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

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Welsh do Northern Ireland, then it went all quiet(ish)

Where do you take a Welsh couple to give them a flavour of Norn Iron in around 3 days? Well, having "done" Belfast in the same way as American tourists can "do" a country in a day, we opted for some north coast sightseeing. Whitehead (on the shore of Belfast Lough) was a good stop off en route with pretty coloured houses that were perhaps trying to upstage Tobermory:

We forced ourselves to coffee and an excellent cookie at a cafe near the lovely old railway station before driving round to the harbour area at Glenarm. The village still has the air of imminent death about it sadly. Some lovely houses that need some serious attention and shops being converted into accommodation. Wandering around the sea wall, we were accosted by an elderly local lady who told us her entire life story, from being born locally, leaving to go to America to find work, marrying a southern Ireland man who liked the drink too much, loving New York and returning recently. Makes Maggie Thatcher's comments about getting on your bike and looking for work seem tame somehow - hard times. As we walked into the village, we noticed that she had found someone else to tell her story to - must be tough being that lonely.

The church has a great setting by the water:

and one day we must visit the castle grounds. Just not this day as we needed to take the Welsh folks on to Ballycastle. No pictures this time as we spent several days there a couple of years ago and if you are interested, you can browse them instead.

Thinking that some culture was needed, we revisited Mount Stewart and thoroughly enjoyed our second walk around there - the National Trust volunteer guides there are the best we have come across - keen to explain the history and "stories" behind the place. The house isn't that grand on the outside but the decor and family history means that it has hosted pretty much anyone who was anyone in the early 20th century:

This dining room hosted Lord and Lady Astor, Winston Churchill, famous painters and artists etc etc:

This painting of the owner's famous racehorse is an original Stubbs who was renowned for his depiction of horses. Have a look at Wikipedia:

Apparently it is very hard to value as it is way bigger then most of his works. A smaller one made £22.4 million in 2011 at an auction. You could have a lot of Nordhavn(s) for that. We know what we would prefer.

New for us was some time spent in Strangford. We'd been over the little ferry before but never stopped in the village. The tide runs through the narrow entrance to Strangford Lough and when we crossed the ferry took about twice as long to go from Portaferry to Strangford as it took on the return trip. The tide was roaring in quite nicely - it can get up to 8 knots at springs. Here is the ferry approaching Strangford:

At the risk of this turning into TripAdvisor, we hit The Cuan for an excellent small lunch. Very tasty food, would happily return there but to manage more than a main course you would need to be very very hungry.

Mahee island, in the lough, was well worth the drive along the tiny roads and causeways. The site of the ruined monastery gave great views across the patchwork of islands and waterways:

Talking of TripAdvisor, we have our own here. Caroline told us that the Green Chilli in Bangor has good Indian food. Never having been known to refuse the stuff, we walked up there one evening to save the crew from cooking. So pleased that we did! This is their website and if you are in the area, try it out - great food, BYOB with no corkage charged, sensible prices and a free "shot" after the meal too. The only bit we were confused with is the:

At a significant capital investment, we have carefully designed and created what has since become an exciting, yet stylish and contemporary Indian restaurant for the special occasion

claim on their website. The fit-out is nothing that special and in need of a little tlc in some places. We think that their builder ripped them off but it was nice not to be surrounded by flock wallpaper!

Of course, it wasn't all devouring food and culture. The crew and Linda needed to release some excess energy on the swings in the Pickie Fun park in Bangor:

There is nothing to add to the picture that could justify such abuse of a kiddies' play area.

The last day saw us wandering around Antrim and down to Lough Neagh. On the riverside path, we saw a rather "bohemian" looking man with his rather decorated wife, dog and home built motorised bicycle. Andrew asked him if it needed a number plate and he assured us that the local police didn't bother him. Apparently it has a 70cc two stroke engine fitted to it, a primitive clutch and no real upgrades to the original brakes:

The crazy owner offered Andrew a ride on it. We just wish that we had video footage of the event...

We finally dropped the Welsh folks at the decaying "International airport" (the Captain is old and still thinks of it as Aldergrove) for their Squeezyjet flight back to Gatwick. Of course, it had to be nearly 2 hours late thanks to a little dust up between two crew members on the outbound flight! Have a look at Telegraph website for details and a laugh. Of course, it wasn't a laugh for Andrew and Linda. Still, they were escaping from us so we suppose that happy feeling made up for the delay somewhat.

Funny goings on....

Well, if you recall, we commented recently on the strange desires that folks in Russia seemed to have. This desire manifested itself in thousands of supposed reads of blog pages in a week originating from Russia.

Guess what - they have stopped now. Totally. So, either Mossad have stopped interrogating our blog and pretending to be from Russia, or the Russian authorities have blocked access or Mr Putin's chaps have decided that we are deluded but harmless. Frankly, we don't care which of those it is.

Oddly, as Russia has stopped making "unusual" accesses to the junk in here, other places have started. India and the Isle of Man are now popping up a little more. In parallel, the United Arab Emirates have started reading again. Perhaps because Putin has stopped? Who knows. Come on, introduce yourselves!

For the numerically minded and terminally sad, the average number of post reads per month (excluding stuff like the Russian figures and Google etc indexing our breathless prose) is 1,900 now. Here are the most read posts in the last few weeks:

So, you can see that our readers like saving money on fuel, are interested in pictures of the Nordhavn Europe team, seem to have a small penguin and Edinburgh fetish and enjoy reading about us working on maintenance topics. Remind us never to arrange a pub meet up for all the followers. It could be a very strange event....

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

More Norn Iron (as opposed to "Any Old Iron)

After arriving pretty late, we didn't do too much the following day. It was Linda's first ever trip to Ireland but she refused to kiss the ground when she walked up from the pontoons to the land. No idea why, the concrete looked so appealing in the rain.

What did we get up to we hear you cry in breathless anticipation. Well, firstly, we had a visit from David and Caroline who you should know from earlier starring roles in here. Caroline is an all round top person. David is her lucky husband. We say no more.... David helped Linda set some quiz questions for an upcoming Nimbus owners' club meeting (please don't ask why Nordhavn 43 owners are running such an event - it is too hard to explain and the answer would probably not interest you anyway). Do you know what an anphidromic point is without resorting to Google? Well, if you are attending the next Nimbus meeting, read up on it now....

Andrew and Linda got introduced to Norn Iron life a little when they had the pleasure of dinner at the Royal Ulster Yacht club. Quite a place - we have reported on this before. They were so lucky to get a guided tour of the gorgeous building from the club's expert historian too:

The picture gives you an idea of the stunning interior furnishings and woodwork - have a look at RUYC website for more information. Of course, they are expected to become members now.

A day in Belfast seeing the sights is de-rigueur of course. We went on the guided tour of the Belfast city hall - wow. Quite a place that was built using profits from the local gas utility company. Not sure if British Gas (BG) have erected anything as grand with the billions they have made. The interior is opulent in the extreme. Here is the main dome and chandelier, modelled on St Paul's cathedral in London complete with a whispering gallery up top too:

Lunch was in the Cafe Vaudeville. The kind of place where if you fell asleep and the woke up again you would think you were in a Hollywood movie meets shabby chic meets art deco in a wonderfully anarchic way sort of place:

Fortunately, the soup was good enough for us to stay awake and focused on our food.

They had to be introduced to another Belfast institution - the pub. Not any old pub but of course the Crown:

Honestly, we didn't touch a drop. There was more of the city to see rather than stagger around.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Gigha to Bangor before it got nasty (the weather, not Bangor of course)

The forecast was not nice but our little weather window was still there. As always, the "ideal time" to leave for tidal help would mean that we would arrive in the pitch dark (not a huge problem in Bangor) but after the wind picked up making it a bit bumpy. Compromise is important in life, so we were taught. So, we compromised by leaving earlier than ideal to get into Bangor before the wind came. No stupid o'clock alarm call though.

We left around 11am for the trip south. This meant pushing the tide until well past the Mull and then getting a little rocket assistance (spring tides) for the final run into Bangor. The nice new Rocna anchor was recovered. As it appeared, it was hard to tell what type of anchor it was. We've never had so much weed wrapped around our anchor before. The crew cleared most of it using the boathook before pulling the anchor up into the roller:

Then Andrew decided (lifejacketless!!! Bad man) to lean over to shift the rest of it:

Kids - don't do this at home as the adverts say...... Mind you, perhaps we could initiate a new Olympic sport "The Rocnakelp gymnastic lean". Marks would be available for leg angle, artistic impression, speed of weed removal and not falling in

The trip down the side of the Mull of Kintyre was very very calm (offshore wind, little fetch). A bit misty though. The lighthouse at the Mull peeped out at us:

Get the heather colours too. For those who like to be spatially aware / orientate themselves, here is the plotter image:

and here is the whole route:

Although we had an adverse tide at the Mull, we tucked inshore to take advantage of the eddy currents around there and got some assistance. Our 5.3 knots shot up to 7.5 but then we had to plug against the cross tide until well south of the land. This picture of the tip of the mainland shows the confused tidal flows and hence surface conditions a little:

Despite the slow progress, it was very calm so the crew cooked a proper dinner whilst underway. That always helps! There were some nice "sun through the clouds" moments to enjoy too:

We then added a huge 100 rpm (up to a 1650 rpm cruise) to make sure that we got into Bangor before the weather went a bit sick. Amazingly, it worked perfectly. With some rocket assistance as the tide turned and no badly timed ferries around the Larne area forcing a course change, we got in before it was totally dark (good for pot spotting), just as the gusts started to hit 30 knots and just before the rain started too. Sometimes, a plan comes together. This, was sometimes.

Maintenance and statistics:

Sorry, no maintenance to report. The big Lugger was very happy. The little Lugger wing engine had some exercise and seemed happy too. We are trying to burn off most of the fuel in the wing engine supply tank as it is getting old now (from last year's fill up!!) Then we will replenish it from our main tanks. However, the Stanadyne fuel conditioning stuff really helps preserve it. We cannot imagine what state untreated marine gasoil of that age would be in after 18 months in storage, getting heated up regularly too (each time we have a trip the engine room gets warmer of course).

We have just over half a tank of fuel left in our port storage tank and just under 2/3 in our starboard one from our fill up in Guernsey. Not bad all things considered. For the numeric amongst you, we will work out number of hours, miles and fuel burn when we get to our winter home. Cannot be bothered to do so yet. Suffice to say, for any prospective Nordhavn owners out there, fuel costs are not significant in the overall operating costs even if you cruise "seriously". This is no fast planing powerboat where you think twice about the fuel burn and cost for passages.

On this trip, we travelled 63 nautical miles over the ground in just over 11 hours. That was about 71 miles through the water though because we choose to fight the tides a little to get in before the weather turned. The extra 12 litres of diesel that we consumed were well worth the £4 or so they cost for a more comfortable trip.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Craobh to Island of Gigha

06:15 am. Harsh for aged people. Still, it had to be done. The plot was to leave and take the tide  down to the island of Gigha. The wind should be dropping from the " 4 to 5 gusting 6" that was in the shipping forecast by the time we made it so that anchoring overnight would be fine. Then, the following day we had until around 23:00 to get to Bangor in Northern Ireland before the wind and rain set in.

We duly headed off and enjoyed a sunny(ish) trip past Corryvreckan and down to Gigha. In Ardminish bay they have a new pontoon installed. It was totally empty. So, we nosed over towards it but when the depth sounder said that we only had 0.8 metres to spare and we were still about 100 metres away, we turned around and anchored. Yes, the first salt water bath for the new Rocna which duly dug itself in perfectly. As we let out more chain, so the boat drifted back a little and the depth under our keel plummeted to 1.0 metres. Er?? Well, the newest chart we have is on the PC and sure enough, it showed a shallow patch pretty much where we were. The older version in the Furuno plotter didn't have this on it and as we anchored from the flybridge, we were using the plotter....

So, anchor up, move a little, another splash then anchor snubber on and relax.

We were good and even put out the anchor ball on the pulpit too. Our timing had been good - en route we had some 28 knot gusts but they died away just before we anchored and it was pretty calm as you can see. We are not sure if Andrew was peering out of the aft cockpit trying to judge the distance to land and the tide to see if he should swim to freedom. He didn't attempt it though.

We went ashore by RIB and found, in tiny print, on the end of the pontoon, on a notice board, facing the land, a depth chart. Really really useful positioning (not on any website or mentioned on the phone of course). Such a shame, they should be trying to encourage folks to use their nice new pontoon facility. They lost the £20 mooring fee that we would have gladly paid them. Anyway, here it is for other boating folks information:

We were anchored well off the ferry slipway. Depending upon the direction of the tide, the ferry would either pass ahead or astern of us when pottering over to the mainland. Pity that it wasn't prettier though:

Utilitarian is perhaps a better descriptive word. Ashore, we liked the little beach and surrounding area:

The sand is very very white by the way. The timber is thanks to a nice spring tide.

The one island shop was raided and a few purchases made by Andrew and Linda. The one fuel pump on the island had been damaged in the recent storm (see our Dunstaffnage post) and still was not working - after over two weeks. Luckily the island is pretty small so the locals' cars don't need topping up too often. Strange existence.

The church was simple but lovely, some great stained glass in there:

However, the local restaurant had a strange outside sink arrangement:

The plumbing for the water supply was kind of Heath Robinson too, but effective:

We didn't see anyone coming outside to wash the dishes though. Perhaps it was a slow day in the restaurant.

Finally, a little culinary diversion. In the shop in Ardfern (the one that doesn't like debit cards), Andrew bought some bread that was described as "Artisan". Well, this was the most artisan / poserish / self important / up itself loaf that we have ever seen. Get this as the label:

We have to be honest, we were not convinced upon tasting the bread that it was Himalayan pink mountain salt. We think it was the normal white variety. However, the choice in the shop was this or white sliced wonderloaf. Such is life.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Kilmelford to Craobh (another ocean voyage) and some exercise

Just to prove that the weather up here can be kind, here is our evening view in Kilmelford:

The colours were better than that - the Samsung tablet isn't great at colour rendition under low light conditions.

First of all, a little coaster update. The picture of the cute coaster that was loading timber in Loch Aline which we posted recently:

prompted an interesting update on her from Ken, one of the people mad enough to read this stuff. Here is the information:

The little coaster that you mentioned in your recent blog (loading Logs) started life either as MV Edgar Dorman or MV David Dorman.

They were built in Wilhelmshaven, Germany for the shipping company that I worked for at that time.
They were known as the Dorman Sisters.

They have a carrying capacity of 940 Tonnes ( or did have when they were built).

I was at the launch of them .
Nice little ships.

Reading up on them this one was originally the David Dorman, then got called the Deer Sound and now has the unfortunate name of ISIS. Poor ship. Still, her route from Loch Aline suggests that she is not running arms to Syria:

Or perhaps Workington has become a hot-bed of insurgency?

Back to our activities (which are way less interesting of course). We toddled off from Kilmelford after a great couple of days there and managed to stay on the flybridge for the entire, huge, stressful run to Craobh marina.

There we backed into a huge finger berth and managed to look a little lost on it:

After lunch and a quick chat to Sue, the main lady in Craobh, we went to explore the rest of the now slightly depleted Nordhavn fleet here. Due North, the 63 looked as pristine and imposing as ever. Free Spirit the 40 probably needs a bit of a clean up though. From our berth, she looked like most other flybridge 40s:

Closer up she needs a bit of a wash though. We think that she hadn't been out for a while and of course it has been very rainy here recently:

We suggested to Andrew that he might like a project - his 43 is pristine of course. Funnily enough he was not keen. Perhaps the shellfish growing on a fender put him off as he is not keen on seafood at all:

Having decided that keeping our boat sort of clean was hard enough, we ventured off for a little hike across the hill and down to Ardfern. Only 2.5 miles one way but there is a lot of uphill stuff to manage and then (amazingly) a similar amount of down to get you back to sea level again. The path is pretty enough though with some "nature" to admire:

(Perhaps "admire" is a euphemism for "stop and catch breath on the climb?)  We also liked this less natural car that someone had crafted and attached to the rocks. The why question spring to mind again:

We were told that we should go to Lunga House for dinner but that bookings were essential. Having seen the outside, we imagined the prices on the menu and ate on board of course:

Would hate to dip into the Nordhavn 64 fund to pay for dinner.

Over in Ardfern, it was clear that some folks had a similarly low cost approach to sailing:

Not sure how well it would tack or what the RCD rating is for it. (For non boaters, see Recreational craft directive. If you have bothered to read all that European stuff, we are a category "A" boat by the way. Means we should be OK out to sea in conditions that would scare the crew senseless so it isn't much help really!)

After an excellent tea and cake stop we plodded back laden with a few bits of shipping from the Ardfern stores (who amazed us by wanting to charge £1 for a debit card transaction as well as a credit card.) Actually, little about there amazes us really. You just get into a new sense of normal!

Having bought Sue a rather good looking piece of brownie from the most excellent "Crafty Kitchen" (where Linda also managed to leave her posh iPhone) we had to deliver it to the marina office. She seemed pleased about this. Sue - if your husband reads this, we are sorry for letting him know that you had cake that afternoon.

