Sunday, 25 June 2017

A busman’s holiday from our liveaboard lifestyle

Photo of Ravensdale at sunset in Maryport Marina

Ravensdale at sunset in Maryport Marina

You know you’ve become totally obsessed with boating when every break and holiday has a boat-related theme.

When we went to visit family in Wales and the south of England earlier this year we ended up visiting marinas and chandleries and the only souvenirs we brought home from our trip were an outboard motor, a life raft and three tins of antifouling paint.
Photo of the Northern Boat Show at Salthouse Dock in Liverpool

The Northern Boat Show at Salthouse Dock in Liverpool

Photo of one of the interesting old sailing ships on display

One of the interesting old sailing ships on display

And our latest break from Ravensdale, the 13.3m Neptunus 133 cruiser that has been our home for almost eight months, was a trip to the Northern Boat Show in Liverpool on Friday.

We travelled down to Merseyside on Thursday evening and stayed in a Travelodge about 16 miles from the city.

After a very filling breakfast at a nearby Little Chef, we set off for Liverpool waterfront.

We had already booked car parking and put the postcode for the car park in the Sat Nav, but it’s a long time since either of us has been in a big city and we had problems finding our way through the traffic.

Once we were safely parked up, we thought things would get easier, but we couldn’t find our way out of the multi-storey car park.

 We felt like proper country bumpkins when we had to ask several people how to get out of the building.

Photo of the old sailing boats contrasting with the modern architecture

The old sailing boats contrast with the modern architecture around the docks

As planned the car park was very close to the show at Salthouse Dock, so we only had to cross the road to get to the stands that had been set up along the waterfront.

There was a good range of exhibitors including yacht brokers, boat builders, chandleries and marinas, including Maryport Marina, along with watersport and training course providers, holiday and caravan companies, National Coastwatch and River Canal Rescue.

Photo of the Maryport Marina stand

The Maryport Marina stand

The show was being held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We chose to attend on Friday assuming it was likely to be the quietest day and it seems we were correct in this assumption.

We took along a long list of things we needed or wanted for Ravensdale, along with the relevant measurements, in the hope some of these items might be available at the show.

We were out of luck with most of the things we had wanted.

However, we ordered a new dinghy to use as a tender that is due to arrive in a few days time.

We also bought a pair of binoculars that include a compass and a bottle of Boat Buddy boat cleaner so we can keep Ravensdale looking spick and span.

I loved all the old sailing ships that were on show, but was a little disappointed that most of the boats that we were able to view from the pontoons were narrowboats.

Photo of a quiet start to the Northern Boat Show

A quiet start to the Northern Boat Show

Photo of a different view of the boat show with the Wheel of Liverpool in the distance

A different view of the boat show with the Wheel of Liverpool in the distance

It was very interesting to see how the interiors were laid out in the different widths of narrowboats and the wide beam vessels on show.
However, it would have been nice to have been able to look around more cruisers – not because we’re looking to change our boat, but because it would have given us an opportunity to look for ideas for projects we could undertake on Ravensdale.

Photo of some of the narrowboats on show at the event

Some of the narrowboats on show at the event

Photo of another group of boats on display at the show

Another group of boats on display at the show

Photo of unusual paintwork on a boat at the show

Loved the paintwork on this boat but don't think we will be attempting anything like this on ours

It was lovely to meet up with friends from Maryport Marina, who live in Liverpool, at the boat show and we enjoyed a good chat over lunch.

And, at the end of the day, we managed to find our way back to our car - only because I had written down the details of the level and aisle J - and to get out of the city, despite a road closure, which confused the Sat Nav lady almost as much as it confused us.

Looking around other boats provided an interesting break from our own, but it was nice to get back onboard Ravensdale – our home, sweet home - when we returned to Maryport.
Photo of the sunset that greeted us on our return home to Maryport

The sunset that greeted us on our return home to Maryport

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

What a whopper! A giant jellyfish pays a visit to Maryport Marina

Photo of a huge jellyfish swimming past a boat in the marina

A huge jellyfish swims past a boat in the marina

The weather has been amazing for the past week and, on one of the hottest days, a massive jellyfish found its way into the marina.

I was on my way from Ravensdale up to the marina facilities when I spotted the monster, which was the size of a dustbin lid, lurking between the pontoon and another boat.

I was amazed by its size and dashed back to our boat to get Phil as I knew he would want to see it.

By the time we got back it had gone, but I spotted it again a little later and we spent much of Tuesday watching it swim around the marina while taking lots of photos.

Photo of the jellyfish just below the surface of the water

The jellyfish is clearly visible just below the surface of the water

It really was an incredible sight. It was pale pink, with a black lacy looking rim, and measured about 18ins in diameter and around 2ft 6ins in length.

We have since looked it up online to discover it was a Rhizostoma pulmo, commonly known as the barrel jellyfish, the dustbin-lid jellyfish or the frilly-mouthed jellyfish.

It is found in the Atlantic, the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea. It is also common in the Irish Sea.

It usually measures around 16ins in diameter, but can reach up to 35ins, making it the largest jellyfish in British waters.

Apparently it is a favourite food of the Leatherback Sea Turtle, but as we don’t have too many of them around here it should be safe enough

Photo of sunbathing on Ravensdale's fore deck

Enjoying the sunshine on Ravensdale's fore deck

It has been almost too hot to do anything much other than soaking up the sun and watching the wildlife, including the heron that spends a lot of time around the marina, but work on the boat has continued.

Photo of a heron posing for photos on a nearby boat

A heron posing for photos on a nearby boat

Phil replaced the damaged black caulking in the aft deck before cleaning, brightening and sealing it.

Photo of cleaning the aft deck

Cleaning the aft deck

Only trouble was that we didn’t think to shut the windows in the aft cabin, the heads and shower before he started work on the deck above it.

Needless to say that once again the water poured in soaking everything along both sides of our bedroom, the towel hanging on the towel rail in the bathroom and the loo roll was totally sodden.

And this time was even worse than the last time this happened when Phil was just hosing down the boat with clean water.

This time the water was filthy where the specialist cleaning product had lifted all the dirt and algae from the teak deck.

An extra load of washing had to be done and all the surfaces had to be washed down, but we now have a lovely clean room – until the next time J

As it is the only way in and out of the boat, we had to stay inside for an hour after the sealant was applied to allow it to dry, although we had worked out that we could probably have climbed out of a window if necessary.

Photo of applying the deck sealant

Applying the deck sealant

Meanwhile, I have been cleaning the upholstery.
When we moved onto Ravensdale we decided to keep our carpet and upholstery cleaner despite it being rather large to store on a boat and we are very glad we did as it's been worth its weight in gold.

Photo of cleaning the upholstery in the main saloon

Cleaning the upholstery in the main saloon

However, I was becoming very frustrated that I couldn’t seem to get the grey upholstery on the seating in the saloon to look clean. Try as I might it still looked a murky brown colour.

I'd almost finished cleaning the cushions and putting them out on the fore deck to dry when I discovered why I couldn’t get them to look clean on the boat.

The window alongside the seating was open and as the sun came around to the starboard side I could see what was happening.

The upholstery lit up by the light from the open window looked grey whereas the area that was being struck by light coming through the window was a dirty-looking brownish grey.

And it was at that point that we realised we had tinted windows. I felt a total prat, but at least I knew that I could stop trying to clean the cushions as I was never going to wash away the shading caused by the tinted glass.

Photo of the upholstery looking discoloured due to tinted glass

The upholstery looking discoloured due to tinted glass

Polishing and waxing the boat and chrome cleaning has continued. It seems Ravensdale is a bit like the Forth Bridge – a never-ending task.

And we took the canvas covers off the flybridge, the windscreen and the windows in the fore cabin and scrubbed them to remove the green algae that had accumulated on them over the winter.

Photo of scrubbing the flybridge cover in the sunshine

Scrubbing the flybridge cover in the sunshine

MPM engineering firm next to the marina has also completed the work to our black water (toilet) holding tank.

They installed the skin fitting while Ravensdale was out of the water and completed the internal work yesterday so we will now be able to discharge the holding tank while at sea.

We have also cleaned up our bikes and Phil gave them a bit of a service to make sure they will be ready when we want to take them out for a spin, which will hopefully be one day very soon.

Photo of Phil carrying out bike checks

Phil carrying out bike checks

One other discovery this week was that we’ve been cooking everything in far too hot an oven.

Photo of the oven that has been burning everything until now

The oven that has been burning everything until now

We've been using the gas marks given in recipes and wondering why everything was getting burnt, particularly at the back of the oven.

At long last, we actually got the instruction booklet out and discovered that the settings are totally different.

We only have six settings instead of eight, for example gas mark 4 on this oven is 200C whereas it would normally be 180C and gas mark 6 is 240C compared to 200C.

Also there’s a tray in the bottom of the oven with holes on three sides.
We thought they should be along the back and sides to allow the heat from the flames to pass through them, but the instructions said they should be at the front to disperse the heat more evenly.

So hopefully our meals and my attempts at baking will be a bit better from now on. I'll let you know...

Thursday, 15 June 2017

A flight of cormorants and a fluther of jellyfish - wildlife in and around the marina

Photo of cormorants nesting on a navigation mark in the Solway Firth

Cormorants nesting on a navigation mark in the Solway Firth

Ravensdale is looking ship-shape after her prolonged beauty treatment and at long last we've had time to enjoy watching the local wildlife.

It’s so good to be back on the water after 11 weeks on dry land.

We’ve been proper liveaboards again for almost a week now – although we still lived on board all the time Ravensdale was out on the hard-standing, but it really wasn’t the same.

I love being rocked to sleep at night, but hardly notice the rocking by day, except for when it’s blowing a hoolie of course J

Since we moored back alongside the pontoons, Phil has been busy washing and polishing the bits we couldn’t reach while out of the water, such as the transom, which was covered by the scaffolding steps, and the highest parts of the hull that were hard to get to from the ladders we were using.

Photo of cleaning the transom

Cleaning the transom

And it looks as though all our hard work has paid off.

Ravensdale is certainly looking much cleaner, tidier and shinier than she did before we started work on her at the end of February.

So much so that another boat owner here said she looked “almost like new”, which is quite a compliment given that she’s now over 30 years old.

We have also fitted the davits that I cleaned up while out of the water.

These are crane-like devices on the stern of a boat that are used for supporting, lowering and raising a smaller craft.

Securing them in place on their brackets on the transom was an interesting task, especially as we did it on a fairly windy day.

They are large and heavy, which made positioning them for the bolts to be slotted through the brackets extremely difficult.

Phil tied a mooring rope onto the first one and turned it around one of the supports for the bimini - the canvas cover that can be used to shade the aft deck. I was holding onto the other end, but it was impossible to stop the davit swinging while Phil was balanced on the bathing platform trying to get it to sit right on the brackets.

Photo of fixing the davits

Fixing the davits

He decided it was better to tie the other end to the radar arch, leaving a bit of play in the rope to enable him to position it correctly.
I then handed him the stainless steel nuts, bolts and washers pointing out that he really couldn’t drop them or they would end up in the water and we had no spares. Thankfully he managed not to lose any and they are now securely in place.

Only question now is – do they stay or do they go?
If we keep them, they need new winches as, despite cleaning up the old ones that were all rusted up, they don’t work properly so will need replacing.

Photo of the shiny davits that are currently useless

The shiny davits that are currently useless

But there is no point doing that unless we're sure that we intend to use them.

Before that decision can be made, we need to get a tender as we've sold the one that was on the boat when we bought it as it was not suitable for use in the sea.

The dinghy we were considering buying from another boat owner here turned out to have a slow puncture that we could not locate. It was also bulkier and heavier than we had wanted so we decided not to purchase it. So now the hunt is on for a new (or nearly new) one.

We have also checked the depth sounder by dropping a weight on a rope over the side of the boat. We then measured the rope and were delighted to find that the length coincided with the figures shown on the depth sounder.

We had a lovely treat yesterday when one of the other boat owners here offered us a trip out on his yacht.

I was at Lidl doing a bit of shopping when Phil called to say that if I could get back asap we could go out with him for a couple of hours. It’s a good 10 minute walk back, but I did it as fast as I could as I certainly didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity.

Photo of Maryport from the sea

Maryport from the sea

For the first time in weeks, there was virtually no wind so there was no point in putting the sails up.
We motored out, then drifted around for a while before heading for a navigation mark which has become a popular nesting place for cormorants.

Photos of Phil taking the tiller for our trip out in the Solway Firth

Phil takes the tiller for our trip out in the Solway Firth

Phil took the tiller for much of the time we were out. I got to take a turn when we were heading towards the navigation mark but handed it back to Phil before we got there so I could photograph the nesting birds.

Photo of the navigation mark in the Solway Firth

The navigation mark covered in cormorant nests

He slowly steered the yacht around the mark twice so I could get a good view of them.
Just wish I had taken my long lens with me as I would have got a better view of the babies in their nests.

We both really enjoyed the experience.
I also got a chance to put my VHF radio training to good use when I was asked to radio the marina before we left and when we were about to come back in.

Hopefully next time we go out of the marina gate it will be in Ravensdale.

Meanwhile, back at the marina we’ve had some interesting marine visitors.
One day the place seemed to be teaming with jellyfish.

Photo of one of the jellyfish that arrived in the marina this week

One of the jellyfish that arrived in the marina this week

Photo of two jellyfish just below the surface near our boat

Two jellyfish just below the surface near our boat

Photo of a mauve jellyfish beside the harbour wall

A mauve jellyfish beside the harbour wall

They were of varying sizes and either white or mauve in colour.

The following day they were gone.

