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, 27 July 2017

Greystones and the area

The town itself is a nice spot. Wall to wall coffee and eating places of course but proper shops and people too. It even has a coach service direct to Dublin airport as well as the Dart train service which apparently made the town when the original line was built. At the beginning of the 1800s it had a huge population of 93 people. The railway changed all that as did development of the harbour.

We did the lovely cliff path walk to Bray enjoying the sea views en route:

and found that one of the lovely buildings in Bray town:

had been turned into a McDonalds - shock, horror:

At least the trademark golden arches are hidden inside the courtyard area; see the top picture! We liked Bray and the seafront area a lot. Kind of an old fashioned seaside resort with all the good and bad points that brings. 

The trip back was by train (yes, we wimped out of doing the walk both ways in one day) and the one stop / 10 minutes back to Greystones was easy enough. The station at Bray has a beautiful set of mosaics depicting the history of the railway and some of the Irish political events. They are replicas of the original paintings that were decaying.  As the train arrived in mid photographic activity, we only managed to picture a few though starting with the 1916 uprising:

then the formation of the Irish republic:

Followed by the news of World War II from the perspective of a neutral country:

and then the 1950s complete with suitable braces:

The others are equally good by the way.

We had a Dart train trip along the coast and through Dublin to visit Malahide. No plans to stay there in the boat this year as it isn't accessible at low water, the time we would want to leave to head north! Meeting up with Andrew and Linda at the station who had berthed Zephyros in Howth, we wandered the town and admired the lovely seafront views. Stopping off at Donnybrook fair for an excellent coffee the captain witnessed a truly Irish exchange:

Customer: Has anyone handed in a handbag - I left mine in the conservatory area earlier on?
Male server: Can you describe the bag?
Customer: Of course, it's mine!

Pause, during which captain tries very hard not to laugh, snigger or let his eyes pop out of his head whilst suppressing the mirth.

Male server: What type of bag was it, what colour?
Customer: - launches into a description of sorts then looks hopefully......
Male Server: No, we haven't had any bags handed in today.

At this, the captain had to turn away briefly....

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Nordhavn collective noun conundrum

A little while ago, we asked you for your views on a collective noun for Nordhavns when we were joined by Zephyros and saw another one in Falmouth. Our suggestion was a pretty feeble effort really- we proposed a "Pride, a Greyness or a lot of Fibreglass". then we foolishly asked you to contribute.

Andrew, aka Crocodile Dundee, from Zephyros offered a "Nortilla". Links nicely to Tortilla (chips) - salty, tasty, maybe a winner?

An early entry was from Bob, the trolley shopper man. He came up with a "rash". You can tell that he is a yottie who likes flappy white things not chunky John Deere engines.

Ken, the Norn Iron man whom we upset with Nordhavn 43 pictures, suggested a "shoal" or a "cloud" and then added "a creche" which is very apt considering the baby invasion that Zephyros is about to have.

Then came Norman the motorhome / Bobil expert. He was truly on fire; aided by what must have been several bottles of Shiraz he offered multiple ideas with the reasoning too. Here we go pasting in his masterpieces as sent:

  • A Trundle - as that's what they seem to do (unless parked up in Cardiff)
  • A HMITLW? - (How Much Is That Lot Worth?) speaks for itself really 
  • A Dieselgate - how much of the precious stuff has been burnt in getting you lot all together?
  • A Nod - seems like what they do in anything other than a millpond
  • A haggle - a bit like a gaggle but think of the discounts negotiated
  • A clusterf**k - no reason really but I like the word
  • A Clusterf**kwit - As in look at those f**kwits clustered in their Nordhavns 
  • A bugger - as in 'I'm buggered if I'm polishing that lot of fibreglass '
  • A Casablanca (or a Bogart) - paraphrasing 'of all the oceans in all the world you had to park next to me'
  • A Distillery- so many gin palaces, so little tonic
  • A fecking - as in 'look at that lot of fecking Nordhavns (because we are in the Republic of Ireland and that is the second favourite word after "Guinness" here)
  • An anchor - look at all those anchors (note the silent 'W') in their fecking Nordhavns
  • An omnibus - you don't see one for ages then this lot pitch up

Wow, how to choose? Any that you particularly like or any last minute additions? 

We asked the father of many tons of the Nordhavns that are currently floating around Europe, Philip Roach from the Hamble office.  He had no official suggestion.   

Based on that, we reckon that Norman is the winner, for both quantity, humour and quality. Which one is best? Well, that is such a personal thing and probably linked to how you see these hunks of glassfibre and their owners, So, pick your own. The mystery prize will be delivered to Norman when we are able. It might involve Shiraz.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Kinsale to Greystones

We decided that a run up the west coast of Ireland wasn't going to happen this year, despite getting some great information on where to go and anchor from a local boatowner. This was mainly because we had dawdled our way over here and probably missed the nice weather earlier in the summer. Also because we intended to meet up with some friends who were flying over to Dublin and perhaps take them for a few days boating. So, our plan was a run to Greystones on the east coast. Andrew and Linda in Zephyros planned to go further, up to Howth, so they were close to Dublin airport and ready for a later invasion by their daughter and two grandchildren. Brave folks (very very young grandchildren coming on board!)

The trip for us is around 140 miles plus the river bit getting out of Kinsale. Because of the way the tides work around the Irish coast, a trip that is difficult to optimise if you want to leave and arrive in daylight and also be in the areas that are known for pot marker infestations when you have some light too. As there were strong spring tides around, the timing got even trickier (as an example, we were down to 2.1 knots fighting it at times around the Tuskar rock area). You can see our route below:

We kept well off the coast around "the corner" near Tuskar rock as it would be dark then and we wanted to stay in the deeper water and try to clear the inevitable pot markers inshore.

Departure after a little shopping trip in Kinsale was almost sad. We'd come to feel at home there and we had a farewell from the neighbouring boat owners and help with our lines too - it was a tight tricky turn to get out of the berth between two pontoons in the stream and breeze.

The run along the south coast was idyllic. Sun, very very calm and quite relaxed. We had Zephyros' bum to admire en route:

and she has quite a substantial one. Not any Nordhavn's most photogenic angle really. We got quite used to it over time though.

Darkness fell as we were approaching "the corner" and as we turned on the navigation lights, so the bulb in the starboard side light decided to pop. A new one was duly fitted. Actually, we consume far too many navigation bulbs. They seem to fry quite quickly - perhaps because they are 24 volt bulbs and the AGM batteries whilst under charge from the main engine run at "27.something" volts most of the time. Might go mad and find some encapsulated LED bulbs and see if the hours / £ equation works better with them.  Bear in mind that one blown navigation bulb (incandescent type) is the equivalent cost of the diesel we use in an hour and a half running at sea!

Giving Tuskar rock a wide berth to try and miss the pot markers meant adding a little distance to the trip but made for a lower heart rate at night. Here is the view that the on watch person has at night time:

and the other side of the pilothouse:

Plenty of screens and buttons to play with which helps distract your thoughts of what could happen if we picked up a pot marker / hit a lost semi- floating shipping container etc etc. Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes.

Our view of Zephyros' bottom changes somewhat at night. She looked more like this:

As planned, the sun was rising when we approached the worst of the fishing marker infestation - this time off the Wexford area. It was still beautifully calm and so as the crew wriggled the boat past the markers, the captain snored happily. Ignorance and bliss again perhaps? The tide then turned strongly with us and we had rocket assistance up the side of the Arklow Bank:

9.2 knots over the ground with a  boat speed of about 6.3 through the water was a nice bonus. The things that look like little yellow butterflies on the plotter picture above are the wind turbines fixed into the bank itself (only 1 metre depth of water in many places there despite it being well offshore).

In the early morning light they look quite unappealing:

and as always seems to be the way, only 3 of the 7 were actually working. A support boat came out to one of them as we were passing. as Andrew said on the radio "They will need a big socket set to get that going"

The wind was picking up a little and on the starboard bow so the wave motion had changed and built a little. We centred the stabilisers (previously the waves had been under 1m high on the stern quarter) and instantly picked up around 0.1 knots of speed. That is serious stuff in a displacement trawler yacht! So much so that our standard view of Zephyros' bottom became her side:

with a waving Andrew and then as we raced past at our 0.1 knot speed advantage, nose on:

We peeled off to Greystones as Zephyros carried on to Howth. We were given a nice berth alongside the walkway in Greystones and happily topped up with water, got clean and fell onto lunch. For the numerically inclined the trip took 25 and three quarter hours with a tidal advantage of around 2.5% (like the "around" bit?) The track through the water once out to sea was 137 miles or so.

Maintenance news:

Well, you know about the blown navigation bulb. Guess what, a 24v bulb in one of the engine room lights also went pop. So, this trip will be known for the high expenditure in bulbs. All replaced from our spares stock though so we are good to go again. The main engine had a longish wide open throttle run before we arrived to clean out the bores, rings and exhaust stack. That got it hotter than it has been since the recent coolant change and it spat out a cup full of coolant into the little overflow bottle we fitted. It has been disposed of. So much stress.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

3 rings (Kerry, Beara and Skellig)

Whilst in the area, with a rental car (even if it is a Fiat Tipo), you feel that you have to do the touristy bit and see the Ring of Kerry. We added the quieter and more relaxed rings of Beara and Skellig to that and spent a couple of nights away from the boat in B and B places. Sleeping ashore. Scary.

The Ring of Kerry is a bit busy with tour buses. The others are very quiet. Here is a trip around in pictures for you. For orientation:

Let's start at Sneem by the river - kind of a good motorhome spot there:

Next, O'Carrolls cove showing that it can be sunny and warm in Ireland too:

Some of the sea views are pretty impressive:

but the navigation seemed challenging. Poor Andrew had everyone telling him how to use his phone to find places:

Too many cooks and all that....

The island of Valentia was lovely. Here is a lifeboat picture to add to our collection:

Very few are in such a great setting.

The main town on Valentia is Knightstown. A big harbour area with new breakwaters but they then stopped and didn't install the pontoons that were intended. So they have a free for all to get a spot on the inside of the breakwater where there are inoperative power points and nobody to manage the place, collect any mooring dues etc. Sad, it could be so good there. The local cafe has a great view over the harbour and the cake portions were truly enormous. Here is Linda and Andrew's Bakewell tart. Luckily it was to be shared between them:

The Killarney national park was stunningly beautiful but a bit infested by coaches and motorhomes. This shows one of the famous views:

There is an antique cable car that goes across to Dursey Island. The maintenance seems to be optional - the towers supporting the cables were more than a little rusty and the gondola looks more like a second world war gun emplacement:

You get a feel for the investment in the service when you see the notice stuck in the window that has been "changed" a few times rather than reprinted:

The sign originally said that there were 15 people living on the island. Now it says 2. Perhaps the scary cable car ride puts them off?

The Healy pass was quite a dramatic drive up a lovely twisty road. On a motorcycle (maybe not Andrew's Honda Dax) it would be wonderful. By Tipo it was less involving but still had some great vistas:

Topped off by lovely food in surprising local restaurants and pubs, the time ashore was much enjoyed.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Excursions from Kinsale

Whilst enjoying the Kinsale environment, we wanted to venture further afield. This meant getting some rental wheels from Cork Airport. To get there we had an interesting bus trip:

which involved some road rage between our laconic driver and a lady car driver / irritated van driver etc.

The Fiat Tipo 1.3 diesel rental car was brand new - we seem to keep getting this treat recently, if you can call a Tipo a treat that is. Why anyone would buy one rather than a Ford Focus is beyond us. A car to give away rather than sell if you are a dealer!

In fact we only saw 3 other Fiats during all of our travels here. Two of those were also Europcar offerings. Poor Fiat dealers....

Andrew and Linda's son-in-law is a wonderful man. Never met him but he is a wonderful man. This us simply because he works for a hotel chain and arranged for the General Manager of a local hotel and spa to meet us, welcome us to the place, fix lunch, spa treatments for the ladies and then afternoon tea to round things off. A great location:

and good food too. Very chilled and lazy afternoon all in all.

What else - well, we headed for one of the main tourist traps, Blarney Castle. The grounds are wonderful:

the castle interesting:

and there are a few strange things like the poisonous plant garden:

Pretty concise information really. They also had cannabis, opium poppies, deadly nightshade etc etc and a very big sign saying that children should be closely supervised.....

The biggest drawback of the place were the American coach tour visitors. They spent most of the time complaining about having to walk. They also seemed to need to kiss the Blarney Stone. Not heard of it? well, look at wikipedia for details of the legend. They claim that Winston Churchill might have obtained his extraordinary oratory powers here too:

Kissing the stone involves a less than dignified laying backwards and arching your back and neck down to reach the stone:

During this activity, an elderly gentleman supports and encourages you. According to a couple we chatted to, his grip on the ladies is a little different to his grip on the men. We think he pays to do this job, not the other way around. If you look up from the ground, you get to see the fun from a funny angle:

The most irritating of the American tourists kept telling every lucky soul that made eye contact with him "I have the gift of the gab, I just need eloquence now" after reading an information sign about the stone. Not sure he knows what eloquence is but he was right about the gab bit.

Despite the Blarney stone supposedly giving people a great grasp of the language and ability to use it, the signs in the castle were not in terribly good English:

They were much more focused on looking after the local Leprechauns. Quite a tourist attraction it seems:

A run to the most southerly part of the Irish mainland at Baltimore was interesting. They have a "marina" there as you can see from the sign (one of many) on the hut:

However, when you zoom out a little, it looks less impressive being comprised of an old barge and one run of wobbly cheap plastic floating pontoon that looks fit for RIBs only:

Unkind weather (cold!) didn't improve our overall impression of the place. Unfair probably as the island offshore looked lovely. They did a nice job painting up a gable end of the cafe we had lunch in though:

A day in Cork included a wander around the old Gaol. Well worth a visit and a bit grand for a jail too:

The interior looks nicer for the inmates than it really was of course:

See Cork Jail website for more information if you have the time / energy / interest.

The most entertaining part of the stay was seeing Andrew launch his Honda Dax and prepare it for a trip out with Linda:

Sadly the trip could only be 2.5 litres long as Linda refused to strap a petrol can to her back. However, some thick fog on the coast meant that the tank capacity was not tested. The captain thinks that one of these would look good on the boat deck and be an excellent addition to the inventory of the Nordhavn. The crew has a very opposite view. The boat deck seems safe.

We really like Kinsale. Seem to fit in well and the local bertholders are most friendly and helpful. Even the posh local restaurant "Fishy Fishy" seems to share our views on childminding and people who let theirs run riot:

The only problem is that the crew would love to have a dog. The captain is trying to stop her borrowing a child.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Cork to Kinsale

After a week in the Royal Cork Yacht Club moorings (yes, we took advantage of the “deal”) the time and weather to head off had arrived. As the tide runs strongly through the marina berths and Andrew had to extricate Zephyros from a finger berth, he headed out at slack water and rafted onto us:

We then managed breakfast, cleaning ourselves up and a little shopping at the local Centra store. We met the nice RCYC lady who had told us when we arrived that “the first thing we learn is how to take money from people” again and she duly did so. Very very nicely of course.

Heading off around half tide, there was plenty of stream to help us off the hammerhead berth once we got a little angle across the tide with the keel. It was warm and sunny – a flybridge trip all the way. Lovely stuff.

The route to Kinsale runs close inshore, here is Zephyros approaching the Sovereign islands to give you an idea of the weather and views:

The rock formations along the coast were impressive too:

We passed the sloping Little Sovereign rock:

And then its big brother, the not too imaginatively named Big Sovereign:

Entering the Kinsale area, we managed to catch Zephyros up, so finally a picture that doesn’t show her bottom to the world:

There is a bar which is quite shallow before you get to the town. We planned to arrive around low water firstly to take advantage of a fair tide along the coast and secondly to be berthing when there is little stream running through the pontoons at Kinsale. This meant crossing the bar with not too much water to spare as we passed the ruined Charles Fort:

and the lovely Summercove area with the horrible gaudy pub. Orange buildings in the republic of Ireland on the day the Battle of the Boyne is celebrated “up north”?

Paul the Kinsale harbour moorings man was brilliant. We had called as instructed to arrange a berth and because we were planning a week or so there, he arranged finger berths for both boats and rang us with the numbers too. Lovely friendly guy, very organised. We became a bit of a floor show in the harbour, even though Dirona a Nordhavn 52 (stretched version of our boat) had been in earlier this year after a trip across from the USA. They have a far more interesting blog with lots of ocean voyages and proper stuff in it. They take it seriously rather than our sideways look at the world. Have a look at Dirona Blog for proper ocean voyages and informed opinion on things nautical. Don't bother with these ramblings any more.

Anyway, having wriggled backwards onto the berth we felt part of the furniture. Kinsale is the foodie capital of the area and a wander around the town revealed more restaurants per square mile then we have seen in a while (bar Gunwharf Quay in Portsmouth perhaps – however, these are all individual proper places, not chains!)

To summarise, a lovely trip, great scenery, another Nordhavn to admire en route, calm seas. What more could you wish for? So far the only drawback of the Kinsale Yacht Club is the shorepower. Any load on the system and the voltage dies dramatically as you can see:

For the benefit of the Americas readers who have to struggle along with 110v and lots of Hertz, we should get 220-240 volts. The 11.0 is the amps drawn, not the voltage! Guess what, the microwave is slow.

The collective noun for Nordhavns (see Falmouth post):

Well, so far the worst suggestion has come from trolley shopper Bob. He proposed "a rash". Come on guys, you can do better than that. We expect better ideas especially from the 200 plus Russian readers that we seem to have accumulated recently. As a hint, Putin and the thought police might not be too interested in this topic so you could send us your ideas. Of course, you could be KGB staff keeping an eye on us as potential subversives in which case we have no idea why you bother.

For all real readers, please send your collective noun ideas using the comments button below asap.