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

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A real Triumph - 2000 times in 1970's style

Car stuff - yes, car stuff. How come we are talking cars when we only have one (hired) occasionally? Well, we mentioned before how Bernie (the Crew's ex boss) very kindly lent us some wheels after bumping into us when we returned to Penarth at the end of September (see the posts from then and pictures of his Dunkirk little ship)

Recently, we have been using a proper piece of old British engineering. Yes, the executive car of the early 1970s, a Triumph 2000 (Mark II for the train spotters). If you want to become a train spotter, look at Wikipedia information. If you want to become seriously sad, try Triumph 2000 register.

Anyway, here she is in all her glory:

Like many ladies of advancing age, she had a few issues. She liked a smoke and a drink, coughs and wheezes, the bodywork was not pristine and some of the upholstery had gone a bit south. A few vaguely important bits had become detached (like the driver's door mirror).  However, she was a game old girl (old = 1970 vintage) and carried us around the area well. Trips to Barry, carrying shopping etc etc. Sadly, she needs an MOT test early in February and as we were not going to be around to sort this and any "failure" issues, we took the poor lady back to Bristol today. Yes, she even managed the motorway with a few splutters. Truck drivers were gawping suitably when she passed them!

Her best feature was the soundtrack. An old twin carburettor 6 cylinder engine that makes a very distinctive noise especially at idle. A back axle that growls under load and sings to you on over-run (reminds the captain of his early Ford days when Cortina rear axle overhauls were a big warranty expense...) At speed, this was all drowned out by wind noise typical of 1970's wipers, windscreens and panel fit and finish. How we forget the progress of the last 45 years!

Personal view -the car is still stylish though. She attracted lots of attention from the "I had one" to "I always wanted one" to "wow, still running??" We do think that the towbar on the back is a bit optimistic these days though.

So, we said a fond farewell to GHN, who ferried us around and built up the captain's arm muscles quite nicely - no power steering here. A lovely contrast to all the cars we enjoyed during the days of employment with the BMW Group. Somehow, more real.

Upon our return by train, we found that Patrick was leading Phil the polar bear astray again - a repeat of their Xmas behaviour:

Patrick enjoyed the BBC (Baileys, banana and coconut) cocktail that we discovered in Barbados and perfected with John and Tina at new year. Too much in fact; he has taken to making his own whilst we are away.

After a serious telling off, he tried to look repentant. It didn't work:

Anyone want to adopt a penguin with attitude? We are clearly not bringing him up properly, perhaps you could do better?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Manchester, the second wettest city in the UK?

Again, you are probably asking "why go there?" Fair and valid question. The answer isn't too compelling really - just because we hadn't been there for ages and there was a very cheap train deal from Cardiff. Pretty feeble rationale we know.

Actually, it wasn't too wet either. We managed a wander around the Castlefield Locks area (an "Urban heritage park" whatever one of those is) and didn't get wet at all. Typical modern restaurant development around the old canal locks / docks area and good too:

It was also a strange backdrop for a guy who was meditating / practising some strange moves on the canal bank with the mainline trains trundling behind him. One way to avoid the stresses of modern city life perhaps:

even if he did look a little constipated.

A wander along the river to the regenerated Salford Quays area showed the "old and new" contrasts that you meet all over the city very clearly:

In Salford Quays, we really enjoyed the Lowry centre with an exhibition of many of his paintings. For the non UK folks, Lowry Wikipedia information

Here is the centre - quite striking:

There was a big exhibition of his distinctive artwork, with the typical well known images of old northern working life and an industrial landscape:

These were supplemented by many interesting drawings and paintings of his that are less well known but equally evocative, like this funeral party:

and several studies like this:

An excellent collection and well worth visiting. We also had a walk around part of the Northern Imperial War museum and the Manchester Science and Industry museum. Again, well worth a visit. We learned more about city sewerage systems in 20 minutes than we probably needed to in our entire lifetimes. The nightmares will continue for many days we fear.

Having enjoyed "semi-culture" in London with Andrew and Linda, we went silly this time. Yes, Spamalot was on and just had to be seen. If you even vaguely liked Monty Python or are just a tad silly, you will laugh lots at this. Two hours of irreverent amusement. John (the knees) - one for you to see as a self confessed silly person.

Another UK city "ticked off" the must visit because we haven't been there in ages list. So much to do, so little time to do it all in, despite retirement. Back to reality now - lots of boat maintenance and car stuff to do this week. Car stuff? Yes, but that is another story best kept for another day.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Reading. A strange place to visit in Winter (or anytime perhaps ?)

Why on earth would anyone go to Reading in the winter? Or the summer for that matter. Well, the answer was simple - to see Graham and Pat . They haven't starred on here recently but were the folks responsible for pointing out Patrick's eerie resemblance to the dangerous chicken in Wallace and Grommit's  "The wrong trousers" film. They also have a tartan trolley shopper ready for us in Samos  (Greek island ) that we just have to go and collect.  So, so tempting as this is the view from their terrace and we would be anchored just where you see the white yacht:

Why are we going back to soggy Scotland this summer?? Any answers and suggestions for suitable therapy will be happily received.

We had a couple of very chilled days with them, enjoying a nostalgic walk along the river Thames - an area where we used to do our boating several years ago, only escaping to sea once a year.

Here is the famous Henley bridge view :

And Marsh lock which was always exciting for us  - we kept our boat in Bray marina and a typical weekend was a run up to Henley and back. Marsh lock was one further upstream and if we went through it, it meant vacation time!!

This calm looking picture doesn't show just how hard the stream was running (see the red warning board on the lock) or the chaotic water just behind us near the weir.

What did we do / have on the Thames? Well, here is our first river boat (a Seamaster 813 for those who are interested, under different ownership ):

And the second, a Broom 30 (like the Seamaster, photographed under new ownership whilst on the Norfolk Broads):

This felt seriously up-market with twin engines and an upper steering position too. Our last boat based at Bray was a Broom European. You can Google one or look at our post from Dartmouth last spring. Sometime we will post some pictures of the other boats we kept on the coast. This isn't the time though.

Enough ancient history. We were spoilt rotten by Graham and Pat, returning to Penarth by train happy, full of good food and with that content feeling. Patrick giving us the cold shoulder (it was 1 degree centigrade) upon our return didn't dent our mood too much either.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Zurich uncovered

So, our second "never will do" thing involved going to the colder parts of Europe in the winter. In this case, Zurich. Lothar and Andrea (the Captain used to work with Lothar, who is married to the lovely Andrea) were great and had planned a sightseeing trip around the city and provided lots of advance information.

We took the S Bahn up to the Uetliberg, the "high point" that lets you overlook the City:

The views are wonderful, especially as we had a sunny day to enjoy them:

Somehow, Andrea, the crew and Lothar were not all focussed on the same things though:

No matter, we had a great day with them and are eternally grateful for the excellent introduction to Zurich and Swiss life. Here are a few impressions of the city. Firstly, the opera house:

And now, the old town:

And finally, one of the old style shops:

We did go a little mad and had cake in Spruengli though. Serious fat and calorie overload time but one of those "you have to do it" things. Have a  look at Spruengli website and dribble.

Of course, it tastes way better than it looks......

To redress the balance, we also visited the Kunsthaus (art museum) which was excellent. See, calories and culture - what more could you wish for.....

We loved the city but not the prices of course. Having had a glimpse of local life courtesy of the very kind Lothar and Andrea, we could easily live there if we had an unlimited pot of cash to call upon. As we don't, we are afloat again......

Sunday, 11 January 2015

We were never doing this (London) again?

You know how sometimes you say "we are never dong that again" and then do so? Well, we had two examples of why you should try stuff again recently. First topic was visiting the London boat show. We last went in 2012 and thought that it was pretty poor - very few boats and lots of marine equipment manufacturers were missing. We also stayed in a horrid Travelodge near the exhibition centre with the most uncomfortable beds we have ever come across.

