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

Friday, 31 May 2013

Fluid retention & bits & pieces

Having trundled back into Falmouth on Wednesday we raided the town for food and people with bad teeth. We found both in abundance.

Firstly, a Blog viewing update – the information on Patrick the penguin has overtaken John’s legs as the current favourite document. I think this confirms that most of the people we know are slightly demented as Patrick has been the top read since he appeared in “useful stuff”. You all have the time and inclination to read about a toy penguin stuffed with millet? OK, I admit that we had time to write about him but at least we didn’t do that during work time…..  John’s ego may be collateral damage in all this mess of course.

Now a little bit for the technically minded:

On Thursday, Adrian the man with the big spanner (down girls) came and had a look at the cooler. He figured that the seal had probably given way and so would bring his stock of dowty seals along  before removing the elbow. Sure enough, when he returned on Friday the old seal was split and the insert was no longer fixed in the washer properly. (For those who haven’t had to play with them before, dowty seals are the ones that look like big thin washers with a bonded sealing ring of nice oil resistant compound inside them)
New seal on both fittings, replace and guess what - now it really leaked, not just a weep! So, the sealing on the fitting itself was suspect. To do a “proper job” (very Cornish phrase, they also brew a nice beer called that) he procured two new hydraulic fittings which look rather new, clean and splendid:

And so, fluid was retained again. He also brought some straight SAE30 oil for the main gearbox along. The on board top up can was all going to be used and getting this stuff is hard now – try walking into Halfords and asking for it! Luckily the rest of the lubricants needed on board are standard stuff. The main engine likes 15/40W as do the wing and genset. The wing engine gearbox is a V-drive thing (I’m not a fan) and likes normal automatic transmission fluid. The stabilisers and crane to launch the RIB like normal hydraulic oil and the crew just likes wine. In copious quantities of course. Simple really – it just means finding space for lots of different containers on board.

And for normal people again

The very best bit of the two days was eating outside, sitting in the aft cockpit where we were sheltered from the wind. We even managed breakfast alfresco – this was particularly enjoyable because AT LAST we were in the right bit of the country! As we enjoyed brekkie in the sun, the radio told us that it had been the coldest spring for 50 years. Sorry everyone, must be down to us giving up work. Also learned that the lovely old yacht moored in the harbour:

was owned by someone Arabic who was a little short of cash and so it is being stripped of the apparently lovely furnishings and will be laid up for 2 years “upriver” (see the pictures in earlier posts as an example) to save money.  The superyacht  Telios that was in an earlier post after her major (expensive) refit is still here as the owner “isn’t sure where he wants her to go” yet. Decisions decisions…

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A small technical hitch and more about the Fal

Last Saturday there was a 2 day weather window in amongst the various gales that was good for a run to South Wales. So, we planned a mid-day departure to get the tide timing around Lands End right (spring tides so a bit important). However, the gearbox oil cooler didn’t want to go with us for some reason. During a short run through the harbour on Friday, there was an oil leak from one of the fittings. Not serious but as leaks don’t tend to self-repair, better to sort it before heading off when we would be running the engine for about 30 hours non stop.

Friday also saw the start of the Fal River Festival. They deliver the beer from Skinners Brewery in Truro to Falmouth by ferry (the blue boat) which was escorted by the port tugs spraying water:

Then free music and general fun in the events square right nearby.

A couple of paragraphs for the technically minded folks out there:

The Captain removed, cleaned and refitted the flexi hose that fits onto an elbow in the cooler with some thread sealant. We also changed the gearbox oil and filter whilst doing this as some oil is lost anyway when taking the pipes off the cooler and it was coming up to time for the annual change with the world’s most expensive ZF filter. (They cost about £90 but are serious bits of kit as they have to handle the full oil pressure in the gearbox when running – about 300psi. some folks have fitted cheaper clone / pattern filters and found the casing blown apart and all the gearbox oil sprayed around the engine room. Not good…)

Of course the thread sealant has to cure a little so we didn’t run the engine again until late on Friday. The flexi hose fitting was fine but the large fitting installed directly into the cooler was also weeping. Grr. This needs one monster spanner. The Captain isn’t equipped with such a thing (no comment please ladies) and so we needed to find a nice marine engineer who was better tooled up (again, no comments please ladies or requests for pictures). Remind me sometime to have a rant about the parts people at Energy Solutions who seem to mess up every order. I thought I would get a gasket and O ring set in case the oil cooler had to be removed. I should have known better – they are as bad as the John Deere dealers are good in parts logistics.

