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

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Dartmouth to Plymouth

After a few good days in Dartmouth, we thought that we should head a little further. The longer term forecast for "up north" was grim so no big rush to get around Land's End and head for the Orkneys or wherever. Hence a little trip to Plymouth was planned to allow some serious food shopping and perhaps even a little boat cleaning to take place.

The nice folks at Mayflower Marina said they had space for us so we headed off to take full advantage of the nearly spring tides. Between Dartmouth and Start Point there were some fair sized waves (up to 2 metres) from the NE as there had been strong NE'ly winds for 3 days or so. Again, some stabiliser activity. You can figure out from this track that once you approach Salcombe, you get great shelter from the wind and the sea calmed down dramatically:

We saved lunch for then, just off Prawle Point:

the little hut on the clifftop is the National Coastwatch lookout.

We were "chasing" the Nauticat yacht whose crew had kindly invited us on board for drinks - they left Dartmouth about 45 minutes earlier than us, en route to Fowey. As we travel at typical yacht speeds we didn't expect to catch them but we rounded Start Point closer in than they did (the benefit of 40 odd tonnes and stabilisers, it is lumpy around there) so we thought that a photo opportunity might present itself. Most boaters will tell you that getting pictures of your own boat at sea is very difficult!

We failed though, closest point of approach was just over a half mile and so all we could manage for them was pretty feeble:

Not something they will have printed out and framed we fear.

Plymouth harbour itself was busy, lots of people out enjoying a sunny but chilly Saturday afternoon and a yacht race cutting across everything. One guy decided that it would be fun to tack right under our bow. Perhaps we are becoming invisible; the ship that wanted to run us down crossing from St Peter Port and now a suicidal yottie. He clearly doesn't know how substantial the hull layup is on a Nordhavn. Later on he came into Mayflower Marina and gave a sheepish wave of apology.

This trip was typical of coastal cruising - some quite lumpy stuff and then almost perfect shelter in the lee of the land. It never ceases to amaze us just how many sea conditions you can face in one short trip based on wind direction, tidal flow, depth changes etc. Makes passage planning fun - for us the wave heights are not that significant as the boat is built to handle rough stuff, but it makes a huge difference to the catering when on a longer overnight trips. Calm = proper full cooked dinner. Moderate seas = reheat something from the freezer in the microwave. Rough = pre-prepared sandwiches and wraps. We have such tough decisions to take these days....

Friday, 22 April 2016

Dartmouth, Totnes and batteries

After arriving in Dartmouth, Andrew the well known (well, in this blog at least) crew member had to depart. So, he had booked a train back home from Totnes, a short bus ride away. We duly launched the RIB and as we all went to board it, the engine decided not to tilt down into the water. Instead the power trim pump made a sad noise and stopped. Very flat battery like. We thought that the battery was in trouble whilst in Guernsey but now it was clearly sick. Not a lot of point in charging it up and trying again as it is now over 7 years old and for a little basic lead / acid battery it has done well.

Of course, having the outboard leg sticking up in the air and no way to drop it down quickly rather messed up the trip ashore to get the bus.... This was fixed by rapidly building the rollup dinghy, digging out the little Tohatsu outboard engine and being very happy when it fired up for the first time since September last year. Just love simple two stroke engines (we know we've said this many times before but that doesn't stop it from being so so true).

The rather posh bus was duly caught:

as was Andrew's train. Train? The announcement gaily said that "this train is formed of one coach". It should have added, "one very full elderly refurbished and very slow coach".

We thought that overcrowding was a London commuter thing, not an early afternoon in Totnes out of the peak holiday season thing. Wikipedia quotes these single carriage jobs as "being used on some busier routes owing to stock shortages". Lucky passengers!

Returning we managed to catch the bus that went via the school in Totnes. Lovely, we learned a few new words that we should not share with such polite company as our educated readership.

A new RIB battery was ordered on-line for delivery to the Harbour Office as the local suppliers were a touch too expensive. As a comparison:

On-line order, delivered £72
Chris Hoyle Marine, the local Yamaha dealer  £95
Darthaven Marina chandlery and Dartmouth chandlery £114.95
(Wonder what our friends in Boatworks in Guernsey would have wanted...)

This was all for identical Numax batteries - a little 86 amp hour guy like this one:

It needs to be relatively serious to support the power trim &/tilt on the engine.

