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, 20 April 2017

Weymouth to the Solent (Lymington)

Party time! The calculated departure slot for a trip to the Solent allowing us to take advantage of a fair tide was a most civilised 11:30. Andrew and Linda keep their Nordhavn 43 Zephyros in the town marina though, which is the other side of the town bridge. Hence they are governed by the fixed opening times of the bridge and so we left just after the 10am bridge lift.

It was strange to see another Nordhavn underway in Weymouth harbour, they are not that common:

It was a touch grey and gloomy as we left:

but it didn't stop the crew of the tall ship from climbing the rigging (you might spot a couple of them up there).

Another simple route, especially as the Lulworth firing range was not active so we could stay inshore and go through the narrow passage off St Alban's Head then up to the Solent:

Once out to sea, we were surprised by the amount of swell that was left and of course we were heading into it so both boats did a little nodding. The temporary ship's dog was not at all phased by this, she stayed transfixed by the sight of another boat that looked a bit like hers:

St Alban's Head area was pretty calm though (light winds and neap tides) so it was a very gentle trip through an area that can be a bit bumpy. Here is another addition to the lighthouse picture gallery for you:

On the way Andrew was experimenting with his new Furuno navigation gear. He spent many hours over the winter replacing his old Navnet II equipment with the newer 3D equipment and sorting out the cabling and configuration. Now that he is an expert, we know where to go when our stuff needs replacing. Actually, we try not to think about that moment from both effort and cost viewpoints.

The Nordhavn 43 looked impressive:

and of course having another boat travelling with us meant that we got some "boat underway" pictures of our 47 - very rare:

Heading into the Solent we had the "good grief it is busy here" feeling again. Can't wait to escape the masses of weekend boaters and the "down from London and I own the place" folks again. Entering Lymington with the Isle of Wight in the background you can admire our new fenders:

Moored "line astern" on the Dan Bran pontoon, the two Nordhavn boats looked impressive - only ours was way grubbier than Andrew and Linda's and has antique navigation gear on board too.

Maintenance news:

Nothing to report, sorry all you tekkie types. However, the lift out is next week so it will get more interesting for you and mightily tedious for normal people.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Weymouth and the Care Bears

On arrival in Weymouth, the Welsh connection came to meet us. They also procured much needed fish and chips for supper. As a small thank you, the captain helped Andrew (Care) install his new Rocna anchor on Zephyros, their Nordhavn 43. We used the same "drop it into the dinghy " method as we had employed whilst doing the identical job on our boat in Mallaig last year.

Izzy our stowaway dog liked their house:

as well as the beach and lots of ball games. Andrew had found and bought a lovely Honda DAX (Monkey Bike) on eBay which was delivered at about the same time as he told Linda that he had ordered it. The old line "it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission" still rings true and somehow works.

We loaded the rather nice bike onto his boat with the help of the crane which normally moves dinghies onto the boat deck:

The captain is insanely jealous of the bike, having given up motorcycling when he finished working for BMW and enjoying the company lease bike scheme. He has started checking out eBay and putting monkey bikes on his watch list. The crew is trying to crack his eBay password for some reason.

Several good walks with the dog were needed, including around the bay area to Bowleaze and the Cafe Oasis. For some strange reason, they have decided that dogs were only allowed inside before 11 in the morning. So, our afternoon tea and cake had to be taken outside with the tea cooling rapidly in the breeze. Not going back there in future as a matter of principle even if we are dog free!

We decided that a "Nordhavn cruise in company" was in order. Not a huge one, just 2 boats heading up to Lymington  which is around 6 hours away so no need for major engine services, provisioning, course planning, weather watching etc in advance.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Plymouth to Weymouth

Departure planning got a little more complex when Anne decided to let us dognap Izzy for a while. Anne headed home by train and Izzy stayed on board with us. Clearly she had taken over and viewed the boat as her own:

One chilled dog who seems glad that we have the nice Ekornes recliner chairs on board so that she can commandeer the footstool:

The weather window for a gentle calm run to Weymouth didn't fit well with the tides or the need to clear Prawle point area in the daylight  (lots of pot markers) and arrive in Weymouth with daylight (same issue but to a lesser extent). No matter what we did, we would be pushing some strong adverse tides around Portland area. So be it. We optimised the ride comfort for Izzy and lived with the tide challenge. The idea was for an early morning start and to run a  little harder than normal (to heck with the fuel burn) trying to do the whole trip in daylight.

