailing boats and day-boats than there were in May or July. From Wroxham we pootled down the Bure, observing the speed limits far more than we had on previous trips. Having GPS helped with this, as did NBD giving us a map which had the speed limits marked on it. On previous trips we’ve relied on our OS map and an occasional glance at the HUD GPS thingy on our phones. We made our way past Acle (moorings fairly busy) and Stokesby (moorings full) to Stracey Arms where we moored at the furthest point down river. Graham had unpacked some stuff on our way down, but we now unpacked the rest of our stuff and made the bed (a first – Ferry Marina and Hunter’s Yard beds are always made up for you). We then watched Gardener’s World before settling down to read for a while before dinner. Dinner was quiche from Roys with new potatoes and salad. Around 9.30 Graham took Seren for a walk and we were settling down for the night by 10pm, ready for an early start tomorrow. Yarmouth passage! Helen
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