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

Monday, 28 August 2017

Puffing and blowing

Maintenance news:

Yes, normal folks can skip this post. Only those with an unhealthy interest in exhaust silencers and messy jobs need read on.

The next day, after some biblical rain finally cleared up, we took off the grille from the side of the stack and did the horrid horrid horrid and very messy job of removing the insulation from the muffler.:

Like the stuff that we replaced earlier this year in the engine room, the outer foil surface was de-laminating in some areas and the wire arrangement to hold it all in place was great fun to remove.

Did we say how horrid the job is? Sure enough the silencer was pretty rusty overall as we expected at this age:

It also had a small hole in the top of it, the insulation had been holding the loose rusty metal in place and preventing a major leak. Some serious prodding revealed that the metal around it wasn't fit for a temporary repair as the little hole turned into a big one. Replacement earlier than planned is needed:

Cleaning out the rust, soot and general grot after we dragged the wrap out of the stack was another horrid job. Looking at the bolts holding the old unit in place, we can see an angle grinder (messy!) or a cutting torch being used.  We will give them a good bath in penetrating fluid but we cannot see that doing much to help free them off.

How best to support the silencer and pipes during replacement? Time to get advice from the folks who have already done this job at Nordhavn Europe. The new muffler and wrap were already on order so, a quiet time until they arrive perhaps?

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Portavadie to Greenock (James Watt Dock)

So, because we wanted to strip the insulation blanket off the exhaust silencer to check it, we needed to go somewhere "big" with stuff to do locally and some engineering help if needed. Where to go? Well, James Watt Dock might not be the most scenic place but it is well sheltered (blowy stuff promised for a couple of days) and has easy access to anything and anyone we might need. Decision done. Robert, the Nauticat and sloe gin man booked a slot for us using his influence and we were good to go.

The route was a reversal of the trip to Tarbert, again through the most lovely scenery:

You can see that the track doesn't start from Portavadie - no shore stations picking up our AIS signal until we were a little further along this time.

As we arrived in James Watt Dock to the nice alongside spot that had been cleared for us (thanks Robert) we spotted Waverley again. Only this time, she wasn't underway with lots of happy people on deck:

The funnels are peeping out from the dry dock next to the marina here. Have a look at BBC news item.  Apparently she picked up a rope around a paddle. Maybe another pot marker? The damage to the bow and possible damage to the propulsion gear means that she is out of service for a few days. Perhaps they will sign the Cruising Association petition against poorly marked and positioned pots too?

During the trip we kept a careful ear and eye on the exhaust muffler. Still a little noise but no signs of exhaust fumes and soot being blown out from the insulation. That was good news, if there had been a hot exhaust gas coming out inside the stack in any quantity, it could easily melt the wiring that runs from the many and varied instruments housed up top. We will have the fun of removing the wrap and examining the muffler once it cools down a little tomorrow. Can't wait.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Tarbert and Portavadie - being social

Whilst in Portavadie, we met up with Robert and Deborah, the folks who have the slightly larger Nauticat than Stephen and Alison. No bragging rights though, they are not like that.

Robert is a founder member of a sloe gin club and so tested the brew that Anne had made in a most serious manner:

Could be that he made it all up of course, just to get a little more of the stuff.

We went for a wander around the lochside and just enjoyed the views:

At the end of the road, there is a cute little bay with a few houses dotted around it:

and more than a few midges so our walk back was a little faster...... On the way we found another little winter boat project:

The poor thing has been sitting there looking sad for at least 4 years. Shows that either the locals are very law abiding or they know that the engine is seized up and beyond rescuing hence not worth nicking. Not tempted to take on a restoration project though, we have enough boat to look after:

We then made the huge trip across to Portavadie; the strange half empty marina and very up-market (ie very expensive) apartments and chalets in the old oil platform building yard that never actually built a thing. We've told you about this before but have a look at Wikipedia.

