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  1. Ok, I'm stretching back a bit here, but have had such nice comments about my previous accounts that I thought you might like to read the account of our first experience of the Broads. We had hired Wood Violet, a three-berth yacht from Hunter's Yard, Ludham. On board my husband Graham, eldest son Harry, me and our dog Marvin. Saturday 4th July Left MK on a scorching hot morning shortly after seven for the journey to Ludham, stopping off at the Costa’s half way between St Neots and Cambridge for breakfast and then a stop-off at Potter Heigham to visit the legendary Lathams. Not that there was much in Lathams that appealed, though Harry spotted some very reasonably priced peaked caps with ‘Captain’, ‘Crew’ and so on embroidered on them. We got a ‘Captain’ one for his Dad and ‘Crew’ caps for us. Suitably equipped in head-gear we made our way to Ludham, parking initially by the church to have a wander around the village. Very impressed with Throwers as a village store and the butchers where we bought some bacon. Wary of buying any more meat given the hot weather and the lack of refrigeration on board Hunter’s boats. Visited the church where I was bowled over by the medieval rood screen and the font – there’s lots of stuff in Galleries and Museums that aren’t as impressive. Had a very tasty lunch in Alfresco Tea Rooms before making our way down to Hunter’s Yard. All was quiet when we got to the Yard, it was people’s lunch break after all, so we quietly had a mosey around. It’s like a living museum, lot of interesting displays about this history of the Yard. Worth popping into as a casual visitor. Once we noticed some other parties turning up also early (i.e. before 2pm) we decided to present ourselves at the office. We had a very warm welcome from Vikki, sorted out the paperwork very quickly and were taken along to Wood Violet. A very kind chap (Ian) came along with a bowl of water for our dog Marvin (by now the day was exceedingly -as Mr Kipling would say- hot), so he was relatively comfortable whilst we stowed our gear on board. My first reaction was…we’ve brought far too much gear, where will we put everything?...but it was surprising how many drawers and nooks and crannies there were on board. Once we were sorted, another very friendly chap (whose name I forget – sorry) got us to quant Wood Violet to the landing stage and then ‘showed us the ropes’. How to stow the awning and store it in the forepeak, how to set the sails and put a reef in…and then we were away! Down Womack Water on a nice steady breeze. We hadn’t really thought about where we would go (doh!), but we thought to start with that we should go with the wind, so we turned up toward Potter H and had a lovely gentle sail up to the moorings reserved for yachts to de-mast before the bridge. Looking back, I think we had beginners luck, as we hadn’t checked the tides, but we quanted through the two bridges without any difficulty, put our mast back up and continued up the Thurne with a fair wind. It was so quiet above ‘The Bridge’, and it was here that we really caught the magic of the Broads, sailing along gently with nothing but the sounds of the gentle slap of the water against the boat, the wind in the reeds, and bird song. We turned into Candle Dyke around 6pm, then on through Heigham Sound with the wind decreasing as the evening set in. By the time we got to Hickling Broad the wind was quite gentle, but enough to take us across to mud-weight not far from the sailing club. Shortly after we mud-weighted the wind died completely. It was the perfect warm and still summer’s evening. The first priority was to get Marvin to shore for a ‘comfort break’. Graham and I left Harry aboard and set out with Marv rowing the sailing dinghy to shore, finding a handy slipway in a boatyard where we could moor. Marv having been suitably relieved (and his mess meticulously disposed of), we made our way back to Wood Violet and made our dinner: tinned veg curry and rice. We left the awning back as it was such a still evening. Once it got dark we settled for our first night, Graham and Harry sharing the main cabin whilst I settled myself in the fore-cabin (sharing the space with the heads, but in a way that’s quite convenient). I quite liked the cosiness of my little cabin, though the head-room was a bit restricted as the roof slopes down from the stern to the bow.
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