Now for everyone:
Stuff like this always happens at the start of a bank holiday weekend, naturally. So, we just trundled up river again seeing this lovely old lady moored in the harbour entrance:

We then had an excellent time enjoying the sun, walking doing a little polishing and on Monday hunkering down as it poured for most of the day.

On the mid river pontoon at Ruan:

Monday was a good time to start the annual engine room clean up though and replace the water filter cartridge. The boat has a Seagull water purifier fitted and it is a great piece of kit. We use it for all the cooking and drinking water and you can tell the difference in taste if you are unlucky enough to pick up some “unpleasant” water from a marina. Of course, getting to the cartridge means emptying out the under sink cupboard. Imagine how hard that little task is in your house. Well, it is like that only worse on board. Still we found all sorts of interesting bottles of cleaning stuff for inside and outside use in there. Might even try them one day!

More walks around the Trelissick area and making friends with the natives. Ann the harbour patrol lady joined us aboard for tea and we learned about gig racing, Swiss square rigger sailing ships used as an alternative to jail for young lads and Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever dogs. You look them up, we had to. Cute so worth the effort (the dogs that is, not young Swiss tearaways).
We also learned about the guy who lives on an old wooden boat up here and decided that as he would never sail her again, he would cut down the 2 masts and burn them on his stove for warmth. I hope he doesn’t run out of fuel and start on the deck next time…..

Our neighbour on the pontoon over the holiday weekend:

Wouldn’t want his boat maintenance challenges.

Still no theory on the bad Cornish teeth though but if we have another cream tea in the National Trust tea room in Trelissick, we might look like a local.

The serious point is that we really didn’t mind about being delayed by the oil cooler. Whilst working it would have been a real pain, especially if we had wanted to get back over the weekend for work on Tuesday. Might have just gone and carefully monitored the cooler en route. Now it was an excuse to spend more time in the area and really get to enjoy it, exploring all the creeks and walks. We could still move the boat as the cooler wasn’t losing lots of oil and we didn’t feel trapped at all. Should get it sorted out on Thursday then let’s see what the weather wants to do.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Then it was all quiet (apart from the weather that is)

After John and Tina departed (by the way, thanks to everyone who has requested John's phone number after seeing his legs in the last post) we didn't. More Northerly nasty stuff (7's again!!) but that wasn't too stressful. 

Mind you, we felt kind of insignificant moored ahead of the superyacht Telios which had just completed a refit in Falmouth and was being finished off by a whole heap of people this week. Our flybridge was level with his bow and the cost of their repaint alone would buy our boat and leave you with change. Scary world... 

We had an excellent day in Truro (no carrot cake) and spotted yet more dodgy teeth. Research continues. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Change of plan and Visitors

After our nice stormy night on Tuesday, we checked out the weather forecasts and the tide times again for a trip to South Wales. As always, the best departure time to get the calmest trip, to get the best help from the tides and to pass the “danger areas” in daylight didn’t fit.  So, safety thinking dictates a slightly bumpier ride (no big deal for the boat or us) enabling us to go through the rocky / harbour entrances/ pot marker infested areas in daylight and be out in the wide open bit in the dark. With a bit of luck, we could also make free flow time for the lock in Milford Haven to make our arrival after 30 hours at sea simpler. You make mistakes when you are tired and a lock is not a good place to do that! We wanted to go into the marina as some friends from the Isle of Wight planned to join us there for a little while and the railway station is nearby.

The next day, we had a big change of plan. The Fal area would be much nicer (sorry to all the Welsh readers) than Milford for John and Tina to see and the crew didn’t fancy a 20 hour run into a head sea getting to Wales – the forecast was worse now. Hence, we headed back up river and had a few relatively healthy days. Healthy = good walks, boat polishing, more walks.

