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

Monday, 2 October 2017

Fixing things, catching up with family additions and contemplating the winter ahead

After arriving in Penarth, we felt obliged to sleep a lot and then wash the salt and gunge off the poor neglected boat. Greenock had been a good place to stay but treated us to lots of dirty rain. The plan was to collect the Defender and "do stuff". Of course, the night before we planned to depart, the bilge pump turned on and just kept going.

Having been there before, we checked the float switch to see if it was gunged up again. No, not that simple, it just was not pumping. Was the strum box that prevents things being sucked into the pump blocked? No. Oh good, it was the pump itself. Why "oh good". Because the pump is mounted in the least accessible spot possible, behind the genset. After removing the genset side panels, demolishing the supports for the housing and laying lots of cloths and things down to protect the captain's back, he wriggled his way into the tiny gap with two water filters digging into his back:

and the end of the genset enclosure neatly pinning the other side of him. Oh, then you have to work almost at full stretch forwards, just to add to the delight, and remove the housing bolts by feeling their positions to guide the socket onto them.

Sure enough the valves inside the pump had failed. They have a rivet that holds the flap material onto the housing and guess what, it corrodes through. We had been through this fun in 2013 so we had an overhaul kit in our spares stock:

You can see the tiny offending rivet on the new circular valve above. Two new ones were duly fitted and the captain retreated from purgatory in need of soothing red wine but far too late in the evening to do so respectably.  We ask again, why didn't they mount the genset 3 inches further forward??  The plan is to order some suitable marine grade M3 stainless bolts and to drill out the failure prone rivets in the new valves and replace them with something that will last a little longer. Then the torture will be repeated.

We duly took the train and collected the equally neglected Defender which had been spending the summer in his PJs happily locked away undercover. The tyres slowly got more circular as we drove him further.

A trip to the Southampton boat show to look at new generation electronics and contemplate an upgrade was good as was a visit to see Anne who should be well known to you by now. The visit was not just to see Anne and Izzy our goddog. Izzy had produced two pups and so a day of "puppy fun" was in order:

For fun you can of course read clearing up little opportunities that they leave behind them all over the floor. They were around 5 weeks old and active, so needed a little restraint to get a proper picture:

Upon returning to Penarth, we had another little job. The blower that extracts air from the master shower compartment had been sounding sick, running slowly and making unhappy noises. Then it stopped totally. The original had failed a few years ago and so we were not surprised. A new one was procured and another fun fitting job was undertaken - this one involves laying on your back in the wet locker with your head in a hatch next to the tumble dryer trying to work on the blower that is just above your nose. The S curve that your back has to make during this activity is most enjoyable too.

The little 24v blower:

was duly replaced and then the new one (which tested OK before fitting) refused to work. "Oh bother" said the captain (or something like that) as he re-bent his spine into unusual shapes. Re-plugging the old blower into the connectors was a bit surprising as it then worked, with no funny noises. Grr - must be an intermittent bad connection to the thing. After some tweaking, the positive feed was found to be playing up - a crimped on bullet connector from the factory. Connector duly replaced (and its twin on the negative side just in case) the new blower happily made the right noises and extracted air. We now have a spare but well used blower on board.

Just to add to the general maintenance happiness, we also polished the hull ready for the ravages of the winter and sorted out the corrosion on the port pilothouse door. That was a bit of a saga as a door keep was secured using Robertson screws - square headed things that are popular in Canada where the doors are made but rarer than rocking horse droppings here. Still, after ordering suitable bits it was removed and refitted with ease, this time with the machine screws coated in Duralac to try and avoid the galvanic corrosion problem for a while:

We have more painting to do but the weather forecast isn't looking kind....

Monday, 18 September 2017

Greenock to Penarth

Guess what - the weather decided not to improve much for us:

That wasn't a huge issue though. Firstly we amused ourselves signing the latest petition about poor pot markers on the government website. The one we mentioned in some earlier posts was "lost" thanks to the recent election so we have to start again. For everyone who can be bothered or feels strongly about the safety aspects like we do, here is the link Government website where you can do the same thing. Thanks!!

Then we did a few bits of maintenance / cleaning. We took the train into Glasgow for a very enjoyable day and had a delayed birthday lunch for the Captain in a most splendid restaurant in Gourock. It was suggested by the sloe gin expert Robert and we were most impressed. If ever you are there try Bath street arches restaurant. Very different menu, small 6 table operation and super service.

We also witnessed the paddle steamer Waverley getting steamed up in the dry dock nearby after her repairs:

Finally the winds died down and there was a nice little weather window for a run south. NE / NW 4 to 5 for a couple of days before it was turning to the more normal SW.

So, we headed off on Saturday at 9am into a quiet Firth of Clyde. Pretty calm too. Our liner curse was still in place, Carribean Princess was docked in Greenock. Must be a bit of a shock for the cossetted liner passengers when they hit the deprivation in some parts of Clydeside. We guess they try to herd the passengers onto coaches with the windows blacked out until they get to the Trossachs or Loch Lomond.

We headed south, this time a picture of the Cloch lighthouse for you:

then down inside the islands after a quick avoidance of the Weymss Bay to Rothesay ferry which always seems to get in our way.

The route took us very close to the Ailsa Craig and so this time you get a picture that is closer inshore:

but not that exciting. Here is the lump of rock's little lighthouse as well:

As we approached Stranraer, we had a decision to take. Should we head for Holyhead (arriving Sunday pm) and then leave on Monday afternoon for Penarth arriving Tuesday evening? Or should we just go all the way to Penarth in one run, arriving Monday late afternoon. Well, as the forecast was kind and the outlook for Tuesday not as clear, we opted to do the trip in one go. A little replanning and we passed Corswall Point and just headed for the South Bishop lighthouse which was a few miles away:

186 nautical mile leg ahead of us which at our average speed of around 6.4 knots was going to take some time. We settled in for the run....

Overnight there was a little ferry traffic to and from Belfast and Dublin. No course alterations were needed to avoid them though. The only exciting (?) bit was the smell from the new exhaust silencer paint and insulating wrap as it "burned in". Of course, that was all outside. During the day we had one ship that decided to overtake quite closely:

And some that were silhouetted against the end of the day sun:

We did the usual slowing down and speeding up stuff as the tide turned several times. The wave heights were around 1.5 metres (ie nothing!) from the stern quarter when the tide was with us and then increasing to 2.5 metres when it was against us. Just to prove that wind over tide is not as nice. Sunday was mainly spent heading down the Irish sea and aiming for St David's head. We rounded this during the early hours of the morning and the timing was perfect - lots of tidal help giving us a nice speed over the ground:

Nice when you get a favourable tide around the headlands - 9.5 knots feels like flying for us. As we approached Milford Haven, the traffic in and out of the harbour at around 4am was manic. Tankers arriving and leaving, tugs fussing around and pilot boats trying to look important in the dark. The Maxsea picture tries to show this:

but not very well. At one point there were three tankers, seven tugs, one pilot boat and the ferry to Ireland all underway in the entrance. Amazingly we continued on our course and didn't have to deviate for any of them.

The run up the Bristol Channel started very well. As daylight broke, the friendly Welsh dolphins came out to play in our bow wave and amused the captain for quite some time. The rest of the trip to Cardiff was the usual relatively featureless journey. We would not pick this area for regular boating! Muddy, fast flowing tides, nothing terribly lovely on the coastline to admire. At least the weather was good enough to sit on the flybridge!

After some wing engine exercise and a prolonged wide open throttle run to clear out the main engine, we made the 4:45pm lock in at the Cardiff bay barrage. The sad bit was that the rain started at 4:43 and became heavier and heavier whilst we were in the lock and unable to hide away from it. Welcome to Penarth indeed. As we entered Penarth marina, a local rather unmanoeverable passenger trip boat was turning around and trying to moor so we had some backing up and holding station practice whilst he sorted himself out. Just what we needed at the end of a long trip with restricted sleep. We were very happy to tie up on the hammerhead of I pontoon and turn off all the systems after over 56 hours underway and around 375 sea miles.  Strangely we spotted this workboat in the marina as we arrived, kind of a link to our last port of call:

Pity the folks who painted her last time cannot spell.

Maintenance news:

None at all. The big Lugger engine ran well, the new silencer and wrapping stopped smelling after a while and the little wing engine enjoyed its exercise. So, for all you grease and spanner types, nothing to keep your interest going.