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

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Brum - just why did we go there?

You know how you sometimes have those "shall we go to x" conversations?

Well, we had one that involved Birmingham and a coach trip there and a couple of days in a cheap hotel and walking around to see what they've done with the city centre and doing it in sunny warm November. The conversation kind of ended up with us booking it all.

Madness? Perhaps. Probably. Worthwhile - oh yes.

The hotel was in the Chinese Quarter - you could easily tell by the view through the window:

Wandering around we were most impressed by the Birmingham museum and art gallery. Lovely building, great exhibition on the history of the city and the industries that flourished there (note use of past tense here). We learned useful (?) stuff such as 75% of the pen nibs in use worldwide came from Birmingham until the nasty Biro pen appeared and people stopped writing properly.

Our wander around the Pen Museum (yes, there is one) was an out of body experience. It is staffed by well meaning volunteers who were keen for us to get the full on experience. Seeing the skill of the tool makers who produced the dies to make nibs was amazing. Learning about the processes used to temper the steel to the specific needs of a nib was interesting. Seriously, it was! When one of the staff moved on to tell us about being a photographer for the police and starting his life in a childrens' home, the link became a touch tenuous. Poor guy just wanted someone to talk to and we were it. We excused ourselves before falling asleep. Shame, the industry has a fascinating story which was put across by the typical volunteer types - dead keen, slightly tedious.

Another big German Xmas market was underway. Again, we resisted the siren call of Spaetzle and goulash. For the UK readers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sp%C3%A4tzle

The captain resisted as he knows just how leaden they become in the stomach and how further walking becomes impossible, especially if they mix with Weissbier in the stomach. Lethal but lovely.

The canal area in the centre has been tidied up a lot. The "romantically" named Gas Street Basin:

We looked at the space on the narrowboats and reckon that living on a Nordhavn is much better. Mind you, their party boats look much nicer than the "HMS 69" offering here in Penarth that starred in earlier posts:

Of course, there is always a welcoming canal-side pub to hide away in when it rains. It is Birmingham after all....

Poor Patrick (who has been quite quiet recently) was left on guard duty again. He did an admirable job (as you see, he outranks the captain quite markedly). Brenda (a real life Texas girl who has a sense of humour that is much needed for her job with United Airlines) sent a nice picture that cheered Patrick up though. He is sitting in the pilothouse, with a dreamy look on his beak right now. Wonder how his past loves (see earlier posts) feel about this:

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Cold culture, Gluhwein and reindeer??

One glorious day (ie sun, no rain, no work to go to) we get culture. That translates as a walk around the bay to the Millennium Centre to get tickets for the "Nutcracker on Ice" performance. Again, we could go to the matinee with all the VERY old people. The lifts and toilets were under great pressure. It was our first visit to the large theatre there which has been nicely designed:

The show is detailed here: http://www.imperialicestars.com/nutcracker-on-ice

AWESOME. Just something that has to be seen with amazing use of the limited ice space they have on a stage. Here are some images of the show taken from the website:

Despite their creaky joints, several of the elderly audience members managed a standing ovation at the end. I hope that didn't cause them problems the next day....

We then walked into the city centre to find the "traditional German Xmas market" underway. The captain felt right at home surrounded by Gluhwein, Steins of beer and lots of sausages. Sadly, it will always be a poor relative of the massive affairs he saw in Munich. The positive part is that it was a little warmer than Munich tended to be. (Ask John and Tina...) We resisted the calorie laden fare having damaged a curry before the theatre trip. Brave bearing in mind the public toilet pressure there but you live and learn.

In the middle of the main shopping street, there was a small herd of reindeer too - surreal:

And we thought the locals were more into sheep....

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Old Gaffers, Tim and Sheila

Perhaps that title didn't come out too well. No one could ever accuse Tim of being an "old Gaffer" even though he has a free bus pass (spot the jealousy). Tim and Sheila are the owners of a proper gaff rigged yacht - a Yarmouth 23 like this one:

We met by chance many years ago when we were all stuck in Torquay for 10 days during a lovely British summer of rain and gales. We got to know the local bus services pretty well.

We'd never managed to take them out on the Nordhavn for a trip and so we had planned a proper ocean going voyage as a treat. We fitted the acrylic storm plates to our saloon windows and then headed out through the marina lock to brave the elements en route to Cardiff. OK, maybe not the most taxing navigation or sea conditions but at least it was a trip out (their yacht is ashore for the winter and you can get withdrawal from a lack of boating you know).

They both had some helming responsibility. Here is Sheila looking pretty happy after finding out that the Nordhavn goes right if you turn right - a bit different to handling the tiller on their yacht.

The marina entrance does look small as you approach it in a fat trawler yacht:

Still, we made it across the bay to Cardiff and had a good day catching up / eating. Tim looks pretty relaxed about everything after getting us over there and tied up OK:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A shortage of leg, Gavin and Stacey

Sorry girls. The weather wasn't warm enough to tempt John into shorts. Although we did get caught in a heavy rain shower near the Millennium centre, his trousers had dried by the time we got back to the boat. Upshot is - no pictures of his legs for you to swoon over this time. Apologies, you will have to make do with another look at the Falmouth post to keep you warm tonight....

So, after a good walk around the city with John and Tina (and the difficulty the captain had carrying all the empties up to the recycle bin) they departed for the Isle of Wight. They left behind some excellent chocolates though so they can come again. Frequently.

One lovely day, we took the boat for the long trip over to the Cardiff Bay moorings to give the engine and the little wing engine a run. Got a bit stuck as there is a car park ticket machine there which usually takes your £1/hour for the mooring and spits out a ticket that also includes the gate code. The machine wasn't working so no gate code and hence no escape from the pontoon for a walk. Not too hard though - lovely views from where we tied up:

 A call to the  office brought along Tim the deputy harbour master who fixed things and was interested in the "impressive looking boat that has got everyone talking in the bay area". The guy who came and moored ahead of us asked about "the minesweeper". Think we might have to slink off quietly one day. We continue to be a great advertising campaign down here. Then Dave, the charter angling boat skipper pitched up, so we chatted to him. Next visitors were Steve (the trip boat owner) and Bronwyn the adorable spaniel (OK Steve, you are adorable too...) On the way back to our berth, the radio call to Penarth Marina was answered with "Hello Richard, I will set the lock gates for you now". This is beginning to feel like home.....

We gave the wing engine a good run, and had two fast trips (fast is of course a relative concept) to give the big Lugger a blow out too. Important after slow running and the recent lack of use.

For fans of Gavin and Stacey, we took a bus trip to Barry Island too. For foreign readers, have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavin_&_Stacey  (except for Fatma as I remember giving you a Gavin and Stacey DVD to see if you "got" the humour and so you are already an expert).

The bay and the beach:

And of course, the cafe that had a starring role in the series has a small unobtrusive reminder:

about as small and unobtrusive as Ness in reality....

Finally the lovely old world fairground where "Dave coaches" antique bus worked from:

For the terminally addicted, you can have a Gavin and Stacey tour - see http://britmovietours.com/bookings/gavin-and-stacey-tour/ We didn't do this as we are not quite that sad or keen to spend £50.

Maintenance news:

When we returned from Norfolk, everything was working just fine. During a blowy evening, we turned on the satellite TV system so it would stabilise itself in the gusts and continue to track the nice Astra 2 satellite. Except it didn't. It couldn't lock on at all. Much head scratching until we read that there had been satellite frequency changes whilst we were away as new devices were launched and put into service.

As we have an elderly (2006/7) system, you cannot reprogram the satellite details via the display panel of course. It needs a laptop with a serial cable and hyperterminal loaded. For the non tekkies, that roughly means that a new laptop, which is "blessed" with Windows 8 and only USB ports is pretty useless. By the time you load a Windows 8 compatible version of the terminal software (which nice Microsoft stopped bundling after Vista), find a USB to serial port lead and drivers that might work, there is little chance it will communicate with the antenna. According to Kevin, the really helpful KVH support man "I don't know anyone who has made a Windows 8 laptop work with that antenna yet...." We know when trying is pointless.

So, we are hunting around for an old Windows XP laptop with a serial port to reprogram the sat TV dome.Should you have one in your attic, please let us know! In the meanwhile, we can get lots of French, Italian, Spanish stations but not a lot in languages we sort of understand. Lots of Kindle use at present and a few DVDs too. Apparently there might be further frequency changes early in 2014. Can't wait....

Friday, 1 November 2013

High and Dry - well, low and dry actually

Hello again. Well, we are finally back afloat after our extended time on shore. It was strange to live like the landlubber majority of the country again.

The sale of the Norfolk bungalow proceeds at glacial pace, as such things tend to of course. We managed some important stuff though - like finding a new home for the little Austin J40 pedal car:

Also managed to get the little wooden dinghy varnished and looking nice and shiny. The weather was so kind to us - a couple of consecutive dry and warm(ish) days.

What else have we been up to? Well, wandered around Great Yarmouth and figured that the word Great has no place there. Such a sad dump now with al the old seaside guest houses turned into bedsit city for people who tend not to work but have lots of pit bull terriers / roll-up cigarettes. Lovely. Even some of the beautiful old seafront buildings on the "golden mile"are decaying now. This is the 1878 built Winter Gardens that arrived in the town around 1903 after initially being erected in Torquay and failing there commercially too! Kind of empty with weeds growing inside it now but as a listed building, We guess they will have to do something to restore it to its former glory soon before it rots away:

The tourist pier entrance looks as tacky as ever:

The type of visitor the place attracts is nicely summed up by this fast food fascia. Wonder if they spotted the irony in the UK bit, considering what they offer:

Returning to Penarth, it was so good to hand back the Astra estate hire car with the horrid clonky gearbox (apparently they are all like that) and get back to walking everywhere and life afloat. This weekend, we have John and Tina visiting us. Yes girls, John is the one with the knees / legs from the Falmouth update. Cannot promise any more enticing leg pictures for you though - I think it will be a touch cold for shorts. More info to follow.....