A last walk around the harbour area and some great views over to the sea:

and to Royal William yard was enjoyable:

Then the horror of setting the alarm for 5:30 am. We must be mad. Dog duly walked, we headed off in the early morning overcast gloom. The good thing was that although the Met Office forecast was for "slight to moderate" seas, the other sources who were quoting "slight" got it right. Hence quite a quick and for Izzy smooth run. We ran at 1800 rpm (normally we run close to hull speed, between 1475 to 1650 rpm) which is the setting that many owners use for coastal cruising. We are too mean to do so. We benefited from a lot of tidal help for the first 6 hours of our run which gives the nice illusion of rapid progress.

Here is the route:

Again, not complex. You will see that we approached Portland Bill well to the south to avoid the overfalls / race that builds up there. Although it wasn't too bad, we wanted our stowaway dog to have as smooth a trip as possible.

Passing Start Point we could cut close inland as the wind was NW'ly, a rare treat although it meant being even more eagle eyed with the pot markers. Don't forget to support the Cruising Association petition! We then had the 40 mile or so run across Lyme Bay with little other traffic to amuse us. The crew did try to persuade Izzy that one area of the deck was OK for bladder relief time. No, Izzy is far too dignified for that. As we approached Portland Bill, the plotter picture told us what we already knew - we would have to fight the strong adverse tide there:

Pushing the tide up the side of Portland bill towards Weymouth, we were down to 3.8 knots over the ground and had a most frustrating yacht ahead of us. He was motorsailing quite hard and our relative speed difference was less that half a knot. So, trying to overtake him was entertaining as he insisted on changing course regularly, like a drunken duck, even as we were passing him. No, he was not tacking, he was on a nice reach. Maybe he had fortified himself across Lyme Bay with something stronger than the tea we consumed. No matter, he ignored the rules of the road and became most annoying.

Of course, the captain got lots of support and encouragement from the two other crew members whilst underway:

We were happy to enter the harbour at weymouth and get allocated a berth. We slid into it nicely and the crew took Izzy for a rapid trip to the beach as she had refused to "go" on the boat and had exerted 12 hours of bladder control. Impressive, something folks of our age can only dream about. Then we were told that we were on the wrong spot so it was a quick hop around the moored harbour master's launches onto another berth. A boating type watching this ballet from the quay gave us 9.5 out of ten for berthing and were complimented on "no thruster use" despite having only one engine. We lost half a mark as we had to move the boat a couple of foot forwards to get the right angle on the stern lines though. Harsh but fair. One day we will manage a 10.

For those that like numbers and like saving fuel:

Running at 1800 rpm is not our most economical speed. If you have a look in the "useful stuff" section of this blog you will see a post about fuel burn. Roughly speaking, our normal cruise gives us 3.5 nautical miles per UK gallon. 1800 rpm gives about 2.3 miles. Quite a difference. We just use the higher speeds when we need to leave / get to places in daylight because of pot markers etc or when it means we get to critical tidal gates at the right time on longer runs. Then it can actually save fuel on the overall trip. Here is a reminder of the figures in our "Fuel Burn Stuff" post to give you a feel for how the amount of diesel used increases rapidly with speed once you are beyond the "hull speed":

We spent 12 and a bit hours out to sea and burned (for the metric types) 170 litres of fuel. Our calculations suggest that if we had used or normal speed (say 1475 rpm which means that we are not over-driving the hull) then we would have used around 125 litres. A significant difference not just because the boat is more economical at the lower rpm but also because the slower speed would have helped us optimise the tidal help. When we would have arrived at Portland Bill the adverse tide there would have slackened off a lot. The drawback would have been approaching Weymouth in the dark and there are plenty of pot markers around the Portland Bill and up to Weymouth.

So, we used an extra 45 litres of diesel to avoid potentially picking up a pot around the prop or stabilisers. A good investment and way cheaper than a lift out to cut free pot lines should we have needed it! It also helped poor Izzy's bladder of course and that was the most important thing.

Maintenance news:

Well, with a good 12 hour trip at slightly higher cruise rpm than normal, we are pleased to report that the new exhaust lagging is doing a good job. No change in engine room temperatures based on similar external temperatures and engine run times. The engine behaved itself as did the instrumentation and stabilisers. Nothing to really report on. The main engine didn't burp out any coolant either so we guess that the level has settled down now - just as we plan to change the stuff during our upcoming lift out! Such is life.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Fowey to Plymouth

Whilst in Fowey, Izzy the spoodle was treated to the remains of some yoghurt at breakfast time. She loved it and kept a little spare in her beard for later on:

We enjoyed an excellent lunch in The Ship inn then Anne's sister came to visit. Izzy, by now yoghurtless, wanted to steer the RIB bringing everyone to the boat and did quite a good job too:

especially as the other helmsman looks about 80 years old and very secondhand in this picture.