Trelissick woodland walk views, bluebells everywhere:

And the view down the harbour from Trelissick gives you an idea of why we like the area so much:


The sun even came out to help us. The top of the Fal is such a beautiful place. Except on Saturday when the Mylor yacht club arrived en masse on the mid river pontoon to celebrate their 50th anniversary. The theme was “Hippies / 70’s” and there was a lot of mutton dressed as lamb on display. A pontoon party in the middle of the river with music from that era is hard to escape from. At least they invited us along for a drink. Of course, the follicly challenged Captain really needed a wig to fit the theme and some yellow trousers. Luckily, we didn’t have either to hand.

Back into town on Sunday to collect our visitors. No concern about missing them at the station in the crowds or by being on the wrong platform:

We then went back up river and introduced them to the delights of the Trelissick area. Sadly, returning from one walk by dinghy we were pushing into some big waves on the river and John got a little bit soggy. As he had travelled to Cornwall “light”, the tumble dryer was busy and he was forced to wear shorts despite the outside temperature and wind for a while:

Despite the temperature, we had some good walks, too much food and a good exploration of the town and surroundings with them before they departed on Wednesday morning. They liked the area so much they plan to come back for a couple of weeks later in the year too. I think that was because Baker Tom makes cheese straws to die for (or perhaps because of?):

After they left, we checked the forecast again. Horrible strong northerly winds until Saturday and gales in the Irish sea, so we will hang around the Fal / Helford area at least until then. Of course, the Fal river festival kicks off on Friday so we couldn’t miss that!

Latest observation – Cornish people seem to have very bad teeth. Maybe it is too much clotted cream, or a pasty thing. Will try to research this more and report back later…..

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

More Cornish chilling –and then the storm…..

The shipping forecast just keeps having force 7 in it and not very pleasant weather for Scotland either. At least that means we can do a little boat cleaning and maintenance, pottering around the Falmouth area and generally living the cruising life. (Cruising is often defined as boat maintenance in lots of different locations).

Our plague of liners continued.  I’m not sure what the collective noun is for cruise ships, but a plague seems to fit. Yet another early alarm call when a very elderly (same age as the Captain) ship arrived on Sunday morning. In a quiet moment I read about the history of this one, the newly tarted up Serenissima (an ex Hurtigruten ship) and how she would roll on damp grass let alone a bumpy sea. Apparently she likes a 42 degree roll in either direction which would make most passengers pretty ill.   No wonder she left very very late, allowing the “very rough” seas to abate a little and the passengers to eat before they were out to sea.  Hope they had digested their food quickly too!

Tuesday was very wet and blowy. Took the train to St Austell to meet Norm and Julie again who then kindly ferried us around – lunch in Padstow, afternoon coffee in Wadebridge and wine chez them. Returning that evening by train, the Captain foolishly stood on St Austell station and said “the wind seems to have dropped a bit”. We got off the train at Falmouth and were rain lashed all the way to the marina. At the top of the pontoon there was a coastguard truck with flashing lights. The yachts moored east – west were being smashed against the pontoons by big waves and force 10 gusts (they recorded one of 78 knots). Luckily we were moored north – south and so just had the fun of the waves bashing under the bathing platform at the stern. Both Falmouth lifeboats were out – rescuing a yacht in the harbour area! It was so bad that the yacht was dragging across towards the moorings and couldn’t anchor or motor against the wind and waves.  The rain stopped good photography but this will give you a flavour of the evening:

We added some spare fenders, checked the mooring lines (we’d already trussed her to the pontoon pretty well preparing for the earlier gales so no stress there) and retired to make tea and to watch the carnage. Again, a heavy boat that doesn’t bob about so much really helped…. Luckily it calmed down a bit overnight.

Global warming / jet stream position / KGB activity / Islamic terrorists? No matter what the cause, it was pretty wild.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Cornish lifestyle

Well, the good old UK weather has decided that we should stay and enjoy the Falmouth area and Cornwall for a few days. A nice deep depression is messing up the sea with a second following hot on its heels and we have no plans to venture out into stuff officially described as “very rough”. This is meant to be fun after all.

So, we explored the Truro River and Fal area a little, enjoying the woodland walks around Trelissick (NT property) and of course a Cornish cream tea because you just have to. We and our arteries felt better when we only ate one of the packs of clotted cream provided, not both. The river here is very deep and so big ships get dragged several miles inland and laid up waiting for work or a decision on their future. Just around the corner from our overnight mooring was:

If ever you think your job is strange, imagine the life of the guys who live on the “dead” ships here. They keep the generators running, do little bits of maintenance, hang over the guardrails smoking and looking bored and take the lifeboats up to Truro to go shopping. Neighbours / nights out – a little lacking!

