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

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Dart life, Dittisham and meeting the locals

Well, life in Dartmouth proved to be busy and entertaining. John, Irene and Archie know the area around Dartmouth well, having spent many days here with their motorhome - remember that we first met them outside the Dartmouth chandlery. So, no need to act as "local" guides here! Instead we all had a day with Andrew and Linda, eating, strolling, drinking and "doing stuff".  The following day Andrew, Linda and their Nordhavn 43, Zephyros headed off for Guernsey, following John and Kath who had left a day earlier and significantly faster too in their Broom 39. Our guests then organised a hire car and left to collect their motorhome from the Hamble. It went very quiet.

Or did it? Bernie and Jenni were in town, they have a house here - remember the man with a collection of old Triumph cars and wooden boats including Mimosa the Dunkirk little ship?

The boat, Bernie and Jenni are about to star in the new "Dunkirk" film being released in July, by the way.  So, we had an entertaining evening starting in a tapas bar, meeting half the local inhabitants (or so it seemed), moving on to the locals' pub (The Dolphin in case you want to try it), meeting the other half and then sneaking into the Floating Bridge pub just before the kitchen closed for excellent and good value fish and chips.

Life has a habit of finding unexpected things for you to do. Well, one of the local folks we met has a Bichon / Westie cross called Noodles who we ended up taking for walks:

including up to Bernie and Jenni's house for brunch and out to Dartmouth Castle. Thanks for loaning him to us Tracie!

The castle and St Petrox church make an odd but lovely couple:

We moved the boat from the marina up to Dittisham and picked up the one 18 metre visitor buoy that can hold us (there used to be 3 but the harbour master has gone and rented two of them out for the entire summer). Hum. As they say that they don't allow boats bigger than 14m on the Dartmouth mid-river pontoons the options for us are pretty limited here. Dartmouth Harbour Master - please read and take note, we are quite harmless and placid.....

Dittisham is another died and gone to heaven spot. A walk around the village and an evening swinging about on the buoy in glorious sun was just perfect.

We came back into the town and plonked ourselves onto the "max 14 m" deepwater pontoon that we have stayed on many times before. The harbour staff never seem to mind and are invariably friendly. Views astern included a nice square rigger that visited for one night:

Nice to see sail and rowing activity on the river.

The Kingswear steam train kept us amused as always with suitable noises and smoke:

A little polishing (just to keep our hands in you know!) and some nice walks (with and without Noodles) followed.

From Kingswear, there is a bus service to Brixham or Paignton. We fancied revisiting Brixham and even Torquay, as we haven't visited there since owning this boat. Previously we had a MDL card thanks to our house in Hythe marina which gave us free overnight stays in both places. As they want silly visitor rates now, we simply refuse to give our beloved MDL £4.65 a metre for a stay. Especially as they measured our boat and found it significantly longer then any other marina has managed! Going by bus was way better.

Torquay seemed less "sad" than we remembered it. Perhaps that was because the sun was shining? They have one of the observation wheel thingies in place, they seem to be becoming the seaside towns must have accessory:

Bearing in mind the average age of the visitors we saw, we are not sure how busy this will be.

The old seaside town "must have", a pavilion, was closed:

and most concerning was the sign on the door referring any queries to the MDL marina office. Our favourite business seems to have got some hold over the lovely old building that is gently falling apart. Poor pavilion. See Devon on line news article for what is planned.

Brixham was much like it always was - a working fishing port with fewer pretensions. Mind you, a seafront cafe seems to have got into the decorated gorilla trend in a big way:

We also enjoyed an afternoon / evening at Bernie and Jenni's place, overlooking the town from on high and being royally looked after. Jenni had just invested in a new hot tub. She seemed pleased with it:

or she might have been pleased with the red wine of course.

As a last activity, we borrowed a 1998 Renault Scenic from Bernie's car fleet (yes, significantly newer than the 1970 Triumph 2000 that starred in the blog a while ago) and visited Gara Rock. We walked the cliff path to the Salcombe harbour entrance and just drank in the views:

Despite having to climb the hilly bits (remember, the crew is half Dutch and they don't have too many hills to practice on) it was a great day, only spoilt a little by Noodles finding some nice fresh poo to rub himself in..... Wet wipes are a great invention.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

St Peter Port to Dartmouth

The strong(ish) SW'ly wind was due to drop and turn to a NW 4 to 5. This was going to help us by dropping the size of the swells from the west that were rolling in but would mean that we might get some waves on the nose as we approached Dartmouth - the NW wind would have been blowing consistently for about 12 hours and would be building up some "chop". The real win was that the closer we got to Dartmouth, the shorter the fetch and so the gentler the waves would be.

Decision made, we also opted for a civilised departure time so we could stay in the Victoria marina overnight. The cill in the marina was not going to cover sufficiently for us to escape until around 9am so no silly (sorry for the feeble attempt at humour) alarm call was needed. It did decide to rain a little as we headed out and we had a large audience of yotties who popped out from their sprayhoods and wanted to see us hit something (not them presumably) as we backed off the berth and then wriggled astern around a pontoon so we could motor out. Pressure on - had to do it without using the thrusters to show the yotties that big fat motorboats can manoeuvre properly.

Heading up the Little Russel channel we had good tidal help even though it was not spring tide time any more:

10.9 knots over the ground is really flying for us. Nosebleed territory indeed. As we are all pretty robust, no blood was shed but a few squeals of excitement were heard.

For this trip the tides were a pain - carrying us to the east to begin with. This spoils taking the "direct" route across the channel to Dartmouth, which misses the SW corner of the TSS where the big guys play. What to do? Two choices - one is to push the tide to get far enough west to avoid the TSS and then, ironically, we would have to push the tide when it turns the other way to avoid ending up in Plymouth not Dartmouth. The other is to let the tide push us to the east, cross the TSS at the compulsory 90 degrees (still getting pushed east as we have to steer to cross at 90 degrees, not have a water track at 90 degrees) and then let the tide unwind this drift after it turns later on, helping to push us back towards Dartmouth. Mental maths (dangerous at our age) said to do the latter hence the track below:

There was a residual swell from the stiff SW'ly winds of the previous few days. So, we had a couple of metres of swell on the port quarter which the stabilisers duly countered. Some of the bigger ones were coming in at pilothouse window height - an unusual experience for Irene who coped with it very well indeed. The forecast suggested that the swell would die down as we hit mid-channel and it did so right on cue. They also said that there would be fog banks and they were spot on again - of course this happened in the TSS as we were dodging the big guys but the AIS and radar didn't mind.

Lunch in the pilothouse turned into quite a civilised affair:

Archie suits the napkin so well, all he needs is a dinner jacket and a monacle to complete the look.

The NW'ly wind that was predicted to increase during the afternoon duly did so giving us a few little waves on the nose for the last few miles of the run into Dartmouth. A chance to throw a little spray around.

The grey gloom had lifted and we also had a pod of dolphins come past us to liven things up. Poor Archie had no idea why all of his humans were squealing in delight when there was no food or alcohol being consumed.

We arrived in a quiet Dartmouth after a 10.5 hour trip and happily deposited ourselves on the free hammerhead in Dart Marina. Yes, we used a marina so Archie had a simple "walkashore". He definitely needed easy access upon arrival.  He had attempted a wee on passage but was seriously put off when his chosen spot (the windward scupper in the aft cockpit) gushed sea water, resulting in soggy paws. Archie was not amused.

We had booked the marina and were told to phone just as we entered the harbour. We did so, only the number came up as an invalid one. No matter, John and Kath (the Broom 39 folks you've met on here before) were berthed in the marina already and John came to meet us. Zephyros (Andrew and Linda, the Welsh connection) were also around, on the mid-river pontoon that we normally frequent. Quite an impending social whirl really.

The harbour is as glorious as ever of course:

Maintenance news:

The trip helped to correct the slight list to port that we always have when both the wing fuel tanks are full. This is because the boat was originally ballasted for the first owner with a huge RIB on the boat deck. Our Avon is smaller and lighter than his monster tender and hence the "over ballasting" to port that exists. We did look at removing some but it has been so beautifully encapsulated in GRP that cutting it out would be a messy nightmare and one that didn't seem worth living through.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Introducing our guests to Guernsey and Herm

When settled into St Peter Port harbour, what on earth can you do? Well, firstly you find that your liner curse has struck again and that 2 of the things are anchored off when you wake up:

This meant that St Peter Port town was overflowing with people toting camera bags, dodgy cruise liner clothing and a generally overstuffed with food expression. It also meant that the perfume shop had an extra 10% discount on offer and this pleased Irene. It also pleased Linda (remember Andrew and Linda, the Nordhavn 43 folks who used to "own" our forecabin?) when we SMS'd her. She gave us her order....

You have to take newcomers to Guernsey on the round the island bus trip to get a £1 flavour of the place. so we did that. You also have to take them on the ferry to Herm:

shown arriving in the harbour there.

Archie the Lakeland terrier was like a dog possessed on the island. He even did a little running around but concentrated on looking intelligent and cute:

The island continues to amaze us despite many visits over the years. Here are some images showing you why:

(Jethou island)

Even canoeists get a look in here:

The northern beaches are still to die for, or to park your boat on:

One way of avoiding mooring fees we suppose but not too practical for us. Normally people find their dinghies stranded far up the beach after landing from their anchored boat, this guy seems to have it the wrong way around:

Enjoying lunch at the island's one hotel we met a very friendly waitress who hails from Dunbeg in Scotland - the little village next to Dunstaffnage Marina where John and Irene keep their boat and where we have boarded the local bus to Oban. Small small world. Herm is a generally a very friendly place, even the warning signs are nicely expressed:

Back in Guernsey, a walk through the woods to Fermain bay is always a joy. Especially for lunch at the little kiosk there, a local institution:

On the way back, we found that that sailing on dry land is not just a sport reserved for Herm:

One other good walk is out to Beaucette marina after a bus ride to St Sampsons. You get a nice quiet lane to use too:

and lovely views over to Herm etc:

We also did our ritual fuel fill up in St Sampson's harbour with Kevin the nice Rubis fuel tanker driver man. This year we took 4,600 litres at 45.5p/l. Quite a saving. It was, as usual, dosed with Stanadyne stabiliser stuff and the boat was, as usual, a little harder to steer after adding a few tons in weight. We were allowed into the Victoria Marina despite our size and canine crew member and so had a couple of nights in there before our departure.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Weymouth to St Peter Port

Well, the usual story. A need to leave early morning to make the best advantage of the tides as it was springs meant our guests had to drag Archie out of his bed when he was fast asleep to walk him around Weymouth in the dark. He was not at all impressed! Then we departed just after first light.

There had been a few days of stiff NE / E winds and so we knew that the first part of the run would be the bumpiest. We even managed to get the anchor wet as we pushed out of the harbour and into the remaining swell.

Turning south to run alongside Portland Bill was a little bit bumpy and Irene (the never been out of sight of land on their yacht yet sailor) and Archie were pretty quiet. Once we were clear of the Bill, things settled down a lot and continued to improve as per the forecast all the way to St Peter Port. The strong spring tides gave us a cross track error of over 6 miles to the east and then helped to unwind it all. Heading down the Little Russel channel off Guernsey, the stream also meant we were flying (OK, flying for a Nordhavn) at 10 plus knots.

An 1800 rpm cruise with little fuel on board and a nice clean bottom (boat, we cannot speak for the crew) meant a 9.5 hour run berth to berth. 1800 rpm was picked to try and get a fair tide up the side of Portland Bill and then from the Casquets rocks down to Guernsey. It worked pretty well, despite our "rough and ready" calculations the night beforehand.

We were amazed to see plenty of space in the other harbour and so happily berthed and celebrated John, Irene and Archie's first visit to the place. Archie celebrated with a large wee of course.

Maintenance News:

Nothing to really report. The stuffing box on the main shaft, which had been adjusted several times to get the correct rate of leakage to ensure that it stayed cool since the shaft was pulled at Hamble Point, finally settled down and behaved properly.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Lymington to Weymouth

With John, Irene and Archie on board, we wanted a nice calm day to head out to the "proper" sea rather than the Solent. Luckily, we got one with the added bonus of wall to wall sun.