The large visitor area was totally empty. They still like charging high visitor berthing rates though. And you have to buy electricity cards. We checked out the pool area but the crew objected to being charged the full visitor rate for a swim even though we were berthed in the marina. Oh, and the fee was £12. Kind of high. So, they didn't get any more money from us - until we walked into the shop that sells basic provisions and wildly expensive clothes. They had a discounted ladies Musto jacket.....

During the evening, we were visited by Sheila and Niall, the folks that we bumped into at the Tobermory Highland games last year:

They seem to have got the hang of  Nordhavn life rather quickly.

We also enjoyed an evening ashore in their house with stunning views across the loch, being royally fed and entertained. Tough life this boating.

Maintenance news:

The little bulkhead light that the crew uses started to play up - sometimes it would switch on , sometimes not. This resulted in earache for the captain who finally took it to pieces and soldered the wires across the other pair of terminals on the switch which were not worn:

Don't you love simple fixes!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Holy Loch to Tarbert

Leaving Holy Loch it looked very threatening but dramatic:

Our run to Tarbert takes us though some of the prettiest cruising grounds in this area, winding around the Island of Bute and through the Kyles:

Off Dunoon, this old girl was still out trying to earn a living for someone:

Quite a way to earn a crust or two.  Dunoon also sports this rather sad little light tower to keep folks away from the Gantock rocks. It looks like it is overdue for a paint job or maybe just a clean up but is an addition to our collection:

Oh, and whilst we are playing lighthouses, here is the one a little further south at Toward point:

Much nicer. The trip around the Kyles of Bute is one that we always enjoy and as the sun peeped out, it was even better. Firstly, going past the Burnt Isles and through the narrow channel:

Then it was a stunning flybridge run down the West Kyle in the sun enjoying some strange cloud shapes:

We were chased into Tarbert by the Waverley:

and with her 2,100 HP steam engine and significantly bigger waterline length, she goes a lot faster than us. Mind you, most motorboats do. As she is bigger and captained by someone with a very miserable voice in the VHF radio, we diverted a little to let her into the harbour first although we did have right of way. Sometimes you don't push these things:

We happily stopped on "our berth" in Tarbert (the one that we used several times when we were in the area 2 years ago). It was a lovely trip. No more to add really, just to remind everyone of how lovely the scenery is around here.

Maintenance news:

Well, we have something to report for you. The night before we left Holy Loch, there was monsoon like rain, thunder, lightning, the whole shebang. In the morning there were a few water drips on the tray above the main engine that had clearly made it down the exhaust stack. A first! Less pleasant was the appearance of a flake of rust there too. Very very probably from the exhaust muffler / silencer which is a huge steel thing inside the bottom of the stack all nicely wrapped with insulation. After 10 years it has a right to rust a bit and we were planning to replace it next spring at lift out time. Perhaps it will not wait that long?

During the trip, we listened carefully to the exhaust and checked for any signs of leakage inside the stack. Nothing obvious although the note sounded a little different - or was that paranoia? So, we gave the engine a good wide open throttle burn to properly test it. Sure enough the engine note sounded slightly different to normal or our paranoia was telling us so. A leak in the silencer? A loose baffle inside? Not sure. The only way to tell will be to remove the insulating wrap around the silencer and see:

However, if the thing is seriously corroded and the wrap is holding it all together, then unwrapping could be very unwise. We might end up with an inoperative silencer and either stay in Tarbert until we get a new one or rely on the wing engine to get about. Not sensible. We will head back to a slightly bigger place before we take the wrap off and in the meanwhile, have ordered a new muffler / silencer as a precaution. It was going to be renewed early next year anyway. Why is it so impatient?!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Rhu and Holy Loch

Whilst in the area, we loitered about a bit. First stop was Rhu, just around the corner from Faslane the nuclear submarine base. Rhu is much prettier we are pleased to report with great views across the Clyde.

As we left Greenock, the old paddle steamer Waverley was going past en route to Helensborough reliving her history with trips "doon the watter":

She still looks impressive.  For more information have a look at History of doon the watter and for more on the last sea going paddle steamer in the world look at Waverley website.

From Rhu we walked into Helensborough and back. Very good for the crew's step count of course and lovely views of the yacht  racing activity. The marina in Rhu is a bit sad. Strange kind of a place for Quay Marinas to run- really you don't know why they bother. Scruffy car park, little bunker of an office, marquee erected to try and entice folks to look at brokerage boats etc. The owners, the Crown Estate, must be so proud of it. We guess and hear that each winter the pontoons get seriously shaken up as they are so exposed too.

Leaving Rhu we took another short trip, this time to Holy Loch. Then the nice walk along the waterfront into Dunoon, passing the Hunters Quay ferry terminal:

The beautiful old listed building that is the Royal Marine Hotel:

and, like so many of its kind, had become a 3 star establishment inside. Hope it survives! The town of Dunoon was as sad as ever. It just has that barely surviving look about it. The high spot that we had found before (Livingstones restaurant) was shut on Monday lunchtimes so even that temptation was removed from us. Pity as the location is great and the walk further south around the little bay is very pretty.

Back in Holy Loch we had another first - a "gawper" who had come to look at the boat (nothing unusual in that) but this one brought his own chair:

Astern of us a timber boat was being loaded:

and it was fun watching the loader. Each time it grabbed 10 or so tree trunks from the trailer and lifted them, the big articulated truck shook like a kid's toy. The truck driver, who sat inside for the whole unloading time, must have had double vision afterwards. Good thing that the local roads are not too busy.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Some tinkering time

As the weather outside wasn't great for polishing or painting corroded aluminium bits, the tinkerer inside the captain needed other things to amuse him. Of course, being a boat, some popped up.

Firstly, the earthing strap fitted to the starboard stabiliser was loose. The bolt was duly removed, the connection cleaned up and then came the fun of refitting it with almost no access to the underside to allow the nut to be held in position. There were hoses carefully placed nearby to stop hands and fingers from getting just where they needed to be. The old trick of feeding the nut onto a cable tie, feeding the cable tie through the hole and pulling it into position worked luckily and prevented lots of bad words. Only a few were needed.

The gearbox oil pressure sender is mounted directly onto the box itself  with a little pressure snubber in between but two had already started weeping oil and been replaced in the past 8 years:

The current one had lasted way longer than the previous senders but there was a hint of oil around the case again. Knowing the signs, a new sender was ordered this time together with a remote mounting kit to see if vibration was the cause (although other Nordhavn owners reported that theirs were also directly attached and were fine):

Only when it arrived half the parts on the installation instructions sheet were not there and the oil line was missing too. When you check with the suppliers the answer is "Oh, they are the wrong instructions, all those parts are not in the kit but we did forget the oil line and will send that to you".

When you ask "but are these parts needed?" the answer is yes! Why do they call it an installation kit we wonder. Every contact in the past with the Murphy controls UK distributor has been equally frustrating. Shame.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Troon to Greenock (James Watt Dock)

The forecast for the next few days was not good. Windy, rainy and unappealing. We must be in Scotland and it must be summer. With 4 days of that ahead of us, we opted to head up into the Clyde and hide out in James Watt Dock for a while. We'd not been there before, however some folks that we met in Dartmouth a year or so ago have their yacht based there now and they are involved in the company that runs the place too. On the basis that we could catch up with them and also easily get into Glasgow, Greenock seemed like the place to go.

 It was rare / unheard of to say that during our time living in Edinburgh of course! Greenock is not one of the most scenic parts of Scotland. So, not expecting beautiful surroundings upon arrival, we headed off for a run that should take just under 6 hours with the promise of "moderate" seas according to the Met Office. (For the non boaters, moderate means 1.25 to 2.5 m high).

