About us and the boat

About us and the boat:

We were lucky enough to retire early at the start of 2013 so we could head off and "live the dream" on board our Nordhavn 47 Trawler Yacht. The idea is to see some of the planet, at a slow 6 - 7 knots pace. There are no fixed goals or timings, we just had a plan to visit Scotland and then probably the Baltic before heading south.

The Baltic has been postponed as we didn't manage to see everything we wanted to in Scotland during our first year owing to family issues. The idea is to visit the nicer areas in these latitudes before heading south for warmer weather. If we like somewhere, we will stay for a while. If not, we will just move on. So, for the people who love forward planning and targets, this might seem a little relaxed!

If anyone else is contemplating a trawler yacht life, maybe our experiences will be enough to make you think again, or maybe do it sooner then you intended!

The boat is called Rockland and she is built for long distance cruising and a comfortable life on board too. If you want to see more about trawler yachts and the Nordhavn 47 in particular, there is a link to the manufacturers website in our "useful stuff" section. For the technically minded, there is a little info and pictures of the boat and equipment in the same section


Richard and June

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Heady moments

The toddler settling in to Hythe activities continued unabated upon our return to Bucklers Hard. Apart from one little heady interlude that is.

Some time ago, the heads (toilet for the non boating types) in our cabin decided to misbehave. The little lever that operates the electronic flush mechanism stopped returning to the vertical position and became rather weak and floppy. A worrying disease. The lever then seemed to randomly operate the flush and emptying process which is far from ideal. After some examination of the exploded parts diagram it looked like a spring in the control box had failed. Amazingly, despite the age of the unit, a replacement spring was available from the USA via the UK Raritan distributor.

That just left the fun of fitting it and hoping that a broken spring was the only issue. We had asked Colin the BA Captain man (yes, man not transvestite) for any advice on heads removal in a Nordhavn 47. His reply was not helpful but very sensible - "Not a job for the captain, get Yann and Biscuit from Nordhavn Europe to do it!" You can tell he is used to having lots of ground crew to fix his big Boeing toys.

Digging the loo out is fun. Just enough slack in the hoses that connect it to the waste and fresh water systems to pull it forward by just under the width of a hand. Think about that......  Oh, and two bolts that fit it to the base unit that are not captive and just want to fall out once you undo them or try to refit them.. Did we mention that the two bolts don't have a proper head on them so you can slip a spanner underneath the platform to hold them? Instead they have a screw head fitting and you can't get a screwdriver anywhere near them to stop them spinning? Yup, fun and frolics.

Amazingly the rest of the job went well. The control box is wonderfully simple:

- some microswitches and a simple rod mechanism to operate them. The broken spring was replaced and the unit rebuilt and refitted. It all worked well afterwards. In case you have an illogical burning desire to peek behind our heads, here is a picture for you:

Does that make you feel better / has it enriched your life? We hope not.....

What else have we been up to? Well, plenty of house sorting out, lots of RIB use and a TGT (The Guided Tour) of the engine room for a couple of Swedish guys (one worked for Volvo Penta, the other used to work for Nimbus and they were mightily impressed). Also had a day of oil changes (main engine and gearbox, wing engine and gearbox, genset) which produces over 40 litres of waste oil that had to be ferried ashore by RIB and then emptied into the slowest oil tank we've ever used. It was brand new but oil drained in via the grating so slowly. Emptying the old oil involved holding the 20 litre drums at shoulder height whilst pouring it very very gingerly. That deserved and got a G and T afterwards. Surely we don't have to explain G and T too?

We plan to head off soon and use the boat as a boat rather than a floating accommodation block. Bet the weather changes....

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Getting frustrated and charged up

Why, oh why do things that should be so simple prove to be so difficult? The first example is moving the boat to Hamble Point Marina.  OK, getting there was prettty easy.  Getting in was the usual MDL stuff up. Rant time...