Leaving Lymington you get to see the nice narrows at Hurst castle and the lighthouse there. Although it is a very well known spot, we ought to put a picture in here to add to the expanding lighthouse collection for you:

The castle area itself  is less imposing:

More happy news, the range at Lulworth was again inactive. Perhaps the defence budget doesn't allow them to blast away with as much ordnance as they used to. No matter why, it let us enjoy glorious views of the St Alban's head area again whilst hearing from our guests about their walking trips around the area. All pretty calm and enjoyable. Berthed on the town quay area at Weymouth after a quick tide assisted 5 hour run, we felt quite imposing compared to the smaller yachts around us:

The red hulled fishing boat astern of us had a crew of young guys who looked and talked as though they were always high on drugs. They returned one morning around 4am following a serious session in the town and then proceeded to fall off the boat onto the pontoon when heading for a much needed shower later on. Luckily the combined drink and drugs haze still allowed them to back out of their berth without hitting us. A minor miracle of boat handling and one we are most grateful for.

We did benefit from some lovely weather whilst in Weymouth:

Although it was only tea, Archie the Lakeland Terrier seemed keen to partake:

but he then had to make do with an alternative and more accessible option - Irene's nose:

As always, we enjoyed the Weymouth area, walks around the bay and the general bustle of the harbour. Archie (who is not the keenest walker) particularly liked the beach of course:

Irene does not look quite as happy / animated though.

The Weymouth lifeboat featured as part of the local entertainment too. One evening the crew arrived all togged up for a photo shoot. The photographer had three crew lined up in various orders along the sidedeck and took ages perfecting the shot:

Although this could be viewed as a sexist comment, we will make it anyway. The (female) photographer made sure that the female crew member was in front for 90% of the pictures and then felt that she had to share it with her in a "does my bum look OK in this suit" kind of way:

It isn't all play and modelling for the lifeboat crew though, yet again we saw them dragging in a little yacht:

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Getting wet, more heart in mouth and off to Lymington

After completing the various bits of maintenance we spent a couple of days helping Anne. She was still recovering herself when her husband Bob managed to come off a mountain bike and break his pelvis.... So, child minding, dog sitting (no hardship looking after Izzy at all) and chauffeuring the family to various hospital A & E departments at stupid times of the night / early morning. It was good to be useful even if Bob was still optimistic about buying a new mountain bike:

We reckon that Anne has other ideas.

Returning to the boat, we found that Roland the marmalade king had refitted the nice refurbished prop for us, so we can go and get it all fouled up again:

Relaunch was planned for 10am. That was an MDL 10 o'clock of course. they are in a BST+1:15 timezone it seems. Firstly we had to make sure that they had a berth for us (again, booked months ago) when we were back in the water. When the crew went to enquire, they had no real idea but finally told us we could use the slot recently vacated by the Nordhavn 76 that we had squeezed past when we arrived. No planning, no record of the booking, pure chance that they had a spot for us. Still wonder why we are so anti MDL?

The boat was dropped into the tiny dock area all OK:

After checking for leaks we backed out very gingerly and onto the allocated berth. Then we had to try and hose off 10 days of grot and grime from the hardstanding.

Roland came along to do the final engine alignment check, tighten the coupling bolts and to fit a new rope to the crane. In parallel, John, Irene and Archie (the achingly cute Lakeland terrier that you've met before) had arrived in the area and came to join us on board ready for a little cruising. Their arrival by bike was noteworthy, mainly for Archie's way of hitching a lift:

We took the Defender off to his summer home, returned by train (on time too!) and then prepared to escape. We were a little concerned that the Hamble Point marina lift had slightly reconfigured our boat when we saw this picture:

Look closely at the name on the less than pretty hire boat in the foreground. It should stay on the Norfolk Broads and not venture out to sea we reckon.

Predictably, we didn't leave at our planned time (Roland had things to finish off as he was being dragged from pillar to post on various jobs) but we did manage to catch the tide to get help all the way down to Lymington where we were pinned against the Dan Bran pontoon by unseasonable winds that were stronger than usual and from a direction 180 degrees away from the norm.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

High and dry (with heart in mouth)

Every year the fun of annual out of the water maintenance looms. We try to pretend that we enjoy it. That gets harder to fake each year.

The lift was booked at Hamble Point marina together with a berth for a couple of nights in advance of the haul out. Although we detest MDL's (the marina operator's) approach and wild pricing, the Nordhavn Europe guys are based there and we wanted them to pull the main driveshaft and replace the cutless bearing this year. We also wanted a new rope for the crane that launches our RIB. For the non boaters, we will explain what that lot means later on. Stay excited and inquisitive....

We planned to arrive there at low water as the stream really runs hard through the marina and can make berthing tricky. Andrew and Linda did the photographer thing as we left Lymington going backwards:

 The plan worked until we radioed the marina at Hamble Point......

"Yes, please berth on the events pontoon ahead of the other Nordhavn"

The other Nordhavn was a brand new 76 that was being commissioned. The berth ahead of it was long enough but at low water there was no way that you would get anything past there bar a dinghy. No water left. So, we called them again.

"We can't get in there, no water! Do you have another berth we can use even if temporarily please?"

After a long think, the answer was "No other berths free here that are big enough, try Port Hamble" (another MDL marina a little further upstream).

This had been booked months in advance and Sandie the wonderfully organised Nordhavn Europe Office lady had checked many times that all was well. Hopeless marina lot. Port Hamble was busy too so we ended up sitting on a mid-river pontoon and paying the Hamble harbour folks for a short stay. Finally, nearly 4 hours later, we backed past the big Nordhavn, went briefly aground and then got onto the useless bit of pontoon. Yet again, MDL impress us. All of our arrangements and timings for car collection etc had gone wrong too. Grrr

Luckily the lift out went well, although the lift dock there is very very tight for our boat - around 1.5 metres wider than we are. The gods were with us and there was little wind so we could drive straight in with a very nervous crew keeping an eye on the port side and no need for the thrusters. If the man from Weymouth who was scoring our berthing technique had seen this, it would have been a clear 10. This picture gives you a feel for how cosy it was:

She was not too weedy underneath after sitting in fresh(ish) water all winter:

Then the fun started. The crew was responsible for keel cooler cleaning. She is most keen that you see how diligent she is so before:

And after:

The captain isn't seeking the same recognition or reward..... However the hull looked good for a 10 year old boat:

What was done - the normal anode swaps, wing engine prop and shaft and bracket clean up, greasing of the folding prop, putting a little antifouling paint onto the areas that are not coppercoated, cleaning up the thrusters and speed sensor, gentle wet and dry sanding of the coppercoat to liven it up again etc etc etc.

Non-normal things were taking off the main engine propeller and getting the war wounds it had picked up removed (various dings and dents from debris in the water) then pulling out the driveshaft to allow the cutless bearing to be replaced. It had started to be a bit noisy (they rumble when worn) and so was due for renewal. We had a 2 1/4 inch diameter hole in our boat:

This revealed some less good news - the main shaft was worn and will need replacement at some stage. Less good as they are eye-wateringly expensive to have made. Why is it worn? Well, a few years crawling around the Solent in silty water does not help but we know from the Nordhavn 47 owners group that there seems to be a batch of boats with driveshafts that wear quickly.

For the tekkies: we will have an Aquamet 22 shaft machined up for the boat. Aquamet has various flavours with similar names used but the 22 is the important bit. What is the stuff? Well, have a look at shaft materials comparison . Basically the 22 is the most corrosion resistant variety and should resist wear too. (Shafts can suffer from crevice corrosion if the boat is not used frequently. The area where the shaft is sitting on the cutless bearing gets deprived of oxygen and the metal in that area corrodes away despite being a stainless steel mix.) 

We think that the original shaft was Aquamet 17 which is a little closer to chocolate than we like. Of course, we didn't help the wear issue by using the boat in the silty and hence very abrasive waters of the Solent area for the first 4 years of our ownership.

For the non-tekkies: next year we will have a big bill.

So, the current shaft went to Hamble propellers for measuring so we can have one machined up ready for next year's lift out:

As you can see, Neil and Phil the Nordhavn Europe directors can multi-task when needed. 

Roland, the marmalade making engineer (this year's batch is excellent by the way) fitted a new cutless bearing after a little machining to size:

We think that the girls will like this new addition to the male eye candy in our blog. John's knees are under threat as the number one attraction.

One job that always seems pointless is checking the anodes on the stabiliser fins. They appear to last for ever as they don't have much metal to protect. Of course you have to remove the winglets on the bottom of the fins to check this and then loctite the bolts back in:

So, all in all the work went well, including having a new rope fitted to our crane as it was starting to fray after 8 years of service. Luckily marmalade man Roland is the UK engineer for Steelhead who make the cranes. All in all he is a fountain of Nordhavn knowledge. Wonder if we can kidnap him and carry him around with us? We would need to buy many more Nespresso capsules to feed his caffeine addiction but that would be a small price to pay.