Friday, 13 October 2017

Lumpy sea, sandpipers and a starfish


Photo of our new red ensign on its first outing on Ravensdale

Our new red ensign on its first outing on Ravensdale


Ravensdale was proudly flying the red ensign when we took her out to play in Solway Firth at the weekend.

My operation and windy weather have prevented us going out on our 43ft motor cruiser for the past few weeks.

I was told not to lift anything heavy for two weeks after undergoing surgery to remove my gall bladder last month and I didn’t think throwing ropes would be a good idea either so we decided to stay put until the fortnight was up.

We then had to wait for a calm day as we have no desire to take Ravensdale out in bad weather when there's no need to do so.

The weather forecast was good for last Sunday – sunny intervals, very little chance of rain and, most important of all, the wind was due to be in single figures.

And, for once, the forecasters actually got it right J

It was good to get out to sea again and it enabled us to fly our new red ensign on our new flagpole for the first time.

Photo of leaving Maryport basin and heading out into the Solway Firth

Leaving Maryport basin and heading out into the Solway Firth


I love living on our boat, even when we don’t leave the marina, but there’s nothing quite like travelling through the waves.

And there was no shortage of waves on Sunday. Considering the lack of wind, we were rather surprised to discover there was such a big swell.

Photo of me taking a turn at Ravensdale's helm

Me taking a turn at Ravensdale's helm


Photo of Phil at the helm

Phil at the helm


Making a cup of tea at sea was much more difficult than on previous occasions and I discovered that a round teapot isn’t ideal in this situation. It has a flat bottom, but that didn’t stop it rolling around the bench in the galley, thankfully before I’d filled it with tea.

I even had to hold the kettle onto the top of the gas stove to stop it falling off while we were rocking around on the waves.

And I dug out some non-slip matting to stand the teapot and mugs on to stop them sliding around while I waited for the tea to brew.

Photo of making tea while at sea 

Making tea while at sea  (the cactus garden was in the sink for safekeeping)


This was also the first outing on which we’ve had company.

Friends, who have a smaller motor cruiser in Maryport Marina, took their boat out into the Solway Firth at the same time. Theirs is faster than ours and they took great pleasure in coming up behind us, slowing down alongside and then shooting off ahead of us.

Meanwhile, I took lots of photos of their boat while they were taking photos of ours.

Photo of friends following us in their motor cruiser

Friends following us in their motor cruiser


I had hoped to have the photos of Ravensdale to use in my blog this week, but don’t have them yet so will include them in the first blog post after they arrive.

Photo of the GPS showing 16 knots 

The GPS showing 16 knots 

Phil did a bit of an experiment with our speed and the tide while at sea and discovered that, with the throttles set in the same position, Ravensdale was doing about 12.5 knots against the tide and 16 knots with the tide.

When we returned to the marina it was good to see that the weed that was beginning to grow just below the waterline around Ravensdale’s bow had been washed away as I really didn’t want her to become a bearded lady J


Photo of Ravensdale heading back into Maryport Marina

Ravensdale heading back into Maryport Marina


We’ve also purchased a new toy this week.

The strong winds over the past couple of weeks left us wishing we could measure the wind speed so we bought ourselves an anemometer.

The highest speed we’ve recorded with it so far is 20mph, but I think we will soon be getting much higher readings when the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia reaches us on Monday.

Photo of Phil measuring the wind speed on our aft deck

Phil measuring the wind speed on our aft deck


Phil had his first attempt at beach fishing on the shore at Maryport in the past week while I went for a walk with my camera.

Photo of Phil waiting for a fish to take his bait on Maryport beach

Phil waiting for a fish to take his bait on Maryport beach


I spent ages watching the sandpipers along the waterline near the pier and took dozens of photos and a couple of videos of them, but none came out as well as I’d hoped.

Photo of sandpipers on the shore at Maryport

Sandpipers on the shore at Maryport


A photo showing a closer view of some of the sandpipers

A closer view of some of the sandpipers


And we had a new marine visitor to the marina this week. We found a starfish clinging to the harbour wall. It's the first one we've seen since we've been here.

I couldn’t get a photo of it in situ so used a kid’s fishing net we bought to catch shrimps in the marina and scooped it up so I could get a closer look. It was returned to the water asap as I didn’t want to harm it in any way.


Photo of the starfish in our fishing net

The starfish in our fishing net


Photo of the starfish and a small crab that got caught with it

The starfish and a small crab that got caught with it


Photo of the underside of the starfish

The underside of the starfish



I've also been wandering around Maryport taking photos as usual, sometimes with my camera and sometimes with my phone. 

Photo of Maryport lighthouse sunset

Maryport lighthouse sunset



Photo of Maryport lighthouse from the pier

Maryport lighthouse from the pier


Photo of the coastal walk along the seafront at Maryport

The coastal walk along the seafront at Maryport


Photo of Maryport Marina

Maryport Marina


Photo of Ellenfoot Bridge at Maryport

Ellenfoot Bridge at Maryport


Photo of a fishing party on the beach at Maryport

A fishing party on the beach at Maryport

  
Photo of a pair of pigeons at Maryport Marina

A pair of pigeons at Maryport Marina

Friday, 6 October 2017

Boat burglers, wifi woes and wild, wild weather


Photo of me attempting to escape through Ravensdale's starboard window

Me attempting to escape through Ravensdale's starboard window



Photo of the well worn steps before work began

The well worn steps before work began

We could easily have been mistaken for boat burglers last week.



It would have been a simple mistake to make if anyone who didn’t know us saw us climbing in and out of one of Ravensdale’s windows.



The reason for this strange behaviour was that Phil decided to sand and varnish the steps from the aft deck into the saloon.



The big problem being that these steps are the only proper access to Ravensdale so, while the varnish was wet, he said we would have to climb in and out through a window.



Before he started work on the steps we had a trial run.



It wasn’t easy, especially so soon after abdominal surgery, but I discovered that I could do it if necessary. I guess this is quite useful to know anyway as it means we have alternative access at any time.



Photo of me playing boat burgler

A considerably less flattering view of me playing boat burgler



Initially, Phil sanded the steps back to the bare wood, then applied four coats of marine varnish, gently sanding them again between coats.



Photo of Phil sanding down the steps into the boat

Phil sanding down the steps into the boat


Photo of Phil applying the first coat of varnish

Applying the first coat of varnish


He decided the best time to apply the varnish was in the evening so they would be dry to use as normal again by the morning and his varnishing schedule worked well.



They now look so much better than before, but they have made all the rest of the interior varnish look shabby so I guess we’ll have to gradually work our way around the rest of it now.



If I’ve learnt anything this week, it’s not to even attempt applying mascara on a rocking boat.



We’ve had a lot of very wild weather over the past week, with wind speeds of up to about 50mph at times, gusting even higher.



This would have been bad enough, but when coupled with a big swell it meant Ravensdale, and all the other boats in the marina, have been rocking and rolling more violently than usual.



The craziest rocking occurred just after the marina gate opened on Wednesday morning and I stupidly attempted to do my makeup as usual.



I always brace myself against the vanity unit while doing my mascara and even rest my elbow against the wall if I know Phil is likely to get back on board while I’m doing it as anyone getting on or off the boat makes it rock.



However, on Wednesday morning these measures were not sufficient and I ended up with mascara all over my face.



Photo of me after attempting to apply mascara on a rocking boat

Never attempt to apply mascara on a rocking boat


Rather than reapplying it straight away, I decided the best course of action was to take the whole lot off and do it again when the rocking subsided a bit.



Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like the boat rocking. I love it. It makes living on a boat different to living in a house.



And I really enjoy the wild weather. As long as no one gets hurt and there’s no damage caused, I find the storms exhilarating.



I have continued with my post op walks, although I’m sure I no longer need to do them to stop me getting blood clots after my gall bladder operation from which I am now fully recovered.



Phil frequently comes with me and we've enjoyed taking photos of the massive waves whipped up by the recent high winds.




Photo of wild waves battering Maryport pier

Wild waves batter Maryport pier


Photo of Phil walking out along Maryport pier in a strong wind

Phil walking out along Maryport pier in a strong wind


Photo of the view along the coastal path towards Maryport pier

View along the coastal path towards Maryport pier


Photo of massive waves breaking on the shore with Iggesund Paperboard's Workington Mill in the distance 

Massive waves breaking on the shore with Iggesund Paperboard's Workington Mill in the distance 


Photo of a fishing boat returning to Maryport in rough seas

A fishing boat returning to Maryport in rough seas


Photo of Phil getting a closer view of the waves on the shore at Maryport

Phil getting a closer view of the waves on the shore at Maryport


Photo the waves rolling in by Maryport lighthouse

Another image of the waves rolling in by Maryport lighthouse



On some days, we only walked half way out along the pier as the far end was frequently being covered in spray at high tide. It was weird standing on the pier holding the metal railings along the side and feeling the whole structure shuddering.



On a less happy note, the marina wifi has been particularly slow lately – and not just during the bad weather.



It has not been good for months, but particularly so in recent weeks.



We’ve mentioned it to the marina staff, who say their wifi is also very slow, and we understand they've called someone in to see if it can be improved, but, as yet, we have seen no improvement.



Sometimes it's so bad that we have to refresh the page several times before we can even get Google to open and some websites are just impossible to visit.



Just hoping I’ll be able to upload my blog OK today as it's been taking me ages to get it online lately.



Another challenge this week has been the on-site laundry, which has two washing machines and two dryers.



I usually carry our washing up there, put it in one of the machines for about 45 minutes, go back up and transfer it to a dryer for an hour, then go back and collect it. Each time I leave the washing I set an alarm on my phone to make sure I go back as soon as it’s finished so we're not holding up a machine if someone else is waiting to use it.



And it has worked fine until now.



When the marina opened the caravan park alongside us earlier this year we were concerned that the toilet, shower and laundry facilities would not be able to cope with the influx of visitors.



Photo of the new marina caravan park

The new marina caravan park full up during Maryport Blues Festival in the summer


Surprisingly we had not had a problem with the laundry until this week, when I carried our washing up there twice on the same day to find all the machines were in use. The most annoying part was that on both occasions one of the machines had finished its wash cycle, but no one had bothered to come and take their clothes out of them.



After the second failed attempt we decided to find out if there was a launderette in Maryport and drove our washing to The Laundry Basket on Solway Industrial Estate. We collected it a couple of hours later all washed, dried and neatly folded.



It cost a bit more than doing it ourselves at the marina, but cut out all the hassle of waiting for a machine to be available and walking up and down the pontoons to the facilities to move it from washer to dryer and then collect it.


Photo of Maryport Marina showing the caravan site on the far side

Maryport Marina showing the caravan site on the far side


That said, I would much rather be doing anything and everything I do now than what I was doing a year ago.



It was a year ago this week that I finished work ready for our move from a house to a boat.



We then had two weeks to get rid of most of our belongings and pack up anything that was coming with us before the completion date on the sale of our home in Corpach, Fort William.



It was a big decision - some may say an irresponsible one - but I still believe it was the right move for us and I’m totally loving our new life aboard.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Dogfish, herons, shorts and post-op walks

Photo of the dogfish that found its way into our crab net

The dogfish that found its way into our crab net

I had expected to be out of circulation for a week or two after the operation to remove my gall bladder, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

My consultant’s instructions that I should do three 30 minute walks a day have got me out and about more than ever over the past week.

Other than that, life on board Ravensdale has been much the same as usual.

Meanwhile, summer seems to have returned to Maryport.  

Having worn shorts all summer, I put them away for the winter after my op as the weather seemed to have taken a turn for the worse.

However, after a few days of wearing leggings – the only things that felt comfortable on my tummy immediately after my op – the sun came out again and I decided that I’d recovered sufficiently to wear shorts again.

Some days, it’s been so warm that I’ve been able to sit out on the aft deck and read a magazine in my shorts and a vest top without feeling the slightest bit cold.

The best catch in our prawn and crab net this week was a good sized dogfish.

Phil was surprised at the weight of the net when he started pulling it up from the bottom of the marina and we were both amazed to see the dogfish curled around inside it.

Phil lifted it out carefully so I could get a photo of it then returned it to the water.
It seems most of the fish being caught on the pier at the moment are dogfish so I suppose we shouldn't have been surprised that one found its way into the marina.

Photo of the dogfish in the net

The dogfish in the net


Photo of Phil posing for a photo with the dogfish

Phil posing for a photo with the dogfish before returning it to the water

Photo of the heron on top of one of the piles

The heron on top of one of the piles


I’ve also been trying to get a decent photograph of the heron that has taken to sitting on one of the metal piles that support the pontoons in the marina.

He seems to take up his position on a pile down by the marina gate most evenings as the light starts to fade, which makes it more difficult to get a good shot of him.
Another heron regularly sits on the slipway at the other end of the marina. I guess, between them, they've got the area covered J

My three walks a day have included, walking along the beach and out along the pier, around the harbour, up to town and shopping trips.

The only trouble with walks around the harbour is that we get tempted to stop for coffee and cake at The Aquarium and I’m not convinced that the consultant intended me to increase my cake intake when he said I needed to get out and walk regularly J

I also suggested a trip out one day so I would still get my walks, but in a different location so we paid visits to Allonby (five miles up the coast), where we walked along the beach, and Siloth (seven and half miles further on), where we had lunch and walked along the promenade.

Photo of dog walkers on the beach at Allonby

Dog walkers on the beach at Allonby


Photo of the promenade at Siloth

The promenade at Siloth

It was a very misty day so not great for photos, but I took some anyway. I felt they worked better as black and white images.

I’ve also taken many more photos in and around Maryport, but the changing weather and light means that they're different every time.


Photo of grafitti in an old building by Maryport lighthouse

Grafitti in an old building by Maryport lighthouse


A close up photo of the graffiti with a view to the town of Maryport

Close up of the graffiti with a view to the town of Maryport


Photo of Marport looking peaceful at nightfall

Marport looking peaceful at nightfall


Photo of the sun shining through the mist over Grasslot Shore at

The sun shining through the mist over Grasslot Shore at Maryport


Photo of a man checking his crab pots at low tide in Maryport Basin

A man checking his crab pots at low tide in Maryport Basin


Photo of a small fishing boat heading into Maryport

A small fishing boat heading into Maryport


Photo of fishing on Maryport Pier

Fishing on Maryport Pier


Photo of sunset over Maryport Marina

Sunset over Maryport Marina

Photo of the heron sitting on the pile at the far end of the marina

The heron sitting on the pile at the far end of the marina

Phil has been on many of the walks with me, but sometimes he stays behind if he has something he wants to get on with on board – such as washing the boat and maintenance in the engine room.

Photo of Phil washing Ravensdale's fore deck

Washing Ravensdale's fore deck