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

Friday, 10 November 2017

Dogdate County Durham continued

The travelling around thing continued with Tynemouth and a visit to the Priory and Castle ruins:

Fascinating site with real atmosphere. A priory come castle come World War 1 fortification come WWII fortification. Well worth a visit with a few relics of the more recent past still in place:

Another excellent walk was from Bellingham to the waterfall at Hareshaw:

Of course, with all this activity some down time was needed. Archie enjoyed his by licking the crew most fastidiously:

Linda on the other hand proved that the ride quality of a Defender isn't that bad by managing to sleep in the back of it underway:

Publishing this less than flattering image might seriously damage our already limited popularity but if you can't live dangerously from time to time......

Back in Corbridge again, the two dogs were desperately keen to get to a tiny little mouse that was on the pavement:

They both tested out their harnesses and leashes to the maximum but the mouse survived. It came close to a sticky end when someone walking by, glued to their mobile phone, nearly trod on it. Andrew rescued it and put it into the nearby churchyard. The Vicar is probably so pleased about this.

On the survival note, this print on the kitchen window of John and Irene's house was worrying:

There was no sign of a dead / stunned owl outside though so we reckon that it survived with perhaps a bit of a headache.

On Whitley Bay beach, Archie and Izzy met Boris the schnauzer:

Then the fun kicked off - working as a team, then pinned him down rather effectively:

Archie looked rather pleased with the way things worked out:

There were plenty of good local eating and cake establishments. After a good walk or beach fun with the hounds, you feel as though you deserve cake somehow. Two miles from the house was The Kitchen Cafe with the most wonderful home made offerings. Go there for the blueberry and mango cake, backchat form Garry the owner and to meet all the local elderly ladies who frequent the place. You get life histories fast and often....

For those who understand Geordie, here is a Whitley Bay restaurant frontage:

For those who don't and who think that a Hinny is a cross between a male horse and female donkey, we are pretty sure that was not on the menu,

Monday, 6 November 2017

Being responsible for Archie - no pressure at all

You have met John and Irene on here before. You have also met their rather important Lakeland Terrier, Archie (he came over to Guernsey with us earlier this year for example). Well, the poor lad was abandoned to our care by his strangely trusting owners who went off for a family wedding on the other side of the world. What do you do to amuse a typical nearly 9 years old terrier? Well, first of all, you give him a 2 year old girl to play with:

Yes, Anne came along for a few days and then left Izzy the spoodle with us. Somehow having a younger woman around seemed to put a spring in Archie's step. No comment.

Then we tried to offer lots of stimulation - John and Irene live in Hamsterley Mill (Google it!) near Newcastle and there are many great walks in the area. Also nearby lives Colin the BA Captain who owns another Nordhavn 47 (Albatross) and who let us see his splendid riverside flat at North Shields.

Plenty of dog walking followed. One wander near Wylam along the river was particularly good, taking in an impressive disused railway bridge  :

The Boathouse pub at the end of the walk was interesting. The lunch menu was a toasted sandwich or Pie and mushy peas (no potato involved). The choice was a no brainer - and a good decision too as the pie was stuffed full of meat. As were we afterwards.

Both dogs love the beach of course and there are some excellent ones on the local coastline. Izzy enjoyed digging at South Shields:

although Archie treated her efforts as a toilet afterwards:

We didn't know the area at all well and so we felt the need to explore a little. Durham is such a lovely city and the cathedral is quite something - although with two dogs in tow it has to be admired from the outside:

Corbridge suffers from having a must visit spot - the Bike cafe that we were introduced to a couple of years ago by John and Irene. A repeat visit with Anne and then Andrew and Linda (who also came "up north" to see us) was a must do. Why? Well, here is the cranberry, white chocolate and pumpkin seed scone:

No more proof needed - although the savoury stuff is excellent too. What else, well, the poor Defender had a moment - starting became hit and miss so he was recovered by the Land Rover Assistance service and taken to the best local dealer, Team Valley Land Rover.  We had a loan car from Land Rover:

A Range Rover sport autobiography at about £83K. Frankly, no! Typical example of a modern "sports" suspension SUV with huge low profile tyres and an unnecessarily harsh ride. Much prefer the normal Range Rover - perhaps age is something to do with the desire for a better ride quality on our crowded and poorly maintained roads. Mind you, we own a Defender......

