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, 17 August 2017

Troon to Greenock (James Watt Dock)

The forecast for the next few days was not good. Windy, rainy and unappealing. We must be in Scotland and it must be summer. With 4 days of that ahead of us, we opted to head up into the Clyde and hide out in James Watt Dock for a while. We'd not been there before, however some folks that we met in Dartmouth a year or so ago have their yacht based there now and they are involved in the company that runs the place too. On the basis that we could catch up with them and also easily get into Glasgow, Greenock seemed like the place to go.

 It was rare / unheard of to say that during our time living in Edinburgh of course! Greenock is not one of the most scenic parts of Scotland. So, not expecting beautiful surroundings upon arrival, we headed off for a run that should take just under 6 hours with the promise of "moderate" seas according to the Met Office. (For the non boaters, moderate means 1.25 to 2.5 m high).

The route itself is most scenic, around the islands and up towards Glasgow:

Heading out of Troon harbour we had the lovely smell of freshly cut timber thanks to the stacks on the quayside and this little guy who had just brought some more:

The sea conditions were as per the forecast so around a couple of metres. Not enough to bother a couple of tankers anchored up nearby:

which were, naturally, right in the way of our planned course. A small diversion gave us the delightful sight of her bottom:

Not quite as pretty as the bottom belonging to Mimosa that we enjoyed in the Dunkirk film.

As we turned to head north inside the Cumbrae islands we had a nice following swell. A workboat, appropriately named Bruiser was pushing into it:

or maybe that should be through it? Typical small tug style craft, lots of power, lots of wash to go just a little above hull speed. They went out to one of the anchored ships and then back towards Glasgow all at a totally inefficient and very wet velocity.

Passing Hunterston, the wind turbines were, despite the nice force 5 wind, not very active:

This is not a fast shutter speed picture. they were not moving. Seems to be the way. The ones on the land look a little less menacing than the ones we passed out to sea off Arklow. Not pretty but less menacing somehow.

There were very few pleasure boats out until we got into the more sheltered waters further north. Even then they were struggling a little. This motorboat was making very little way but still throwing up plenty of spray:

We entered new territory for us as we passed Dunoon and hung a right turn. The dock area (Clydeport)  was pretty empty as we passed by:

It felt a little like Prestwick airport, lots of infrastructure being barely used but politically important.

On our berth in James Watt Dock the view aft made us feel rather insignificant:

Washing the boat off later on we didn't feel too jealous though. Apparently Amaryllis has 17 crew on board. If you are tempted to a trip on her, she is for charter from $770K per week plus expenses. Have a look at Charter website. Maybe we need to up our rates a little when friends stay on board?

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Trooning around

What to do during a few days in Troon with very mixed weather? Well, as the crew was deeply upset at coming 4th in the weekly Fitbit step challenge we had to have a good walk. The so called Ayrshire coastal path:

was attempted but parts were very overgrown and we didn't fancy doing the whole distance on the beach. So, re retraced our steps and walked the nice path between two golf courses to Prestwick instead on the nattily named "cycle route 7". The walk ended up on a main road for a mile or so before reaching the town, but that was well worth it as we discovered Buckleys a very nice local bistro come cafe for lunch. We were feeble and got the train back.

During a wet morning, the captain decided to fit a cooling fan into the cupboard that houses the navigation PC. On a couple of hot days, it had warmed up quite a lot (solid state 24v thingy, no built in cooling fan, just vents in the cupboard door) and we felt that it needed a little forced cooling. A little 24v computer fan was procured and holes driled into the cabinetry as needed. This was not popular with the crew who was worried about scratches, holes in the wrong place, the size of the hole saw being used etc etc.

We've commented on the substantial build of a Nordhavn before. Well, this is the section cut out from the front of the cabinet:

For the folks who don't normally handle the UK 2p piece, the coin in just under 26mm in diameter! Fairly solidly built cupboards we reckon.