The harbour office team were very helpful but in a "local government establishment" sort of way. They happily took the parcel for us, unprompted offered a way to reduce our costs if we visit Dartmouth often (paying annual harbour dues not daily visitor rates) and chatted about the usual UK obsession - the weather. The friendly / smiling / building relationships bit is beyond them though, they could learn a lot from the folks in Mayflower marina in Plymouth or Penarth or Kilmelford or....

What else, well, we did the obligatory walk to the castle and generally enjoyed ourselves as always in this beautiful spot. The only downside was that Bernie (the Triumph 2000 / Dunkirk little ship man) and Jenni were not in residence so no catch up. However we were invited for drinks onto a nice Nauticat 39 which was berthed on the same mid-river pontoon by some equally nice people. Sorry Stephen, a bigger one than yours. Nauticat envy coming up perhaps?

Monday, 18 April 2016

St Peter Port to Dartmouth

Thinking that we were in danger of spending more on navigation bulbs than fuel, we checked the nav lights the evening before departure. Guess what, the stern light had blown again! After fitting one of the two new spares purchased in Guernsey, we found that the bulbs in the 24v boxes bought from ASAP supplies were not all 24v bulbs. One was a 12v in the wrong box hence the almost instant failure. The others must have just been very low quality. Unusual for ASAP, normally their stuff is fine. Let's see how the ones bought in Herm Seaways perform.....

Heading back across the channel meant another stupid o'clock departure to get over the cill in Victoria Marina and take the tide with us around Guernsey. The nice sunrise, pretty calm seas and big tidal help made the start of the trip very pleasant indeed.

Crossing the traffic that was heading for the shipping lanes we had a few diversions to make especially for the Clipper Newark.

We made the obligatory clear and visible course alteration to pass astern of him by just over half a mile. Then, about 10 minutes later, he decided to alter course towards us, almost certainly just following his pre-planned route. It was not at all seamanlike - especially as he was officially the "give way vessel". We made another, this time huge, course alteration to pass astern of him and then the watchkeeper on the bridge must have woken up to what he had done as he quickly resumed his original course - see the nice wriggle on his AIS trail:

That was one of the worst pieces of watchkeeping that we've witnessed from a commercial guy so far.

The wind picked up a little in mid-channel and we had some chunkier waves coming in on the port quarter so the stabilisers were called into action. Nothing dramatic though, still a good crossing. Arriving in Dartmouth (after a little wing engine exercise and a good wide open throttle burn for the main engine) we were pleased to find space and plenty of it on the mid-river pontoons.

The one just below the "Higher Ferry" has the best views possible of the town and river we reckon:

even if the perspective of this panoramic shot makes the boat look a long way off the pontoon it was tied up to!

A good trip, about 10.5 hours underway and no real drama apart from the pesky shaft brush that started making noises again at slower rpm settings. Major surgery beckons!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Fuel and pottering in Guernsey

Having arrived, we felt that we ought to put a little fuel into the boat. Again, we used the helpful and friendly Kevin from Rubis Fuels who was mentioned in here before as "the man for diesel" on the island. He fitted us in at very short notice so we had a nice flybridge trip up to St Sampsons. Here is the view back to Castle Cornet and the St Peter Port harbour entrance:

Just to show what good protocol abiding folks we are, here is proof that the courtesy ensign was flying too:


By the way, it was not attached to the crew's ear as the picture suggests.

The arrangements in St Sampsons are a tad primitive and the pontoon you lie alongside is a tad prehistoric. However a nice new tanker and a happy tanker driver more than make up for it, as does the cost per litre:

To really upset many UK boaters, bulk fuel was 32.86p / litre. We will gloat quietly. The nice people at Boatworks in St Peter Port wanted 57p. We think they are very nice people of course (if a little greedy).

We returned to St Peter Port, pushing the start of the foul tide and with a slightly heavier boat after adding just over 4 tonnes of fuel. You really notice the difference in handling. As you burn off fuel slowly, you just adjust subconsciously to the slight changes in response to the wheel. When you add 4 tonnes, mainly under the waterline in one go, the turning circle changes and the boat responds a little more slowly to the throttle! You have to relearn rather fast when coming back to berth in the confines of St Peter Port. Still, we berthed with no big dramas.

Another first for us - the harbour master man asked if we wanted to go inside the visitors' marina, known as Victoria Marina. Normally we are too big to play inside there but as it was so quiet, he said we could cuddle up into the deeper north eastern corner. So, at high water we did just that:

The mast sticking out the top of the boat belong to an old square rigged sailing craft in the harbour. It is not a new fuel saving gadget that we have fitted.This berth gave us a quieter time when the wind turned easterly and the outer harbour got a bit bumpy.

When in Guernsey there are a few "must do" things. One is raiding Waitrose and having a tea there despite the hopeless organisation of the cafe staff. (It is the same in every Waitrose cafe we've ever used to be honest - they would never survive in a Costa or Starbucks operation!) If ever the need for a job beckons, then making Waitrose cafe operations more professional would be fun and the diagnosis phase not too hard we reckon.

Another favourite sport is spotting the sickly ferry Condor Liberation if it is running (and it was):

This poor thing seems to have had more than its fair share of problems and little crunches since coming into service and is not the most popular thing in the Channel Islands. Have a look at Guernsey Press articles, some are worth a read. Very rare for a local commercial passenger ship to be stopped from sailing from the UK by the authorites owing to safety concerns.

Another tradition is walking around to Fermain Bay and sitting outside the cafe for lunch. The temperature wasn't too kind but the lunch was great as usual and provided in copious quantities:

The nice hilly path helps with another cardiovascular workout, just like the hill on the main street in Lymington. We are so lucky. The bluebell wood was stunningly beautiful:

What else? Well, we walked along the coast to Beaucette Marina, a new spot for us but one that Andrew had previously visited by boat. A great coffee location. We also explored the extended M&G chandlery at St Sampsons. Very impressed, full of proper tools and kit, not the usual boating clothing and tacky trinkets supplied by Nauticalia. The captain went wild and bought some Wurth brake cleaner (about a third of the UK Halfords price). Then he had to carry it back. Not the smartest move.

Maintenance News

Yes, for the oil and spanner types, we can report that we swapped out the fuel filters on the genset and gave the wing engine gearbox some nice fresh ATF oil. All scheduled maintenance stuff. We also gave the shaft brush a clean up. On the way over it was rattling and being very annoying generally - the noise from it carries through the boat structure amazingly well unfortunately. For those who don't have such a contraption, basically it helps to complete the electrical bonding of the shaft to the boat's ground system to protect it and it is just an irritating brush on a lump of springy metal that bears on the shaft as it rotates. Let's see if it is going to be nice and quiet on the next trip. If not, major surgery beckons........

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Weymouth to St Peter Port

As per normal, this trip means an early start. The 5am alarm was not welcome at all. A quick breakfast and then whilst preparing the boat for departure, we found that two of the navigation lights didn't work! Grr. The port light was fine after fitting a new bulb. The stern light had a new bulb fitted which very quickly burned out and needed another replacement. Luckily we had 3 spare bulbs. unluckily, they cost about £8.50 each......  It was going to be a close call on this trip between fuel costs and bulb costs!

The trundle over the channel was probably the calmest that we have ever done. Lovely. Naturally the route involves a bit of wandering around as you let the tide take you towards the west and then back to the east. Crossing the shipping lanes at 90 degrees to the big commercial boys also adds to the overall impression of a drunken duck underway:

As you can see, it was quiet out to sea..... We had a few course alterations to avoid the more serious shipping that cost us a bit of time en route but nothing too stressful even at our slowish speed (6.7 knots through the water at 1660 rpm as very light on fuel). Approaching Guernsey it was a bit misty - we prefer the term "atmospheric" of course as you can see:

Arriving in St Peter Port at low water meant heading for the mid-harbour pontoons via the local boat moorings, not the normal approach channel as it was too shallow to be safe. Ditto the last visitor pontoon which quickly became "interesting" when the depth under the keel dropped to 0.4 meters. Time to back out and head another way. For those who plan to visit here, the nice harbour master man showed us a chart showing the depths on the harbour pontoons and also in the Victoria Marina where the smaller visiting boats go:

With a draft of nearly 2 meters, some of the harbour is a little "off limits" - even some of the remote pontoons. We sat quite happily on "Swan 2" and admired the classic views of Castle Cornet

We also watched the Condor ferry "Commodore Clipper" start up on her berth, ready to depart. Remind us again why we need tier 4/5 compliant engines which are way too complex to fix out to sea for our boats and why we have all those emission checks on our cars:

Overall the trip took just over 11 hours, plenty of time for snoozing en route. No big dramas to report luckily and for those of you who want some maintenance news, sorry, there is none. You will have to get your oil and spanners fun somewhere else today.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Lymington to Weymouth

We like this trip. You can take advantage of a fair tide for most of the way and escaping from the confines of the Solent makes you feel that cruising has begun properly. We like it even more when the best timing for the trip means leaving around 8am - no early alarm calls.

