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, 31 August 2015

Pottering about in sunny Scotland (except it wasn't always sunny) ...

Whilst in Kip Marina for the Captain's temporary tooth filling job (after the lovely digging out of the nerve exercise) we met Owen, the man who owns another Nordhavn 47, called Annie M.  He was doing some maintenance bits on board, having sucked a nice jellyfish into the air conditioning unit (see our post on the jellyfish in the genset escapade).  It has been a good summer for jellys, this one was alongside us - about 2 feet in diameter:

Just not so good for the poor folks who have to fish them out of the filters.  Before the smart types amongst you say "but why does Owen need Air conditioning in these temperatures?" we hasten to add that he uses the reverse cycle function for heating.  If you were smart enough to ask the question, then you should be smart enough to understand the "why" too.

Owen gets his new Nordhavn 60 soon.  Will be quite a craft.  If the drivel that we produce has wetted your appetite for a 47, then Owen's boat Annie M is up for sale and is a very nice example:

Again, before you comment, no we are not on a commission....  You are just so cynical.

During the windier / wetter days,  we took advantage of the good local train service to visit Ayr and Largs.  By unfortunate accident, we hit Largs during their Viking Weekend event.  Enough said. Too many people with pointy horned hats and strange clothes were wandering around and talking with entirely the wrong accents for Vikings.  

We did discover a lot about catching the haggis though in a local butchers' shop:

Here is a newly hatched one:

and a slightly older one, almost ready for eating:

We also had proof that Scotland has an issue with people taking sufficient exercise between bottles of Irn Bru and fish suppers:

The walk this post was promoting was only a mile long though. Still, for some folks it might be a good start.

Finally, for all the dog lovers out there who have asked about our new "goddog" Izzy, here is a photo that she sent to us:

She captioned it with "come and see the goddog or the bunny gets it".

Anne (the crew for our trip to Guernsey earlier this year and consumer of vast amounts of coffee and gin) is rather proud of the new addition to her family, especially as this time it didn't involve her in several hours of painful labour. We suspect that Anne, not Izzy, wrote the email. Izzy looks too cute to do such a thing.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Patrick, reunited with his sister

Our hero penguin has been quiet(ish) recently.  No, we have not been drugging him or keeping him in solitary confinement. Since the female toddler pretty much ignored the poor chap (how could a grandmother be so heartless?) he had been sulking. However, the arrival of Linda and her very heavy bag cheered Patrick up a lot.

Why?  Well,  Linda brought Polly, his sister, all the way from Weymouth to see him. Happy penguin faces ensued and they went into a conspiratorial huddle:

To help you,  Patrick is the one with the grubby tummy on the right.  He also looks a little fatter than his sister.  We probably need to check his diet and grooming regime.

Patrick has been trying to ingratiate himself with us again, firstly by feigning toothache in sympathy with the captain, wrapping a serviette around his mouth and chin(s). Poor chap didn't seem to realise that he doesn't have any teeth to ache.  Nice try though.  Of course, when we passed the bank in Tighnabruaich (the one that he cased carefully a couple of years ago hoping that one bank heist could set him up for life) he attempted to hide behind his flippers. Funnily, no one paid any attention to him anyway.  Must be lots of folks in Tighnabruaich who overtly plan bank jobs.

His behaviour went downhill though when Polly had to go home. He gave her the expected farewell cuddle:

However, when she packed her little rucksack, he got most distressed and hid:

We finally coaxed him out of the corner but he spent the rest of the day sniffling into a tissue. He was inconsolable:

Penguin parenting is tough and we are not tooled up for this kind of stuff. Perhaps we should ship him off to Amanda in Australia after all?

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The big ferry

What do you do when you have a world girdling capable trawler yacht, plenty of diesel on board, a huge anchor and miles of anchor chain? Well, you decide to take the Calmac ferry to Brodick (Isle of Arran) as plan B. Here are the crew and Linda conspiratorially enjoying the sun on board:

They were probably plotting trouble for Andrew and the captain. We loved Arran, especially as it was sunny (despite the attire you see in the picture above). Approaching the island,  here is the "hilly" northern bit where Goatfell, the highest point, is located:

and the town of Brodick:

A walk up to the castle and excellent coffee / cake at the Little Rock cafe were enjoyed too. Here are some impressions:

Continuing the "boat restoration opportunity" theme from earlier posts, Andrew found the ideal winter project. Well, an engine and bearers anyway:

On the way back, a pod of dolphins were fishing in the bay near to the ferry before departure. A great farewell treat after a great day on the island.

Upon return we moved the boat to her new berth, which involved an interesting bit of reversing down between two pontoons and then into an alongside space between two other boats with little clearance.  As we had a meerkat like audience on neighbouring boats, we just had to do it without touching the thrusters. One lady yottie even complimented us afterwards. A first; we must be getting the hang of this boat handling stuff at last.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Isle of Arran (almost) and irritating berthing

Departing Troon, the more normal grey gloomy stuff had returned. The port had an interesting bridge that was sitting on a barge connecting fresh air to fresh air:

We hope that no-one tries to drive that piece of construction plant across it - they could have a nasty surprise.

One amusing thing about Troon harbour is how it tries to help people who are not that confident in their navigation. This is at the entrance, something we haven't seen on a harbour before:

It welcomes the odd timber carrying ship, the local fishing boats and a few pleasure boats visiting the marina but helps confirm that the GPS has been working properly. Troon entrance also had a most imperious looking cormorant fisherman who gave the local seagull a cold shoulder:

We nipped out before the fast cat ferry departed. She has a very chequered history, including holding the speed record for an Eastbound Atlantic crossing for a short time. Have a look at Wikipedia entry. We remember the Caterpillar service man from Poole telling us about the many repairs they had to make to the engines on board following poor operating procedures and servicing in the Mediterranean:

4 x 9,655HP engines probably use a little more fuel per mile than we do and require a little more service work. You could probably buy our main engine for the cost of an oil and filter change on the ferry.

We toddled over to the Isle of Arran and into the anchorage at Lamlash, behind Holy Isle. The wind meant that we had a reasonably sheltered spot and in a reasonable depth too. (The bottom shelves quite quickly so if the wind is offshore and the anchor drags, you end up in deeper water with little chance for the anchor to dig in again. If it blows onshore and the anchor breaks free, there is a good chance it will take hold again as it pulls into shallower water. You just have to hope that it does so before you go aground!) Here is Lamlash from the anchorage. The anchor ball you can see was put in position to make the crew happy - we bought it ages ago and never seem to bother to use it (of course, we show a light at night!)

For the real boat spotters, you can also see the snubber line and see that the anchor chain is loose - all the boat's weight is held by the snubber which runs through a D ring close to the waterline to give a quieter and better time at anchor.

After lunch we built the "rubber flubber" dinghy, exhumed the little egg whisk outboard from the lazarette and got it all going. Naturally this coincided perfectly with a wind direction shift and significant increase in speed. Hum. The initial plan of leaving the boat at anchor and going ashore became diluted to "dropping off the crew and the captain returning just in case". This became further diluted to "retrieve the dinghy and head off" as the wavelets got bigger and the thought of a trip in the dinghy became less and less appealing.

So much for Lamlash and the weather forecast.

Instead, we headed back across to the mainland - to Ardrossan as the completion of the heater service / repair was due shortly anyway. That resulted in this strange course:

Clyde Marina  in Ardrossan really frustrated us though. Having booked the berth (we are a bit big and fat and heavy for their finger berths so they needed to plan a spot for us) we were told that "maybe the hammerhead on D would be free". Maybe? Do they run the place or what? Of course, it wasn't free and the slightly brusque lady on the radio (not the nice one who looked after us last time) said "all I can offer you is a berth on F pontoon". So much for pre-booking and making sure they knew all about us. We backed onto a short finger berth and spent ages building a cats cradle of mooring lines trying to hold the bow in place on the short finger. Luckily the overnight wind was forecast to be gentle. Of course, the entire pontoon had no power so we had to call the helpful night watchman guy who fixed that. Mrs Brusque had already gone home (luckily for her).

The following morning when we asked the nice lady for a proper berth was a wonderful example in how not to manage customers by the marina manager and a great example in how to do it properly from a staff member, whilst Mrs Brusque sat feebly defending herself. It was most amusing watching the manger dig himself a big hole in true Basil Fawlty style and went something like:

Manager: we always put 15m boats on those 12m fingers - you are fine there

Captain: Don't think so, we cannot secure the bow properly if the wind picks up

Manager: but those berths are fine, never had a problem before, I can come and look at your mooring lines if you'd like to prove it to you?

Captain: Feel free, I don't think you will find a solution though.

Staff member, who had figured out which boat we were: Er, how long are you staying?

Captain: As this conversation goes on, less and less time...

Staff member: There is an alongside berth free until Sunday just here (pointing). I think that you will fit in OK

Manager (daylight dawning slowly): Which boat are you from then?

Captain: The Nordhavn trawler yacht over there. We are a good 40 tons and hanging on that little finger

Manager: Oh. I am so sorry, I didn't realise what the boat was, would you like a hand with the lines when you move etc etc.

He turned into a Basil Fawltyesque apologetic heap instantly. Most amusing. Shame how he forgot the "what boat" question right up front before he started lecturing a customer.....

For foreign readers (and anyone who likes a good piece of old TV), look at Basil handling a complaint video for an idea of the behaviour and a laugh too.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Tarbert to Troon

The Scottish summer continued with a nice overcast and atmospheric departure from Tarbert:

At least it was dry for that bit of the trip... A little later on we needed the radar again as it became murky and then rained like crazy. The good news is that our wiper repair worked just fine. A very strange trip as it only involves one straight line course from Tarbert to Troon Entrance. Odd as there are plenty of islands and rocks to get in the way around here (and they usually do). Here is our track as evidence - the one little wriggle was to avoid a tanker heading south from Glasgow:

The other odd thing was the view from the pilothouse. It started out grey and gloomy, then became so restricted that the radar was the only way to tell what was around us. Then it cleared quickly and we enjoyed calm sea and seals, dolphins and a hint of sun. Just off Troon we spotted a couple of jetskis motionless in the water. We wondered if they had broken down as they were well offshore. The reality was a little different, they were fishing:

In Troon, we enjoyed the hottest day of the year so far in the area - 24 degrees despite a strong wind. It was so nice that it tempted Andrew into his shorts. Since you ladies have been deprived of John's knees recently, this might help:

You can, of course, vote for which set you would like to see more of in future. We will totally ignore you though - such pictures are all about opportunity. Talking of opportunity, the crew's knee trouble seems to be getting better even if taped up they look much the same:

OK, that is enough naked flesh for one post. A walk around Troon in the nice warmth was needed. The beach was crammed with people who seemed keen to fry their pasty white skin. The car parks were overflowing too. Perhaps it was the last day of "summer". Troon is, of course, famous as the home of world class golf tournaments. Here is the Royal Troon clubhouse where the 2016 open will take place:

We don't think they needed to water the greens to achieve that lush colour this year though. Next door is the Marine Hotel - wonder how much they increase their room rates by when big golf tournaments are underway:

Dinner was a real treat at Scotts restaurant in the marina - wildly busy but excellent food. Have a look at website.

Maintenance news:

Nothing exciting to report. We continue to run the wing engine for longer periods to burn up the 2014 fuel still in the dedicated supply tank though. If we had a contaminated fuel problem in our main supply, we would be so happy to have many litres of clean stuff to keep the little wing engine running nicely. When you are trying to burn it off, it seems to be quite a lot. Good for the engine to stretch its legs though. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Portavadie, Tarbert and birthday time

After a lovely night at anchor in Asgog Bay, we knew that the weather was going to turn for the worse.  The forecast said that the wind would swing through 180 degrees which would be fun in our anchorage that had been perfectly protected beforehand.  So, we got up and active a little earlier than usual to enjoy a perfectly still and sunny start to the morning.

Never criticise the Met Office -  about 5 minutes before they had forecast it,  the wind duly did a 180 change and built rapidly in speed.  So, we recovered a nicely weedy anchor and made the short trip to Portavadie, just around the corner.  By the time we arrived, the wind was very busy and docking was fun, especially as the free spot needed a reverse in manoeuvre.

After berthing in the rain, it continued to so so for most of the day.  Great.  Portavadie can be explored by looking at Portavadie website.  We mentioned the place a couple of years ago as the white elephant oil rig construction yard that never received an order and finally got converted into a marina.  The village for the workers was never occupied and stands derelict to this day.  So much for regenerating the west of Scotland -  criminal waste of public money....

The following day we pottered over to Tarbert, fast becoming a favourite spot. The same nice hammerhead berth but a very confused man in the office who was filling in for the normal ladies and didn't really know where things were or what to do.  Friendly and helpful within his limitations though!

A walk around the bay revealed some lovely houses with stunning views:

Not sure if you could really live there without getting stir crazy occasionally though.  Going to the Co-op every day is a wild as it gets.... Apparently, the Scottish Tourist Board dishes out 3 stars to pretty much anything these days:

We learned that most of the shellfish landed by the fishermen locally end up in Spain for some strange reason. Here is the truck:

If you look closely you might spot that woolly hat being sported by the lady yet again. Yes, it is August in Scotland...

Friday was a key day -  the captain's birthday.  To celebrate, a running repair was made to the wiper arms -  the starboard side one had become detached from the spindle. Well, not strictly true. The wipers are pantograph devices and the driven part of the arm was still attached OK. However, the part that is meant to just act as a trailing arm had pushed off the fitting.  Some thought, sandpaper, copper grease and a hammer (!) sorted that out.

Of course, one job always leads to another -  realigning the water jets and clearing out the blocked ones.  We don't use them much,  we rarely get spray over the screen thanks to the high bow and the fact that we don't try to go out in gales too often.

After all this exertion,  we walked across to West Loch Tarbert to try out the West Loch hotel that had been booked for a Sunday lunch visit a while ago but then cancelled as it was a bit of a walk in the wet:

Luckily,  the dry stuff and sun was booked for the birthday boy and we can thoroughly recommend the hotel as a place to eat. Venison pie crammed with meat:

(By the way, the glasses of red wine were not ours of course.) The crew had the most disgusting chocolate assiette of desserts you have ever seen or attempted to eat:

She managed it though.....

We walked (or should that be waddled?)  to the West Loch pier to admire the fishing boats.  Some were in better condition that others:

One even had an engine left inside but it looked a little too far gone for reconditioning:

We staggered back to Tarbert and didn't do much else frankly! Wonder why.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Bute to Asgog Bay (one of those died and gone to heaven spots)

We wriggled ourselves out of Port Bannatyne despite the best efforts of the wind to keep us pinned against the pontoon / other boats. The lovely views around the Kyles of Bute were a little muted as there was some cloud about (way better than rain of course so not an issue!)

The little ferry at Colintrave - for the first time - didn't head off and force us to alter course. It stayed snuggled up to the Bute slipway:

Must be the most expensive ferry crossing going. The trip is timetabled for a whole 5 minute crossing but costs £10.05 for a car (you pay for the driver and passengers too of course). Wonder what will happen when "road equivalent" pricing starts on that route later this year.

Just past the ferry are the nice narrows. This gives you a reasonable idea of the gap - no space for two fat boats to pass in safety when the tide is going across the channel:

We were all on our own so no pressure at all. Heading down the west Kyle towards Tighnabruaich was pretty good as the sun was busy with nice views aft too:

Linda continued her photographic tour of Scotland, capturing images of the village and the local bank (perhaps for Patrick, remember that he attempted a bank robbery here two years ago):

As you can see, a woolly hat is a must have accessory in Scotland this summer for some folks.
We wanted to stop off the town but more and more of the area is getting filled up with mooring buoys. Of course, the visitor buoys only want boats up to about 15 tons so we need to anchor. The problem is that there is so little space to do so near to the rapidly shelving shoreline. We tried the one "possible" spot between two buoys, found that it wasn't good holding and so gave up and carried on.

We ended up very glad that we did so, as we anchored in Asgog Bay near Portavadie. It was calm enough to sit on the flybridge with an early evening libation, whist drinking in the views of the Isle of Arran astern, the Kintyre peninsular and the mainland whilst in a lovely bay:

One of those anchorages that is only suitable in offshore light winds, which turn into little chunks of memory heaven.

Maintenance news:

Having Andrew on board, we were desperate to find some maintenance that needed doing. Well - result! When Roland replaced the vibration damper on the front of the engine, he had rebuilt the engine alternator covers exactly as you would expect to do. What he didn't know, and the captain had forgotten to mention of course) was that one needs to be spaced out a little to stop it chafing gently on the alternator pulley when the engine is at idle and vibrates more.

Of course, doing that means getting very grubby as there is plenty of black belt dust to get all over your hand but it isn't an especially hard job.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Dunoon, Mount Stuart and Port Bannatyne (Isle of Bute)

Despite a hint of rain in the forecast, we braved things for the walk around the waterfront to Dunoon. Of course, it rained a little en route - still not old enough to be wise. The good thing was that the showers stopped before the waterproofing in our jackets gave way.

There is only so much fun that you can have in Dunoon. The extent of "so much" is, we think, related to your age and if you have lived in solitary confinement for most of your life. Be that as it may, Dunoon was a nice walk, lunch (same place we visited with the toddlers) and a haircut for Andrew that got a little criticism from Linda. Luckily, he wore a cap most of the time:

He also does a good mean and moody "far away" look.

We then made another huge sea voyage, around to Port Bannatyne on Bute. This small and very friendly marina had hosted us a couple of years ago and said they had space again - of course the space was a little cosy for us but we wriggled onto the free hammerhead. A much nicer spot than the grim offerings in Rothesay. As the sun was out, a walk into the metropolis (Rothesay) was in order. En route, the crew had to admire (?) the many jellyfish in the bay:

Yes, there were lots of Lion's mane in there, just waiting to strangle our genset again. Little did they realise that we had shorepower this time so their attempts would be futile. The Port Bannatyne sailing club has a most palatial waterside hut but somehow we don't think that the members of the Royal Ulster club (see our posts from Bangor earlier this year) will be too jealous:

In the sun, with only a little wind, it was just a perfect afternoon in perfect scenery. This inspired Linda to get all artistic with her posh new iPhone 6 in its low visibility luminous green case:

She seemed to be pointing at the sad buildings on the edge of town rather than the lovely water views behind her though. Wonder if it was a selfie? Perhaps this is the image she was hunting for:

The classic converted MFV is a "cruise ship" that offers holidays around the area - might be an interesting way to explore if she has been well scrubbed out before they added the guest cabins...

Andrew had the fun of visiting the famous Victorian loo in Rothesay. The captain put a couple of surreptitious pictures of this in the blog a couple of years ago. Andrew was a little more blasé about taking a photo and so here it is. Girls, look away now:

A repeat visit to Mount Stuart house was a must. For those who like stunning, quirky, over the top old houses, look at house website . The outside is nowhere as impressive as the amazing interior but despite that:

The gardens are pretty good too:

They get the bees seal of approval anyway. Mount Stuart is still the best house that we've ever visited.  Go there....