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, 17 February 2017

London, solenoids and seagulls (again)

Well, continuing the very boring theme of  "tidying up all the things that need attention before we head off cruising again" we finally decided to sort out the screen washers. Ages ago the solenoid that operates them had packed up. Probably through lack of use as you so rarely get serious salt spray onto the pilothouse screens. It failed in the shut mode so the captain removed it, "persuaded it" to open and then we controlled the washers via the isolation valve fitted into the water supply line rather than the button on the wiper control panel. Not as easy but since they are used once in a blue moon it wasn't too hard.

We finally got around to searching for a new solenoid valve on the internet. Of course, the wiper manufacturers wanted the GDP of a small African country for a new one. Buying an identical replacement Danfoss unit from a valve specialist was simpler and cheaper. Here is the valve assembly and coil:

Only the valve assembly was needed and the new one was plumbed back into the little cupboard it is mounted in. A small but satisfying repair job. Must remember to use the washers now so that it doesn't seize up like the old one...

As it seemed to be solenoid time, we also procured a new gas solenoid. Again, the old one that is operated by the Xintex alarm panel had failed a while ago meaning we had to rely on the manual valve on the supply system. This solenoid valve we did get from the manufacturer - there were a few "no brand" gas valves on sale via eBay etc but when it comes to gas you kind of want to be safe! The solenoid, which is fitted just after the pressure regulator with Gas pipe sealant (by a Gas Safe engineer of course), isn't the prettiest thing and the label has to be upside down too:

Of course, the Xintex manual says that the solenoid valve should be fitted before the regulator - which is not the way this boat came from the factory. Some investigation is needed. That positioning makes sense of course and the valve is rated to the pressure in the LPG cylinders.

However, the new part restored control to the little push button on the gas alarm panel. Nice and simple for now.

We also got around to fitting a little but very bright LED light into the area where the Racor main engine fuel filters are fitted. The one conventional 24v bulb in there didn't properly show you any dirt or water in the see-through filter bowls making regular engine checks whilst underway a torch bearing exercise.

As a break from all this stressful stuff (?!) we spent a few days in London, wandering around and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city again. One thing we did not enjoy was the pollution - we were there when the wind was light and the air quality was not nice. Way better air quality than the captain used to endure in Beijing for work of course.

We visited HMS Belfast for the first time and the crew tried out the Admiral's seat for size:

It looked as primitive as the Captain's chair on the Royal Yacht Britannia which we visited in Edinburgh a few years ago. See Edinburgh visit post from 2013. You will notice the white hot pace of development in UK ship construction too. Above you see the old second world war warrior HMS Belfast with her wooden chair. In the link, the Royal Yacht Britannia which was retired in 1997 also has a wooden seat but with a padded cover.

The crew reported that it was nowhere near as comfortable as the Stidd helmseat on the Nordhavn. It probably cost way less too.

Returning to the boat after a few days away was less pleasant - the local seagull population had been very busy. Again.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Penguins, gas and cartoons

One of the challenges of having a penguin like Patrick on board is that he doesn't really pull his weight when it comes to chores. This is his repose whilst we were outside fighting off the seagull mess:

Laid back in the extreme. He was also useless when we returned from a few days away to find that the LPG (gas) alarm would not fire up. That led to some entertaining fault finding and some ripe language.

The Xintrex alarm has a plastic trim panel on the front of it and two little slots on the sides of it to allow you to push in a couple of tabs and then pull the trim panel off. Then you can remove the 4 fixing screws and out comes the alarm unit. Simple enough way to gain access to the wiring behind it you might think.

Well....... Some really smart person decided that it would look way better fitted flush with the galley cabinetry.  Flush means you cannot access the sides of the trim to push in the tabs and hence cannot remove it. You can work out the rest and maybe even hear some of the words that were used to describe this way of fitting the panel:

Looking behind the thing via the under sink cupboard revealed the worst wiring job that we have seen in the boat. We always comment on how neat and well labelled the factory wiring is. This was a real mess even after adding a couple of cable ties and some tape.....

Having castigated the builders for a stupid install and the horrid wiring that must have been done by an apprentice during his first week at work, we remembered that the gas alarm had a sensor problem that was noted during our pre-purchase survey. It was fixed (or should that be bodged?) by the then Nordhavn Europe commissioning manager who was removed from his job not long afterwards. Pity he didn't go before creating this mess. The new team are great. He was not.

As you could not access the terminals on the back of the gas alarm, (because you cannot remove it without trashing the trim panel etc etc...), we cut the wires feeding power to it from  the 24v to 12v step down converter box. Upon checking, we found that there was no output from this box. Wow, lucky, the simplest and cheapest fix possible bar a loose wire! Here is the offending component:

One new box from ebay for the huge sum of £7.99 was delivered (the Xintex version was way more expensive of course) and all was well again after crimping on some new terminals. Just the horrid wiring to tidy up sometime.

We also changed the coolant in the genset. This was about 30 months old and due for a swap. If you leave it in too long, it tends to mess up the various sensors in the cooling system. The one that automatically shuts down the genset if it thinks the unit is overheating is prone to contamination and hence failure with obvious and unwanted results!

Enough of this pre-season maintenance. Life has some lighter sides too. We had a great present from Steve the waterbus man (better known as Bronwen the spaniel's dad) who is a bit of a cartoonist. This was waiting on board for us:

You might spot Bronwen with her food bowl,  Pip and Poppy the white fluffy dogs, Patrick the penguin handing polish to the crew as she hangs over the side and the captain complete with spanner and the intercom microphone on the flybridge.  A great original work that we have framed and will keep on board. By the way, the crew was not entirely happy when a few people said that they recognised her bottom in the cartoon...

We think that Steve would take on commissions. We reckon that he has missed his vocation.