The trip to Plymouth was pretty much a grey and overcast one with the occasional happy patch of sunlight. For some stupid reason we stayed on the flybridge the whole way too. The Captain enjoyed his engine room checks and maybe they became a little longer than usual as the temperature in there was way better.

A very simple run this time:

Continuing the canine theme, as we entered Plymouth sound, Izzy decided that she really did not like the red marker buoys and had to rush to an appropriate spot on the flybridge and bark at them:

The green ones were totally ignored by her which is strange as according to the experts (see how dogs see colours compared to us) she should see both red and green as a yellowish colour anyway. Perhaps she is ultra smart, had spotted the shape difference between red and green buoys and decided which was more threatening?

We digress, as usual. Mayflower marina had a nice hammerhead berth for us. The local Cremyll ferry runs right past this berth so every 15 minutes or so you get thrown about. Lovely.  For the bank holiday weekend they used an even bigger boat than normal that could make bigger waves. Double lovely. To make up for this, we did the Plymouth Gin distillery tour. Very interesting indeed:

Afterwards, the ferry seemed less intrusive.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Falmouth to Fowey

After enjoying the remoteness of the Fal river, lunch and a walk with Norman, Julie and their dogs, a trip to Tesco in Truro at high water by RIB to go shopping etc we headed in to Falmouth itself. One night at the rather pricey Port Pendennis was on the cards so we could get the train to Truro and meet Anne and Izzy who were coming to stay for a few days.

Truro was fine, Anne's train less so. What with signal failures and kids loose on the line, it started out from Reading nearly an hour late. The following morning was a quick raid of the shops, especially Baker Tom for the must have cheese straws that we have raved about before:

We post this picture just to wind up John (the knees, remember girls?) who cannot have one. He misguidedly thinks that being in 30 centigrade in Australia overlooking the water makes up for the lack of a Baker Tom's shop. He is so wrong.

The run to Fowey was truly glorious. For many reasons too. Firstly because it was wall to wall sun and light winds so we could sit on the flybridge the whole time. Secondly because the views of the coastline in this area are lovely - cliffs, sandy beaches that are usually uninhabited and untouched by messy humankind. Here is an example, the castle at St Mawes on the way out of the estuary:

and for the lighthouse addicts, the cute little one on St Anthony's head:

The third reason was because we saw Doris en route. Doris is, apparently, a famous local she even has her own hashtag. We were not quick enough to get a picture but here is one from the local wildlife cruise company to enjoy:

Quite a lady - watching the tail re-enter the water was really something special. Thanks Doris the humpback whale, we felt very honoured to see you.

There were some oddities during the trip too. Normally buoys get taken around by Trinity House ships and put into position, not towed astern of little craft like this one:

Perhaps fishing has not been going so well and he has decided to do some illicit scrap metal dealing? Anyway, if you have lost a yellow marker buoy, we have photographic evidence for you.

Approaching Fowey is always lovely. You have the daymark:

and the cute little lighthouse tucked into the hillside:

The mid-river pontoons were almost deserted despite the nice weather, school holidays and calm seas. We were not upset at this of course. The perfect end to a perfect day was as the sun vanished and the lights of Fowey and Polruan were reflected in the water.

Maintenance news:

None at all. We started the main engine, it ran, it used a little diesel, it stopped when we switched it off. All you could ask for really.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Penarth to Falmouth

The forecast was about as good as you will get for a trip down the Bristol Channel, around Land's End and up to Falmouth. So, we had to take advantage of it. The timings to take advantage of the strong tides was not ideal, the optimum was leaving and arriving in the dark. Didn't fancy that at all as there are too many feeble pot markers around the Falmouth entrance. So, we opted for a "least worst" approach instead. That involved taking the 12:00 lock out from the Cardiff Bay barrage.

Leaving Penarth for the last time this winter was a little sad, here we are heading out from the marina lock, just to prove the the sun does shine in Wales:

We had to disrupt the walkers and cyclists in the same way that we have been halted several times on our walks by getting the bridge lifted for us:

We were all alone in the lock, except for folks watching and for Lorna, her mum and the two fluff ball dogs who came to wave us off:

As it was only 2 hours after low water, we dropped quite a way down so you get to see lots of the lock gates as they opened to let us escape:

It was sunny and calm. Pretty good really but we had waited on purpose until the weather gave us a favourable "window" for the trip. Barry Island (also known as Barrybados of course) from the water looked almost appealing:

The more industrial parts of Barry were much less appealing:

We had an excellent run, pushing the tide initially of course. The sun and calm conditions made up for that. Sunset over Lundy Island was glorious:

and the overnight passage down to Cape Cornwall and Lands End was good too. Mind you the "variable" wind in the forecast was, of course, a westerly for our run from Cardiff down to Land's End, where it promptly changed to an easterly for the trip around to Falmouth. On the nose for the whole time. How does it manage to do that? Naturally it was at its bumpiest around dinner time. Here is the route for those not familiar with the area:

A nice calm Land's End gave good views of the Longships Lighthouse:

The sunrise and view over the water as we headed south past it was just lovely too:

That is what cruising is all about - you can see how calm the normally confused area around Longships was. It doesn't get much better than this. Thanks to the nice weather, we could cut close inshore at the Lizard peninsular so the required picture of the lighthouse there is less distant than normal:

It didn't look as though there was much haze but the picture suggests otherwise. As we rounded the Lizard and headed up towards the Manacles, we spotted the first of many pot markers. We were back to the land of footballs in nets, black flags and total frustration with inshore fishermen again. For those that are interested and feel like signing the electronic petition:

The voluntary guidelines just do not work.

We happily arrived in Falmouth and trundled up river, amazingly were we not held up by the King Harry Ferry (for the first time in ages) as that crossed ahead of us:

Our favourite spot on the mid-river pontoon above Smugglers cottage had some space despite the best efforts of some guy who thought that it was OK to berth his yacht on one side of the pontoon and dinghy on the other. En route we saw the one laid up ship this year:

You can tell that the world economy must be picking up, the river had been full a few years ago.

For the terminally numeric and those hoping for maintenance news:

The trip was quite a quick one despite not leaving at the optimum time for the tides. We ran at 1650 rpm and as it was nice and calm, averaged a good speed over the ground. We took 29.5 hours from the Cardiff barrage locks to the mooring at the top of the Fal. Probably our quickest ever on that run.

Fuel burn was around 300 litres which averaged out at 1.4 litres per nautical mile travelled through the water.

Maintenance - well there was none to report luckily. The winter layup didn't seem to have upset the boat too much. The Autopilot lost its navigation input a couple of times as it has over the years but instantly regained it. Still no idea why this happens on the odd trip. Most strange.  The main engine threw out a little coolant after the wide open throttle run approaching Falmouth. This was the first long / hard run since we changed the gearbox oil cooler O rings which meant draining and refilling the coolant. Maybe we overdid it a little when topping up - will keep an eye on things.

All in all a very satisfying first trip of the season.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The final final prep time - just waiting for the weather

Of course, the weather got a little worse before it got better:

Very rough is not tempting. 6 to 9 metre high waves. We will stay tied up for a while longer.

Naturally that gave us time to do a few more things and some more tinkering on the boat. The davit hydraulic pack got checked over, the main engine gearbox had a little oil added, the genset got a little more coolant (the level has settled down and stabilised now after the recent coolant change) and the steering gear had a "spanner check" on the key bearings and bolts.We found time to walk the two fluffball dogs (Pip and Poppy) too. Pip looked tired afterwards:

However, the sound of the camera made him instantly inquisitive:

and maybe a little bit cute.

We also had a guided tour of September Moon, a glorious Laurent Giles designed timber yacht. One of the Dorus Mohr class and an award winner when constructed too. She is owned and has been restored by a local Yacht Surveyor and is truly beautiful. Here is a picture of a sister ship to give you an idea:

We will never complain about our polishing workload again when we think of the painting and varnishing involved in looking after her. Well, maybe we will moan, just a little.

What else? Well we had a farewell lunch with waterbus man Steve who presented us with a third cartoon that had instructions about not opening until we were beyond the Sully Island area. So, we cannot offer a picture of it yet. Please contain your understandable excitement until the great reveal is possible.

As a small recompense,  here is Bron helping dad steer the waterbus on our last trip with them:

A nice big high pressure system is coming so departure should be soon.