This time, we stayed in a basic IBIS opposite the Excel centre and really enjoyed the show. That might be because we had Andrew and Linda (the non Welsh Welsh) with us. It might be because they had Fairline guest passes that allowed us to drink Prosecco on the Fairline stand. (Nordhavn Europe, take note..)

Or perhaps it was simply because the show itself was just so much better....

Around this visit, we "got culture" of a sort, seeing two shows:

which was excellent and reminded the Captain of the River Plant at Dagenham from his early days at work when walking through the trim area was a truly scary thing! If you haven't heard about the famous strike that brought about equal pay laws, then look at Wikipedia on machinists strike

For fans of the Kinks, we also saw sunny afternoon - a musical about the band. It got 5 stars on many review sites, try this one Telegraph review

No matter what the critics say, it was great and worth their 5 stars. The finale version of "Lola" rang in the captain's ears for ages - way better than tinnitus:

The second "we will never do this" involved flying to Zurich in January. The crew (together with John and Tina) had visited Munich one February and the weather was truly wonderful. It never got warmer than -12 degrees centigrade. Want to know how Zurich went? Well, read the next post....

Wandering around London, we spotted yet another Norhavn in St Katherine's dock:

Shogun is a 55 and hence makes us look suitably insignificant.
We also managed a walk along the Thames., preceded by a cable car trip across it on the strangely sponsored "Emirates cable car link". The "Berghaus triplets" from the Ben Nevis range (see our posts from July 2014)  had become the Berghaus one and Jack Wolfskin duo though:

The views were great, even if this spooky reflection of Andrew over the dome looks like a photoshop thing (and it isn't!!):

For the boating types, we also walked from East to West, passing the meridian. Proof:

All in all, a wonderful few days in London. Keep reading for the second "we will never"....

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Xmas and New Year afloat

Well, what a surprise. A sunny Xmas day and no snow, rain or Arctic winds. The regulation little Xmas trees were out in the saloon for an airing and it felt very festive:

It was nice enough to tempt us into a trip but as the Cardiff Bay barrage was closed, we would have been restricted to the Bay area itself. Instead we hit Cosmeston country park ( see website for more info, nice place) and went for a walk with Steve the Cardiff waterbus man and Bronwen the spaniel. Actually, we walked and Bron ran around a lot, including stop off's in puddles and anything that looked muddy. So glad Steve had to take her home not us.....

Of course, it all came to a grinding halt on Boxing day when it just didn't stop raining. We didn't get off the boat. We did manage a trip around the bay though over the weekend - glorious sunshine too. That was followed by a main engine oil change. the last one was in Holyhead when we were en route to Scotland and so it was time even if the book said the hours were not "up" yet (we like fresh oil in the engine when she only gets intermittent runs). This was a little harder than usual as the engine room is currently a store for everything (or so it seems). Flybridge seats, bimini cover, seat covers, tube heaters that we use when leaving the boat for our various jaunts ashore etc etc etc. All is all, not the usual tidy environment.

New Year was good and bad. Good because John (the knees) and Tina came to stay with us. Bad because the stuff usually resident for the winter in the forecabin (aka shed) also had to go into the engine room. We watched Cardiff devils Ice hockey team thrash Hull 7-0 and again, were amazed at the atmosphere in the arena and the action on the ice:

New year was taken very seriously by John as you can see from this image. We have to warn you that only a little alcohol had been consumed before this picture was taken and so there is little excuse for his expression:

Sadly, owing to the weather, the knees stayed covered. However for al you girls who need a fix, see the earlier Barbados post. Tina on the other hand was looking after Patrick very well.  Tina gave him a very Welsh cwtch which he seemed to enjoy:

Patrick seemed happy to have yet another admirer (another in a long string of them) and lots of attention. No wonder his tummy is now a light shade of grey rather than white. We might have to put him on a strict cuddles diet...