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

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Bajan style - the concluding part

One of the must do tourist trips is to view the coral through a glass bottom boat and then swim with turtles. Hum. The captain is allergic to being in the water - being on it is truly wonderful, being in it is for fish. The crew has a totally different view and loved being in the water with these guys:

Of course, the health and safety police haven't quite got around to Barbados yet. Here is the kill cord for the engine on our trip boat which remained tied up to the ignition key, not the helmsman, for the entire time. Luckily he didn't fall in:

On the way back, we passed this nice little pad which, it seems, is Simon Cowell's rental abode on the island. Just enough space there for his ego we reckon. No idea where the guests would stay:

We were told that you often find a church and rum shop (bar) together on the island (maybe the women go to church and the men to the rum shop?) Also that KFC is the biggest and most popular fast food chain. So, the proximity of these three in Speightstown seemed optimal for the locals:

and just down the road, alcohol:

What more could anyone want? Certainly not the food on offer in this place for Independence day, even if it was quite cheap:

We tried to find something that captured the lovely laid back yet friendly atmosphere of the island and the approach of the people we met. One of the best examples is the sign outside this fishcake restaurant come fast food joint:

The crew was of course, not as impressed with this homily as the captain.

Finally, an image that really sums up the remarkable island:

Just chillin man , just chillin.....

Sadly we returned to a boat that had nice black streaks on it from the UK's rain hence we spent today doing a little more than the Bajan guy above.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Bajan style - part 2

Bridgetown was a bit disappointing to be honest. Probably because it was a hot day and the place was full of cruise ship visitors although that seems the norm anyway. We did enjoy the Careenage area where the Bajan love of colour was evident in the yachts too:

However, the east coast more than made up for it! A trip around the sights (and sounds) there was a fascinating mix of experiences. First of all, Nigel Benn (a UK boxer) has an Aunt who runs a rum shop (ie bar) on the island. When he got famous and successful, she renamed her place as the "Nigel Benn Aunty Bar" and she merrily waves at passers by:

Beats the average UK pub on both welcome and colour scheme.

The favourite tourist spot of Bathsheba was simply stunning with the waves coming in across the Atlantic. A video rather than a picture to give you a flavour of it so turn the sound on - oh for a proper experience, please also increase your central heating thermostat to 28 degrees and RELAX:

Could have stood there for hours. In fact, it is the ideal place to wait for a bus - ever seen a bus stop with this kind of view before?

Of course, every "tourist trap" spot has a few souvenir salesmen around with varying degrees of sales ability. Some get quite animated when in negotiation to sell some of their junk and start to look quite constipated:

Would love to see the hair that he has hidden away under that hat when it is unleashed. Must be quite a sight. In the church at St Johns, it seems that they had a strange rector a few years ago. Dudley Moore has been described as many things (eg "The sex Thimble" as he was pretty short) and had quite a reputation, especially when he starred in "Arthur". "A faithful and wise steward" is, perhaps, a new phrase for him:

Our east coast trip was on a "Golden Dragon" bus. This one was developed by the Chinese company themselves and boy, did it show. The antique leaf spring suspension, agricultural drivetrain and dodgy chinese engine (apparently a Cummins rip-off) combined to give an "interesting" ride. For us, it was living proof that not everything built in Xiamen is as well assembled as our Nordhavn. They couldn't even put the badge on properly:

We hope that the golden Dragon quality manager doesn't move to the nearby Nordhavn factory. Please.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Bajan style

Although life is one long holiday really (apart from the little maintenance tasks we have to undertake of course), we had another one to get some "winter sun". This time it involved flying to Barbados, the home of  Bob (trolley shopper, cross Atlantic sailor) and Lin (the same but much better looking). Of course, they knew about this and timed their return to Antigua to re-launch their yacht perfectly. 2 Brits in, 2 out. One could get a complex.

However, John (the knees) and Tina were around for a while so that saved us from having to talk to each other all the time. Of course, the 28 centigrade temperatures brought out those famous knees girls:

We don't think that John is all that wild, and certainly not reserved though.

