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, 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.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Neyland to Tenby

As the weather looked so settled for a couple of days, we decided to break up the trip to Cardiff with an overnight stop so we could actually see and enjoy the coast this time. The last trip was in fog / darkness and we felt cheated. It also helps with timing things - you really want to be going with the tide when close to Cardiff as it runs at around 3 knots. We also wanted a reasonable depth of water when locking in through the barrage - the approach channel always looked very shallow at low water!

Heading out from Neyland on the flybridge we enjoyed the sun and slightly industrial scenery of the estuary:

Plenty of tugs and pilot boats about. The irony of this picture struck us too:

Maybe gas terminals must have wind turbines now to pretend to be "green". The Bro Designer wasn't carrying low carbon fuel.

The shoreside constructions have changed over the years a little. Then:

And now:

Somehow the past is more appealing. Must be getting old.

Out to sea, the tide pushed us along towards Tenby nicely. This part of the Welsh coast is infested with firing ranges but luckily they don't often get used on a Sunday so we could cut through them rather than make a 12 miles detour offshore. Less luckily, the wind was not as forecast and so we had it right on the nose and against the tide so there were a few short sharp waves dragged up that we nodded though. The wind direction and strength were not looking good for a Tenby anchorage as it is very exposed there to anything from the East to South.

Approaching Caldey, we were jealous of the monks. Info on the monks is here. Great island to live on:

They even have some nice sandy bays to enjoy - wonder what their bathing suits are like?

There is a narrow channel between the island and the mainland - shallow too, so Andrew (who was at his normal position - helming on the flybridge) had to postpone eating his lunch until through safely. The sacrifices we cruising folk have to make....

Off Tenby is St Catherines Island:

with its old Palmerston fort. The place was even used as a zoo and is now being slowly restored. Have a  look at Tenby Island History.

We could tell that Caldey is a religious place. As we approached Tenby itself, leaving Caldey astern, the wind dropped. Then the sea flattened out a little. Maybe anchoring was going to work? The town peeps at you as you round St Catherine's Island:

There is one deep pool that you can anchor in. Guess what, it was totally empty. Anchor down, tea on, all was well with the world. Being able to sit on the foredeck in warm sun in late September, admiring Tenby seafront, Caldey island etc with an abating sea was truly wonderful. Andrew even managed to finish his lunch just as the anchor "dug in" and held us:

He had received a message from John (the Broom 39 man we met in Dartmouth earlier this year) saying that if we anchored off Tenby, people would think we were millionaires. Well, he was right. A selection of local boats and PWCs came out to gawp, chat and take photos. The local seal and dolphin cruise boat popped over so the crew (yes the crew) could take photos. We think they changed their afternoon advertising to "Seal and Nordhavn cruises" as there were no dolphins about anyway.

A very chilled afternoon and evening followed enjoying the views. You can clearly see the old and new lifeboat slipways and sheds here:

The old shed was converted to a designer home a little while ago and was on TV as part of the "grand Designs" series. Not without local controversy of course. See Architects images for more info

Maintenance news:

Well, we did the usual engine fluid level and leak checks. Cannot make it more exciting than that, sorry.

Friday, 19 September 2014

It's Patrick wot won it.......

Wow, what a day. With the Scottish independence referendum count underway, we all stayed up all night, of course. OK, maybe we didn't stay up to hear the BBC Radio 4 reporting, more because we were underway out to sea and taking turns at the helm. However, the all night broadcast was what we listened to via the satellite dome as we trundled down the coast of Wales. Kind of ironic really.

Patrick of course was glued to the radio, hoping that his "Better together" campaign support would pay off (see the earlier post). He became most agitated when the Glasgow results "pro independence" were announced but calmed down when the result became clearer. His little furry face lit up when he heard the final outcome (or was that because it was dawn and some daylight was peeking through?)

He became even more smug than usual. Firstly, he waved this little picture in front of us that he had seen via Coralie:

We think that there was a message for us in there somehow. Still trying to work it out.

Shortly after David Cameron's rather predictable speech on the referendum result, the phone went. It was for Patrick. It was from David. According to Patrick, David rang to thank him for saving the union (and David's job perhaps?) It seems that his intervention and Bronwen's bark around worked wonders - turning 48% "no" votes into 55% rather quickly.

Do penguins qualify for an MBE? I hope so as Patrick fully expects his shortly. He is unbearable (or unpenguinable perhaps)

Why the title of this post? For the non UK readers, look at it's the sun wot won it

Holyhead to Neyland (Milford Haven)

Our plan was to leave around 6pm for a run south to Milford Haven, taking two tides with us when we were rounding the headlands and one against whilst out in Cardigan Bay where the streams are gentler. For once, it worked perfectly.

There is a busy and very big firing range (Aberporth) on our route and we also planned to cross it during a "No firing" time - always a good idea!! Have a look at firing range charts to get an idea of how big this area really is. Huge springs to mind.

We had a lovely calm departure and run down the Irish sea. Overnight, not too much traffic to avoid and often the radar picture was almost empty bar the land, around 15 nautical miles away.

As the daylight returned, so did the dolphins. One large(ish) pod came and played with our bow wave for about 10 minutes or so:

Then a couple of mums and their little ones did the same. Wonderful. Just wonderful. Yet again the South Wales lot are much friendlier than the Scottish or North Wales versions. Perhaps that is because the North Wales lot are dolffiniaid not dolphins (look it up!!) The crew was keen to spot them despite a keen early morning breeze as you can see:

The sun came out, the dolphins vanished and the sea got more interesting. There was a swell from the south west and some little waves across it from the easterly breeze. As we rounded St Ann's head and headed past Skomer towards Milford, it got pretty bumpy. wind on the nose and some chunky waves too (wind over tide), causing us to nod our way towards the port and on to Neyland where we backed onto a berth with Royal Marines rigid raider craft astern of us. not a good idea to hit one of those...

The trip took 19.5 hours (almost bang on the planning). It was very calm bar the hour and a half running into head seas approaching Milford. No maintenance news and the navigation PC is approaching a gold star now. Let's see if it continues with its good behaviour.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Anglesey hills were alive (to the sounds of our footsteps....)

You know how sometimes the weather makes a place seem so much better? Well, despite the sun, Holyhead town was still a tip. A depressed tip to boot. Sad when the best part of it is the Lidl store and their chocolate twists.

However, the same cannot be said for the hills around South Stack. The captain and Andrew walked towards the visitor centre across the cliffs in glorious sunshine - the crew was sickly and so stayed on board, missing out on these lovely views:

Pity that the puffins departed a long while ago - still we had the memories of Skomer to live with.

Looking back to the port of Holyhead:

and the country park:

During our wander, we saw the lifeboat heading out rapidly. We thought that it was a "nice day exercise". Wrong, this sight greeted us as we returned to the marina:

Strange as the weather was benign, the yacht still looked capable of sailing and the crew were wandering about the deck looking fine too.

The afternoon was spent sitting on the boat deck, in the glorious sunshine feeling too hot! Yes, too hot in North Wales in mid-September. What is happening to this country??

The crew decided to read the boat test on a Nordhavn 47 - just to see if she was fit for the trip down to Milford (the test summary said "impressive, truly impressive" so we guess that means yes!):

Phil / Neil from Nordhavn Europe - if you are reading this, then we think we deserve a small reward for such great advertising on your behalf.....

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bangor to Holyhead

Poor Andrew. All he saw of Northern Ireland was the airport, the road to Bangor and a little of the town when we walked into it for some shopping on Tuesday morning. Not a great introduction to the delights of the place on his first visit really.

Being the heartless couple that we are, we just forced him to helm us away from the place and towards Holyhead. The original thoughts of pottering down the Irish coast and then crossing over to Milford Haven were dashed by the easterly winds that were promised, hence our plan to head for Holyhead initially (a nice south east kind of trip). Setting off just before high water to take the tide down the coast of Ireland was no hardship, just grey and gloomy. Hence no pictures, sorry. The trip was going to take about  16 hours and hence we broke our "try to arrive in daylight" rule. Not too bad as we knew the port and that it was not infested with fishing pot markers.