It was a pretty calm day, great for the first "longer" run of the season. We pottered down the Needles channel enjoying the sun and views of the rocks and famous lighthouse:

As you can see, it wasn't exactly rough out to sea. Passing Lulworth range, the range safety boat was very helpful, calling us to advise that they were only firing up to a range of 4.5 miles and that there was no need to go further south. The range is on the direct route to Weymouth across St Albans bank:

That cut about 30 minutes off the trip (normally about 70 miles) so we arrived in Weymouth nice and early to find almost empty pontoons in the harbour.  Sunny, calm, lovely:

Kind of a south coast version of Tobermory with the coloured houses. Reassuringly, we were berthed opposite the local lifeboat:

It was called into action as well, luckily not by us though:

Weymouth time meant that we could catch up with Andrew and Linda (the Welsh connection), enjoy walks around the bay, take the train to Dorchester etc. To prove that the place is a traditional seaside town:

Donkey rides on the beach were just about resisted by the crew. It was a close call mind you.

We also had our bimini cover repaired at a local sailmaker after it was defiled by storm Katie a while ago (well, a zip was ripped out). Apparently Gosport suffered the worst storm in 18 years according to the local experts. Just our luck to be there for it.  The £24 repair cost pales into insignificance compared to the size of most boat bills though so is barely worth recounting.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Solent / Lymington social life

During the odd nice day, we managed the huge sea trip over to Cowes. Whilst on the mid river pontoon there, we had a phone call from Ray, the nice yottie man, telling us to put the kettle on. He had blatted from Chichester over to the Island as it was sunny and calm in his monster company RIB just for the fun of it. His fun ended when he saw us but he was happpy enough to consume tea and thaw out a little from his trip. Impressive RIB, but we are a little worried about what he was doing with his hands:

Despite his appearance on this photo, he isn't an East End 1950's spiv at all

We also saw Norman and Julie. Norman the motorhome / bobil man and Julie the labrador puppy person. Sadly most of the 6 puppies had already headed to their new homes but the crew still managed to have fun with the remaining couple:

Now that only one pup is left, their kitchen floor seems much drier.

After so much activity for old retired folks, a big decision. Where do you head for when preparing to head to Guernsey for fuel? First stop for departing the Solent has to be Lymington. Such a lovely spot with the added benefit of a nice hill to give you a cardiovascular workout when going to the shops. We pottered there from Gosport and spent a happy few days on the Dan Bran pontoon.

It was a busy place for visitors too. Anne made a bid for freedom from the offspring for a day and managed to get an overnight pass too. Hence, Izzy the salty seadog spent her first night on board and came through with flying colours, although she did look very happy when the captain took her ashore in the morning. Apparently giving her some scraps of some salmon and tuna for breakfast is a little over the top. She seems less keen on kibble at home now, we are in trouble.

John and Tina, the Isle of Wight dwellers, braved the ferry and came over for a day which became very sociable as we were dog sitting that day. We think that Tina liked Izzy. The pleading look from under the table at lunchtime clearly worked:

Preparing to leave the boat for a walk, Tina took a strong grip on her lead and said "Shall I take her then?" with that "challenge me if you dare" tone. We didn't.  We are not that brave.

The plans for a trip to Guernsey to fuel up also involved some other folks who are relatively regularly mentioned on here - Stephen and Alison, the Nauticat yotty types who are also trolley shopper owners on the quiet. Why were they involved? Because they had booked the forecabin for the run over to St Peter Port - kind of brave for yotties to be seen on a powerboat but they probably had suitable disguises prepared. Fate decided otherwise though - they both had the flu and so sadly had to cancel. However, so that they are not forgotten, you can enjoy some car porn instead - Stephen sent a picture of his rather nice Porsche Cayman:

Before you ask, yes it is always that clean....

To cap a most sociable time, John and Kath (the Broom 39 people, hope you are keeping up here) also popped in for tea and a chat. John has the honour (??) of meeting Princess Anne shortly at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club and his boat will be polished to within a micron of remaining gelcoat ready for her inspection. The power of royalty. When people join us on board, they have to help clean up.

Finally the kettle had a chance to go cold and we decided that it was time to depart (actually the wind had dropped which might have had a bearing on our decisions too).