Never having been to the island before, we enjoyed all the typical tourist "things" and will repeat them for the benefit of those who also haven't seen the place and to bore those that have (or live here, Bob and Lin). Firstly, after an unseasonal wildly rainy day that invoked local flood warnings, the stunning sunset that followed:

We loved the evening temperatures, chilled approach and friendliness of the place. Relaxing and "liming" (the local word - see liming video for the tourist board's view on it) seemed the thing to do. Firstly, having seen the "Berghaus triplets" on the Ben Nevis mountain range in Scotland (see earlier post this year), the crew and Tina decided to be the "Butterfly hair grip twins":

Not quite as impressive as some of the locals attire or hair-dos. Brading and beading are of course the norm. We saw far too many pasty white, overweight tourists with beaded hair to know just how unappealing it is. On the locals, it is rather different :

The local chattel houses were designed to be moveable, as people changed jobs around the plantations they could move their wooden house around with them. Some are still stunningly maintained and painted. Some need a little TLC (for the non English speakers TLC = tender loving care). Of course, if you are a jet-ski freak, maintaining the house comes second to having fun:

The locals love colour - sometimes they go a little overboard (for our taste) and we really think this guy either has to change his car or house colour to avoid the clash:

Actually, the car (up close) looked like it wasn't capable of moving too far under its own power. Mind you, there are plenty of local cars like that.....

For the boating folks, there are some pretty fishing boats and some even get painted too!

Of course, the approach to authority and rules is interesting - the "do not litter or dump" sign seems to be a waste of time for example:

On the other hand, the island also has a fair share of the super-rich folks. No, we are not amongst them and we didn't stay in Sandy Lane. For the wealthy boating types, there is a new facility being built called Port Ferdinand:

As you can see, nothing too posh compared to the average chattel house. The guttering and downpipes on the buildings are made out of copper. Gives you an idea of the money being spent here and hence the cost of an apartment. We are not planning to sell our house in Hythe Marina to try and buy something here. The annual maintenance charges alone are as much as we spend on boat diesel, maintenance and moorings!

Transport - well, we were suitably brave and took the reggae buses into Bridgetown and Holetown. In case you've never experienced one, dip in and out of this video Reggae bus video and they are truly an experience. Seeing the buses racing each other to get to the passengers first is quite something. Less so if you happen to be on board of course! Still, for $2 Barbados flat fare ($1 US) they are a very cheap way of getting about.

We will share a little about the east coast of the island and Bridgetown in our next post. Just to keep you checking back for updates.....

Monday, 10 November 2014

Patrick on TV

OK, so now his secret is out.

Far too many of you have spotted Patrick's starring role in the new John Lewis Xmas TV advert.

For those who haven't seen it (you really should) here is the link: John Lewis advert

Of course, Patrick is very smart and so he negotiated a good deal. No wonder the advert cost £1 million to produce.

Some nasty person produced this spoof advert. Patrick is remaining pretty quiet about the allegation of stupidity being rife amongst penguins. He is simply counting his money from John Lewis with a smug smile. Perhaps that Nordhavn 64 is a possibility after all.......

For those of you who live in countries that don't have such inventive TV adverts, we feel sorry for you. Good beer or huge burgers are a small recompense for having German or US TV adverts inflicted upon you.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Pottering around, as you do when you don't work......

It has been very quiet on the blog of late. Mainly because there have been no epic sea voyages to report upon. That doesn't mean no boating of course - no we managed the monster trip across the bay to Cardiff and several runs up and down to give the main and wing engine some exercise last week. Hardly worth switching on the AIS for though....

We rented a truly horrid Vauxhall Corsa 1.2 (nasty little car, ours was in a grim bright yellow colour so a double whammy) and visited the crew's parents, taking a day out to see Cambridge again which gave the crew's mum's hat an outing again:

What else have we been up to? Well, the boat has gone topless again. The bimini cover was removed, this time by us not a big gale force wind. Then all the other covers were given a couple of coats of Boracol. This is the stuff that Stephen (the sailing, shooting and trolley shopper expert) recommended to us. It helps stop all that nice winter green goo from forming on covers and the teak areas too. Hence everything had a couple of coats before the really wet season sets in.

If you are interested / bored with your life, then have a look at Boracol use It is a nice pH neutral biocide and we love the stuff - it really does work.