En route, Andrew chilled a little even though the crew was piloting us:

Patrick was less relaxed, staring out to sea intently and clutching the floating binoculars:

Why does he want assistance with floating? Not much of a penguin....

Sunset was lovely - the picture doesn't really reflect how good it was but here it is anyway:

The crew, who was helming at night, became less chilled when she approached this gaggle of fishing boats which were milling around south west of the Isle of Man, just trying to scare her off:

She rapidly handed control over to Andrew at that stage, feigning the need for a sleep. Andrew of course avoided the hordes of marauding fishermen and then had his rest period:

See how we tire out our guests?? (NOT alcohol induced - travelling days are dry days...)  A hint to all those contemplating time aboard with us. Although Linda was not with us, we were reminded of her favourite phrase when we saw a ship on AIS called "Fairplay". Andrew cannot escape from her, even in the middle of the Irish Sea.

The entry into Holyhead was fine, and there was plenty of space inside the breakwater which we happily filled up before retiring to bed. This was the view greeting us the next morning:

The trip took just under the planned 16 hours. Not too bumpy, just some waves on the port bow that reminded us we were at sea.

No exciting maintenance news to report except that the navigation PC behaved perfectly again. It might even get a gold star if it continues like this.

The oil drain fitting from the gearbox to the electric oil change pump had weeped a little at some stage and the captain had tightened it up. No further signs of 30W oil outside the casing that it should be inside of so all seems well.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Promenading around Norn Iron (and John's knees girls!!)

The Norn Iron life got busier and busier. First of all, we were invited to an evening BBQ in Belfast by Keith and Julie, who we met earlier this year in Dunstaffnage. Aided by Bailey, the dog, they cooked up a real treat and their daughter then delivered us back to Bangor.

On Friday, John (yes ladies, he of the swoon inducing knees) and Tina arrived by hire car, having flown out to join us for Saturday night’s BBC Prom in the Park event on the Titanic slipway.

We showed them a little of Belfast, using the typical tourist bus so they sampled Stormont (the parliament building), the Shankill and Falls areas (the home of the diehard Loyalists / Nationalists and the many murals on the “peace wall”. Seeing gates that are still closed at night to divide the communities is another reminder of how far there is to go.

The concert was excellent, headline act was Alfie Boe. Anton and Erin danced a bit too:


A great, very sociable evening in company with other Bangor marina folks (especially David and Caroline who arranged it all).

Sunday was a slow to start day. Very slow. Still, we did make it into the city and visited the Harbour commissioners' offices which were open as part of a cultural weekend. Wow – those guys knew how to look after themselves:

The "meeting room" was most grand:

John had a moment trying to photograph us using his mobile phone in a coffee place – as you can see he eventually gave up trying to work the thing:

As recompense for his embarrassment ladies, here are the famous knees. In widescreen and glorious colour for your delight:


Please remember that any marriage proposals that you want us to forward on will be ignored – Tina gets upset.

We finished our time in Norn Iron with a car trip out to Mount Stewart, the National Trust country house:

Even at this time of year, the garden was full of butterflies:

And the day was rounded off by lunch at Daft Eddy’s after crossing Strangford Lough on the car ferry.. Have a look at Daft Eddy's website – amazing setting and views out of the dining room.

Monday afternoon Andrew (yes, the Welsh one) arrived by plane. He had negotiated with Linda, his very understanding better half, a few days away, afloat and alone. The fact that Linda was collecting her mother for a two week stay with them was of course, nothing to do with his desire to come boating. So, we ended Monday saying bye to John and Tina, hello to Andrew and preparing for some sea trips again. Time to burn some diesel and head south ready for the winter perhaps?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Patrick says "NO"

We wondered what the errant furry penguin had been up to whilst we were in Kilmelford. Well, now we know. We had a call from the folks there asking why a "Patrick P Green" had registered at their address to vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

Checking his laptop account, we found that he had been browsing Better together website

We quizzed the little lad about this strange phone call and he simply clammed up. Later on, when we returned, we saw that the red ensign had vanished from the boat and we walked in to this unnerving sight:

Patrick told us that he had carefully considered things and had become an ardent member of the “Better together” campaign. To quote the chap “how can you build a country based on one resource that will run out in a short number of years anyway?”

He wanted us to return to Scotland so he could use his (illegal as he is not 16 or a resident??) vote but we told him that Wales was the next stop.  He was pretty upset and started ringing all his friends to get them to vote. Apparently Bronwen, the spaniel from Penarth has already started a “bark around”.

So, if the vote is a “no”, then it is Patrick that saved the union. We are quite proud of him….

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Fermanagh, Londonderry / Derry and Antrim, but by road

Well, the little Fiat had a big surprise. It got taken all the way over to the other side of Northern Ireland and even had to contend with the motorway and some hills too.

Enniskillen was lovely. A proper rural "county town" sort of place with amazing local shops. Go into Home, Field and Stream sometime. We then headed towards our overnight stop at Bellanaleck. En route, we admired this rather agricultural and rusty way of dragging boats up a slipway. Almost rivals the old kit we pictured last year that is still in use at Kilmelford:

The picture doesn't really show the true level of rust on the cab. To be more precise, the number of extra ventilation holes in the sheet metal that rust has enabled over time. Would not trust them to recover any boat we owned.

On the other hand, the guest house (Corrigans Shore) was wonderful. A proper Irish welcome, good accommodation, such a friendly hostess and lovely views too. Here is the house (and our ball of fire Fiat rental car):

Nice house, shame about the wheels. To the right and 10 yards away, is the river of course.  The B&B owner, Catherine, was all you would expect from a Fermanagh landlady and then some more. In the garden leading down to the river, we were eyeballed by one of the residents:

If you are thinking B&B in the area, this is the place to visit. We then headed around the lakes and up to Belleek, the home of the famous pottery:

Of course, the stuff they produce is famous and very elegant, but not at all to our taste so we resisted the usual visitor shop offerings.

Derry / Londonderry was a real surprise.  Now officially known by both names to appease both factions (Nationalists and Loyalists) it gets sarcastically referred to as "stroke city" (work it out - remember that / was known as a stroke before IT made it a forward slash!). The city is a treasure trove of old buildings. Tidied up so much too since the captain's one brief visit many years ago during "the troubles" when the place was pretty much locked down by security forces. The walled area is great. Apparently the only intact walled city left in Ireland and one of the best in Europe too.

Looking over the wall towards the Bogside area was a real reminder of the troubles and the civil rights' disturbances, Bloody Sunday and the terrorism issues there. For the non UK readers, have a look at Bloody Sunday info for some background. Looking across to the nationalist area, with Irish flags flying and "IRA" painted on roofs, you realise just how far there is to go in the peace process.

The events are recorded in some stunning and thought provoking murals (very Norn Iron) in the Bogside. This one is called Loss of Innocence, depicting a kid throwing petrol bombs at security forces:

and one about Bloody Sunday too:

The riverside and new "peace bridge" are lovely

A city that we want to spend more time in. (By the way, for the boating folks, berths here are very very cheap and in a nice secure spot near to the city centre. Worth a few days visit.)

Our last location on the whistlestop tour was Antrim. Nice old courthouse (with a very friendly tea shop inside too - no carrot cake this time though as Norn Iron like Scotland tends to go for traybakes rather than the typical English chunks of cake.) :

The walk down to Lough Neagh was most civilised. Firstly passing through the old castle grounds:

then the park area:

and the beautiful gardens too:

The car trip was a good taster trip for the area; we will be back!! It also reminds you of the challenges that are still ahead for the peace process and the political stalemate in Stormont, the parliament.