Archie liked the back of the Range Rover though:

However, he also loves his nest in the back of the Defender:

which the good guys at Team Valley fixed. What was wrong?  The wiring for the Tracker system that was put in by the Edinburgh dealer at purchase time had caused the ignition switch to have burnt contacts. Thanks Pentland Land Rover. Thanks a lot.

As part of the "keeping the dogs stimulated" approach, the river walk at Hexham was fun too.  Someone with a Tonka Toy Japanese truck seemed to have either a sense of humour or was very sick indeed:

We did wonder why they hadn't claimed any mobility scooters - they would be a prime target for us.

A trip to Newcastle and walk along the river showed the Tyne bridges at their best:

and the rather futuristic Sage building:

On the river, we saw one white ensigned craft that we doubt is a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron or the Royal Navy:

Wonder where they got the ensign from. Might look impressive, if slightly illegal, on our Nordhavn.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Pottering about

Now we understand what happens when we leave the boat in the winter. Graham and Pat (no longer boat owners, their flying machine has been sold) have figured out Patrick's strange and sometimes concerning behaviour. Have a look at BBC News report.

We felt the need to enjoy Cardiff and the bay again. Some painted dogs have arrived as a charity fundraiser. The one at Mermaid Quay is a clever depiction of the sights and landmarks around the bay:

To make up for the rather inert Snowdogs, we walked the more active fluffy couple. Afterwards, Pip had that "please cuddle me" look:

whilst Poppy simply collapsed:

We managed a brief trip to Malvern to meet up with Norman and Julie for a "day after Norm's birthday lunch" in an excellent pub. The crew managed to get a serious gum infection around the same time and ended up with an appointment in the dental hospital which was less than ideal. However, antibiotics and red wine seemed to clear things up. We are not sure which did the most good. Perhaps one worked on the gum and the other on her mood?

As for trips away, we visited John and Angela, the yacht owners from Holyhead marina and saw their lovely house in the Wirral area. They have the most amazing purpose built library in the house. Built as a balcony with a gorgeous wooden staircase and boat like rigging to hold it all up:

Quite a collection, we could have spent hours browsing in there.

We had a very happy couple of days afterwards, exploring the Lake District for a change - an area that neither of us knew well. Ullswater and Keswick on an atmospheric day were much enjoyed:

Not sure if we would like to take this old girl out in choppy waters mind you:

The Nordhavn is much more reassuring.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Fixing things, catching up with family additions and contemplating the winter ahead

After arriving in Penarth, we felt obliged to sleep a lot and then wash the salt and gunge off the poor neglected boat. Greenock had been a good place to stay but treated us to lots of dirty rain. The plan was to collect the Defender and "do stuff". Of course, the night before we planned to depart, the bilge pump turned on and just kept going.

Having been there before, we checked the float switch to see if it was gunged up again. No, not that simple, it just was not pumping. Was the strum box that prevents things being sucked into the pump blocked? No. Oh good, it was the pump itself. Why "oh good". Because the pump is mounted in the least accessible spot possible, behind the genset. After removing the genset side panels, demolishing the supports for the housing and laying lots of cloths and things down to protect the captain's back, he wriggled his way into the tiny gap with two water filters digging into his back:

and the end of the genset enclosure neatly pinning the other side of him. Oh, then you have to work almost at full stretch forwards, just to add to the delight, and remove the housing bolts by feeling their positions to guide the socket onto them.

Sure enough the valves inside the pump had failed. They have a rivet that holds the flap material onto the housing and guess what, it corrodes through. We had been through this fun in 2013 so we had an overhaul kit in our spares stock:

You can see the tiny offending rivet on the new circular valve above. Two new ones were duly fitted and the captain retreated from purgatory in need of soothing red wine but far too late in the evening to do so respectably.  We ask again, why didn't they mount the genset 3 inches further forward??  The plan is to order some suitable marine grade M3 stainless bolts and to drill out the failure prone rivets in the new valves and replace them with something that will last a little longer. Then the torture will be repeated.

We duly took the train and collected the equally neglected Defender which had been spending the summer in his PJs happily locked away undercover. The tyres slowly got more circular as we drove him further.

A trip to the Southampton boat show to look at new generation electronics and contemplate an upgrade was good as was a visit to see Anne who should be well known to you by now. The visit was not just to see Anne and Izzy our goddog. Izzy had produced two pups and so a day of "puppy fun" was in order:

For fun you can of course read clearing up little opportunities that they leave behind them all over the floor. They were around 5 weeks old and active, so needed a little restraint to get a proper picture:

Upon returning to Penarth, we had another little job. The blower that extracts air from the master shower compartment had been sounding sick, running slowly and making unhappy noises. Then it stopped totally. The original had failed a few years ago and so we were not surprised. A new one was procured and another fun fitting job was undertaken - this one involves laying on your back in the wet locker with your head in a hatch next to the tumble dryer trying to work on the blower that is just above your nose. The S curve that your back has to make during this activity is most enjoyable too.