What other fun and frolics? Well, the big outboard, the Yamaha 20HP on the RIB, had an engine and gearbox oil change for the winter. Not too taxing as it only involves 1.5 litres of engine oil and a filter about the size of two jaffa cakes but rather more expensive.

We also visited Porthcawl, on Welsh Andrew's recommendation. Lovely little town, just a pity that the new marina there has such a narrow entrance gate:

Cannot imagine squeezing the Nordhavn through that little gap on a bumpy day! Too too exciting. The marina itself seemed to have quite a bit of surge inside with the gate open, even though it was very calm out to sea. Think we will give it a miss and stick to visiting by land.

The final bit of fun was an unexpected trip to the theatre to see Al Murray, the comedian. If you don't know him, this might help / jog your memory Wikipedia link.

It was an unexpected trip as Penarth's resident Scousers, Carl and Julie had bought the tickets but then couldn't go along. That wasn't because Liverpudlians are not allowed in although they were the subject of a few jokes.

For any German readers, Al Murray's German language skills are excellent - you have to hear him acting as a Frankfurt stockbroker, talking German in a phone call with London. The Scottish Nationalists in the audience also had a rough time when he talked about their desire to establish the new republic of "Jockistan". A very non politically correct hilarious evening - go and see him on tour if you get the chance

Patrick? Well, he is a little piqued that his sister Poppy hasn't phoned or emailed since she moved in with Andrew and Linda in Weymouth. We think that Poppy is having far too good a time to worry about her brother. So much for penguin family togetherness.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Patrick's family photos

The errant penguin on board gave us quite a surprise. He went and invited his younger sister to stay for a few days! No checking up front that this would be acceptable of course, she (Poppy) just arrived courtesy of DHL one morning.

Patrick was being caring though. He wanted to find her a nice home and he often thought fondly of his time with Linda (the non Welsh speaking Welsh lady). Remember his RIB trip off Skomer earlier this year?

Pretty accurately, he had figured out that she would look after his sister very well with lots of cwtch time.

Firstly, there were a couple of difficult moments with Bronwen, his spaniel friend. She arrived with their "phantom baby" (see the earlier posts on Machiavellian Steve's behaviour):

Then, having spied Poppy, Bronwen was a bit frosty with our penguin hero:

Until she realised that Poppy was Patrick's sister and was no threat to their "special relationship" then normal relations were restored (no comment):

Just so you don't miss out, here are Patrick, Poppy and the phantom baby in what would be quite a nice family photo if they were mum, dad and baby:

For those who struggle to tell Penguins apart, Patrick is the rather handsome one on the left.

Luckily, Linda agreed to adopt Poppy following a pleading letter from Patrick and so we now have a much quieter boat again. Back to one penguin mouth to feed.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Pre winter maintenance time again! Read and you will never buy a boat perhaps?

Yes, there is always something to do on a boat... we've reported on most routine things as they were completed. One frustration is the engine mounts for the main Lugger. After replacement they settled quite slowly requiring readjustment a couple of times (and they need tweaking again now) for smoothness. The mounts seem feeble for the weight and torque of the engine even though they are the standard units for the Lugger 1066T. You cannot easily replace them with beefier offerings as the bolt holes in the bearers are fixed. Pity. Would specify something much chunkier on a  new build boat.

Next spring, we will try to arrange a lift-out in Southampton at Shamrock Quay again as the stabilisers are due a service. The TRAC dealer is based next door to Shamrock so....  Have a look at Golden Arrow for information and Stabiliser video for an idea of how well they work. great bits of kit. No matter what the service costs, it is worth every penny when you are travelling in rough sea to make the crew happy / able to cook underway.

The little wing engine had some TLC this week. Firstly fresh oil and filter for the winter, then fuel filters. The primary filter isn't one of the nice Racor turbine series that are fitted everywhere else. It is this horrid little canister thing:


A pain in the bum to take apart and the seals never seem to quite hold all the diesel in properly. We remade one hose connection that was weeping and vowed to replace it with a "proper" turbine filter sometime (ie when there is a deal on the Racor units) via ASAP supplies website. They are not cheap little bits of kit.

The wing engine raw water pump was leaking a bit - they have ceramic seals that don't like inactivity (but love lots of hours service instead). So, it was treated to a nice new pump:

Contrast the need for replacement after 62 hours with the genset that has the original pump after 1002 hours use:

See, equipment behaves just like crew - it hates being ignored....