The route itself is most scenic, around the islands and up towards Glasgow:

Heading out of Troon harbour we had the lovely smell of freshly cut timber thanks to the stacks on the quayside and this little guy who had just brought some more:

The sea conditions were as per the forecast so around a couple of metres. Not enough to bother a couple of tankers anchored up nearby:

which were, naturally, right in the way of our planned course. A small diversion gave us the delightful sight of her bottom:

Not quite as pretty as the bottom belonging to Mimosa that we enjoyed in the Dunkirk film.

As we turned to head north inside the Cumbrae islands we had a nice following swell. A workboat, appropriately named Bruiser was pushing into it:

or maybe that should be through it? Typical small tug style craft, lots of power, lots of wash to go just a little above hull speed. They went out to one of the anchored ships and then back towards Glasgow all at a totally inefficient and very wet velocity.

Passing Hunterston, the wind turbines were, despite the nice force 5 wind, not very active:

This is not a fast shutter speed picture. they were not moving. Seems to be the way. The ones on the land look a little less menacing than the ones we passed out to sea off Arklow. Not pretty but less menacing somehow.

There were very few pleasure boats out until we got into the more sheltered waters further north. Even then they were struggling a little. This motorboat was making very little way but still throwing up plenty of spray:

We entered new territory for us as we passed Dunoon and hung a right turn. The dock area (Clydeport)  was pretty empty as we passed by:

It felt a little like Prestwick airport, lots of infrastructure being barely used but politically important.

On our berth in James Watt Dock the view aft made us feel rather insignificant:

Washing the boat off later on we didn't feel too jealous though. Apparently Amaryllis has 17 crew on board. If you are tempted to a trip on her, she is for charter from $770K per week plus expenses. Have a look at Charter website. Maybe we need to up our rates a little when friends stay on board?

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Trooning around

What to do during a few days in Troon with very mixed weather? Well, as the crew was deeply upset at coming 4th in the weekly Fitbit step challenge we had to have a good walk. The so called Ayrshire coastal path:

was attempted but parts were very overgrown and we didn't fancy doing the whole distance on the beach. So, re retraced our steps and walked the nice path between two golf courses to Prestwick instead on the nattily named "cycle route 7". The walk ended up on a main road for a mile or so before reaching the town, but that was well worth it as we discovered Buckleys a very nice local bistro come cafe for lunch. We were feeble and got the train back.

During a wet morning, the captain decided to fit a cooling fan into the cupboard that houses the navigation PC. On a couple of hot days, it had warmed up quite a lot (solid state 24v thingy, no built in cooling fan, just vents in the cupboard door) and we felt that it needed a little forced cooling. A little 24v computer fan was procured and holes driled into the cabinetry as needed. This was not popular with the crew who was worried about scratches, holes in the wrong place, the size of the hole saw being used etc etc.

We've commented on the substantial build of a Nordhavn before. Well, this is the section cut out from the front of the cabinet:

For the folks who don't normally handle the UK 2p piece, the coin in just under 26mm in diameter! Fairly solidly built cupboards we reckon.

During a very windy and rainy day, we took the train to Ayr to see the film "Dunkirk". Why? Because Bernie and Jenni's Dunkirk little ship Mimosa was in it of course. They were too! You met Mimosa a while ago in here as she was leaving Cardiff Bay:

You also saw perhaps more of Jenni than you expected to:

as she tested out her new hot tub in Dartmouth. We have similar pictures of Bernie but will save you from those. Here he is in the Nordhavn saloon instead:

We kept the picture small too. We are so kind to you.

Mimosa's bottom looked very good in the film, No unwanted comments about bottoms and hot tubs please. Glad we saw it on the big screen, the noises and effects would not have been the same on a DVD although many boaters consider our 42 inch saloon TV to be a little OTT (OTT = over the top for the non native speakers). We consider it an excellent addition by the man who had the boat built.

Pot markers

We asked you, after your impressive input on the Nordhavn collective noun conundrum, to offer collective nouns for pesky pot markers.

Well, as you would expect, Norman the creative one came in with some early ideas. Here is his input:

So, 1/2 bottle of Malbec down & my creative juices are flowing (again)...

