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, 30 August 2013

Back in the lovely Argyll weather and fixing stuff

After enjoying the BA lounge, a short flight, a night in the Holiday Inn at Glasgow airport (no public transport to Oban in the evening), a bus, a train, a walk, a train, a taxi we were back afloat. Felt kind of good too. Of course, we took the opportunity to raid Tesco in Oban and the Yamaha dealer there to get some bits for a big outboard service. OK, 20HP may not seem big to you but compared to our little 3.5HP egg whisk, it is pretty impressive. The Yamaha dealership people were delightful by the way. Almost a pleasure to spend money with them - go try out Stoddarts if you are up here. http://www.stoddarts.co.uk/

As the weather was forecast to be grim (= heavy rain and force 7) we opted to spend a couple of days doing a tidy up, maintenance and generally chilling.

Maintenance news for the tekkies: The Kilmelford Yacht Haven folks had kindly looked after the boat again for us, checking on shorepower to make sure the fridge and freezer kept going. They'd also fixed one of the Nordhavn 47 irritants. The windows are powder coated aluminium - not a great idea with all that salt around. Most of them survive sort of OK, but the curved windows in the pilothouse were made by a different manufacturer and relish throwing off their original coating. This means you either dismember the interior timberwork to remove them and then get them anodised properly or paint them every three years or so in-situ.

The few people that have tried the removal method have horror stories of getting the timberwork right again so, we stick to painting. It was due this year but with all our unplanned trips away from the boat we had decided to get the yacht haven team to do the work for us before the weather got really wet. Means serious abrading, etch priming, epoxy filler on the corroded bits, more primer then a two pack topcoat trying to get some protection on the sharp edges. Simple really..... The other trick is to refit the rubber seals with some silicone grease behind them to try and help protect the bits you just cannot get to.

Of course,  new build boats now have plastic window surrounds. Almost worth the cool £1.1 million one would cost?

This is why removal is tricky:

The nice curved mouldings (each in 4 pieces) are almost impossible to remove and refit nicely...

For any budding Nordhavn owners, always check the windows carefully!

DIY maintenance news:

The genset is supposed to do 200 hours between oil changes but as we give it intermittent use, it gets fresh stuff a little more frequently. As it had run 150 hours since the start of the season service (low for us - the unexpected 5 weeks away from the boat make a big difference!) it was treated to fresh oil and a filter. A 10 minute job - the built in electric oil change pump makes it simple. We tend to carry around enough oil for a main engine change, genset change and some spare for top up if needed so there was plenty of Deere 10/40 on board. The genset was also treated to a new air filter and the old foam one was washed out. Strangely, the wing engine uses a foam block filter twice the size of the one in the genset. Of course, it is way way cheaper to buy a wing engine filter and halve it than to buy two genset filters.....

Access to the genset oil filter:

The hydraulic oil in the steering system also needed a top up and re-pressurising. This, is trickier as the canister is under the helm position and the filler is too small to properly pour fluid in via a funnel. The easiest way to top it up is to use a small syringe  So, the captain had fun a while ago, getting a free drug addicts' syringe kit from Boots in Falmouth. Just don't ask..... A winter job is remaking some of the fittings onto the autopilot pumps in the lazarette. There are two pumps (fully redundant system with two autopilot control heads, two computers, two pumps) and a couple of the fittings loose a little oil over time. The joys of hydraulics.

The offending article duly topped up and re-pressurised:

For the boaters, the instruction manual says run the reservoir at 20-25 psi. Experience and other owners say don't. Stick to 5-10 instead, even with a flybridge helm high up, it is enough. Some folks have blown out the seals when pressurising the system above 20 psi, very very messy...

As you can see, boating is all very relaxing. Remember the line from trolley shopper Bob "live aboard cruising is doing boat maintenance in exotic places"? Well. we just have to find the exotic place now.

So, maintenance work almost done, we might update you on our cruising plans and Patrick next. Check back and see.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Down South.... Getting all soft

Well, the trip down south for the Admiral's funeral went as well as it could. Someone from BA was being kind to us as we even managed to get an earlier flight down from Glasgow than we were booked on. We spent time sorting out things in Norfolk with the captains's mother's bungalow and also enjoying riverside walks on his birthday.

Acle bridge has a superstore that Tesco are nervous of:

Of course, this emporium would be very welcome in Kilmelford and feted for its range of stock and pricing.

