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

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Fowey to River Fal

On the "you can have too much of a good thing" theory, it had to be time to move on. Question was, when. There was a traditional boat rally in Falmouth so we expected the harbour and the upriver moorings to be busy hence we planned to arrive on the Sunday evening when it ought to be a bit quieter.

Knowing that we would be on another mid river mooring with no water, we headed down into the town to top up. There were several small sports boats on the outside of the two pontoons with water taps. Why they cannot berth inside as they are supposed to is always beyond us. However, we got a spot after a little bit of circling and then filled up. Zephyros slipped into the slot as we moved over to a mid river location:

After a leisurely lunch, we left in perfect conditions for motorboating.  Sunny, calm, little wind. Heading into Fowey were some old lifeboats  (there had been a rally for them the weekend before, maybe these guys were a little late or confused):

A perfect run followed, only an annoying stern gland that refused to drip nicely and got warm spoilt it a little. It was also warm in the engine room for the poor captain whilst backing off the follower and sorting it out! Time to repack the thing probably. Grr.

Zephyros looked good out to sea and you can judge for yourself how calm it all was:

Falmouth had been hosting a classic ships event and so we expected things to be very busy. Sure enough there were plenty of boats out enjoying the sun, guarded by St Mawes castle:

We headed upriver and were amazed to find space on our favourite mid-river pontoon above Smugglers Cottage - space for both Nordhavns in fact. It was one of those lovely flybridge trips that remind you why you have a boat, pay the bills and do the polishing.

Maintenance news:

Well, for no obvious reason the log decided to work and the wiring repair to the exhaust temperature gauge worked too. So, good news so far. For those strange people amongst you who love diagnostics, we have a small and quite rare treat so pour a coffee and settle down.

However, there was an interesting little set of circumstances underway. The Microcommander main engine control let out a beep. Not normal. Then it went quiet again. So, the captain checked the control unit in the engine room and instead of the normal pretty light show, it said "Er65".

Oh. Looked that up and it meant " a voltage >30v for more than 2 seconds". On a 24 V boat that normally runs at around 27.8v whilst underway and under charge, that was not right. Checked the engine start battery alternator output and it showed 0 instead of the normal 2 amps. Checked the battery voltage and it was 26.0 not the normal 27.8v . Not good, must be a dead alternator - probably the rectifier as there was a big voltage spike when it died. So, we kept a careful eye on the alternator temperature until we arrived and paralleled the engine start battery to the main house bank so it was being charged by the big and happy domestic alternator. When we arrived, we isolated the battery again. Some proper diagnostics and checks to do.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

A Nordhavn rally in Fowey

After a lovely sleepless night, a little shopping and a meet up with Amanda and Chris who joined us for lunch, we doubled the local quota of Nordhavns. Andrew and Linda (the Welsh connection who previously had adopted our forecabin) arrived in their 43, Zephyros.

There was a spot for them on the same pontoon and we hoped that there was no more local dredging needed. We met them by RIB in the harbour entrance, they arrived just as the yacht club was off for a race:

Zephyros threaded her way through the tacking dinghies and upriver:

There isn't one embedded in the starboard side of Zephyros, just a perspective thing.

Whilst enjoying Fowey, you have to walk down to Readymoney beach, watch the folks enjoying the water and wonder at why they put concrete fir-cone tops on the building:

You also have to do the Hall walk. The initial drag up the steep hill at Bodinnick is well worth it for the views of the town:

even if some folks need a breather after the climb:

Pill was as lovely as ever:

and the boatyard at Polruan had a trawler up on the slip as normal:

You know how paints have very specific coating instructions as to preparation, temperature, spray pressure and gun type, viscosity, wet film thickness, numbers of coats etc etc? Well, Jotun must have written one that says "spray over rust, old paint, flaking old paint, old antifouling etc  from any distance you wish and there is no need for any personal protection gear":

The Health and Safety police clearly don't make it to Polruan very often.

A double dinghy trip up towards Lostwithiel was a little different. We left a little later than planned (wanted to catch high water up there) after Andrew's outboard decided to go all coy on us and not pee gently out of the cooling water tell tale. However, he did look very Crocodile Dundeeish heading upstream:

Could Fowey be renamed Walkabout Creek?

The buildings on the river are lovely:

And St Winnow and the church look great from the water too:

We turned around a little before Lostwithiel to head back as we arrived around high tide and it wasn't too deep anyway. Some proper hooligan types in a scruffy old speedboat with an equally scruffy 25HP old Mercury engine came past us on the narrow part of the river but planing. The poor ducklings really did not know what hit them - must have been like a tsunami for them. A little further downriver, we saw them with the outboard tilted up paddling back. They yelled across to us that "it is shallow here, don't go any further". We needed to and so paddled though that bit! You can only guess how much damage they did when they hit the gravelly bank at lots of knots. Watching the outboard kick up and rev itself senseless must have been spectacular. The ducklings revenge perhaps?

Andrew had a charting app on his phone and so led us down the deepest channel back to the motherships nicely.

Robert and Deborah, the large Nauticat folks (Stephen and Alison have been relegated to the small Nauticat folks now, but he does have a nice 911 to make up for that) are members of the Fowey Gallants yacht club and said it was a must visit place. So we did:

Lovely river views from the balcony too, good food, sensible prices, friendly people. Be afraid Fowey Gallants, we will be back.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Plymouth to Fowey

Wow. Look at this:

After days of gales, interspersed by force 6 gusting 7, this was quite something. Must be time to go and burn some diesel off. As the forecast still doesn't have a nice settled spell in it for the west coast of Ireland trip, there was no rush. Hence, a little potter along the coast just as far as Fowey seemed ideal. Funny to think that last year at this time we were already in the Outer Hebrides, Stornoway to be precise. Not such rapid progress this year. However, we've really enjoyed pottering about and seeing more of the places that used to be our summer holiday cruise destinations.

So, we left Plymouth in lovely weather. The Navy had also decided to have a play and HMS Sutherland came into the western entrance just as we were leaving:

Rapidly followed by another naval craft:

The little yachts that had been sailing in the middle of the entrance parted as though Moses was about, bar one who seemed oblivious to it all including various calls on the radio.

A nice gentle run ensued, lunch on the way, some pot marker avoidance (as always) and plenty of sun.

Entering Fowey, we were horrified to find "our" normal mid-river pontoons pretty full with scruffily parked yachts. So, we ended up above the ferry on another mid-river pontoon opposite the china clay port area. Not as ugly as it sounds. There was one ship loading:

but that was not an issue. The issue was this dredger:

The Sospan Dau was very busy sucking up mud, stones and grot from the river. The transmitted noise through our hull when they worked near to us was impressive. Especially as they chose to dredge our bit of river all night, sometimes working about 10 metres away from us. Sleepless in Fowey. A new film title?

Monday, 12 June 2017

Getting Smart in Plymouth and the surrounding area

The plan (of sorts) was to hide away in Plymouth during the forecast bad weather. Rain and wind, much more like the normal UK summer offering than we have enjoyed lately. So, we thought about collecting the Defender for a few days and changed our minds when we found that the train fare to and fro would be more than a cheap rental car for a week. Madness. So, we ended up with a real road burner, a Smart forFour:

Not much longer than our RIB, it was the "passion" model. Nope, not the right name for it. With a Renault Twingo underneath the bodywork it elicits little passion for it. Space inside for passion? Oh no. There must be some redeeming features though. The retail price compared to the direct competition? Oh no. Enough torque to drag itself up the hills in Dartmoor? Oh no. The one massive benefit over a 110 Defender was the turning circle.

Still, better than waiting for a bus in the rain and we took advantage of it to go for some nice walks along the local coastline:

We also saw the Mew Stone from a strange angle - we normally view it from the other side when clearing it to enter the harbour:

A wet and windy day was duly dispatched quite well - lunch at the Cornish Arms pub (Rick Stein owns it) with Norman and Julie. A slightly less wet day was spent doing some shopping in Exeter. This is when we found that the Smart Forfour uphill and against a force 8 wind is not too happy, but it could get into the multi-storey carpark easily.

A lovely walk around Noss Mayo on a dry day reminded us why we love the river Yealm area. The walk gives you sea, estuary and woodland views:

and a 4.5 mile workout. The visitors pontoon in mid-river was pretty empty.  The Yealm was a favourite spot with previous boats but we've never taken the Nordhavn into the river as things are tight for space with lots of swinging moorings around. We also expected that the visitor spot would always be busy and we were wrong. It has been added to our "to do" list again. Lovely lovely spot.

Happy times were when we spotted that Copperhouse gin was on an offer and so was Fevertree tonic. Thank you so much Mr Waitrose.

We also managed to walk off some of the post election "oh no there will be another one soon" feelings in Dartmoor. Meldon has a good circular walk, over the dam:

around the old quarry area:

and then back along the old railway viaduct which is now a listed structure and part of a cycle path:

It got listed due to the unusual iron construction - it is actually one bridge that got widened by adding a second alongside it. Have a look at Wikipedia for some more info.

Maintenance news:

It was time to replace the fuel filters for the genset. Thanks to the nice Racor turbine setup and easy access to the on-engine filter, it takes longer to prepare for the job than complete it. Why do most marinas have a nice filter disposal area with proper bins then let them get so overfull?

The exhaust temperature gauge had taken a holiday on the last run and the captain assumed that the sender was in trouble. However, whilst removing the heat resisting insulation and shrink wrap on the connectors, ready to short them out and see if the gauge itself and power feed were OK, a poor connection was found in one of the factory crimps. Probably got disturbed by a clumsy captain when we fitted the new exhaust blanket . The crimped ring was duly replaced with a better solution, let's hope that has fixed it.

The grey water tank had a clean out with Bio Blast:

some stuff suggested by the Simon the surveyor from Penarth to help remove the oily, fatty deposits you get from soap, dishwasher remnants etc. Getting it into the tank and around the walls was fun but it did a great job.

Finally, the brave bit. Removing the paddle wheel sensor for the speed log:

It had stopped working and we were going along at 0 knots through the water (but more than 6 over the ground according to the GPS). You have to remove it from the through hull fitting to clean off whatever has clogged up the device and of course that leaves a hole in the hull until you quickly fit the spare bung. The crew does not like having a hole in the bottom of the boat with water coming in.

Irritatingly, there was just some slime on the paddle wheel, nothing to suggest that it was or had been jammed up. Another "let's see on our next trip" thing.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Salcombe to Plymouth

As the weather forecasts were deteriorating (rain of all things and some blowy days too) we decided to hole up in Plymouth for a while. Stuck in Salcombe in wet windy weather is not great. As an example, to do any proper food shopping you have to take the RIB up the estuary to Kingsbridge at high water. Salcombe has plenty of boutique clothes shops and expensive restaurants but food isn't too easy to buy raw!

Our normal / preferred stopping off spot is Mayflower Marina but as they had a yacht race going on, there was no space for us. Feeling unloved, we did find a spot in the Plymouth Yacht Haven. Nice folks and facilities, just on the wrong side of the water for easy access to the city / shops etc.

So, we waited for enough water over the (in)famous Salcombe Bar  (have a look at Wikipedia entry) and headed off in an annoying light rain.

The trip is simple enough, just a few rocks at either end to avoid and plenty of pot markers of various sizes and visibility. A little 3 hour run around the coast:

The odd wriggle in the route was to avoid pots and a yacht that was on a very similar course at a very similar speed. Our overtaking speed was about 0.1 knots so it took a while to draw clear.

We were directed to a berth, backed into it and just after we got the boat "wrapped up", the rain started a little more seriously. Perfect timing.

Maintenance news:

Tomorrow had arrived. It was time to tackle the bilge pump switch... Nicely hidden in the depths of the main keel bilge area. The problem was that it still switched on the bilge pump perfectly well but didn't turn it off again. However, when you killed the power to the pump and switch and then more or less instantly reapplied it, the pump did not restart. That suggested that either the sensor for the "low" level in the switch had failed or that the water was not draining out of the bottom of the switch fast enough when the pump was running to trigger the low level "off" quickly enough. Our switch was not as squeaky clean as this image for some strange reason:

Blocked up drain holes seemed the most likely so the switch was retrieved from its deep dark murky lair. Sure enough, the drain holes looked very sludgy after 10 years of use / abuse. Wire, brake cleaner and warm soapy detergent laced water later it seemed to be fine when tested in a jug. The stuff that came out of it was horrid. Black gunge that is mainly tiny bits of old stern gland packing that have worked their way out into the bilge over time. PTFE  impregnated and very black and sticky so lovely stuff.  Better than having to buy a new one at $165 plus taxes and shipping to the UK though. These switches are simple and pretty robust it seems.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dartmouth to Salcombe

Before they started charging us council tax, we decided to move on from Dartmouth. So, on a slightly misty morning (quite poetic really) we left the mid-river pontoon that we felt we kind of owned and headed out to sea. Passing the castle it was a bit grey and gloomy compared to the glorious sun of the last few days:

Once out to sea, it got more like fog and so the photo opportunities were limited:

In fact this picture could be anywhere en route apart from when we arrived in Salcombe as the sun decided to peep out for us. Most considerate.  After a water top up (first one for 10 days, Nordhavn's have big tanks and we did not go dirty!) the harbour guys kindly took us to a lovely mooring spot in "The Bag" - the upper area of the estuary well away from the main town and the hordes of DFL types who were polluting it. (For non UK folks DFL= Down From London and they arrive with all the nice behaviours you would expect.)

We launched the RIB and ventured into the town to collect Richard and Karen who were on holiday in the area. Richard is another ex-BMW Group employee and a complete petrol head. One quiet day we will share pictures of his rather nice Cobra and Alvis.  A lovely tranquil evening view from the mooring finished things off nicely:

We had been told that there was an airshow and rescue demonstration planned for the 1st. So, we duly dinghied ashore and walked to what was reported as the best vantage point, the Salcombe Yacht Club. There we learned that the CAA had changed the new, post Shoreham crash rules about safe distances from the public and the Salcombe estuary is no longer wide enough for a display.  Somehow we doubt that they will run an estuary widening scheme so game over.

Do the new rules mean that we should refuse the next time a rescue helicopter wants to practice and land a winchman onto our boat? Perhaps we should investigate what our insurers would say if any mishap occurred...

Instead we had a good walk in the sun to North Sands. You get some great estuary views en route. North Sands beach was tiny as it was nearly high water but plenty of folks still crowded onto it:

And a view to the rather posher South Sands:

The estuary area is really lovely. A little "over touristy" in town but the area is so special:

and the sun was out too, just to help. We hadn't seen Salcombe for a while by boat and were very glad that we revisited. Ditto we hadn't seen Richard and Karen for ages and it was great to catch up a little.

Maintenance news:

As we were leaving the boat, the main bilge pump turned on (automatic float switch), ran, pumped out the water and then kept running. This was not good! So, back inside, power off to the pump and float switch then power back on - it didn't fire up again. So, looks like the posh "ultra Safety Systems" float switch is playing up. Low level contacts failed? Drain holes that are advertised as "self flushing and cleaning" blocked a bit? No matter what the cause, getting to it deep in the keel area of the bilge will be fun. A job for tomorrow which, of course, never comes. Only in this case, it has to unless we want a burnt out bilge pump next time it is automatically switched on.