This little baby has been at the same spot opposite Smugglers Cottage for years. A lovely old ship owned by the JCB (Bamford) family. Apparently it gets maintained, used for some film work and not a lot else. A strange toy to have and not use, but good that an elegant old lady is being preserved.  

For the BMW Hook people, this is the King Harry chain ferry that I think you helped buy. If you remember back to when Copernicus developed IT systems for the business you might remember the interesting costs of their work too. Some of the profit allowed the Copernicus owner to buy a share of this ferry business, one of the few (4 or 5 I think) chain ferries left in the UK:

For the wet and windy days, we came into a marina – Port Pendennis, in Falmouth. Yet again, we are being stalked by cruise liners. This arrived at 5am and berthed opposite us as an early morning alarm call:

This was a very up market albeit elderly liner; full of very well behaved German tourists who were mainly off to see the Eden project by coach. For all my German friends – thank you for sending us a much better class of passenger then the Black Watch managed in Guernsey! The following day, another 5 am alarm from another liner. We are being stalked!! Think we will write a piece on liner passengers and their behaviour linked to the cruise line and nationality. Two days later a large ugly liner anchored off (Caribbean Princess). Falmouth’s narrow streets and quaint alleyways were no match for the hordes of American tourists with large cameras and windcheaters advertising the cruise liners they had previously been on board. I wonder how many had a close encounter with a car as they tried to get the photo from the angle they wanted. Behaviour – yes, they owned the place.

On Thursday we met up with Norman and Julie for lunch. The BMW people might remember Norman as “Big Norm Lazarus” the infrastructure manager from Bracknell. Norm is no longer big (physically) and is also enjoying retirement in Cornwall. Of course we went for a most up-market lunch (fish and chips overlooking the waterside). It was great to catch up with them and hopefully we meet again in Scotland as Norm is buying a serious motorhome and will be going to Scotland for his first trip. A delivery of fresh eggs from Julie’s own chickens meant breakfast the next day was extra special too.

Having never visited St Ives but having heard lots of good things about it, we made amends by taking the train (actually it is 3 trains from Falmouth, via Truro and St Erth). This café had probably the best ever carrot cake (and we have sampled many I must admit):

We will continue to report on great carrot cakes as / if we find them en route. The cafe also had one of the best picture window views you could wish for:

All in all, a pretty good day and the short train trip from St Erth to St Ives really is a delight. If you haven’t done it, you should. The town was amazingly busy for a blowy day in May with many Americans and Germans in evidence giving a great multi-cultural feel to a special corner of Cornwall.  I hate to think what a warm July weekend is like in the streets and on the beaches though – perhaps St Ives is best avoided then?
Course planning and boating? Well, all the routes etc are prepared for a run to Milford Haven area direct, or via the Scilly Islands if it looks nice and settled for a few days. The bad news is that the next 4/5 days have more gales forecast so we have no desire to head off anywhere yet. Should we stay in Falmouth itself or head off up river again or anchor in the Helford River for a while? Decisions decisions…..

Monday, 6 May 2013

St Peter Port (Guernsey)  to Falmouth

You can have too much of a good thing you know. Guernsey life probably qualifies as a good thing and so to bring a little reality back, we decided to head off to Falmouth as the forecast was for a nice settled weather window before a big Atlantic depression arrives to muck everything up again. The trip takes 18-20 hours and it is best to leave St Peter Port and round the northern Guernsey coast in daylight – lots of rocks and a plethora of pot markers to avoid. It is also good to arrive in Falmouth in daylight as it too is plagued by pot markers around the entrance and the floats which the fishermen use are way too small and the wrong material to be picked up on the radar. Sometimes even huge commercial grade Furuno radars get defeated!

So, we headed off just after lunch (see, still civilised!) and left the town of St Peter Port which was in the clutches of another bunch of cruise liner passengers. This time from the Black Watch, decidedly down market in comparison to the earlier P&O invaders.

Leaving the berth and threading through the moorings in the harbour. We hoped not to bother this guy at all:

The Black Watch, anchored off the harbour, is as old and tatty as some of her passengers were (sorry, sounds very snobbish and unkind, I know. No grounds to be like that as we live on a boat and have only worn casual clothes since stopping work ….) :

The trip was uneventful. I will try to make it sound more exciting for everyone though. So, if you are a budding sailing type the sea state was as forecast – moderate westerly swell from the earlier winds. The waves were 5 to 6 foot high but not enough to bother 40 tons of Nordhavn and it was lovely to be able to keep the pilot house door open until sunset.  Of course, bobbing through this cost a bit of speed but we are not into speed anyway! Crossing the main shipping area was amazingly easy this time. Lots of big boys about but only 2 course alterations needed to thread through both the eastbound and Westbound wolf packs. Here is the “pack” hunting us down as seen on the PC monitor thanks to AIS:

Somehow the relative scales don’t work, the big red blob is our little Tupperware boat. The green triangles are 200 metre plus monsters going way faster than us. Perhaps we should change the icons on the screen to look more scary….

Overnight the sea calmed right down and the promised fog didn’t materialise so it was a gentle albeit slow crossing. Gentle was good – allows the off watch person to fall asleep more quickly after their “watch”. Apparently, the Captain showed no desire to wake up for his next stint at the helm. Crew viewed this as out of order. Captain viewed it as showing total faith in the crew. You choose…
The trip was slow because we had to push two full eastbound tides and only got advantage from one – a penalty of making sure we left after half-tide in daylight and arrived in daylight too. However, a good move as the Falmouth fishermen seem to think that empty clear plastic 2 litre milk bottles make a good pot marker. Visibility in a slightly bumpy sea – almost zero. OK, rant over.

Arriving in the Fal, the sun decided to hide away. Despite the bank holiday weekend there were plenty of moorings / anchorage spots upstream and we happily tucked onto a mid-river pontoon just above the Smugglers Cottage / King Harry Ferry after 20 hours underway.  The view from our home for the night:

Now for the technically minded people:

We were also slow because we had added about 2.2 tons of diesel in Guernsey. Because the crew is paranoid about running out of water we also dragged about 250 gallons of the special Channel Island brew back to the UK. The extra weight in total knocked about 0.4 knots off our speed at our normal 1450rpm cruise. For real trainspotting, see the post in the useful stuff section about hull speed and engine loading – how we try to optimise fuel burn. For sad cases like the captain it is an interesting science and if you were mid ocean in some rough stuff and getting short of fuel, a critical one too. Actually, with ever increasing diesel costs it is important all the time!

For most of the trip, the stabilisers were centred. They were only used when the crew was busy preparing dinner just in case. Typically in moderate seas they will knock about 0.3 knots off our speed.  0.3 knots for such a comfortable ride; we forgive them. In the gentle stuff we had for the crossing barely 0.1 of a knot was lost.

There is some maintenance to report too. Nothing too exciting though so don’t expect stories of mid channel top end overhauls. On one of the engineroom checks (Capt goes down there every couple of hours to check all is well and take key component temperatures with an infa-red heat gun) he noticed a drip of coolant from a fitting on the gearbox oil cooler. It got tightened up and rechecked OK. See, not that exciting really – just the usual problem with any joint that get lots of heat expansion and contraction cycles over time. Sorry (actually very glad) that we couldn’t offer anything more dramatic.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Guernsey life.....

As the Scotland forecasts are still not nice, we are hanging around here in the sun and cold wind for a while. For the people that have never visited the little island, here are a few impressions:

This is the entrance to the visitors (Victoria) marina at low water. As you can see, quite a rise and fall of tide here (last week we had a 9.6 metre difference high-low). Despite being classed as a "small boat" in the Nordhavn range, we are too big to go into the marina. We stay outside in the main harbour -  the eagle eyed might just find her in here:

Being outside gives much better views of what is going on. For example, there is a lot of effort to reduce emissions etc and new 2-stroke outboards are banned for leisure users as they pollute too much apparently. This is the Portsmouth - Guernsey - Jersey ferry leaving her berth. No comment, I hope they have a chimney sweep on board.

Our late evening view of the fast ferry heading off to Poole:

If you own an island like the Barclay brothers, then you have a fleet of nice tenders to use when popping into St Peter Port or delivering supplies. That is if you decide not to use the helicopter. Here is one of them:

We have a slightly smaller arrangement: