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, 18 September 2017

Greenock to Penarth

Guess what - the weather decided not to improve much for us:

That wasn't a huge issue though. Firstly we amused ourselves signing the latest petition about poor pot markers on the government website. The one we mentioned in some earlier posts was "lost" thanks to the recent election so we have to start again. For everyone who can be bothered or feels strongly about the safety aspects like we do, here is the link Government website where you can do the same thing. Thanks!!

Then we did a few bits of maintenance / cleaning. We took the train into Glasgow for a very enjoyable day and had a delayed birthday lunch for the Captain in a most splendid restaurant in Gourock. It was suggested by the sloe gin expert Robert and we were most impressed. If ever you are there try Bath street arches restaurant. Very different menu, small 6 table operation and super service.

We also witnessed the paddle steamer Waverley getting steamed up in the dry dock nearby after her repairs:

Finally the winds died down and there was a nice little weather window for a run south. NE / NW 4 to 5 for a couple of days before it was turning to the more normal SW.

So, we headed off on Saturday at 9am into a quiet Firth of Clyde. Pretty calm too. Our liner curse was still in place, Carribean Princess was docked in Greenock. Must be a bit of a shock for the cossetted liner passengers when they hit the deprivation in some parts of Clydeside. We guess they try to herd the passengers onto coaches with the windows blacked out until they get to the Trossachs or Loch Lomond.

We headed south, this time a picture of the Cloch lighthouse for you:

then down inside the islands after a quick avoidance of the Weymss Bay to Rothesay ferry which always seems to get in our way.

The route took us very close to the Ailsa Craig and so this time you get a picture that is closer inshore:

but not that exciting. Here is the lump of rock's little lighthouse as well:

As we approached Stranraer, we had a decision to take. Should we head for Holyhead (arriving Sunday pm) and then leave on Monday afternoon for Penarth arriving Tuesday evening? Or should we just go all the way to Penarth in one run, arriving Monday late afternoon. Well, as the forecast was kind and the outlook for Tuesday not as clear, we opted to do the trip in one go. A little replanning and we passed Corswall Point and just headed for the South Bishop lighthouse which was a few miles away:

186 nautical mile leg ahead of us which at our average speed of around 6.4 knots was going to take some time. We settled in for the run....

Overnight there was a little ferry traffic to and from Belfast and Dublin. No course alterations were needed to avoid them though. The only exciting (?) bit was the smell from the new exhaust silencer paint and insulating wrap as it "burned in". Of course, that was all outside. During the day we had one ship that decided to overtake quite closely:

And some that were silhouetted against the end of the day sun:

We did the usual slowing down and speeding up stuff as the tide turned several times. The wave heights were around 1.5 metres (ie nothing!) from the stern quarter when the tide was with us and then increasing to 2.5 metres when it was against us. Just to prove that wind over tide is not as nice. Sunday was mainly spent heading down the Irish sea and aiming for St David's head. We rounded this during the early hours of the morning and the timing was perfect - lots of tidal help giving us a nice speed over the ground:

Nice when you get a favourable tide around the headlands - 9.5 knots feels like flying for us. As we approached Milford Haven, the traffic in and out of the harbour at around 4am was manic. Tankers arriving and leaving, tugs fussing around and pilot boats trying to look important in the dark. The Maxsea picture tries to show this:

but not very well. At one point there were three tankers, seven tugs, one pilot boat and the ferry to Ireland all underway in the entrance. Amazingly we continued on our course and didn't have to deviate for any of them.

The run up the Bristol Channel started very well. As daylight broke, the friendly Welsh dolphins came out to play in our bow wave and amused the captain for quite some time. The rest of the trip to Cardiff was the usual relatively featureless journey. We would not pick this area for regular boating! Muddy, fast flowing tides, nothing terribly lovely on the coastline to admire. At least the weather was good enough to sit on the flybridge!

After some wing engine exercise and a prolonged wide open throttle run to clear out the main engine, we made the 4:45pm lock in at the Cardiff bay barrage. The sad bit was that the rain started at 4:43 and became heavier and heavier whilst we were in the lock and unable to hide away from it. Welcome to Penarth indeed. As we entered Penarth marina, a local rather unmanoeverable passenger trip boat was turning around and trying to moor so we had some backing up and holding station practice whilst he sorted himself out. Just what we needed at the end of a long trip with restricted sleep. We were very happy to tie up on the hammerhead of I pontoon and turn off all the systems after over 56 hours underway and around 375 sea miles.  Strangely we spotted this workboat in the marina as we arrived, kind of a link to our last port of call:

Pity the folks who painted her last time cannot spell.

Maintenance news:

None at all. The big Lugger engine ran well, the new silencer and wrapping stopped smelling after a while and the little wing engine enjoyed its exercise. So, for all you grease and spanner types, nothing to keep your interest going.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Greenock farewell time

Remember how we said that after the exhaust muffler replacement we just needed some good weather to set sail? Well, this was on offer:

followed by this a day later:

So, we stayed put in the shelter of James Watt Dock and used the last couple of days with the hire car to do all the heavy shopping things that are harder without transport.

During our various excursions, we spotted this stone penguin in a garden:

Not sure if it is looking after the egg properly though, it can be cold up here and the egg looked very exposed and a bit blue. Patrick insisted that we post this picture as he has been feeling a little ignored recently. He also thinks that we should adorn the Defender with something like this to make it more "his car":

Poor deluded penguin.

We went for a wander around Stirling and wondered why we had never done so beforehand. Many wonderful old buildings:


and some inventive locals including one who put a cute little pretend clock tower on the top of his garden shed:

(Maybe we should say garden hut as we are in Scotland of course.) The captain particularly liked the inscription on one building (hard to read all of it thanks to the sun and shade but worth the effort):

The captain will try to enforce this when the crew ignores an order whilst underway. His chances of success are, realistically,  not high.

Maintenance news:

The little engine battery alternator that we had ordered many many weeks ago finally pitched up. Prestolite supply here is pretty dire unless the part is already in the UK stock and their tracking of deliveries from the USA to the dealers seems feeble. Very unimpressed with them. The supply of repair parts is reported as equally hopeless by some alternator overhaul specialists too. So glad we now have a spare domestic alternator for the main engine as an 8 week lead time could really cause trouble if the bearings went (it runs on the same serpentine belt as the water pump).

Fitting the little alternator wasn't straightforward. Getting the pulley off the old one and onto the new needed some tools that were not on board so he had the delight of wandering into a local garage (that mainly fixes taxis, enough said) and asking one of the mechanics if he could spin it off using his impact gun. The guy was very helpful and suitably critical of the kind of folks who drive and basically abuse the taxis he has to fix. We have seen some of them out and about on the local roads. The mechanic was right.

Alternator fitted with a new drive belt and the mounting was shimmed a little to try and align the pulleys better:

No need to play the battery parallel game underway any more. Just got to check the charging voltage is OK when we fire up the engine now. It might well need adjusting upwards to suit the AGM batteries.

We also (finally!) sorted out the cold idle problem with the RIB outboard. The strange heated wax pellet thing (called a Primestart in Yamaha terms( that manages the enrichment until the engine is hot had been misbehaving for ages. It started fine but needed some throttle until warm to prevent stalling (a bit like temperamental old 2 stroke engines!) A new Primestart was not much cheaper than a whole carburettor so that it what it was treated to. The first repair for it in 8.5 years so no big complaint.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Exhausting stuff

To prepare for the new exhaust muffler fitment Anthony (aka Biscuit), who has replaced a muffler on a 47 before for Nordhavn Europe, kindly called and gave us the benefit of his experience. Summary was " it is a horrid job". He also advised us to cut an access hatch in the stack moulding behind the vent grille at the bottom to give decent access to the bolts on the lower flange of the muffler.

This was going to be messy - bits of fibreglass and dust floating around so the captain prepared for battle with lots of PPE involved (the hat was to avoid the strong sunshine - unlikely in Scotland we know but true!):

You could say that he looks way better than normal but that is a little unkind. Accurate but unkind. By the way, the protective gloves were added later - just in case any health and safety types are reading this....

The hint from Ant was a good one as you can see from the "after" picture below:

giving decent access to the bottom of the muffler and the dreaded bolts.

The Nordhavn Europe, Harco and DHL folks did a good job getting the new exhaust to us in a week, and it kind of filled up the saloon floor nicely:

The foot ruler laying on top of it gives you an idea of scale. Yes, it is BIG. Heavy too - 50 odd kilos to lug around. The crew was a little unhappy at the new addition to the saloon furniture.

There had been a big debate on ordering a stainless or another carbon steel replacement. The captain was tempted to the stainless version especially as we'd been told that it wasn't significantly more expensive than the standard unit. Problem was a 4 week manufacture time and then shipment to us. Not ideal - 6 weeks in Greenock. It also messed up some autumn plans. We also had no proof of how much longer a stainless muffler would last - stainless does not like the temperature variations it would be exposed to in a muffler longer term and several "engineering" folks advised against one.

The clincher was advice from the Nordhavn Europe folks on price. The stainless unit was around 3 times the cost so, we opted to take the ex-stock standard unit and we will give it a serious TLC regime. They seem to corrode from the outside in mainly with water being held against them by the lagging wrap stuff. As the new wrap is way way better then the original and fitted via straps and D rings, we can remove it when the boat is not being regularly run in the winter to prevent it trapping moisture against the metal. We will also give the muffler an occasional paint job. If it lasts 10 years like the original one which was totally ignored, that will be OK.

With the help of the very good guys from Swordfish Marine in Holy Loch, the old muffler was removed leaving a big gap between the two pieces of pipe:

Having a crane makes dropping in the new unit so much easier:

So, with the muffler in place it was good to fire up the engine again - mainly to help cook the new paint on it not just to check for leaks.

A fun day was then spent touching up the paint on it and covering it with the new wrap from the excellent T and M Supplies guys. The new silencer wrap is just miles better (OK. Kilometers better for some readers) than the original stuff. It fitted very well too:


The only challenge was that the original wrap on the flanges had to be reused and it was in a very sorry state:

So, it was temporarily wired in place and will get replaced this winter (T and M's workload permitting that is)

We very happily refitted all the grilles and recovered the RIB which had been launched to allow proper working space. Good to know that the boat is ready for sea again. Just need the right weather now....

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Keeping occupied and amused

As we would not be travelling anywhere by water for a few days until a new muffler arrived and was fitted, we opted to do some land based stuff. This meant a nice hire car from Glasgow Airport to begin with.

The folks at the Hertz desk were very grumpy - "I've been here since 7am with no food". It was around 12. Actually, they were big enough to have survived for a little longer but we didn't like to point out the obvious. This time the rental car was quite a nice one - a Toyota C-HR trendy crossover thing:

For a 1.2 litre turbo it drives well and actually steers pretty well too with a little feedback through the controls. Horrid wind noise at motorway speeds though and even the fag end basic specification car the hire company uses has a reversing camera. Why? Because you cannot see anything behind through the high and miniscule tailgate glass.

We used it for various excursions, ranging in excitement from shopping to taking the crew to the osteopath as her knee was painful and in need of a service. Better was a nostalgic trip to Loch Lomond via the country park:

and the lovely tiny village of Balmaha. When we lived in Edinburgh we used to trail our little Dory over to Loch Lomond and launch it from the boatyard slipway here. The boatyard hadn't changed much at all:

and brought back many memories - mainly good ones. The village has expanded a little and now sports an excellent tea room. Very very good carrot cake was enjoyed. Probably in the top 10, yes that good.

To avoid a rainy day in the west, we drove over to Edinburgh and revisited our old stomping grounds. Old of course means the 30 years ago that we lived there. The views over the city are still lovely:

and we happened to be around as the "third Forth bridge" (properly known as the Queensferry crossing but that is pretty boring) was going through its many opening ceremonies. Happily we avoided meeting Nicola (the First Minister) during our visit as she seems to be trying to turn the bridge into a nationalist rallying thing. Politics are so sad.

Adding another bridge has changed the view from Port Edgar marina a little:

Impressive when you see them together.

A little trip to Largs and a wander around the waterfront there and the nice Marina area was good too. We also visited Luss for the first time ever. A little village on the shore of Loch Lomond, it was rebuilt many years ago as a "model village". Not model as in minature houses but as in a village set up for the local workers by the landowner:

A conservation village with lovely views over Loch Lomond:

and the regulation old pier for people to walk up and down, lean over the railing and consume vast amounts of ice-cream no matter what the weather is doing:

The drive up the side of the Loch (out of the busiest tourist season when it is madly busy) is still as lovely as when we used to drive visitors around to show them a bit of Scotland during their stays with us:

In between this lot, the corrosion on the curved pilothouse windows got cleaned off, the aluminium was given a nice golden chromate coating and then painted (Bonderite and Awlgrip time again) but thanks to the rainy days, it was a job that took a week in elapsed time!