During a very windy and rainy day, we took the train to Ayr to see the film "Dunkirk". Why? Because Bernie and Jenni's Dunkirk little ship Mimosa was in it of course. They were too! You met Mimosa a while ago in here as she was leaving Cardiff Bay:

You also saw perhaps more of Jenni than you expected to:

as she tested out her new hot tub in Dartmouth. We have similar pictures of Bernie but will save you from those. Here he is in the Nordhavn saloon instead:

We kept the picture small too. We are so kind to you.

Mimosa's bottom looked very good in the film, No unwanted comments about bottoms and hot tubs please. Glad we saw it on the big screen, the noises and effects would not have been the same on a DVD although many boaters consider our 42 inch saloon TV to be a little OTT (OTT = over the top for the non native speakers). We consider it an excellent addition by the man who had the boat built.

Pot markers

We asked you, after your impressive input on the Nordhavn collective noun conundrum, to offer collective nouns for pesky pot markers.

Well, as you would expect, Norman the creative one came in with some early ideas. Here is his input:

So, 1/2 bottle of Malbec down & my creative juices are flowing (again)...

A risk - which is what Nordhavns do with their props if they trundle over them. Interestingly this is also the collective noun for lobsters which may at the other end of the rope to the propeller which has just got fouled

A foul - which is what these things want to do to Nordhavn props (but not other boats)

A wtf - as in 'why the f*ck' can't these people put proper marker buoys out rather than a 5 litre water container

A steal - as in that's what Nordhavn skippers do with the catch when their prop has just been fouled

You want more? The Shiraz is in danger...

Of course, we asked him for more but we fear that he is running out of Shiraz, his creative juice.....

The crew decided that it should be a "jam" of pot markers. A bit like a Women's Institute response but clever (for the foreign readers, don't even bother to Google the Women's institute / Jam and Jerusalem. You wouldn't get it.)

So far no more offerings - we are disappointed, you are normally much more inventive so please hit the comments (or "no comments" at present) button and get suggesting.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Bangor to Troon

As always, we had a great time in Bangor catching up with the folks that we have got to know in the area. Invites to dinner, a car tour of the Strangford area, shared curry evenings and welcoming people aboard for coffee or something stronger kept us very happy. We also managed a day in Belfast and one of the walking tours that give you a different slant on things. The courtyard murals at the Duke of York bar are a lovely summary of the history and culture of the area. Here are a few examples. The iconic shipyard crane complete with George Best, soldier and paramilitary:

Then a selection of images from the city life:

With a nice forecast, we opted to head north and tuck inside the Mull of Kintyre for a few days. The departure from Bangor to head up to Scotland was another one of those where leaving before daylight would help the overall passage time. Only we didn't. We left just as you could see a little, to avoid any rogue pot markers. It was a 4:15am rude awakening though.

Not a long run ahead to worry about - only 65 miles out to sea. The route is simple enough as you can see from our track:

Heading out from Bangor was a lot like heading off from Dun Laoghaire. Anchored illuminated ships to dodge around:

then some incoming ferries too. We also had the cruise liner Oriana heading in to Belfast. The radio conversations between the Oriana bridge and Belfast Vessel Traffic Service were rather more polished and formal than those we heard between the VTS and the cargo ship "Thun Gemini" guys. Being able to speak English probably helped of course. The cargo ship struggled with the Norn Iron accent from VTS. VTS struggled with the thick Asian accent of the watch-keeper and it was a nightmare ready to happen, as Oriana was trying to overtake him, being forced to take a nice wide turn:

Luckily he finally understood "anchor" and turned towards the anchorage area after Oriana asked VTS what the cargo ship's intentions were.

Oriana happily headed past the cargo ship and us:

Personally we prefer the old all white livery that we used to see going past our house when she visited Southampton.  To make up for that, the sunrise was pretty good:

and the gentle run across to Scotland was most enjoyable. Calmish, no significant waves to bother us and only the odd ferry about that we had to avoid. You can see that from the route above.  Less pleasant was hearing about the search for a missing diver on the radio. Missing since the day beforehand, the search was getting underway again at first light with lifeboats, dive boats and helicopters involved. You kind of expect it to end badly.