A risk - which is what Nordhavns do with their props if they trundle over them. Interestingly this is also the collective noun for lobsters which may at the other end of the rope to the propeller which has just got fouled

A foul - which is what these things want to do to Nordhavn props (but not other boats)

A wtf - as in 'why the f*ck' can't these people put proper marker buoys out rather than a 5 litre water container

A steal - as in that's what Nordhavn skippers do with the catch when their prop has just been fouled

You want more? The Shiraz is in danger...

Of course, we asked him for more but we fear that he is running out of Shiraz, his creative juice.....

The crew decided that it should be a "jam" of pot markers. A bit like a Women's Institute response but clever (for the foreign readers, don't even bother to Google the Women's institute / Jam and Jerusalem. You wouldn't get it.)

So far no more offerings - we are disappointed, you are normally much more inventive so please hit the comments (or "no comments" at present) button and get suggesting.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Bangor to Troon

As always, we had a great time in Bangor catching up with the folks that we have got to know in the area. Invites to dinner, a car tour of the Strangford area, shared curry evenings and welcoming people aboard for coffee or something stronger kept us very happy. We also managed a day in Belfast and one of the walking tours that give you a different slant on things. The courtyard murals at the Duke of York bar are a lovely summary of the history and culture of the area. Here are a few examples. The iconic shipyard crane complete with George Best, soldier and paramilitary:

Then a selection of images from the city life:

With a nice forecast, we opted to head north and tuck inside the Mull of Kintyre for a few days. The departure from Bangor to head up to Scotland was another one of those where leaving before daylight would help the overall passage time. Only we didn't. We left just as you could see a little, to avoid any rogue pot markers. It was a 4:15am rude awakening though.

Not a long run ahead to worry about - only 65 miles out to sea. The route is simple enough as you can see from our track:

Heading out from Bangor was a lot like heading off from Dun Laoghaire. Anchored illuminated ships to dodge around:

then some incoming ferries too. We also had the cruise liner Oriana heading in to Belfast. The radio conversations between the Oriana bridge and Belfast Vessel Traffic Service were rather more polished and formal than those we heard between the VTS and the cargo ship "Thun Gemini" guys. Being able to speak English probably helped of course. The cargo ship struggled with the Norn Iron accent from VTS. VTS struggled with the thick Asian accent of the watch-keeper and it was a nightmare ready to happen, as Oriana was trying to overtake him, being forced to take a nice wide turn:

Luckily he finally understood "anchor" and turned towards the anchorage area after Oriana asked VTS what the cargo ship's intentions were.

Oriana happily headed past the cargo ship and us:

Personally we prefer the old all white livery that we used to see going past our house when she visited Southampton.  To make up for that, the sunrise was pretty good:

and the gentle run across to Scotland was most enjoyable. Calmish, no significant waves to bother us and only the odd ferry about that we had to avoid. You can see that from the route above.  Less pleasant was hearing about the search for a missing diver on the radio. Missing since the day beforehand, the search was getting underway again at first light with lifeboats, dive boats and helicopters involved. You kind of expect it to end badly.

Heading over, there are a few very deep spots:

We ran at around 1600rpm to get over to the Scottish side of things and optimise the tides then, as the tide turned at just the right moment up the coast into the Clyde, we eased back a little to our more normal 1475 rpm. Ailsa Craig, the iconic big lump of rock looked welcoming as we passed by:

To add to our lighthouse / light tower library, here is the little one on Lady Isle, just off the Troon  harbour entrance:

As it is a bit shallow we didn't get too close, hence the remote picture! We ended up in Troon harbour on a nice little mooring, just one that is very short of shorepower connections. We have a huge extension lead that was pressed into service.

The trip took just over 10 hours. Nothing to report on the maintenance side, everything ran well (OK, apart from the crew who slept a lot after the early start). We were greeted in Troon by the biggest jellyfish we have ever seen in these waters - the top was over 2 feet in diameter: