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

Monday, 28 July 2014

Corpach to Dunstaffnage

High water was at 8am (ish) and so we wanted to lock out then (just as the staff start work) and take the tide down to Oban and on to Tobermory. The latter idea was binned when we saw how wet the forecast was and how difficult it would be to get Andrew and Linda back to a train in time. The former was binned when the captain got up at 7am to make tea for one and all to discover thick fog. No big desire to travel in that when we didn’t have to.

So, we let the sun burn it off first. The lock staff asked when we wanted to escape as there was no other traffic planned – the “back of 9” was agreed.  As the “back of 9” approached, we got ready to leave and Andrew took the facilities key back to the lock office.  Guess what, he vanished for half an hour. We wondered if he had been kidnapped, adopted or needed rescuing from a particularly friendly local. Actually it was because a couple of people were paying their lock dues. The first one was given all the info on what to do and what to see in the canal. The second lady, who heard all the spiel first time around, then wanted it repeated for her benefit. Slow old pace of life luckily.

Leaving the Caly canal seemed quite sad in a way but here is the sea lock for you to enjoy:

Our somewhat late lock out completed, we enjoyed a sunny and calm run back down Loch Linnhe:

There was little other traffic bar an elderly trip boat which seemed to like showing the visitors the local fish farms. NOT the prettiest things around. Through the Corran narrows, going with the tide, all 4 of us were fixed on the plotter screen and cheered when it got to 10.0 knots through the water. Funny how little things please you in this life.

Andrew seemed to have a very relaxed approach to the helmsman role today, frequently abandoning his post for picture taking, coffee etc. Patrick was, luckily, in the pilothouse and couldn’t see this to add to his already sky high stress levels (see the earlier post re his love child for the cause of his dismay):

Despite this gross dereliction of duty, we still made it safely through Shuna sound and down to Oban. Our changed plan, owing to the forecast, was to stay in Oban, rent a car and see some of the area from there.  Contacting Dunstaffnage to see if they had a space for us was tricky too. Their phone system was down for some reason and they only use VHF channel 37. Of course, our nice big international Icom radios don’t have this antique marina channel on them so we have to use the handheld radio with a range just further than you can shout. Despite all this stress (yes, we had to find something to make you feel sorry for us) we cuddled up onto a nice hammerhead berth with (party time) 32A power supply. Washing machine time. Here is the view across to the Connel bridge and Ben Cruachan mountain:

Even better, the fresh water in the canal had killed all the weed and gunge that had grown on our hull since the lift out earlier in the year. The salt water was now killing off any freshwater gunge that we gained in our 8 days so we had a pretty clean boat again (and the canal licence is way way cheaper than a lift out!)

Patrick's love child

We thought that title might get your attention....

So, now you are engrossed, here is an email that Patrick received from Bronwen his spaniel friend:

Dear Patrick.
We may have a problem. I found this little chap in my bed this morning. He's very clever for one so young and is already demanding a sailing trip so we are off tomorrow for Milford haven. I like it there.
Dad says something about maintenance money for my extra food now he has another mouth to feed.
It was fun when we snuck away together that afternoon just before you left wasn't it and your guardians never even noticed.
Dad also says I can use this email account cos he can't get the other one to do pictures.
Don't get too cosy and cwtchy with that Linda one. You have responsibilities now
Ps we did the yacht club sailing thing yesterday. Dad has taught me how to clear a very fouled anchor. It looked terribly hard work so I had to have a lie down after.

What do you think our intrepid penguin did when he saw this? Well, initially he was overjoyed and excited. Then he seemed concerned and then downright worried. So worried in fact that he finally asked our opinion - a first on anything!!!

He was a little worried that some of the facts didn't tally......

Hi Bron (or should I say Steve???)

I am really worried now - I think that your dad has hacked into your email account and is sending me emails pretending to be you.

When I first read your mail I was so excited!! The thoughts of having a family and settling down with you, escaping from the guardians etc etc were just wonderful. Then I got worried. How did we make this baby? I didn't remember going shopping with you for him / her or getting a DIY baby kit complete with knitting needles etc. 

I thought it was time to confess to my guardians and ask them about the penguin / spaniel facts of life. What I learnt was very worrying though. Apparently making babies isn't a simple matter of using my pocket money in a shop. We have to do other things and for some reason a little young penguin like me isn't fertile yet. I have no idea what fertile means but it seems to stop us knitting a baby for some reason.

My first thought was, I am sorry to admit, that you were tricking me. Then I realised that you were too kind and nice to do that. Then I realised that in your (your Dad's??) email it mentioned that he wanted maintenance payments. It became clear. I looked up the Penguin Support Agency on the internet as I had heard about the Child Support Agency on the radio. When I did that, PSA sounded very nasty though, all to do with some disease. 

So, the answer is obvious. Your dad is trying to get me to send him my pocket money under false pretences. Please get a new email account soon and mail me from that so I know it is really you.....

Very upset and worried (loosing some fur over this despite Linda's cwtch therapy)


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Fort Augustus to Corpach

Having failed to make as much progress as we expected yesterday, we had a few locks ahead of us if we were to reach Corpach for the evening and stop in the basin just above the sea water lock. So, another 7am alarm and we headed off, following some keen yachts, just before 8am towards the next lock ready for it to open. Things worked out really well. The little flotilla we were travelling with were lucky and the gates opened pretty much as we approached each lock. Amazing organisation via radio between the bridge and lock operators. So, it was a quick trip, sadly in the rain to start with.

In Kytra lock, the crew was given a gold star by Linda the lady lock keeper for wearing her lifejacket:

A close up in case you are not convinced:

Apparently it is her first gold star since she was 11. It would be inappropriate to comment on how many years ago that was.

Guess what, the rain stopped and we were able to migrate to the flybridge for the Loch crossings (Oich and Lochy). A bonus that was most unexpected initially was the lack of wind, hence ripples, giving great reflections again on Loch Oich:

There was a big debate about people's ability to "imagine" or see shapes in the mountainsides. Two of us got this the same way, two struggled. How about you?

We had a brief wait, holding off the locks at Banavie but then descended Neptune's staircase pretty quickly and in glorious sun with plenty of onlookers to chat to and the Mallaig - Fort William steam train passing. Andrew took this whilst walking the boat between locks (OK, he wasn't pulling 40 tons, we did use the engine to help) and at great personal danger of falling in so you really should appreciate the risk if not the artistic merit of the photo:

Arriving at Corpach after 13 locks we were glad to moor in the basin ready to depart for sea again tomorrow.  Here is the sea lock from the flybridge:

And the view the other way, with Ben Nevis in the background (for the non UK folks, that is the highest mountain in the British Isles. Of course, if the SNP get their way it will become the highest mountain in Scotland only)

Stephen (the trolley shopper and shooting expert) and Alison's friends David and Janet arrived to have a look at the boat. David has a serious engineering background and so we got some good tips from him! Then it was dinner and chill time, enjoying the first data connection that our hopeless O2 SIM card had since we entered the canal. Andrew's EE card worked pretty much everywhere...

The cloud broke totally and the evening views across to Fort William and the mountains were spectacular:

Not a bad spot to end our canal trip really.....

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Inverness by bus then Dochgarroch to Fort Augustus

There were not hundreds of buses to choose from. The captain and Andrew recovered the RIB and then got the “7 minute warning”. The crew gaily informed us that the first bus left in 7 minutes. Of course it was on time and we were not. So, a short 40 minute wait for the “other bus” which was running nice and late followed. Yes, Inverness was still proving suitably tricky. Perhaps the hills are defeating the superannuated buses still in service like ours:

The good news follows – no bus crash or closed roads en route. We had a great day there, managing to buy a couple of extra folding chairs that John (the knees) and Tina can use at the Belfast BBC Prom in the Park when they visit in September too.

Quite an anti-climax really wasn’t it after all that build up?

On Saturday we planned a serious day heading back towards Corpach. Well, we planned one. We were ready for the 8am start at Dochgarroch but the man with the limp didn’t seem to want to start that early or use his radio. By half past we gave up and just headed down towards the lock and he finally opened it. Another glorious run across Loch Ness on the flybridge followed and then it got a bit stickier. We reached Fort Augustus around 12 just as one lock full was called in to head upwards. No space for us and we were told it would be a 3pm start for the next ascent. OK, lunch and a little shopping were completed. That somehow became 3:45pm though and naturally the lovely sunny weather had broken and the more typical rain started. Ideal for a flight of 5 locks. The crew looked good in their waterproofs though during a break in the rain:

The most surly of all the lock keepers really wanted to get our set of boats through asap and kept on opening the sluices pretty wide and so we enjoyed (?) lots of turbulence and fender squashing as we ascended. Unnecessary of course and the guy who took over for the last couple of locks was way more gentle and friendly. It seems that Dochgarraoch is the rest home for shortly to retire keepers and Fort Augustus flight is where they have the least "customer aware" folks who try to maximise their lunch break too. Funny as the people on the rest of the canal are brilliant.

As it was so late, we had no chance of passing through the next lock and so we moored just above the flight. One fringe benefit - we revisited the steak pie place for dinner. Every cloud has its calorie laden lining in this world it seems.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Fort Augustus to Dochgarroch

The first lock down was promised at 8am in the morning and as there was a good gaggle of boats about, we decided to get into pole position. Well, except for a fishing boat who of course cast off as we headed up the canal. He used the snooker ball approach of bouncing off each lock wall and then kept his very smelly engine running all the time, as did a Dutch flagged Elling cruiser alongside us so the foredeck crew got well and truly gassed out by the time we emerged from the 5th lock in the flight.

Of course, it had been misty in there but as we hit Loch Ness, it was thick fog. The folks who had been behind us in the locks, in a hire cruiser, had already said they might try to follow us as they had no navigation aids at all. We were third boat out and the fishing boat and Elling seemed to take a strange course, heading for the shore of the loch. Andrew on the other hand used the radar and headed up the middle of the loch. Suddenly the Elling made a big turn and fell in to line behind us as did the fishing boat. Both had radar – and it was going round so…... The hire boats stuck to us like glue and mummy duck (Andrew) was leading his brood of little ducklings across Loch Ness. As the fog started to burn off, they became more photogenic:

Some stunning views of the Loch emerged, with layers of fog hanging around, reflected in the water too:

The fog cleared as we approached Urquart castle and, surprise surprise, the fishing boat and Elling overtook us. The hire boat we had chatted to in the lock came alongside and waved their thanks before they headed for Drumnadrochit and the Loch Ness monster centre etc. We pressed on to the top of the loch, finding a few more houses that were imposing:

We planned to moor on the “pontoons” shown on the chart before Dochgarroch lock. When we got there, they all had a “reserved mooring” sign on them bar one tiny stretch just before the lock. Think the canal guide needs to be updated. The crew went to ask the lock-keeper who was on his lunch break so we did the same. When she asked again he said that we would be better passing through the lock and using the longer waiting pontoon on the other side. So, after waiting for the Jacobite Queen trip boat (a real old stager):

We locked through. This was the first lock where the keeper didn’t help us with the lines. Mind you he had a fearsome limp and so probably minimised his walking each day. He also had fearsome teeth –so bad that he might have come from Cornwall (you have to look at last year’s posts to get this one). To cap it all his accent was a real islands one. Very sing-song and hard to follow.  We slotted onto the end of the pontoon but it was not a great spot to leave the boat tomorrow for our planned trip into Inverness as all the hire boats would be using this as a waiting area. Hum.

That problem didn’t materialise though as the man with the limp staggered up to us and said that he was sorry, but he had forgotten that he had promised a trip barge the use of the pontoon overnight and so could we move. Where to – all the other moorings had the favourite “reserved mooring” signs? The lock keeper’s solution was simple – pick one, use it and say that I said it was OK. Not sure how that helps if the berth holder returns later on but….

So, we duly picked one and a local resident confirmed that the yacht was away for a while. Result.  Of course, Patrick didn’t help with all these boat moves, he just sat and sunbathed:

This getting to Inverness was proving harder than we thought. Our next plan was to use the RIB for a trip up there tomorrow so we launched it and decided on a practice run into town. Mummy duck had estimated a two mile trip. The crew moaned a bit when it was a touch longer. Still, the RIB, under Linda’s command, reached the swing bridge at Tomnahurich safely only to discover that it was too low to pass through by dinghy. As it was already nearly 6 pm and the bridge stops working then, we had a fair chance of being stuck the other side. Hence, we turned around and came back – at least it was sunny…. Inverness gets even more elusive.

That evening, plan B was hatched. Mummy duck found the bus timings and we decided to take the bus tomorrow. Surely nothing else could stop our quest now??? Especially as mummy duck had morphed into Crocodile Dundee:

Talking of famous people. we also saw J R Hartley walking along the canalside:

For younger readers or the non UK folks, look at this Yellow pages advert

The nice family from the hire cruiser that acted as a duckling in the fog came for a chat and thanked us again for getting them safely to their destination. They also gave us some “smidge” repellent that we might well need looking at the forecast for the next few days.

If this Inverness saga has kept you breathless with excitement, then you had better read on….. If not, then you are a normal balanced human being.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Laggan to Fort Augustus

A less than early start from Laggan took us across Loch Oich, through the swing-bridge and lock at Cullochy and onto a mooring for lunch to avoid arriving at the next lock during lunch time. Also to let 3 hire cruisers get ahead of us – somehow you never quite trust them when you are hemmed in on all sides by homicidal scuffed fibreglass helmed by novices with no real understanding of how much of a problem a deep gouge in your hull causes.

A nice spot for lunchtime though:

The next lock, Kytra was run by a very friendly lady Linda Moore and her ageing dog. This was our first lock when we were totally alone in the lock designed to fit old Navy frigates. We had some room….

Arriving at the Fort Augustus flight of 5 locks, we discovered that the next downward passage (yes, it was all downhill now, Loch Oich was the summit at 106 feet above sea level) was not until the next morning. Luckily there was one small space on the end of the pontoon. We then found it had a “reserved berth” plaque on it but the crew checked with the lock staff and was told it was OK to stay there. Strange use of reserved plaques here….

The reason there were no more downward lock passages was because they had to wait for the hotel boat, the “Lord of the Glens” to arrive and then lock through upwards. It was a serious chunk of boat to manage through there as you can see, if a little lacking in the glamour stakes:

Dinner was at the Bothy restaurant in Fort Augustus as recommended (unofficially of course) by the Waterways museum lady. A good spot – go and have the steak pie and then a little sleep to recover.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Banavie to Laggan

We were pretty tired after our exertions of yesterday. The fizzy stuff and wine that we consumed yesterday evening were not significant contributors to this state of torpor of course. We finally roused ourselves and had a brief walk around the area and then headed off for pastures new.

Trundling along, we discovered how good the local jungle drums were. As we passed through Moy swing bridge we gave “Margaret” the lady operator a thank you wave. She then called the next set of locks and bridge to tell them that a large private motorboat was en route. A little later she called them to say that 3 hire cruisers were en route and that the large motor boat had just passed Mrs McGillivrays.

Who is Mrs Mc Gillivray we wondered?? There were two tasteful green plastic chairs on the towpath and they were empty so perhaps she had scuttled back to her house to report our movements? Along the canal was a strange sign – maybe water has different physical properties in Scotland under the SNP?

Later on we heard another call from Margaret saying that we were opposite the small island in the Loch. We wondered if Mrs McGillivray’s son lived up there and was responsible for phoning in the later status updates. Kind of a neighbourhood watch on steroids…. Clearly we were being stalked even more closely than the sad folks who watch us on AIS manage to do. This is getting spooky.

The trip across Loch Lochy was wonderful. Temperature (too hot in the canal wearing a T-shirt and shorts and yes, this is Scotland!!) scenery and general mood on board:

There were one or two tempting houses along the lochside too:

Of course, with all that water and all those trees the midges must be pretty rampant in the right weather. Perhaps we will not save up to buy it. (For the foreign readers, midges are a life hazard here. They are nice little flying things that simply try to eat you alive. Have a look at WIKI link)

After clearing the Laggan locks, we dropped onto an empty mooring and had a look at the local barge restaurant the “Eagle barge inn”. Despite being peak season a little notice explained that it was shut on Tuesday and Wednesday due to “staffing issues”. Perhaps not a good place to try on the way back? The view from the mooring was good though:


And in the evening the wind died away totally leaving some great reflections that the camera tried to capture:

A great end to another great day. This is becoming habit forming now.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Dunstaffnage to Caledonian Canal

On the Sunday evening we had the fun of meeting Andrew and Linda from the train at Oban. The word train is a rather overblown way of describing two elderly carriages that wheeze their way to Oban stopping at every molehill en route. Luckily they made it to Oban only a few minutes late.

The planned early departure on Monday morning was a touch delayed. The Marina gives you a key for access the entrance gate and charges you a £20 deposit too. Of course, an early departure is hard if you want to get your £20 back (funnily enough, as non-working types, we did). It gets even harder when the office doesn’t open until 8:30 and when they open they cannot get the PC working and so cannot process the queue of people. Even harder when a Scandinavian man pushes past the queue and needs a taxi to the hospital urgently as he is bleeding gently. All very slow and painful. Finally the captain got a refund and of course had no key fob any more. He diligently waited outside the entrance gate for the crew to let him in. And he waited. Finally there was someone else coming up the pontoon who let him in – only to discover that the power was off and the gate lock was inoperative anyway…. Great start to the day.

It really perked up though. Leaving Dunstaffange in no wind and sun allowed breakfast on the flybridge / boatdeck:

It also allowed Patrick a huge cwtch and his first open air trip ever. He is so spoilt:

Travelling up the Lynn of Lorne was lovely. Sun and scenery in equal measure:

This turns into Loch Linnhe which leads all the way to Corpach, near Fort William, where the lock that takes you into the Caledonian Canal is situated. Heading up the Loch was great and around half way, there is the cutest little lighthouse at Corran narrows:

Seeing a narrow bit and buoys, Patrick got a touch nervous and donned a lifejacket whilst studying the chart. For some reason he didn’t trust Andrew’s navigation:

We had to hold off the Corpach sea lock briefly and were a touch upset that the plastic navy boat behind us called the lock on the radio and referred to us as the small cruiser ahead of them. Cheek – we help pay their salaries (only a tiny bit now of course).

In the lock they exhibited some very bad behaviour by keeping their smelly engines running – the view and excitement of entering the Caledonian Canal made it all worthwhile though:

We were cheered up by the canal staff who referred to us when they called each other on the radio as “the large private motor boat”. Up yours the Navy….

Amazingly we were in time to scale the Banavie locks – a flight of 7 referred to as Neptune’s staircase. Here is what Neptune had to scale:

As this flight also involves a road and railway bridge, it was a busy time. We got slightly delayed as an emergency ambulance had been over the road bridge and they had to wait for it to return or to get the “all clear” message. We were so happy that Andrew and Linda were on board; experienced boaters who were managing us through the locks (all 10 of them from Corpach to Banavie). Of course we are too heavy (40 tons) to pull between the chambers and so each time it meant firing up the engine and motoring the 180 foot or so into the next lock chamber. Tired but pretty happy we stopped on a mooring just above the flight of locks and fell onto fizzy stuff and food. Horrid life. The views from the mooring were great – the lock flight, mountains with snow on them still and a few other moored craft. A truly great day ended here:

Friday, 18 July 2014

Craobh to Dunstaffnage (Oban)

Most unlike us, we did some planning. Why? Well, we needed to get to Oban to collect Andrew and Linda (Fair play, lush and other typical Welsh phrases needed here) on Sunday. We also needed some larger shops so we could feed them properly too. All this means Oban - the metropolis (all things are relative in this world but it has a Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Co-op and a million tea shops for tourists.

We actually booked a berth in Dunstaffnage for 4 nights as the West Highland Yachting week was due to finish in Oban on Friday, just when we needed to be there. Could be cosy.

The infrastructure in Craobh needs quite a bit of investment by the way. No security gate on the pontoons now, the power supply pedestal near our berth had 4 very corroded connectors and the farther one (which we used) seemed to be wired up with bell push cable. As soon as you put any load on it, see what happened to the voltage:

For the non European readers the proper UK Voltage should be 220-240V. As we write this berthed in Oban, we have 237v under a 14 amp load. You can work it out - dinner was a slow affair.

Richard (the HUGE Nordhavn 76 owner) took some pictures of our departure and so here is an image that we cannot often share - Rockland departing Croabh, the crew retrieving fenders and lines etc and the captain doing the low stress "pointing it in the right direction" bit:

This trip was awesome. Great weather (it looked gloomy in the earlier pic, but the sun came out and there was little wind, ideal for motorboating) and stunning scenery too.  Here is an example, heading up the Sound of Luing with the Fladda lighthouse to port:

and now, looking aft as we left the sound and headed up towards Easdale:

Get the general idea? Sitting on the flybridge, hilly bits / rocky bits all around, restful sound of the dry exhaust for the big Lugger engine at 1480rpm, lots of wildlife etc etc. All pretty good really. This video shows the panorama from the flybridge heading towards Kererra with the mainland to starboard, Kererra ahead and the Isle of Mull to port:

Passing Oban, another very West Coast scene - the Calmac ferry heading out passing an old castle with hills in the background. Yup, this kind of sums up the lifestyle here:

Dunstaffnage is in another glorious spot. Sadly they are very short of bigger berths so we were put alongside the walkway between two pontoons. Not a problem getting in there (remember we have a chunky bow and stern thruster if we need them) but it means that when the boats ahead or astern of us want to get out of their berths, they need to "wriggle past" us. Hopefully past, not touching / scraping of course. We've had enough of that this year already.....

Just to prove that it isn't always wet and windy in Scotland, here is an evening picture across the bay - get the reflections:

We sat in the aft cockpit enjoying the sun, air and life in general. If only all days were like this one.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Craobh eclipse and escaping penguins

You know it is going to be "one of those days" when you wake up just as the shipping forecast starts on Radio 4. You know that you were right when you hear "there are warnings of gales in sea area Malin". Yes, just Malin. Guess where we are?

OK, maybe not the hardest quiz question in the world. Still, the blow and rain were expected and so we had nothing planned. Then the light (or what little there was) vanished - on the hammerhead berth alongside us a MONSTER Nordhavn arrived. Yup, a 76 which has spent 7 years trundling around America, across to the Pacific Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, back to the USA and came across the Atlantic to Plymouth then Bangor (Northern Ireland) a couple of months ago. 7 years and 52,000 miles of wandering about the planet under her keel. If you want to see her, go to the Southampton boat show this September - lovely boat. Not sure if we want to take on all that extra polishing though...

Here are some stolen pictures of her in other locations:

The Nordhavn quota here has increased by 50%. We now look very very insignificant. For an idea of just how insignificant have a look at Nordhavn 76 brochure (remembering that this one is a Forward Pilothouse model, FPH)

This pic was taken by the N76 owner, Richard and the eagle eyed sad Nordhavn addicts will spot all 3 of us:

As a penance for coveting the 76, the captain did some long overdue engine room cleaning. The smell of Gunk is so appealing. Patrick was clearly excited by the new arrival. We thought this was really quite nice - he is now old enough to recognise Nordhavns and seems to like them. Again, we mis-read his motivation though. The truth came out when we had to stop him clambering on board the 76. He wouldn't confess as to why but this email he sent to Bronwen probably explains it:

Hi Bron

I am very upset now - those guardian thingies have hacked into my email again and put copies of our secret exchanges onto their blog thing. Even worse, they took pictures of me when I was trying to get some food and used those too. They did add a picture of you which was rather nice though, that one with the paintbrush.

They have brought me to a place called Craobh and this morning a HUGE Nordhavn boat came in alongside us. It looks very posh, the label on the side says "Nordhavn 76". I wish I lived on that one. The man seems very nice and comes from Northern Ireland - I liked it there. Wonder if I could jump ship when no-one is looking. I bet they would feed me and care for me properly as they have so much space and she is very smiley. Will let you know how I get on organising my escape.

Are you in Bristol now? The radio kept on saying strong wind warnings so I thought that your holding tank might be getting wobbled about almost as much on the tug as on the little white boat. I hope you kept everything under control OK.

I heard my guardians talking about Linda coming on Sunday. She gives me a nice cwtch. If I run away to the big boat I will miss her of course. I am not sure what to do - perhaps I should wait for Linda then sneak in her bag when she leaves? What do you think?

Big Scottish hugs (no cwtch here)

Patrick xx

When confined to his cabin he was most upset but cheered up when he got this email from Linda (I will not explain who is who any more, read the earlier posts on Falmouth / Skomer for revealing pictures if you cannot recall her):

Hi Patrick,

I wouldn't bother with the Nordhavn 76 - yes she is a lot bigger but, your guardians would have to spend much longer cleaning her; and I feel you would be neglected more than you are now - you would become very depressed spending much longer in your own company ... no forget it.

Smuggling yourself in my bag on the other hand sounds like a brilliant idea - fair play you wouldn't have any trouble, as I will help you big time! Remember the fun we had on the rib? Wow I could cwtch you to your hearts content - we would both be happy.

I am really looking forward to seeing you on Sunday - sorry you will have to wait until late evening, it's a long way from Weymouth to Oban; but I don't mind as it will be worth it to be in your company again.

....... I will have a little nap on the train so I won't be too tired to give you a big cwtch. Can you put the kettle on when I arrive, as I will be in need of a nice cup of tea ... thank you my cuddly friend. 

Love Linda xx

You now have to judge who is the most demented of all these correspondents. Our money is on the penguin, or perhaps the spaniel. All comments will be happily received and duly ignored.