Heading over, there are a few very deep spots:

We ran at around 1600rpm to get over to the Scottish side of things and optimise the tides then, as the tide turned at just the right moment up the coast into the Clyde, we eased back a little to our more normal 1475 rpm. Ailsa Craig, the iconic big lump of rock looked welcoming as we passed by:

To add to our lighthouse / light tower library, here is the little one on Lady Isle, just off the Troon  harbour entrance:

As it is a bit shallow we didn't get too close, hence the remote picture! We ended up in Troon harbour on a nice little mooring, just one that is very short of shorepower connections. We have a huge extension lead that was pressed into service.

The trip took just over 10 hours. Nothing to report on the maintenance side, everything ran well (OK, apart from the crew who slept a lot after the early start). We were greeted in Troon by the biggest jellyfish we have ever seen in these waters - the top was over 2 feet in diameter:

Friday, 11 August 2017

Fame at last (or is that infamy?)

We got a rather unexpected plug for our blog ramblings recently. The Nordhavn folks in the USA added a link to this rubbish in their regular customer / prospect monthly mailing. It was also featured on the Nordhavn.com website - see below:

Blog of the month indeed. You can tell that it is the quiet season for news! Sadly, in the marketing email they used a picture of Zephyros, Andrew and Linda's 43:

We reckon that their marketing folks just browsed through the blog and grabbed an image. Shame they don't know the difference between a 47 and a 43! Luckily the sales team seem to have a better level of product knowledge. Still, it made Zephyros famous for 5 minutes too.

This marketing email was sent out when the Nordhavn collective noun conundrum was the current post. We reckon that most folks who "clicked through" now realise just how demented we are. Busted! Sorry to all the foreign folks who were confronted with rather tongue in cheek English cynical humour. However, Norman, the winner of the creative contest, is waiting for the job offers to come flooding in. He is getting an agent and awaits your contact.

In case the Nordhavn USA marketing team are interested, their email and the link from the Nordhavn.com website generated 230 blog hits and the associated page reads in a week. The most popular post is the disjointed rambling on fuel consumption in the "useful stuff" section. Anyone would think that fuel costs were an issue for the 1 mile per gallon planing boat owners.......

Finally, an update on the Nordhavn collective noun challenge. We had a suggestion from "Anonymous" who added a comment to the blog as follows:

What about "A Party of Nordhavns" or even "A Lot of Nordhavns". But you could always have "A Havn of Nordies" 

Clever... Graham, an ex boat owner who had a twin petrol engined flying machine that is a world away from the ocean crossing beasts had a good idea too:

A plod -  They are big, grey and a bit like a pod (of whales) but slower......

Any more ideas?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Dun Laoghaire to Bangor

The tidal effects on this coast are interesting. You can leave the Dublin area at low water and effectively take 12 hours of tide with you when heading north. Kind of handy really. The trip from Dun Laoghaire to Bangor is around 96 nautical miles and so needs more than 12 hours at our cruise speed which means we wanted to leave a little before low water to avoid having the tide running strongly against us when we reach the coast near Donaghadee and the Copeland Islands. Better to push a gentler tide at the Dublin end of the trip for a while than the vicious stuff running hard around the coast "up north". However, the infestation of pot markers off the Dun Laoghaire entrance meant leaving at first light to try and avoid them rather than an hour or so earlier to optimise the trip...

Infestation? Wonder if that is another collective noun suggestion. As you were all so inventive with collective names for Nordhavns, what do you suggest for pot markers?

Leaving at first light was preferred to late afternoon as the coastline has many spots with loads of pot markers so an overnight run would not be sensible. Here is our route, around 95 nautical miles, courtesy of Marinetraffic:

In summary, after avoiding two early morning ferries in the shipping lanes, it was just one long run towards the north-east until reaching South Rock when we followed the coast around to Bangor, keeping various rocks at an appropriate distance.

Leaving Dun Laoghaire at first light we had to dodge anchored ships:

and a couple of inbound ferries:

Passing Howth we got to see Ireland's Eye - the little island just to the north of it:

For more info, should you be so inclined, see Wikipedia.

