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

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Naval gazing

Colin / Coleen (the 747 captain with an uncertain gender who you met before) had told us that we had to visit the Britannia Royal Naval College. We tried last time we were here but were told that the tours were booked up for almost a month ahead.

So, we wandered into the Tourist information office with little hope but were amazed when they told us that they had space for that very afternoon. Amazed and happy we trotted off (well, took the RIB actually) to get some photographic identity. The building, artefacts, history and tour were just amazing. Two hours well spent.

The imposing building on the hill looks even more so close up:

It was modelled on the two ships which formed the original college here - the Britannia and the Hindustan. It also had some very neat technology for its age. An example being "no energy use air conditioning" - the metal towers on the roof heat up in any sun and the warm air inside rises and escapes, sucking cooler stuff into the hollow walls of the building via the arches you can see in the pictures.

As an example of the many historical links, here is the garden in which Queen Elizabeth II first met Prince Philip (or Phil the Greek depending upon your upbringing and education!):

The building is about an eighth of a mile long so you feel like you can see the curvature of the earth in the corridor that links all the areas:

As you would expect, the main man (Captain) has a suitably grand house and appropriate adornments:

On our boat, the captain has no such luxuries and is treated with a little more contempt. Quite a lot actually.

The mess area (the nicer one) for the inmates is quite a place to eat in, reminds us of the typical Oxford college dining rooms:

Except it has pictures and details of sea battles around the walls. The chapel was lovely, including a window with a cross built into it that (if the sun is out) projects a cross onto a statue of Jesus on the anniversary of Nelson's death - even at the right time. This amazing attention to detail was evident in the whole building. Here is the interior of the chapel in beautiful hand made brick which was then sanded flat and grouted to produce this effect:

You can also see the sailing ship model hanging from the roof. The river views from the front of the building are pretty impressive too, although Colin / Coleen says that when he was an inmate, they kept him too busy to enjoy the location, history, views or anything much at all:

As you've probably gathered, we liked the place a lot. A must go and see if you are in the area. Book the tour and prepare to be impressed.

Talking of "the area", we have been very disappointed by the staff in the local food shops. The lady upstairs in the chandlers was lovely. The staff trying to sell stuff in Seasalt were equally nice. The people serving in the Co-op were truly scary and the M&S folks were not at all "M&S like". Perhaps Dartmouth suffers from having too many wealthy retired types and yummy mummies living locally and not enough normal people who want to work in retail! Local house prices are interesting....

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

St Peter Port to Dartmouth

Yet another one of those trips when the best time to leave to take advantage of the tides was not practical as we wanted to leave Guernsey in daylight - too many little pot markers around in the little Russel channel to risk it in the dark. We were planning an overnight passage on Monday / Tuesday, leaving before dusk on Monday but a bad night's sleep beforehand and general sloth changed that to an early Tuesday departure.

The 4am alarm noise was most unwelcome. Mind you, the still harbour as we departed at 4:30am was lovely, as was the sunrise over the water. No picture this time though. The sea state was gentle - some 1.5 metre waves just off Guernsey (right on the nose of course, as usual) spiced it up a little just as a BIG pod of dolphins came over to play. They didn't stay with us for long but this was the biggest pod we had seen so far on our travels.

Crossing the shipping lane area, we missed the "Anne charm" from our outbound trip. We had to divert for this guy:

Our route, for the "stalkers" using marinetraffic.com or similar looks strange. That is because we let the tide carry us west and clear of the traffic separation scheme, then as it turned, back eastwards:

On higher magnification you can also see the "kink" in the trail the ship above caused. For non boating folks, if you "fight" the tide that runs through the channel and across a straight line course to Dartmouth, you waste lots of time and fuel. As long as the set to the west during the trip is balanced by an equivalent set to the east after the tide turns, you just steer your planned course and let it all happen around you so to speak. We ended up being pushed about 8 nautical miles to the west by the tide initially but as you see from our track, it unwound pretty quickly. We were steering a constant course throughout. Well, by "we", we mean "the nice Simrad autopilot" who doesn't get tired, loose concentration or demand a loo break.

The weather was great and it was an easy crossing. Here are two ways of seeing the approach to Dartmouth. Firstly, by mark 1 eyeball:

At the same time, this is what the flybridge plotter shows you:

It doesn't show the real beauty of the place unfortunately.

The entrance castles and fortifications are always impressive:

We found a nice spot just below the higher ferry on an almost empty mid-river visitors pontoon. Of course, the captain just has to point the boat towards the pontoon and get it alongside whilst the crew has to lug about the big heavy fenders, attach the mooring lines etc. The captain even had time to take pictures of all this activity:

The view aft from our berth was pretty good too, Dartmouth is such a lovely place especially in the sun:

John and Kath, the owners of "Prime Time" whom we last met in Weymouth were opposite us in the Dart marina (another wildly expensive place!!) The RIB was launched and acted as a water-taxi. J and K joined us for a simple supper on board as they planned to depart the next morning for St Peter Port. Just a lot faster than we would make it of course.

Maintenance news:

Well, we have some this time. Not the big Lugger - that ran very happily. Not the wing engine although we gave it some exercise en route to keep it happy. Not the genset either as it wasn't needed. Instead, during a not particularly bumpy part of the 72 mile passage, we heard a thump from "down below" in the cabins. The crew found this:

"This" is the space where a piece of the forecabin headlining had fallen down. Most unexpected. Still, refitting it was a one minute job (almost all boat builders use velcro pads to hold the panels in place) and it did prove that Nordhavn fitted lots of nice insulation between the headlining and the fibreglass cabin roof.

New navigation PC - well, the irritating problem where it loses the access to the charts stored on the Furuno equipment keeps happening but that doesn't stop it from being useful in displaying an AIS picture etc. Paul the Maricom man suggested an upgrade to the software on the Furuno equipment but that wasn't going to be simple (owing to the age of the kit of course!) so we will not perform that ourselves yet just in case it trashes the previously very reliable Furuno system.

We will wait until we are closer to Paul in case it needs rescuing afterwards..... We hope that Furuno upgrades are more reliable than the Microsoft equivalents but don't want to risk it....

Monday, 25 May 2015

When Andrew came to stay.....

Our first activity after Anne's departure was to head for St Sampsons harbour and fill with diesel. When we arrived, Kevin the nice Rubis man was apologetic. Thanks to some silly games by the Boatworks people in St Peter Port, he had many more "health and safety issues" to worry about. Seems like the Boatworks folks don't like competition which undercuts their price by almost 40%! We hope they don't win the battle. We filled with 4,600 litres and if we had paid the ludicrous Boatworks prices it would have cost about £900 more!!!  

Kevin mentioned that the Boatworks folks had been taking pictures and looking for infringements to the "new operating procedures" and guess what, a strange looking character pitched up with a camera and started taking pictures of us fuelling up. Then Kevin's boss arrived and took pictures of the "character". All very silly.

Our advice - use Rubis as much as possible - if they are stopped from operating in St Sampsons, Boatworks will charge whatever they like. 

We had only just returned to St Peter Port and relaunched the dinghy when Andrew (the very Welsh one) arrived by Condor fast ferry:

Actually, it seems that it is a slow fast ferry as it keeps running well behind the timetable. When Andrew left us a few days later, the departure was 75 minutes late and the official message was "a minor technical issue with the port engine so unable to run at full speed". Hum - it had been running late for 5 days.

After Andrew settled into his second home, our forecabin, we planned to head ashore just as a new neighbour arrived on the pontoon. Against all numerical odds, it was another Nordhavn - a 57 named Goleen that we remembered had been part of the Transatlantic motorboat rally that Nordhavn organised in 2004. See Atlantic rally website for more information. Here is the new view from our aft cockpit:

Not bad really. The owner, Truls introduced himself - he was on passage from Norway to Las Palmas where he will base his boat. Somehow the weather in the Canaries is more tempting than Norway in winter for him. We now have an invitation to use their pontoon mooring and get some expert local advice when we head for the Baltic. Thanks Truls!

As it was a UK and French bank holiday weekend, the harbour got a bit busy. Here is the waiting pontoon for the Victoria marina - boats waiting for the tide to rise so they can pass over the cill:

If you have good vision, you can just spot the pontoon in amongst the piles of fibreglass. The yachts were rafted 12 deep - not a record though, the harbour patrol man said he had managed a 15 deep raft before. So glad we have to stay in the outer harbour area - that got busy too and Goleen had 3 yachts rafted to her. We were left alone as everyone rafted onto the yacht opposite. Being a tall, inhospitable motor boat has some advantages. We didn't even need to send Andrew out to scare people off.

On a lovely sunny Saturday, we walked to Fermain bay. As you can see, our cruise liner curse was in full swing. 3 were visiting with over 5,500 passengers in total:

Luckily, most cruise liner passengers do not walk far or are unable to do so. Fermain was unpolluted by liner types. And as beautiful as ever:

The beach cafe down in the bay serves mighty lunch portions. As you can see, the crew has developed a taste for the local Rocquette cider, the 6% stuff:

It somewhat spoils the view.

On bank holiday Monday, the St Peter Port hill climb event was on. We saw this on a previous visit and the drivers / riders are just as loony as before. Great fun though. Old mark II Ford Escorts clearly don't die:

They do hills very quickly too. The footpaths alongside the road were pressed into service as people wanted to maximise the amount of tarmac they had available:

Some did a little gardening too. Finally, the bikers really got cranked over on the first big bend:

Andrew and the captain agreed that they were not quite as brave on a motorcycle. Probably for very good reasons.

Numbers for the mathematicians:

We took on 5,600 litres of fuel at 46p / litre. That is under half the UK leisure fuel price. Of course, it was cheaper than last year too thanks to the global oil price drop. That covered the trip up to Inverness, back via Northern Ireland to Wales, then around Lands end to the Hamble and back to Guernsey (exactly one year's use to the day). It also ran the genset and copious amounts of heating in the winter months. Our estimated burn over the year is:

Main engine:  360 hours, 3240 litres

Genset:  285 hours. around 650 litres

Wing engine:  9 hours (to keep it working!) negligible fuel burn, say 45 litres

Heating: the rest, around 665 litres

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Guernsey and Herm lifestyle - happy places

We love this little island. It is a place where you simply feel relaxed:

As you can see, Anne wore a T shirt that appealed to Patrick although he could not figure out why his relatives refused to turn and face him at all. He kept looking wistfully at them but to no avail. Poor deluded penguin.

What did we get up to on the little island? Well, you have to do the best value bus trip ever to give Anne a flavour of the place. £1 (yes, the old game of £2 for non residents has stopped!) gets you a ticket all the way around the island including a drive along the stunning north west coastline. The buses spend a fair bit of time driving on the pavements as the roads are so narrow too. They particularly appeal to Norwich City FC supporters:

Cool colours eh?

Talking of colours (neat link don't you think?) we were unimpressed by the current "trendy persons gear" in St Peter Port. Our first trip ashore put us face to face with a real cool dude in a snappy black suit who was wearing white trainers and socks. His designer girlfriend clearly hasn't told him just how that looks. Perhaps she thinks it will prevent other ladies from chasing him for his money? Then we saw a bright blue "teddy boy" colour suit but without the brothel creeper shoes. Instead, he had a nice pair of brown brogues. If this is the new fashion, we are happy to be totally out of date. Remember our previous posts on how many Guernsey men have trousers that are too short?

An excellent lunch at Le Nautique was enjoyed by all - especially as we had a window table overlooking the harbour. Have a look at restaurant website for more information.

Wednesday was the big excursion to Herm, another favourite spot. Of course, we had issues. First of all, Patrick tried to stow away in the rucksack:

When we told him that he was far to heavy for us to carry him around the island, but that Desmond the Welsh bear could come, Patrick got very jealous and difficult:

He has the "sad depressed penguin" look off to a T. Unfortunately.

We didn't take the Nordhavn over as it was pretty blowy and it would be low water when we came back which is not ideal for us trying to thread our way back to the harbour pontoons in almost no water. Instead, we took the Herm Ferry:

The island is another happy place for us and today didn't disappoint. Here are a few reasons why:

And here is a view over to Jethou:

All in all, not a bad spot. Lunch was good too, except the pheasant was served a little on the rare side for our liking:

Desmond had a great time - perhaps he liked being away from the "top penguin" on board the boat. However, he had to keep his hood up to avoid sunburn:

We think that he has inherited a few bad habits from the top penguin though:

After returning to Guernsey, we went to the airport by bus with Anne who reluctantly had to fly home. Easier said than done though. Have a look at Guernsey Press article although they got the times of the closure wrong. As Max Boyce would have said "We know, 'cos we were there". See how Welsh we are becoming.....

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Weymouth to St Peter Port (Guernsey)

A typical compromise trip. To take best advantage of the tides, we ought to leave at about 1 am (ouch). To take best advantage of the weather window that was promised, leave about 3 am. To be able to see the forest of tiny pot markers outside the harbour as we leave and avoid them - leave when there is a little daylight at 4:30am. We did the latter...... Better safe than sorry as they say.

The 4 am alarm clock wasn't at all welcome. Especially as our extra crew member had a disturbed night thanks to rowdy drunks yelling at each other around the harbour. Weymouth seems to attract more than its fair share of such folks on a Saturday night, there were several police meeting the trains and checking people out when Anne arrived. Clearly, they had been tipped off about her.

Still, a glorious sunrise made the departure much easier:

The crossing was fine. A bit bumpy around the edge of the Portland Race of course but then just a 5 foot swell with some irregular wind induced waves on top - nothing more than a couple of metres high. Our newly overhauled stabilisers just laughed at them. Anne did well on watch, for about 5 of the 11 hours we were underway. That was until the crew gave her some red berry tea which provoked a violent reaction for about 3 minutes. Such a waste of breakfast. She was fine almost immediately afterwards though - amazing recovery powers.

We cruised a little faster than normal to try and optimise the tides that we faced - 1800rpm once mid channel compared to the most fuel economical 1475 or so that is our normal pace. With so little diesel on board, and a relatively clean hull, 1475 was giving us about 6.5 knots and 1800 gave 7.4. However, the extra 0.9 knot used about 45% more fuel but saved us from pushing a strong tide around Guernsey so overall for the trip it was not such a penalty in fuel burn.

We had a first - we crossed the shipping lanes (OK, for the pedants, the traffic separation scheme) with no course or speed alterations at all. We managed to slide between two gaggles of big guys (7 in each) going east and westbound it was pretty quiet. Anne is a good luck charm and needs to join us on all future channel crossings. We promise to throw the red berry tea away.

The sun came out to welcome us to St Peter Port (as did the wind - gusting 35 knots which is why a later departure from Weymouth would have been bumpy!) Once settled in we enjoyed the harbour views:

Stats and maintenance news:

For those who are interested, there was no maintenance to report. The big Lugger ran happily. The new navigation PC also ran fine but the Maxsea software again lost the link to the charts that run in the Furuno kit. It still displayed all the other data and AIS graphics so it was useful anyway. As always (tempting fate here!) the Furuno kit was rock solid.

The trip took about 11 hours and we burned an unusually high for us 130 litres of diesel. Still, since we are about to fill up at under 50p a litre, the savings compared to tanking in the UK make it all worthwhile, As does the lovely island of Guernsey itself.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Hamble to Weymouth

Paul, the persistent Maricom man arrived together with the PC builder man, two new PCs and a third spare (differently configured) hard drive on Thursday. The steely glint in his eye said that "this time, one of these boxes will work properly"!

Of course, it had to be the third option they tried out..... Windows 7 and Navnet 2 do not love each other at all despite advice from the Furuno and Maxsea folks to the contrary. However, a nice old XP build worked but still has a few anomalies. At least the hanging and rebooting game seems to have stopped though so the PC can be used with some degree of confidence again.

As it was a horrible wet and windy day, the captain decided upon a nice indoor job - genset valve clearance adjustment time. Here is the genset getting racy - going topless:

We left the Hamble nice and early on Friday and we saw the results of the powerboat crash that we mentioned in the last post. This rather bent thing is the cardinal buoy at the entrance to the Hamble river. Imagine how hard you hit a metal buoy to bend it like that:

Pottering down the Solent, we saw the lazy man's way to move your boat around the planet:

Of course, with the Nordhavn you can / are supposed to do all the trips you need on your own (or maybe that should say the boat's) bottom. The Solent was nice and quiet, no need to dodge the hundreds of yachts that infest the area at weekends. Passing Hurst Castle and then the Needles it felt good to be "underway" again.

The border force patrol boat passed suitably close to us as they overtook. Perhaps they were looking for illegal penguin passengers? Luckily, Patrick kept his head down for once:

Lulworth Range was not firing and so we could cut across the slightly bumpy St Albans ledge and then head straight for Weymouth. There, we had a serious welcoming committee. Firstly, Andrew (the Welsh one) arrived. Then Linda (the equally Welsh other half), Sarah (their daughter) and Dylan (Sarah's cute Welsh Terrier). Got all that critical information fixed in your brains?

Of course, Andrew, Linda and Sarah are also cute but somehow Dylan's picture is the one that made it into the blog.  Our social life then picked up another gear - a phone call from John and Kath (friends of Andrew and Linda who were also in Weymouth on their boat) inviting us to dinner. John cooks a mean risotto. He then dishes it up in anything but mean portions. We slept well afterwards....

Saturday was spent shopping, visiting Andrew and Linda's very smart new boat (here is a generic picture of one) that will get places at least 3 times faster than us:

We also had to prepare for the arrival of our new crew member - Anne. She was joining us for the planned next trip over to Guernsey, but more of that as / when it happens. In the meanwhile, here is a nice peaceful Weymouth harbour evening scene taken from the aft cockpit for you to enjoy / relax with:

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Water pumps, plumbing, irritating PC's and nasty accidents

Well, sorry girls but when John and Tina joined us in Cowes, it was far too cold and soggy for the famous shorts to come out. No pictures this time - just keep dreaming.

After a couple of days on the Isle of Wight, we returned to Hamble Point (again) as Roland the MDS man was going to plumb in the backup fresh water pump for us. This he duly did with some trickery in routing lots of hoses and new valves. Here is his handiwork:

 We've mentioned before that the Jabsco diaphragm type pumps just don't survive the kind of use we give them - 3 have already packed up in 6 years of owning the boat. Being without fresh water is a bit difficult to say the least. Especially if anchored somewhere nice and remote (remember that the heads (toilets for the non boaters) use fresh water to flush as well....) So, having two pumps plumbed in with one as a "hot standby" is a good idea.

A nice new 240v pump is a stupid price (£1,200 plus import costs from the USA for a Headhunter pump!) so we gave up on that idea. Instead we are going to try an Italian 24v pump (Marco) that is gear driven, not a diaphragm device. The diaphragm pump heads seem to fail quickly and an overhaul with new seals etc is never totally successful. Of course, Italian pumps are a bit of an unknown to us - at least this one is nice and shiny so it will be pretty even if it is useless:

The feeble Jabsco units are funereal black - perhaps all prepared for an early burial:

At present we have the functioning (just over 1 year old so not long to go!) Jabsco and a rebuilt old one plumbed in. As soon as the shiny Italian offering arrives, it will be pressed into service. Let's see...

Whilst the captain was enjoying this fun and making copious quantities of coffee to sustain Roland, the crew went off with Anne (you've met her in here before) to see the puppy that she will have soon. The captain thinks the crew got a better job:

Sadly, back on the boat, it was one step forward and one back - Paul from Maricom and the people that make the new navigation PC came to try and stop it from hanging / rebooting. After a frustrating afternoon for everybody (who on earth designed PCs with drivers than can conflict, incompatibility between windows versions etc etc) the end result was:

Yes, the PC was so unhappy that they took it away and are going to build another one. fingers are firmly crossed that this one decides to work a little better - it should arrive shortly.....

On Wednesday, we heard a VERY noisy raceboat type thing go past and out into Southampton Water. Then we saw lots of activity - ambulances, lifeboats, two helicopters. The boat seems to have had a major issue (maybe mechanical as apparently one engine seizing up would cause it to become totally unstable!!). It then hit the cardinal marker buoy just off the Hamble river and flipped into the air at high speed with serious consequences for the people on board. Here is an eyewitness set of images from the BBC news, you can see that it was upside down when it hit the marker:

The upturned boat was recovered to a mid-river pontoon about 50 yards away from us. The injured people were taken to Warsash, on the other side of the river to the marina, where 4 ambulances were deployed:

The rescue helicopter and the air ambulance landed nearby. All very sad. Here is the local rescue helicopter heading off:

Our boat was then in the background for a few pictures and the BBC TV news coverage. Spot our satellite domes through the sprayhood of the yacht in this BBC picture of the capsized craft:

The TV footage had a little more Nordhavn shown. No royalties though. More seriously, we hope the badly injured crew member recovers OK  The skipper was a well know powerboat race man and so this isn't a case of someone buying a boat beyond their capabilities.