The final fun job was finishing off a heating boiler service that was done earlier this year whilst we were on the Hamble river. Of course, after the service we didn't need the heating (amazing -a whole summer in Scotland and the heating wasn't needed once!!) Now the nights are a bit chillier, we ran the unit and it was very (I mean very) smoky. It also was burning unevenly. Not best pleased after having it fettled by a professional Webasto trained technician in May on the theory that it wasn't a DIY job.

Of course, we were not close to them for the man to have another look so instructions were duly emailed over and the fun of dismantling the unit and adjusting the fuel pressure was had. Naturally it is simple and accessible. Oh yes - tucked away in the lazarette in one corner so you need long triple jointed arms:

Very very happy about that little task which should not have been needed.

Remember how Bob (the trolley shopper and yachting expert from Barbados) described live aboard cruising as "boat maintenance in exotic places"? Well he was right, except that Penarth isn't exotic. It is very very nice but hardly exotic.

During the winter we will replace the torsional vibration damper on the main engine as that is also due. One of those jobs where nothing looks any different except your bank balance. Important to do it though to protect the gearbox from engine vibrations and possibly big repair costs in future!

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The cruising season looks like it has ended.......

Cuddled up safely in Penarth Marina at the end of September, we heard the ominous "there are warnings of gales in sea area Malin" comment. Yes, that is why we came south for the winter. Mind you, there is some nice stuff forecast for tonight down here:

Storm 10 for the first time this winter and it is only October 5th. Doesn't bode well.....

This kind of sealed the fact that the UK cruising season is over in our minds. We did have a run across Cardiff Bay last week to give the big and baby Luggers a warm up but that hardly counts. So, it is time to report on the numbers for those data rational folks who seem to enjoy such things.

OK, since leaving Penarth at the start of April, we have covered around 2,000 nautical miles. For the landlubbers that is around 2,300 land miles and for the continental readers, 3,700 Km. Not a huge number as we spent plenty of time enjoying the places we visited - part of our mantra. This is not all about clocking up sea miles and ticking off ports visited!

The main engine was busy for just under 350 hours. The genset had 190 hours of use too (a good sign, lots of time away from marina berths!) Andrew (the non Welsh speaking Welshman) helmed for about 25% of this total time but is now engaged in buying his own Nordhavn so we might have less help and a lower Lemon Curd consumption next season.


Well, the engines and genset didn't let us down. A couple of leaks that needed fittings to be tightened but nothing else and certainly nothing that stopped them running happily.

The navigation PC played lots of funny games until the captain figured out a new sequence of starting up all the networked equipment. Since then it has behaved - not worth a gold star yet but getting very close. Don't like tempting fate.

Nothing else significant went wrong apart from one satellite box that feeds the master cabin TV. That packed up and meant no TV or satellite radio in the cabin until a replacement was fitted last week. Hardly a problem though.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Alone in Penarth (bar Bronwen of course)

Well, the Dunkirk little ship Mimosa left Penarth on Wednesday morning (early to catch the tide) but returned later on as it was too rough out there for the three dogs on board. That comment does not refer to Bernie, Jen and Paul of course. The three four legged crew were not happy so they had to turn back.

However, they locked out of the barrage on Saturday with barely a breath of wind. We did manage to get up early to take a few photos so you could admire the beautiful 1935 boat:

You can also admire Bernie, although he is not a 1935 model of course:

They arrived safely in Padstow and the dogs were happy too.....

We spent the weekend doing "stuff". The egg whisk little outboard had a run and was then winterised as we are most unlikely to use it to go ashore now! The RIB had a good clean up and a burn around the bay too (remember, all work and no play makes etc etc). Finally there was some polishing (as always) to fix the deprivations of the Caledonian Canal locks, a catch up with Carl and Julie, the same with Steve and many many cuddles for Bronwen the spaniel.

What next? Well, we had a huge trip today - moved berths in the marina. If the nice weather continues we might trundle over to Portishead Marina and check it out. Penarth is pretty full, hope Portishead has some space for us.

Maintenance news:

The little Tohatsu outboard was, as always, as good as gold. It starts, stops and takes minimal maintenance. We LOVE two-strokes.... The Yamaha 20HP on the RIB was fine but the pump for the power trim and tilt has some corrosion on the casing. Looks like you cannot easily remove it to clean it up and repaint it as the motor assembly is inside. Poor design as the case is thin mild steel, with hard edges that will never hold a paint film properly. This is regularly dipped in salt water.....  Might have to pop into the local dealer and ask for their advice.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Tenby to Cardiff and an unexpected welcome

As the forecast had a depression arriving and hence less idyllic weather on Tuesday, the decision was simple enough - head for Cardiff Bay and try to get a spot in Penarth (our winter home) earlier than the planned October 1st. Taking the tide with us for the last bit of the trip meant pushing it for the first few hours and a departure around 7:30am. Hum. Still, it would be the last one of those for a while!

Anchor up, we headed off from Tenby in calm sea and sun, just some mist hanging around. The area has two firing ranges that neatly bracket it (Manorbier and Pendine) with only a narrow channel separating them. As live firing was planned from 8am we thought that we should focus on sticking to the channel carefully.

Pendine has an interesting history - for pictures see Pendine website.

Just off the range area, we found another set of great fishing pot markers:

Much moaning about poor markers that couldn't be seen in rough seas etc until they got closer and it became clear they were balloons... Sorry local fishermen. Actually not, as we then saw some tiny black markers that were for real - easy enough to avoid as it was very calm though.

The trip was perfect flybridge weather. Little wind, calm, no other boats about. All very relaxed. The biggest activity was taking showers underway so we didn't arrive grubby.

We got closer to the land off Nash Point and although it was still a little hazy, we could add to our image bank of lighthouses:

Not one of the most interesting but...... A little further along the coast is the famous Atlantic College in old fort like buildings where the first RIB was designed and adopted by the RNLI (see Wikipedia):

Barry Island, the favourite hang out spot for Nessa and the other characters in Gavin and Stacey looks very different from the sea too:

Of course, nothing can make Barry itself look more appealing except for a small earthquake / volcanic eruption.

Patrick had been in close and frequent contact with Bronwen the spaniel. He was so excited about seeing her again. She persuaded her dad, Steve, to come out in his "Old Girl" (it is a boat, you have a bad imagination) to meet us off Sully Island. The eagle eyed will spot Bronwen eagerly leaning over the rail straining to see Patrick again:

Steve's boat, Soleil D'Or also has quite a history. We mentioned this last year but in case you didn't bother to read it, look at Historic Ships register

The next surprise was that Bernie, the crew's ex boss was on board too:

He is the guy looking very relaxed and nautical in all white (brave move on an elderly boat with three dogs on board and an aged Gardner diesel). Steve had bumped into him by pure chance in Cardiff Bay and as two wooden boat owners they got chatting / drinking. Then Steve mentioned some friends with a Nordhavn and that was that. Bernie stayed over and hitched a ride out to sea on Steve's lovely boat to surprise us - and that certainly worked!

We followed Soleil D'Or up to the barrage locks:

Instead of going into Penarth marina, we joined the wooden boat owners over at Mermaid Quay overnight for a big catch up. An unexpected treat at the end of our cruising season.

The next morning started calm and sunny - lovely views and reflections across the bay area towards Penarth with the strange looking St David's hotel in the foreground:

Bernie's boat is a classic ex Dunkirk little ship called Mimosa. For the foreign readers look at Wikipedia to get some background. She has been beautifully restored and re-engined and he is slowly heading around to Ramsgate ready to join the 2015 little ships return to Dunkirk trip.

Here she is moored outside the Welsh Assembly and Pierhead buildings:

Both the boat and setting are lovely. Bernie and Jen are lovely too of course (just in case he reads this rubbish)

Mimosa's information is on the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships website here

We finished our summer cruise by taking the long haul across Cardiff bay to Penarth and cuddling up onto a berth there. We will work out some statistics for those who enjoy such things on a rainy day. As the forecasts are good, that might not be for a while.

Maintenance news:

Those engine checks revealed nothing untoward. So, to spice up this bit, we can report that Andrew brought us the most up market rechargeable head torch we've ever seen. So, the tool cabinet has been expanded.