The decision to head off on the following day was made as a big depression was heading over. We had  a 36 hour window in which to travel and being stuck in Craobh whilst the depression moved through was not tempting really. Hence, alarms were set for 06:15.....

Monday, 15 August 2016


We knew that we liked this place but that was confirmed when the sun came out. And stayed out. Wow. After so many horrid days it was like winning the lottery. Actually, never having won much on the lottery, we cannot say that with certainty but if the nice lottery folks would like to help us make the comparison....

We do look a bit tall here:

and Patrick got a Facebook mention too on the Kilmelford page. He is such an attention seeker.

We did the obligatory walk around the loch to Melfort and found that someone had painted the wall of their house and then trimmed back a bush growing against it:

An interesting approach to decorating.

The views over the loch and moorings were better:

They even caused the crew and Linda to stop and admire things - they were still amazed at being able to leave the boat without a coat and wet weather gear of course:

Again, for old times sake, we hit the Cuilfail hotel for lunch and then staggered back to the boat. The captain and Andrew went mad and washed off the boat. The crew and Linda burned off their lunch by sleeping. Females are clearly smarter.

Maintenance news:

Yes, we have some. The new main engine alternator drive belts that we had fitted whilst out in South Uist (Outer Hebrides island) had been shedding bits of rubbery gunge and plenty of dust since fitment. Recently they were re-tightened as they had stretched after a few hours in service. Well, the amount of dust had not decreased and the captain had a good look around during the trip.

The pulley on the engine had 4 grooves on it and the belts should run in the two closest to the engine. Well, whilst re-tightening them, the captain had obviously allowed the outer belt to jump over to a different groove so it was running at quite an angle - hence the dust. It was hard to see as they are both hidden by the big guard but the lesson learned is to check them after tightening in future!

Not a big disaster as the outer belt was not particularly worn after a few hours running "squint",  but it does mean lots of engine room cleaning to remove all the dust is needed. That, comes soon on a rainy day. Might well move to the "one belt" solution.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

From deluge to Kilmelford (via Loch Aline)

Would the rain ever stop? Well, the forecast said so and hence we planned to head back to Loch Aline for one night and then to start our slow run south again. Guess what, the forecast was wrong. So, we walked to the Co-op in the gloom, chatted to the crew of Sceptre (a lovely old yacht that was our 1958 Americas cup challenger) and then scuttled inside as the rain started.  If you like old wooden sailing yachts with character, have a look at the Sceptre website,  If you prefer to avoid images of fresh paint hiding several feet of rotting timber, then don't.

Our return along the Sound of Mull was, once more, grey and gloomy. The positive part was that it wasn't raining all the time, as it had for the past couple of days. We spotted another square rigger for you:

The well organised Loch Aline had a hammerhead sorted out for us, so we happily moored up and then, as the rain looked to have abated for a while, risked a walk to the local shop. Amazingly, they rescued the day as they had both Marmite and a rather posh Lemon and Lime curd too. This led to a breakfast re-run of the world famous 2014 curd taste tests in which Mr Aldi wiped the floor with Mr Tesco's finest and hence their share price slumped. Well, Andrew took his role most seriously again:

and the little craft producer was given a big thumbs up. No chance of a blind "taste off" though as this one is lemon and lime flavour, so far too distinctive.

We left Loch Aline planning to arrive off Fladda (the cute little lighthouse place) as the tide turned in our favour. Too early and we might go backwards. Much later and we would have a swirly ride through the eddies that occur in the Sound of Luing with a spring tide in full flow. Just outside the Loch entrance, a little coaster had arrived to collect the piles of timber that we had enjoyed "sniffing" during our walks:

Yes, it does seem like an odd pastime but Loch Aline is a little bit remote.....

Here is our route for those addicted to maps and geography, showing the leg from Tobermory which we completed the previous day too:


Duart Castle, near the eastern entrance to the Sound of Mull was still covered in scaffolding:

and grey and broody looking of course. A pretty gentle run followed, just a little residual slop from the south west after the lovely windy days that we had enjoyed recently. Having mentioned the cute little lighthouse on Fladda, it would be rude to ignore the view as we passed it:

Arriving in a calm Kilmelford we found a suitable space at the end of their pontoon and claimed it as ours. It felt a bit familiar and welcoming, especially when two ladies in a yacht nearby told the crew that "we saw you approaching, recognised you by your headsets and realised that you didn't need any help to berth". Last visit was two years ago so they have quite a memory. Perhaps we are more famous than we thought or deserve?