The wind was a force 4/5 westerly veering to south westerly and so as we headed further offshore the waves picked up a little and gave the stabilisers a workout. Waves on the stern quarter make the autopilot and stabilisers earn their keep.  These were a couple of metres high at their peak so nothing too dramatic though and as expected they died right down during the trip as we got closer to the land and the wind eased too.

Then we enjoyed sun, showers and a little dolphin sighting together with plenty of fishing boat dodging as we headed up the Northern Ireland coast passing nicely named rocks like "Skullmartin".

Our timing wasn't bad - we ran a little harder then normal to try and do the trip before the tide turned hard against us and it more or less worked, just a small contra tide passing inside the Copeland Islands. We duly called Bangor and were given what now seems like "our berth", one that we have used each year sine 2013! We must be visiting here too often - the marina man said "I recognised you as you backed onto the berth, you've been in there before". It did feel a little like home. Even the local black guillemot population came to squark hello:

Maintenance news:

Not a lot really.

We didn't blow any more navigation bulbs (luckily) so nothing to replace on the way. The speed log impeller must have been gunged up from our week in Dun Laoghaire as our speed through the water slowly increased during the trip despite the same rpm and sea state. It recovered to about the right reading after a couple of hours. It seems that no matter how carefully you antifoul the paddlewheel, it always gets weeded up. Oh for the old days when antifouling actually worked (although it wasn't very nice for the fish of course).

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Dublin, culture and Howth

I think that we mentioned earlier about doing the two guided "free" walks in Dublin with Ann and Martin. They gave us a great insight into the background to the uprising, the futility of it, how German efficiency vs Irish organisation helped it fail, why the UK reacted as harshly as it did and how this created martyrs and an unstoppable momentum towards independence.  Well worth while (and good for the Fitbit step count of course).

We also revisited the lovely Malahide and helped the weekly step count even more with a walk around the picturesque waterfront:

After they headed home, we visited Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Never heard of it? Well, look at Wikipedia entry. A truly amazing 9th century manuscript with stunning details and still vivid colours. Images are available on line here. You also get to visit the awesome old library built in the early 1700s:

As you can see, you get to visit it with plenty of other people so we tried to cut them out in this picture to give you a feeling for the atmosphere in the building. Lovely lovely place:

The outside of the college isn't bad either:

It was known as "The English College" as it was built by the British during their rule and was run according to the anti-catholic rules in place at the time. A lovely oasis of calm in the middle of a busy and expanding city now:

We also took the train to Howth to say farewell to our cruising companions for much of this summer - Andrew (aka Crocodile Dundee) and Linda on Zephyros. Their daughter and two grandchildren were visiting and so we had plenty of entertainment (and lunch). The crew did a little baby minding:

and managed to avoid any tears, tantrums and regurgitated food issues. The baby behaved as well.

The crew seemed worryingly good at baby minding. Izzy our goddog has puppies en route. Not sure if this apparent ability with a baby would transfer to training a puppy.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Invasions then Greystones to Dun Laoghaire

Greystones is a funny harbour - half built with portakabin facilities and building going on around it but priced as though it is complete and "the place to be". Without our Transeurope card and the associated 50% discount, we would not go back at their silly pricing. Shame, this must put lots of people off as the town and area is lovely and the marina manager very helpful!

Things had been pretty quiet since leaving Kinsale - after many days cruising in company with Andrew and Linda, they had hit Howth and we were in Greystones. So, we livened things up a lot - Ann and Martin flew into Dublin airport and joined us on board for a few days.

They pitched up in Greystones by Aircoach, a good service direct from the airport:

after one night in a Travelodge that was marooned in the middle of a grim housing estate (or so they reported). This made our forecabin and location seem almost 5 star. As they had flown with Flymaybe and hand luggage only, they were wearing many more clothes than needed on a nice sunny day. However, we got them back to the boat without any visible signs of overheating.