Sandie from Nordhavn Europe had booked a berth for us a couple of weeks ago. She then contacted them a week ago to confirm and they clearly didn't have the booking despite a previous confirmation. They told her "all booked, but it might not be on the events pontoon as you have requested". The events pontoon is closest to their workshops where lots of very heavy batteries were awaiting us. MDL really look after their commercial tenants.

We duly arrive. All happy after a nice trip from Bucklers Hard, then Phil from Nordhavn told us we were allocated a finger berth and that it looked tight. He wasn't kidding. MDL know the boats but had allocated a berth that couldn't handle our beam. Backing in we were wedged against the motorboat next door:

We didn't really need a bow line....  So, we call the marina. You can use B14 they say. We look at it - even less space. Phil, not amused, goes to the office. "Oh, we don't have any other big free berths" is the reply. He gently told them the boat was booked in, confirmed, requested for the events pontoon and that they had to find a space.

Eventually they said they would get the drystack team to move a boat on the events pontoon so we had space. Knowing this would take forever, Phil moved it wth help from the Osmotech guys working on her.

Every time we come to this shambles of a marina they stuff up a booking that has been made well beforehand. Then they stuff up handling the aftermath. We said that we will never get lifted here again. I think we will never visit again unless the events pontoon space is confirmed in blood. Pathetic pathetic organisation MDL.

The new batteries for the domestics (6) and the thrusters (4) are horribly heavy.   The small thruster ones are 31kg each, the big domestic ones 71kg:

and horribly expensive. Still, the old ones are over 9 years old so they have done well. We had spotted their capacity drop whilst in Guernsey earlier this year and as we hope to visit mainly places with no shorepower for the rest of the summer a new set of batteries now seemed sensible.

Getting them on board was a Yann and Roland blood sweat and tears thing as in parallel Roland was fitting new sheaves to our crane hence it could not be used to lift the batteries in and out:

The eagle eyed amongst you who are also Nordhavn Europe aficionados / sad cases will have noticed that we had all the team bar Sandie helping. Lucky Sandie.

Then the fun started. For some reason unknown to anyone outside their company probably, the manufacturer Lifeline have marginally moved the position of the terminals. Spot the difference, old:

and new:

Yes, before the smart alec types says so the new battery still has the protective covers on the terminals. The actual difference was a few mm but enough to make fitting the link cables (very heavy duty, totally no flexibility in them) a real struggle. Poor Yann had a horrid time. The thruster battery terminals had changed even more and meant that new cables to link them had to be made. That required new crimp on connectors which are seriously heavy duty and not found in the average toolbox.... Duly sourced, Roland made up the new links on his day off  (proper chap) and Yann fitted them.

The one benefit of this short delay was an invite to join a (late) birthday BBQ for Sandie in the Nordhavn office which was most excellent.

For the number lovers, each of the domestic batteries is rated at 255aH. We have 6 but laced together in 3 x 24v banks so we have 765 aH at 24v. Not a good idea to go anywhere lower than half discharge so a useable 380 aH (although we try to use less than that before a recharge to help the battery life). We also try to avoid high discharge loads and when possible make sure they get almost fully charged each time we run the genset in the mornings when "off grid".  AGM batteries don't like lots of partial recharges. Babying the last set of batteries gave us over 9 years use, we hope this lot do as well!

After the fun (for us, not poor Yann!) we had a glorious sun drenched return trip to Bucklers Hard. Dyl the dog was busy visiting laps so that he could see out properly from the flybridge:

Back at Bucklers, Dyl was transfixed by a bucket of crabs brought ashore by a fisherman. The fisherman let a small one loose on the walkway for Dyl and he was smart enough to keep his nose clear (although this one was so tiny that the nip would have been almost undetectable anyway!):

He was more than annoyed when it regained the water. Why, we have no idea.

All in all a good day until returning to the boat by RIB and lifting Dyl onto the bathing platform, the captain managed to flick off the sunglasses you saw in a prior picture. They don't float. Hard to blame Dyl for dropping them or the glasses for not floating.