Other visits included Loddon:

a lovely, typical Broadland village that seems proud of all the awards for "best kept" and "hidden gem of a village":

Actually, it is a nice place if, perhaps, a little big-headed / smug.

We returned to Heathrow via Bishops Stortford and Harlow. Not because the TomTom threw a wobbly, more because we went visiting.... Mary (not someone you've met here before, an Irish lady who moved to the UK and now terrorises a number of Toys R Us stores out of Bishops Stortford as the regional boss) wanted to know what life was like in the BA First lounge at Heathrow.

So, Mary, this is for you (and perhaps a reminder for us when the nice gold card expires next year and we have to sit in the terminal and fight for seating with everyone else!!):

Looking forward to that, of course. Champagne tastes with no income just don't fit too well together. It will be a seat in the terminal with a pack of  home made sandwiches in 2014...

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Worrying developments afloat....

OK, now we are really concerned. After the crew's mother told us in no uncertain terms by email that "Patrick and Shelia was a no go relationship", we return to the boat to find this unholy liaison in progress:

The Emu was no where to be seen. Who, we hear you ask, is the new mystery mate for Patrick? Well:

The bear is known as Moss. Don't ask why, it is too pathetic. You may notice that Patrick looks pretty happy, whereas Moss seems a tad concerned. Might be that he was pressurised into this clinch by the slightly (actually extremely) heavier Patrick. No idea at all if Moss's expression is shame at being caught or horror at the bear / penguin thing.  They have been firmly separated though and told that if whilst we are away any funny business goes on, there might be adoptions on the horizon. Australian Amanda - want a penguin with attitude??

PS - if you think we must have a full menagerie on board, you are not far off reality. Wait until you meet Phil, (not Nordhavn Phil, this one is much more cute) the polar bear.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Ladies that lunch (Captains too)

As a pre trip south treat, we decided to lunch at the Cuilfail Hotel again. The owner (another member of the south Oban English ghetto) had been very friendly as were the staff and the food was fine too.

If you are in the area, go along and see them (www.cuilfail.co.uk) and enjoy the hospitality:

They do a great duck & noodles main course and the red berry cranachan dessert is also good but enormous. Probably very bad for the body though. As the village is kind of small it is also the centre of events and gossip. You learn so much in the bar whilst having lunch by just listening to the local customers. Some of it could be published on the web too!

Apparently this weekend is the official launch of the village skiff. It was built as a co-operative venture by the residents, using shed space and advice from the experts who did the work for us recently here at the Yacht Haven:

We've seen this in many coastal villages and it was great to see the "shareholders" out practising in the evening, although the weather wasn't too kind. Sue, the nice lady who works in the office here, is rowing stroke:

For the non boaters, "Stroke" is the person rowing who is seated closest to the stern (back) of the boat. Kind of important as everyone else has to take their timing from you. If you mess it up, lots of fun ensues as oars get tangled, temperatures and voices raised etc. When the captain was taught to row, any unplanned variation in speed was rewarded with lots of bad words from the rest of the crew and a soaking later on. Hope Sue escaped this.

If interested https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kilmelford-Coastal-Rowing/100390056811062?ref=stream gives you a feel for things and if you look at the video on their Facebook page, you will see our Nordhavn in the background.

Sunday BBQ anyone? We are only 3 hours north of Glasgow after all....

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Happy pills for penguins?

Amanda has had another brainwave. Get this:

Maybe his mummy and daddy need to customise the boat somewhat with one of these water slides to cheer him up?

Actually from a highly intelligent person with a fistful of qualifications and a doctorate, married to a clinical, surgical and research genius, we were hoping to get something a little more considered. However, we will talk to Phil (the Northern Ireland origin Nordhavn man) and see if these can be added to their options list. If we give the picture to the nice Kilmelford Yacht Haven guys who did the high quality repair work for us, they might just laugh a bit though....

Patrick seems to be perking up a bit today. The Admiral on the other hand, continues to look grumpy but very content in his little corner of the saloon:

Sympathy for Patrick

Peter (the consultant with more letters after his name than in it, married to Amanda the potential godmother) sent this for Patrick in response to the last blog post:

Dr Peter has a diagnosis to cheer the little fellow up:

We hope this works - Patrick still seems a little out of sorts. All other ideas happily received, bar allowing him to mate with Shelia of course. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Your strange behaviour and a jealous Patrick...

So, the baffling behaviour continues. You guys are now responsible for 3000 plus reads of the garbage that we churn out. We still struggle to figure out why - of course this stuff is free to read but then so are many good books via Kindle or the local secondhand book store. Frankly, if it was a choice between filling spare time reading these ramblings or paying £2.50 or so to download a book, the book wins every time.

At least it means that the hours spent by the crew proof reading this junk aren't totally wasted, even if it isn't terribly elegant:

Mind you, we think that we should offer your combined intelligence for medical research. There could be big breakthroughs into why the bewildered need to read such poor penmanship if they scanned your brains. OK if we offer you up as experimental objects?

The really bad news is that Patrick has been very very quiet this week. Initially the captain thought he was showing sympathy for the captain's bad back and staying quiet and respectful.  Then, we figured that he was a little upset since the Admiral (see recent post, a grumpy small furry bear) had starred in the blog more recently than Patrick. He is clearly an attention seeking penguin so please, post some comments to cheer him up. Cannot bear that "hunched shoulders hard done by" look that Patrick is so good at....

Getting better and going backwards (sort of)

Two days were spent with lots of back exercises, cold packs etc etc to get the captain fit for the planned trip to Troon. Idea was to leave the boat there, then train to Glasgow and fly down south for the Admiral's funeral. Whilst there, we would also visit Norfolk to sort out some of the must do things in the bungalow.

Of course, just as the captain's back got happier, so the weather got worse:

A force 5/6 from the S or SW (ie pretty much on the nose for most of the journey) isn't a big issue for the boat, just a bit bouncy. However, the old adage "the ship can handle more than the crew" was very relevant in this case. 12 hours nodding into the waves with a bad back were not appealing Not at all appealing. In fact, pretty silly really, So, after checking the forecasts carefully on Tuesday, plan B was hatched.

Plan B involved, guess what - our friendly folks in Kilmelford again. The plan being to take the boat back there where we know they will check the shorepower supply is OK for us whilst we are away. Kind of important as the fridge and freezer need to keep running. If we lost shorepower, then the batteries would keep the 240v supply going OK for a few days but we could come back to a boat with very depleted AGM batteries (not at all good for their longevity) and lots of defrosted food smells.

For the tekkies, have a look at http://www.nordhavn.com/resources/tech/battery_death.php for AGM battery info (a few people have asked about how we survive when not plugged in to shorepower). The art of battery management is interesting when afloat and using an inverter to produce 240v power. Cannot run the genset all the time as it would be working with almost no load which wrecks the diesel engine inside it. Cannot let the batteries drain too much either as that reduces their lifespan dramatically. Oh, the pressure... We monitor it via the battery voltage and use the genset as needed for top ups. The good thing about AGM batteries is that they will charge at over 100 amps. That would fry your normal car battery but really speeds up the recharge process on the boat!

We have a ton of these on board (10 for domestic use, then 4 more for starting the main, wing and generator engines), luckily all new in 2009 when we bought the boat. Replacing them isn't something we or our bank manager look forward to....

For normal people again The trip now looks like our last excursion except using the train to get to Glasgow instead of the coach. More expensive, slower(!!) but allows the fast repairing captain to get up and walk around from time to time to help his back, just in case.

So, a gentle trundle back up Loch Melfort and onto the same little berth inside the pontoon amused us on Wednesday afternoon. Even more amusing was arriving just before the rain started. Probably the Admiral's doing - thanks for that John! Get the cloudbase:

Monday, 12 August 2013

Craobh Haven life and damaged crew

Thursday was a day of maintenance, short walks and looking for winter sun. More polishing kicked it all off. Then after lunch, smothered in insect repellent, we prepared to walk across to Ardfern (we gave up on the walk in the other direction earlier on, beaten back by a million horse flies). This time, as we headed off, it started to rain and got progressively more serious. So, a turn about and afternoon aboard sorting out admin stuff and looking for spots to visit in November that might be warmer and sunnier than the UK. That walk is fated.

During the day, we recalled that we'd left a boat key with the Kilmelford Yacht Haven team when we went south and forgot to pick it up yesterday.... Grr. So a trip back up Loch Melfort was planned for Friday to retrieve the errant key. The location is so lovely that we were happy bunnies though:

And then there were 6: On Friday, the Nordhavn quota here increased once more. We watched Suilven, a 43, arrive and neatly berth close by:

We'd met the owners, Colin and Janet, back in 2009 in Portland harbour when they kept their boat on the south coast. They saved us the boat trip back to Kilmelford to reclaim the key by very kindly offering a car ride there instead. It felt strange being in a Porsche Cayenne after so many years of BMW's of course! Way better than the hire cars we have enjoyed recently of course....... It was good to chat to them and swap "Nordhavn life" stories, they have been in Scotland for a while now (3 years)  and are still exploring new places. Colin is another motor trade man, with stories about his time as a truck engineer to complement the car versions the captain can offer. Somehow felt sorry for the other halves.

As there was WIFI, we also managed to book flights and a hire car to go south for the Admiral's funeral in a week or so. The O2 signals are generally poor and so internet access via the phone is painfully slow and unreliable. Still better than the EE or other second tier competitors signals though (ie, they don't offer a service here!)

The walk to Ardfern was finally conquered on Sunday, smothered in insect repellent and ignoring the light rain, we made it. Only about 3 miles up the hill and down to Ardfern over tracks but after 2 aborted attempts, it felt like Kilimanjaro. Sad, aren't we? The best bit was a repeat of the earlier tea and carrot cake enjoyed in the local tea room "The crafty kitchen" as a reward:

Not the all time best carrot cake (see St Ives update) but up there in the "greats" list. This was a prelude to raiding the village store again for salad stuff which the captain manfully lugged the 3 slightly soggy miles back.

Then it all went downhill. Back on board, feeling good after the 6 mile walk up and down Kilimanjaro, the captain did some maintenance work that involved leaning over, reaching to full arm extension and twisting. Not a good result - big back twinge. So, the rest of the day was spent doing exercises and putting on the cold pack etc to try and help the rather painful back. Such fun. Apparently things like this happen during periods of high stress. Thought that was a week ago or so - mind you, the captain always was a slow learner...

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

What Patrick got up to and "meet the Admiral"

Amanda (yes, the Australian trouble maker) believes that whilst we were away, Patrick had a little holiday too. She sent this image as proof:

When questioned about it, Patrick just smiled knowingly. We are now searching the boat to find his passport or other evidence. If he went outside the EU and didn't bring back any duty free gin, he is in deep trouble.

On a very sad note, we had a call from The Admiral's daughter to say that he had passed away. The Admiral might be known to some of you as John Martin, a good friend for many years who had a boat in Bray Marina. We took John salt water boating from time to time and always enjoyed his company.

When we moved into our house, we received a little bear from John and his late wife Jean as a house warming present. The bear, known ever since as "The Admiral", has joined us on all our boat trips. So, John, you are still in Scotland with us, enjoying the scenery and the odd glass of red wine:

Kilmelford to Craobh Haven

The day started badly - woke to heavy rain so didn't get too keen too early. As the sun came out, so did we. First thing was a decision - should we go further north or start heading south? We will have to go to Norfolk regularly to sort out the bungalow there etc etc so being in "range" of a place that hires cars, has good public transport or has an airport is more important now. Kind of rules out the far north west of Scotland so we will be back next year. The Baltic trip gets postponed.... 

We went to pay for the maintenance work (see last post) and our mooring. The invoice wasn't ready yet - we offered to pay for just the mooring before we left but they were happy to email a bill through to us. Very trusting, just like the typical south coast establishments! 

No desire to push the spring tides heading south so we settled on a very short trip down to Craobh Haven. The initial plan to anchor was canned when we saw the forecast strong winds from the wrong direction for the nearby bay.

It was so good to start the big Lugger and head off. En route, a ruined castle and a lovely old yacht to enjoy from the flybridge:

Craobh Haven is basically a few houses, a hotel and some moorings in a beautiful spot sheltered by some islands:

A nice little entrance too, viewed from inside the harbour area:

We knew that the new Nordhavn 63 "Due North" lived here. However, when we arrived it was like a Nordhavn sales event. We've never seen as many in one place in the UK before, apart from an open event at the European distributors office a while ago.

Here is the daddy of the marina, the 63:

Also in attendance was Annie M, the 47 owned by Owen who we met in Kip Marina a while ago (see earlier post) - serious blog followers will be able to recognise our boat out of the two of course:

And one of the first Nordhavn's built, a 46:

For the boat tekkies, the "scaffolding" up top is because she has paravanes fitted - fins that are trailed in the water amidships suspended from the long "poles". They reduce the rolling of the boat when moving. We have hydraulically operated fins under the hull to do this:

but of course the paravanes don't rely on the main engine running and operating the hydraulic pump - they are kind of fail safe. The only unsafe bit is launching and retrieving them - big heavy metal objects that have to be manhandled in possibly bumpy seas. The crew would NOT be doing that I fear.....

And lastly, the baby of the Nordhavn range - a 40 called Free Spirit. We were originally going to buy a new 40 but the fates conspired and we ended up with our used 47. So glad, living aboard a 40 would not be too practical (ask the 747 captain known by blog readers as Colin; he is swapping to a 47 for exactly that reason):

The day finished sitting in the aft cockpit enjoying the sun and watching a cormorant trying to get on top of a buoy to perch and dry his wings. He /she failed and fell back into the water so many times that once he/she finally made it, we reckon he/she was too frightened to try holding open the wings as well as hanging on. So, the poor bird just stood there, no wing drying or fishing possible, a little unsteady but sort of triumphant, all alone:

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Settling back into life afloat in Kilmelford

Having braved the M25, British Airways to Glasgow (only one not three hours late this time) and a city centre Premier Inn, we followed the advice of John and Tina (remember, John was the man with the nice knees who received several inappropriate propositions after a picture of them appeared earlier on here). They are fans of a Weatherspoons breakfast deal. For the non UK readers, Weatherspoons is a big pub chain who offer very well priced food. So, fuelled by the cheapest brekkie in Glasgow (it just has to be) we braved the coach back to Oban. Then a ram raid on Tesco before treating ourselves to a taxi back to the Yacht Haven using the cash we saved at breakfast time..... The cab was a life expired Skoda, driven by a young English guy - the south Oban English ghetto we mentioned earlier. We said "driven". Hurled along the windy roads with gay abandon is probably a better phrase, but we survived as did the shopping.

The boat was fine, bar one scuff mark from some nice person's dinghy that will polish out. Patrick was looking intent and had clearly been taking his guard penguin duties most seriously:

He was a touch sniffy with us at first, perhaps because we had abandoned him for over 2 weeks. We didn't phone, we didn't write. Sorry Patrick:

However, he warmed to having people back on board when all the blinds got opened up and he saw his first daylight again.

So good to be back in what felt like home / normality. We are sure that to all the landlubbers, that sounds most strange - it probably is actually.

Tuesday was a day spent washing off the accumulated grot of the last 2 weeks and generally getting organised again. The boat had gone Hawaiian. She had grown a grass skirt around the waterline that needed serious scrubbing to remove it. All done from the RIB too -  the captain might need an osteopath soon. Later on, a blast across the Loch to Melfort pier in the RIB helped blow out the cobwebs and remind us what this cruising life is all about. Lovely late evening views from the boat deck too:

Maintenance news: Well, whilst the boat was "laid up" in Kilmelford, we had a long running irritating issue fixed. The guardrail around the boat deck on the starboard side had been clonked by the first owner of the boat. He had an enormous RIB with an equally enormous outboard fitted and we think he let it swing into the rail. The aft stanchion base had been moved a bit and someone had put lots of nice silicone sealant around it. However, in the winter we found out that water had been leaking past this into the moulding below. How? Well the water froze and pushed a trim part off the bottom of the fibreglass moulding.

Having seen the quality of the work the Yacht Haven guys were doing on other boats, we asked them to remove the rail, refit the stanchion base and sort out the split in the gelcoat. They did a great job - calling several times to check that the proposed repair method was OK with us. Colin, the boatbuilder, was amazed to see how thick the superstructure mouldings are when he was making an access hatch - nearly a half inch. Yes, the Nordhavn is built like the proverbial brick outhouse. The hull is even thicker of course....

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Heading back......

Well, sorry for the big gap in updates. Our plan to head back to Norfolk to see the captain's mother and take her for some tests got a bit derailed. Actually, very derailed. Sadly, she unexpectedly passed away whilst we were en route south. So, the last couple of weeks have been busy with all the "stuff" that is needed. Thanks to all the blog readers who mailed their wishes and support during a really tough time.

We are now sitting in the lounge at Terminal 5 in Heathrow, about to fly up to Glasgow. Then tomorrow (Monday) we can get a coach to Oban and taxi to Kilmelford to be reunited with the boat and Patrick who has been the guard penguin for just over two weeks. Lord knows what sort of parties he has enjoyed in that time. Luckily the people in the boatyard there have been just wonderful - popping on board to check that the shorepower is OK (fridge / freezers are on!) and also sorting out a problem with a boat deck rail that we inherited from the first owner. We've been so lucky to have their help.

So, the plan is to be afloat and interrogating Patrick Monday evening. Will update you on what we find / hear. If Patrick and Sheliah are sitting together there will be words - they had been carefully separated before we left....