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, 14 December 2015

More Lanzagrotty - Manrique time, of the Cesar sort

We wonder what the island would have been without the influence of Cesar Manrique. If you don't know about him, look at Wikipedia. An amazing visionary artist and architect who has left his imprint  (a positive one) all over Lanzarote.

The foundation that is based in his very different house / studio is another must visit place. Built on a volcanic trail it has 5 underground areas that are constructed in natural "bubbles" in the lava and it is, simply put, stunning. Very advanced for its time too. Here is a garden area as an example:

And one of the seating / relaxing areas built into the underground bubbles with natural light streaming down:

The underground passageways between these bubbles are stunning. The white finish, careful lighting and the bare lava rock make it quite ethereal:

How about this for a window with a view? Having the rock formation spill into the room with the glass fitted around it is a little different:

Of course, the various sculptures and ornaments were all designed by Manrique too. This is quite a way to use old timber:

Another creation of his is the house known as Lagomar, built into a rock hillside. It has an interesting background:

As you can see, it is partially built into and partially hangs on the rock formation:

It takes full advantage of the beautiful rock, holes, arches etc to create an amazing outdoor living space:

Plenty of sculptures "Manrique style" using left over metal. This is a pretty big beetle:

and this, if you look closely, is a very well endowed animal:

One of Manrique's best legacies are the planning laws which forbid tower blocks which blight most of mainland Spain's coastline. Arrecife has the only one on the island and relatively low rise stuff around it for the capital. It even has a nice promenade area:

The view from the coffee shop in the one tower (The Gran Hotel) is pretty good though - here is that promenade from the 17th floor but through some very reflective glass:

Someone had arranged a lovely model village display in the rocky pool near the saltwater lagoon area in the city. Many models of the area and buildings were placed amongst the stones:

Teguise, the old capital of the island, has a glorious square and church area too:

This shop amused us. The crew's brother had a work colleague who said to him one day (when he was suited and booted in the office) "I see that you are wearing your OSK". To most English people, he was wearing a suit. The antipodean colleague explained that an OSK was an "overnight seduction kit". Plenty of them on sale here:

Although we had left Patrick on board as guard penguin, he seemed to pop up in a local store though. No idea why he wanted a scarf in 25 degrees centigrade but he clearly has his own style:

Lanzagrotty - only it wasn't (grotty that it)

As a way of getting some winter sunshine and avoiding the VERY windy and grey weather that the UK seems to be blessed with this year, we hit Lanzarote for a while. By plane though, the boat  trip down across Biscay would have been horrid....

A few impressions of island life follow for you.

It was kind of ironic that at the Janubio salt flats they were selling the stuff. We seem to get lots of it for free all over our Nordhavn whenever we take the boat out in rough conditions:

Of course, you have to check out the local marinas ready for overwintering here sometime. Puerto Calero (see website) is a bit designer, lots of designer clothing shops at designer prices and the ubiquitous restaurants. Lots of space around most of the berths too and all pontoon moorings - not the slimy typical mediterranean pick up lines:

Biggest drawback - no proper food shops and nothing in walking distance. You would be renting a car regularly! For the folks who say that we have too many aerials and things up aloft, we spotted this sport fishing boat that makes us look like beginners:

We much preferred the Rubicon Marina in Playa Blanca. Better spot to spend time in.

One of the must do things on the island (we've done it before but had to go again) is to take the coach trip around the Timanfaya volcano area where you get to see the crater and the dramatic evidence of the last (1834) eruption:

You have to trust the coach driver and the brakes on the vehicle as the "roadway" is pretty narrow and steep. We got the front seats in the bus and were hanging over the side of the mountain on some bends....

They like to prove that the volcano is still warm by pouring a little water down a hole then standing back:

We avoided buying the chicken cooked over the volcano. It looked very well done!

The north of the island is home to a fairly fierce ferry:

Much friendlier were two Nordhavns (a 46, Starlet and a 47 Summer Star) that arrived in Arrecife jsut before we left the island. Sadly, a little too late for us to meet up with the crews but we exchanged mails:

They had come across from Morocco and will be heading across to the USA, planning the Pacific ocean next year.

On Lanzarote, you have to stop to photograph the camels which were used as working animals until quite recently. Now they really struggle, dragging vastly overweight tourists around:

They looked quite content though, if a bit smelly:

El Golfo, on the west coast, is a lovely waterfront and town, which must have the highest density of restaurants per square foot on the island. It also had some charming little holiday villas:

and one resident who had great taste in quirky British sports cars:

No idea how he could use and enjoy the thing on the tiny island though!

Sadly, one of their street names doesn't work quite as well with English pronounciation:

The oddest part was a native North African guy, sitting on the seafront, playing jingle bells on an accordion in glorious sunshine with a big decaying teeth grin. Hardly Christmassy!

Monday, 26 October 2015

A busman's holiday - the Norfolk Broads

Why on earth would people who have an ocean crossing capable comfortable Nordhavn have a holiday in a little battered hire motor cruiser on the Norfolk Broads? No, we don't know why either. However, we did.

Perhaps it was to see John and Tina again (yes, the one with the famous knees, girls). Perhaps it was so we could appreciate just how well built and practical the Nordhavn is in comparison? Perhaps because the Captain was born there and worked on hire fleet boats when he was young and needed a fix? Perhaps because the area is very pretty and off season provides a very tranquil cruising area?

The reality is probably a mix of all of these. Anyway, here are a few holiday snaps to give you a flavour of the Broads. We had a cruiser from Barnes Brinkcraft in Wroxham. Not because they are the best hire fleet but because they offered some very cheap deals in October. The two year old "Brinks Quartet 3" was pretty battle scarred for something so young:

Some of the impacts she has suffered must have been substantial as the internal doors didn't all close properly! (Or was that thanks to the very rough and ready / cheap fitout of an already very cheap and flimsy Alphacraft hull?)

Still, despite the tatty appearance of the "Elite Fleet" boat, the actual scenery is still great. There are plenty of the traditional thatched riverside holiday bungalows that look appealing:

And some tempting waterside residences too:

The area has lots of peaceful little villages, some even have road signs for the wildlife:

There are lovely Broadland views from the top of Ranworth church (nicknamed the "Cathedral of the Broads") across the rivers and marshes:

The weather was kind allowing some roof open cruising in late October:

Again we have to disappoint the red blooded female readers of this blog. It was not knees out weather for John.

One misty morning at Upton was particularly special:

Perhaps because we'd enjoyed an excellent dinner and welcome in the local community owned pub the night before (look at White Horse website). It was the first pub where the local customers looked after us as well as the staff - would you like this table, would you like more fuel on the fire etc etc. Friendly impressive place.

The wildlife was busy too - some were catching fish and enjoying the fruits of their labours. As an example, this Harnser:

Harnser? Yes, the local name for a heron. Somehow you have to feel sorry for the cormorants though. They just get to share a dead tree:

and then after a little fishing have to dry out their wings:

How could nature have been so unkind, equipping a bird that fishes with wing feathers that they need to dry?

All in all a good time, with kind weather too. Lovely to see the area as a tourist rather than a local. Especially lovely to be on a hire boat rather than your own one when surrounded by homicidal maniacs on other hire boats who just want to play bumper cars. So glad the Nordhavn is unsuitable for the rivers here! Mind you, Tina did look a little stressed at the helm in a very cool sort of way:

The windpumps that used to drain the marshes are the classic Broadland landmarks so here is one for you as we cannot offer our usual lighthouse picture:

There are even a few naked windpumps:

A little hire boat discourse

Well, Brinks Quartet 3 needed lots of TLC. Apart from the previously mentioned door issues, there were lots of sticking drawers and a fore cabin shower that was impossible to use in the very confined space. The seat cushions were "nicely stained" too. The grass growing in the sliding roof track was authentic of course.

For the mechanically minded, the drivetrain was interesting. A little Nanni (Kubota base block) diesel that was burdened with horrid hydraulic drive to the shaft. Lots of noise and slip, little go. Add in an enormous large frame alternator to recharge the batteries and power the inverter underway which needed a stupid 1200 rpm idle speed (and caused a drop in rpm and hence speed of half a knot when you put the kettle on). If you want an "electric galley" boat, then fit an electronically controlled engine so it runs at a constant speed please!  Soundproofing around the little lump would have been nice too. Our big Lugger is quieter underway pushing over 40 tons of boat.

All in all, the fitout was rough and cheap. The Captain's father (carpenter and joiner) and his cousin (a boatbuilder at Brooms) would turn in their graves if they saw the fit and finish. The maintenance looked to have been completed (or not) in the same vein. Would still rent from Royalls or Summercraft in Wroxham as a preference. They look after their craft way way better.

None of that detracts from the beauty of the Broads though so go and enjoy them sometime.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Just pottering about the Solent

After enjoying the antics of the Royal Yacht Squadron folks in Yarmouth, we spent a few days just toodling around the Solent area and getting reacquainted with the area that we knew well after many years living in Hythe Marina. Where did we revisit? Well, Lymington (where, shock horror, we discovered that the Dan Bran pontoon was going to be removed for most of the winter to allow dredging to take place. Apparently it happens once every 5 years and we had to pick "the" year to spend in the area). This means that the only realistic spots to stay in Lymington until February time will be the two big marinas. Pity and bad for the bank account too.

We also took some strong spring tides to Gosport and found a nice spot in Haslar Marina as an overwintering berth. En route, we were overtaken (just!) by the Ben Ainslie Americas Cup contender:

Sorry about the fuzzy picture taken through the pilothouse windows on the phone. No time to get a proper camera, that thing does shift! Approaching Portsmouth you have the classic views of the old Solent Forts. As the Swatchway (the short-cut across some shallow banks) was manically busy with fishing markers (mad!) and commercial ships and hovercraft, we went the long way around and had a look at one of the "done up" forts:

Have a look at Solent Forts website for more information and the chance to stay in the "luxury hotel".

Gosport is, of course, a really grim town. It does have a Waitrose (no idea why!) and it also has excellent transport links via the ferry, Portsmouth Harbour station and a regular "escape from Gosport" bus service. So, ideal for the no car types like us.

During the Indian summer, we spent a couple of glorious days heading to and from the Folly on the river Medina (just past Cowes). We managed to sit on the flybridge in the sun all the time, amazing for early October.

A walk around Lee-on-the-Solent revealed that Patrick has started his own business. We admire his entrepreneurial spirit but questionable sense in opening a seaside cafe just as the summer is ending.

Perhaps hot chocolate sales this winter will keep his venture alive. Good to see the little chap being so active for once though.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Plymouth to Yarmouth (Isle of Wight that is, the other Yarmouth harbour isn't appealing)

After a few days of strongish winds from the west, it promised to be nicer for a couple of days before a big high pressure sat over the UK and introduced some strong Easterly stuff. What to do? Well, the original thought of going to Guernsey for a fuel top up at today's low prices was shelved as St Peter Port harbour in easterly winds with any strength is not very sheltered. Instead, we decided to head overnight to the Solent. The "Supermoon" meant that the tides would be very strong so we wanted to have 2 of them with us and only 1 against during our 18 hour journey! We also wanted to be in the areas that have the highest concentration of pot markers (start Point, Prawle Point, St Albans Head) in daylight. So many boundary conditions for one little trip! See how tough this cruising lifestyle can be?

So, a mid-afternoon departure was decided upon and a 1475 rpm cruise. That sort of worked out on paper (and did beautifully in practice too).

Heading out through the sound, we saw how much help the Fleet Auxiliary ships get when they berth:

We tend to get fewer tugs attending to us and as for the Police RIB just out of the picture.....

In our post about arriving in Plymouth, we showed you the dinky little lighthouse at the western end of the breakwater. The eastern end has something that looks like an A level metalwork project on some spare concrete though:

Pretty, isn't it?

Sure enough, we dodged lots of pot markers and even made it past Start Point and the myriad of pot markers around there before it got dark. Here is proof, the point and lighthouse - no flashgun could illuminate that at night:

Overnight, there was the much vaunted "Supermoon" and we were ready for a partial eclipse of the moon as promised on the TV and radio. Of course, some clouds came out to spoil it. So, here is our rather pathetic Supermoon out to sea:

The dodgy horizon level was due to the waves - no alcohol on passage, honest guv!

Stuff got marginally more exciting at dusk as some dolphins passed by but declined to play with us. The trip across Lyme Bay in the dark was fine - just lots of fishing boats to avoid which caused some stress for the crew. They love turning towards you, just as you have altered course to avoid them. We think they must teach that at fisherman school. Perhaps a little like Bob Newhart's bus driver school - old but still clever. Our track doesn't show the dodging too clearly though at this scale, just a few wobbles:

Dawn arrived on time - as we were off St Albans head, another pot marker forest. Dodging them and heading into the Solent was strange. Not because we had a big spring tide shoving us along but because we saw so many yachts and other boats about. Yes, back in the M25 of boating. We had already called Lymington and learned that as it was a Saturday, there were no overnight berths for us. Luckily, arriving at 8:30 am meant that Yarmouth harbour on the Isle of Wight had a spot. Just one mind - the place normally occupied by the Scoot Ferry overnight. Beggars and choosers and all that, so we happily stole their mooring as directed by the harbour staff who were amazingly helpful. The Scoot Ferry staff might not see it that way of course. We heard from one ferry passenger that the crew had won on the lottery one evening and so went celebrating and were too drunk to operate it the next day - see Isle of Wight radio article. Luckily they didn't try to moor alongside us in an alcoholic stupor - looks like their ticket failed to deliver this weekend.

A glorious morning, looking from our berth over the breakwater at high tide (a very high one) towards the pier:

We only add this one to show the blue sky. Yes, summer finally arrived. As did hundreds of yachts trying to moor for the night later on. The harbour was wonderfully busy including a rally of Royal Yacht Squadron boats. They might be the poshest yacht club in existence but they are no better at handling their boats than Mr and Mrs average we reckon after watching them depart the harbour. Most amateurish.

Overnight we had more Supermoon views - this time over the quayside in Yarmouth:

Funnily enough, we didn't stay awake to see the 3am eclipse.....

Maintenance news - nothing, sorry. Might give the big Lugger an oil top up after a few hours more running but nothing needed attention or caused stress.