The little 24v blower:

was duly replaced and then the new one (which tested OK before fitting) refused to work. "Oh bother" said the captain (or something like that) as he re-bent his spine into unusual shapes. Re-plugging the old blower into the connectors was a bit surprising as it then worked, with no funny noises. Grr - must be an intermittent bad connection to the thing. After some tweaking, the positive feed was found to be playing up - a crimped on bullet connector from the factory. Connector duly replaced (and its twin on the negative side just in case) the new blower happily made the right noises and extracted air. We now have a spare but well used blower on board.

Just to add to the general maintenance happiness, we also polished the hull ready for the ravages of the winter and sorted out the corrosion on the port pilothouse door. That was a bit of a saga as a door keep was secured using Robertson screws - square headed things that are popular in Canada where the doors are made but rarer than rocking horse droppings here. Still, after ordering suitable bits it was removed and refitted with ease, this time with the machine screws coated in Duralac to try and avoid the galvanic corrosion problem for a while:

We have more painting to do but the weather forecast isn't looking kind....

Monday, 18 September 2017

Greenock to Penarth

Guess what - the weather decided not to improve much for us:

That wasn't a huge issue though. Firstly we amused ourselves signing the latest petition about poor pot markers on the government website. The one we mentioned in some earlier posts was "lost" thanks to the recent election so we have to start again. For everyone who can be bothered or feels strongly about the safety aspects like we do, here is the link Government website where you can do the same thing. Thanks!!

Then we did a few bits of maintenance / cleaning. We took the train into Glasgow for a very enjoyable day and had a delayed birthday lunch for the Captain in a most splendid restaurant in Gourock. It was suggested by the sloe gin expert Robert and we were most impressed. If ever you are there try Bath street arches restaurant. Very different menu, small 6 table operation and super service.

We also witnessed the paddle steamer Waverley getting steamed up in the dry dock nearby after her repairs:

Finally the winds died down and there was a nice little weather window for a run south. NE / NW 4 to 5 for a couple of days before it was turning to the more normal SW.

So, we headed off on Saturday at 9am into a quiet Firth of Clyde. Pretty calm too. Our liner curse was still in place, Carribean Princess was docked in Greenock. Must be a bit of a shock for the cossetted liner passengers when they hit the deprivation in some parts of Clydeside. We guess they try to herd the passengers onto coaches with the windows blacked out until they get to the Trossachs or Loch Lomond.

We headed south, this time a picture of the Cloch lighthouse for you:

then down inside the islands after a quick avoidance of the Weymss Bay to Rothesay ferry which always seems to get in our way.

The route took us very close to the Ailsa Craig and so this time you get a picture that is closer inshore:

but not that exciting. Here is the lump of rock's little lighthouse as well:

As we approached Stranraer, we had a decision to take. Should we head for Holyhead (arriving Sunday pm) and then leave on Monday afternoon for Penarth arriving Tuesday evening? Or should we just go all the way to Penarth in one run, arriving Monday late afternoon. Well, as the forecast was kind and the outlook for Tuesday not as clear, we opted to do the trip in one go. A little replanning and we passed Corswall Point and just headed for the South Bishop lighthouse which was a few miles away:

186 nautical mile leg ahead of us which at our average speed of around 6.4 knots was going to take some time. We settled in for the run....

Overnight there was a little ferry traffic to and from Belfast and Dublin. No course alterations were needed to avoid them though. The only exciting (?) bit was the smell from the new exhaust silencer paint and insulating wrap as it "burned in". Of course, that was all outside. During the day we had one ship that decided to overtake quite closely:

And some that were silhouetted against the end of the day sun:

We did the usual slowing down and speeding up stuff as the tide turned several times. The wave heights were around 1.5 metres (ie nothing!) from the stern quarter when the tide was with us and then increasing to 2.5 metres when it was against us. Just to prove that wind over tide is not as nice. Sunday was mainly spent heading down the Irish sea and aiming for St David's head. We rounded this during the early hours of the morning and the timing was perfect - lots of tidal help giving us a nice speed over the ground:

Nice when you get a favourable tide around the headlands - 9.5 knots feels like flying for us. As we approached Milford Haven, the traffic in and out of the harbour at around 4am was manic. Tankers arriving and leaving, tugs fussing around and pilot boats trying to look important in the dark. The Maxsea picture tries to show this:

but not very well. At one point there were three tankers, seven tugs, one pilot boat and the ferry to Ireland all underway in the entrance. Amazingly we continued on our course and didn't have to deviate for any of them.

The run up the Bristol Channel started very well. As daylight broke, the friendly Welsh dolphins came out to play in our bow wave and amused the captain for quite some time. The rest of the trip to Cardiff was the usual relatively featureless journey. We would not pick this area for regular boating! Muddy, fast flowing tides, nothing terribly lovely on the coastline to admire. At least the weather was good enough to sit on the flybridge!

After some wing engine exercise and a prolonged wide open throttle run to clear out the main engine, we made the 4:45pm lock in at the Cardiff bay barrage. The sad bit was that the rain started at 4:43 and became heavier and heavier whilst we were in the lock and unable to hide away from it. Welcome to Penarth indeed. As we entered Penarth marina, a local rather unmanoeverable passenger trip boat was turning around and trying to moor so we had some backing up and holding station practice whilst he sorted himself out. Just what we needed at the end of a long trip with restricted sleep. We were very happy to tie up on the hammerhead of I pontoon and turn off all the systems after over 56 hours underway and around 375 sea miles.  Strangely we spotted this workboat in the marina as we arrived, kind of a link to our last port of call:

Pity the folks who painted her last time cannot spell.

Maintenance news:

None at all. The big Lugger engine ran well, the new silencer and wrapping stopped smelling after a while and the little wing engine enjoyed its exercise. So, for all you grease and spanner types, nothing to keep your interest going.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Greenock farewell time

Remember how we said that after the exhaust muffler replacement we just needed some good weather to set sail? Well, this was on offer:

followed by this a day later:

So, we stayed put in the shelter of James Watt Dock and used the last couple of days with the hire car to do all the heavy shopping things that are harder without transport.

During our various excursions, we spotted this stone penguin in a garden:

Not sure if it is looking after the egg properly though, it can be cold up here and the egg looked very exposed and a bit blue. Patrick insisted that we post this picture as he has been feeling a little ignored recently. He also thinks that we should adorn the Defender with something like this to make it more "his car":

Poor deluded penguin.

We went for a wander around Stirling and wondered why we had never done so beforehand. Many wonderful old buildings:


and some inventive locals including one who put a cute little pretend clock tower on the top of his garden shed:

(Maybe we should say garden hut as we are in Scotland of course.) The captain particularly liked the inscription on one building (hard to read all of it thanks to the sun and shade but worth the effort):

The captain will try to enforce this when the crew ignores an order whilst underway. His chances of success are, realistically,  not high.

Maintenance news:

The little engine battery alternator that we had ordered many many weeks ago finally pitched up. Prestolite supply here is pretty dire unless the part is already in the UK stock and their tracking of deliveries from the USA to the dealers seems feeble. Very unimpressed with them. The supply of repair parts is reported as equally hopeless by some alternator overhaul specialists too. So glad we now have a spare domestic alternator for the main engine as an 8 week lead time could really cause trouble if the bearings went (it runs on the same serpentine belt as the water pump).

Fitting the little alternator wasn't straightforward. Getting the pulley off the old one and onto the new needed some tools that were not on board so he had the delight of wandering into a local garage (that mainly fixes taxis, enough said) and asking one of the mechanics if he could spin it off using his impact gun. The guy was very helpful and suitably critical of the kind of folks who drive and basically abuse the taxis he has to fix. We have seen some of them out and about on the local roads. The mechanic was right.

Alternator fitted with a new drive belt and the mounting was shimmed a little to try and align the pulleys better:

No need to play the battery parallel game underway any more. Just got to check the charging voltage is OK when we fire up the engine now. It might well need adjusting upwards to suit the AGM batteries.

We also (finally!) sorted out the cold idle problem with the RIB outboard. The strange heated wax pellet thing (called a Primestart in Yamaha terms( that manages the enrichment until the engine is hot had been misbehaving for ages. It started fine but needed some throttle until warm to prevent stalling (a bit like temperamental old 2 stroke engines!) A new Primestart was not much cheaper than a whole carburettor so that it what it was treated to. The first repair for it in 8.5 years so no big complaint.