How to amuse two recently retired folks who both have brains the size of a planet? Well, you feed, water and exercise them of course. Martin is pretty crazy - he took the train to do the Park Run in nearby Shanganagh. When they visited us in Penarth, he did the Barry Island run in horizontal rain. This was way better, just don't ask us how to pronounce it. We met him in Bray, had an excellent brunch in Warehouse no 8 and then walked back after the food top up along the cliff path. Martin did several miles that day.

We also had an unexpected but very welcome brief visit from Andy and family. He is a heavy duty aeroplane technical man who is interested in having a Nordhavn 47 one day. Hope we didn't put him off for life.....

With our two new residents, we wandered around Malahide, did two guided walks around Dublin and generally upped the crew's step count on her Fitbit. We also took them for a little run out to sea, from Greystones to Dun Laoghaire.

A couple of hours out to sea with a little following wave action to amuse the stabilisers. It was a bit grey so no nice images to share. We did take this to add to our lighthouse collection though, Lambay island which you can see just off the coast in the map above:

Of course it started to rain just as we approached Dun Laoghaire harbour and the crew was outside fixing lines and fenders. The marina says that they monitor 37 (M) and 80. Only they don't. We later learned that since an aerial was replaced they now only listen on 37. You know the challenge this presents us with....  On a positive note, it was Ann and Martin's first sea trip on board and they seemed fine afterwards. They have already booked in for a Guernsey trip next season when we go for fuel.

Dun Laoghaire is a huge and relatively empty marina as this borrowed aerial shot shows:

The visitor area at the end was as empty as in this picture when we arrived. For some unfathomable reason they still tucked us right inside a finger and the wrong side of the pontoon for the prevailing winds. Squeaky fender time ahead in the promised strong winds....

It is very handy for the Dart train though. The station is 3 minutes walk from the marina entrance although our berth was a 5 minute walk to the entrance! The harbour proper is dead since the ferry links to the UK were moved to Dublin. Huge infrastructure, all laying empty bar one Irish Lights support ship. The empty ferry marshalling area had a fairground and stage being built on it ready for "Beatyard 2017" a noisy pop concert weekend thingy! Must go out and avoid it or drink enough for it not to matter...

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Greystones and the area

The town itself is a nice spot. Wall to wall coffee and eating places of course but proper shops and people too. It even has a coach service direct to Dublin airport as well as the Dart train service which apparently made the town when the original line was built. At the beginning of the 1800s it had a huge population of 93 people. The railway changed all that as did development of the harbour.

We did the lovely cliff path walk to Bray enjoying the sea views en route:

and found that one of the lovely buildings in Bray town:

had been turned into a McDonalds - shock, horror:

At least the trademark golden arches are hidden inside the courtyard area; see the top picture! We liked Bray and the seafront area a lot. Kind of an old fashioned seaside resort with all the good and bad points that brings. 

The trip back was by train (yes, we wimped out of doing the walk both ways in one day) and the one stop / 10 minutes back to Greystones was easy enough. The station at Bray has a beautiful set of mosaics depicting the history of the railway and some of the Irish political events. They are replicas of the original paintings that were decaying.  As the train arrived in mid photographic activity, we only managed to picture a few though starting with the 1916 uprising:

then the formation of the Irish republic:

Followed by the news of World War II from the perspective of a neutral country:

and then the 1950s complete with suitable braces:

The others are equally good by the way.

We had a Dart train trip along the coast and through Dublin to visit Malahide. No plans to stay there in the boat this year as it isn't accessible at low water, the time we would want to leave to head north! Meeting up with Andrew and Linda at the station who had berthed Zephyros in Howth, we wandered the town and admired the lovely seafront views. Stopping off at Donnybrook fair for an excellent coffee the captain witnessed a truly Irish exchange:

Customer: Has anyone handed in a handbag - I left mine in the conservatory area earlier on?
Male server: Can you describe the bag?
Customer: Of course, it's mine!

Pause, during which captain tries very hard not to laugh, snigger or let his eyes pop out of his head whilst suppressing the mirth.

Male server: What type of bag was it, what colour?
Customer: - launches into a description of sorts then looks hopefully......
Male Server: No, we haven't had any bags handed in today.

At this, the captain had to turn away briefly....