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, 28 March 2014

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink….

For the seriously sad folk who are interested in waterpumps and the delights of boat maintenance and anyone employed by Jabsco:

You know how things always go wrong at the least convenient times? Well, we had fired up the genset, loaded the washing machine and were pottering about “doing things” when the Captain noticed a red flashing light on our nice Miele machine. The machine is nice, not the red flashing light of course. It was warning us of a blocked inlet filter according to the very Germanic instruction book. Now, removing the machine is another job from hell. You would have to take the door off, protect the wooden floor, remove the retaining timberwork and then try to wriggle it forward out of the snug little recess it lives in. Oh yes, really looking forward to doing that to access the water inlet filter.

In desperation, the Captain looked for other causes and found one. The water pressure was very very low. More a dribble than a flow through the taps. Hum. Off to inspect the fresh water pump which still looked like one even if it didn’t behave that way. Seemed that it was not only low on pressure but also just switching itself off from time to time for no obvious reason. No signs of air locks, power supply problems or anything similar so time to remove it and fit the spare that we have.

Spare is a grand term. It is the original pump which we wore out after a couple of years and rebuilt with a “repair kit”. The pumps are feeble things and get lots of negative feedback from all the live-aboard cruisers for having a very short life.  So, pump removed, spare fitted and switched on. Firstly it wouldn’t prime. Secondly, the outlet fitting was dripping. Not an auspicious start. New O ring fitted, it still leaked.
The inlet and outlet fittings are, in the Captain’s humble opinion, junk. One O ring and a simple slide clip that hold the fitting in place. Much movement and the O ring gets distorted and they leak. This poor solution is exacerbated by the boat builders who fit solid pipework on the outlet side so getting the thing even vaguely aligned is very hard. Still, we tried. Twice. Finally leak free but the pump still refused to prime. So happy as it was Friday afternoon and of course the “next day delivery” for a new pump was only possible for orders up to 2pm…… (No chandlery in Wales seems to stock our pump as it is the higher capacity Jabsco “Sensor-Max” unit, most boats use the smaller one)

So, after stripping down both pumps and trying to build one working one (motor and sensor from the first pump, diaphragm assembly from the second) we had water again but only at a low pressure. Grr. Our original (2010) plan to have a backup unit permanently fitted in the system was messed up as the bulkhead has no space on it. The boat was built with a second little diesel heater that allows you to warm the heads (toilet and shower compartments for the non-boaters) without firing up the main system. That is mounted right next to the water pump:

Of course, the hybrid pump kept us going sort of until Tuesday morning when a new one was delivered and fitted – with the same water leak past the new O ring. Seems a common thing as Stephen (for regular blog readers, you have already met him. He is the trolley shopper, sailing and clay pigeon shooting expert) also had fun with a replacement last summer in France.

Dear Mr Jabsco – if you have started supplying smaller O rings, then stop it. Also, please re-engineer the pipe fittings from simple slide clips to something more substantial. Guess what – stuff gets shaken about at sea and fittings move you know, especially when the pump is rubber mounted to cut noise and vibration. Time to get serious and totally re-plumb things this winter using a 240v commercial AC pump with the feeble 24v leisure thing as a backup….

The one silver lining to this large Cumulo-nimbus cloud? At least we didn’t have to wrestle the washing machine out of its den.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Gloucester City

Although it had a reputation as a pretty grim place a few years ago, we were mad enough to stop off here on the way back to Penarth. Pleasantly surprised we wandered around the rejuvenated old dock area which has been nicely renovated, preserving the old warehouse buildings:

Of course, many of them had government offices inside - the local council hasn't stinted itself on accommodation or location. The wooden walkway is a temporary disabled entrance to the council offices:

In the marina area (the local yacht club runs this) was a sad decaying ex-Norfolk Broads hire boat:

Shame, in their day these were the daddy of hire fleet boats. Now it looks more like the incontinent great uncle. For some strange reason, she had a nice new red ensign at the stern. Might have been better to fix the leaks up forrard that the tarpaulin was covering instead. She used to be "Golden Emblem 1" from Collins of Wroxham and spent 25 hard years being abused by hirers. Now one owner has managed more damage than all those 25 years put together. Yes, boats do need lots of TLC.....

We liked the area around the Cathedral. We didn't like the fact that it decided to rain as we walked into the Cathedral close but the stunning interior and lack of leaks made up for it. We had to steal the interior shots from the web - didn't have the "big" camera with us:

Well worth a couple of hours was the Waterways Museum. If you are nearby, pop in and see the history of the local canals / river navigation and how important it was to the development of the area. Museum website is worth a look too. Another converted warehouse and friendly volunteer staff too:

The only hard bit was finding a pub with some table space to have lunch in. We managed to pick a day when the local rugby club were playing at home so every pub was totally full (heaving is a better word) until just before the game started. A late lunch wasn't a big issue though....

As an aside, there have been over 8,100 page hits on this mind numbing blog so far (ignoring the automated stuff). If your lives are really so dull, then we can recommend some more educational and entertaining ways to pass your time. Just mail us for ideas.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

And then it was spring

Wow, what a difference a day makes. Suddenly the sun felt warm, and it was out there in the sky with no clouds to blanket it. Even the wind decided to die down a little. Just lovely. It was so nice that the people in the local Tesco seemed happier too. Not happy, just happier.

We used the nicer weather to start on some exterior cleaning and maintenance work. Firstly, replacing the water pump impeller in the RIB outboard (you have to drop off the gearbox and drive shaft to get to it) and then going for a hooligan "burn up" in the bay area to check that all was well after the Captain / amateur mechanic's attention. Luckily (amazingly?) it was. If you really must know how to do it / see what an outboard looks like dismembered, try this: Yamaha outboard water pump video which is at least introduced by a very nice girl (bet that ups the hit rate!)

For those who cannot be bothered to see a video, it looks a bit like this:

After such a wet winter, the teak trim on the transom, bathing platform slats and the steps to the flybridge needed a good clean. They were nice and green so a scrub with the 2 part cleaner stuff was in order. A lovely job but satisfying once done as the green hued teak returns to a nice original colour:

Of course, a warmer day also means polishing - this time the hull was the lucky recipient of our elbow grease. Such a wild lifestyle this boating. Still, we view it as preparing for a nice summer in new locations - assuming we have a summer of course.

Friday, 7 March 2014

An update on the errant penguin, Patrick and exhausting things

Whilst all this fun filled maintenance was going on, Patrick the penguin has not been idle. Well, actually he kind of has.

When asked to help the Captain with the exhaust elbow swap on the wing engine that was previously reported as necessary (Patrick has the right build to help wrestle off the exhaust hose) he took a lot of persuading. After a couple of minutes in the engine room, he complained that it was too chilly (sorry - you are a penguin!) and reappeared suitably attired for the job:

The gloves got in the way when he tried to wield the spanner though. All very messy. Still, despite his lack of real help, the offending article (the exhaust elbow, not Patrick, keep up) was duly removed. You can see how they fail when they get coked up and overheat in one area:

The new stainless one looks much prettier:

Of course, Patrick had lost interest much earlier on. When the Captain went back into the pilothouse to fire up the wing engine and check all was well, he found that Patrick had already changed - just not for the better:

We fear that he is exploring his feminine side again, despite being firmly told that he is not called Patricia. The colour clash was pretty horrid too - a penguin with no colour sense (suppose that happens if you are basically black and white orientated). As always, we will keep you posted on his antics. He seems to be getting the proverbial spring in his waddle.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

More preventative maintenance - and the weather is not that bad...

For the technically minded or chronic insomniacs: The boat came with a great built in oil change system fitted. The one downside is that it has a pump with an impeller drive and everyone reports that the impellers fail regularly. We haven't experienced this yet (maybe we change the oil more often than others so the pump gets used a little more and the impeller doesn't get "set"?) No matter, a new impeller is a stupid price and having to change it just as you are ready to pump out the old hot oil is far from ideal.

$35 plus shipping for an impeller smaller than the picture above with the associated seals. Hum

So, when the manufacturers (Reverso) had an offer, we bought a new gear driven pump to replace the original. Finally got around to fitting it. Of course, nothing is easy. The fittings for the pipes that run to the engine, wing and genset were wider apart than on the original and the backing plate was wider. Getting enough slack in the hoses to couple them up was real fun. Real fun. Finding a position that allowed holes to be drilled through the backplate in the original bolt positions was also amusing. Really amusing.

Doesn't look that different considering all the effort but it makes the captain feel good:

Whilst doing this, it was a good time to change the wing engine and genset oil. The wing, as it was about 10 months old. The genset, as it had run about 80 hours since the last change and during the winter when genset use is less frequent, we try to swap the oil regularly.

What else - well, it was time to adjust the valve clearances on the main engine and genset. The main is of course a little chunkier than the genset engine (6.8 litres and 6 cylinders versus 2 litres and 4 cylinders). The level of pain to do the job is inverted though as access to the genset valves is harder. The main engine kind of sits in the middle of the engine room making things very simple. In case you feel tempted, here is what you have to do:

Got that? Good, you can do it for us next time. We have the special John Deere tools mentioned above so you have no excuse at all.

Of course, one job always leads to another. For some time we'd known that the exhaust elbow on the wing engine was getting corroded (mentioned in an earlier post). The cast iron elbow has cooling water sprayed into it (ie hot salt water) and that, together with any carbon build up inside, is a real corrosive cocktail. Typical lifespan is reported as about 5 years so after 7 ours had done well.

We had already bought 2 new stainless steel elbows (stainless lasts a little longer) in readiness as the genset has exactly the same elbow fitted. The plan was to replace them both this year. Well, whilst running up the wing engine after the oil change, we noticed that the corrosion was worse and at high rpm, a weep of fluid was being forced out. Means we have to wrestle the exhaust hose off soon and then replace the elbow. More fun to come. Anyone fancy popping over and acting as the tame gorilla needed to get the exhaust hose free?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

St David's day

When in Wales, do as the Welsh do. OK, that isn't quite the famous line but it seemed appropriate. What do the Cardiff crowd do on St David's day apart from eat,drink and party? Well, they go and see the parade that trundles through the city and then enters the castle grounds. So, we felt obliged to join in. The walk into the city was busy. The streets along the parade route even more so. For the non UK readers, look at this for some background and cultural education St David Wikipedia. Alternatively, just enjoy the pictures below

We had a strange vantage spot though, in front of us were a family sporting daffodils - but they were Dutch (or at least were native Dutch speakers according to the crew who knows about such things). They had really adopted the local way of life. At least we had a great view across to the castle:

The parade was  a strange mix of groups. Great fun though and the atmosphere was wonderful, with many people dressed in national costume or sporting daffodils or leeks. One lady had taken the daffodil theme a bit far. We had never seen a daffodil that could eat quite like this:

The traditional male voice choir was there and in good voice too even if the years seemed to be catching up with them a little:

Some traditional costume for you too:

There were a few strange groups joining in too. As an example, the local Gurkha community. Never let it be said that Cardiff isn't multi-cultural (after all, they tolerate 2 English folk in Penarth)

There  were some other iconic local people celebrated by a statue too. For the fans of the Gavin and Stacey TV series, here is Nessa, the symbol of Barry Island culture and sophistication:

Not a bad likeness really

On the way back we walked around the old Ocean and Roath dock areas - or at least tried to. When they redeveloped this area, they forgot to add in footpaths. However, they did include some interesting sculptures in the middle of the roundabouts:

At the Motorpoint arena, we were amazed to see some huge queues at about 2pm. Then we saw that "Comic con" was taking place. We scoured the queue, looking for Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj but they must have got in earlier. We guess that Sheldon had it all planned out.

As the weather forecast continues to be horrid (gales and high seas out to the west) we will be around here for a while longer so you might get treated to more Welsh culture anon....