Presumably the brackish water in the marina did not suit them and they left on the next tide.
Photo of Maryport Marina

Maryport Marina

Friday, 9 June 2017

Ravensdale is back where she belongs - in the water

Photo of Ravensdale moored alongside the pontoon at Maryport Marina

Ravensdale moored alongside the pontoon at Maryport Marina

At long last, Ravensdale is back in the water.

Her relaunch at lunchtime today didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped, but we’re back in the marina now and it’s great to be afloat.

Photo of the blocks in place ready for the relaunch

The blocks in place ready for the relaunch

The wooden blocks Phil and Mic made at the weekend were screwed to straps and tied in place under the exhaust manifolds that lift and get damaged whenever she is lifted in or out of the water.

Sadly the blocks failed when the straps of the boat hoist tightened beneath them and one of the blocks broke as it took its share of Ravensdale’s 16 ton weight.

Photo of a fender used to replace the broken block

A fender is used to replace the broken block

So we had to revert to plan B and two of our fenders were inserted under the exhaust manifolds in an effort to protect them from getting broken again.

Photo of Ravensdale being lifted in the boat hoist

Ravensdale is lifted in the boat hoist

The big boat on MPM’s yard at the top of the slipway – the Isle of Man fisheries boat, Barrule – was moved to make room for the hoist to transport Ravensdale from the hard standing onto the slipway.

Photo of the Barrule on the MPM yard

Isle of Man Fisheries vessel Barrule before she was moved to make way for our relaunch

Watching Ravensdale heading towards the water was nerve-wracking. I couldn’t help thinking about the various holes Phil had cut in the hull to fit the trim tabs , the transducer for the depth sounder and the paddlewheel for the log and wondering if there would be any leaks.
Photo of Phil and a friend watching Ravensdale head towards the slipway

Phil and a friend watch Ravensdale head towards the slipway

Photo of Ravensdale's relauch

Ravensdale's relauch

Once she was in the water, Phil went to check that there was no water coming in at any of the locations where he had cut holes through the hull and thankfully there wasn’t.

So he drove Ravensdale to her mooring and it already feels as though we’ve never been away.

Photo of Ravensdale back where she belongs

Ravensdale back where she belongs

We’re not going to get rocked to sleep tonight as there's next to no wind, but it looks as though the wind is going to get up tomorrow so we'll soon discover whether we have lost our sea legs.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Delays continue to hamper our attempts to get Ravensdale back in the water

Photo of the sun shining on Maryport Marina

The sun has been shining on Maryport Marina but we are still not in it

I’m beginning to think we'll never get back in the water as everything seems to be conspiring against Ravensdale’s relaunch.

We completed the planned work – and the tasks we’d discovered needed doing after she came out of the water – by close of play on Friday May 26.

At that stage, we thought the main thing stopping us going back in the water was the scaffolding steps to the aft deck as the marina could not use the boat hoist to lift Ravensdale until they had gone.

Photo of the ladders providing access to the aft deck

A step ladder and the boat's own ladder provide access to the aft deck

Unfortunately we reached this point at the start of the Bank Holiday weekend so had to wait until last Tuesday before we could contact the scaffolding firm.

After calling several times on Tuesday and leaving messages without success, we started visiting their unit on a local industrial estate and eventually managed to catch them before they left for their first job on Wednesday morning.

It turned out we’d been calling the boss, who was away on holiday. Thankfully the lads managed to contact him and struck the scaffolding the same afternoon while we were visiting friends on their boat.

We were delighted to see it had gone and I really thought we would be able to get back in the water within a day or so – but it was not to be.

MPM was working on a large catamaran that was blocking the slipway.
Then another large boat - the Isle of Man fisheries boat Barrule - came in. She was due to come out onto the hard standing by the engineering firm’s workshop at the marina, but they had a problem with their boat hoist and the boat was stuck on the hoist on the slipway for a couple of days.

Photo of the Isle of Man fisheries boat Barrule stuck on the slipway

The Isle of Man fisheries boat Barrule stuck on the slipway

She has since been moved, but we were still waiting for MPM to find a way to stop the slings on the boat hoist damaging the exhaust manifolds that run along the sides of the boat.

Photo of one of the exhaust manifolds that are causing so much trouble

One of the exhaust manifolds that are causing so much trouble

As we were giving up hope of anyone coming up with a solution for us, Phil set about trying to build something to do the job himself this weekend.

And Mic, who is one of the marina staff, helped him make two blocks of wood that are to be attached to a strap.
They will hopefully take the weight under a ledge on the hull to prevent the sling from lifting and damaging the fibreglass exhaust manifolds, one of which broke the last time the boat was lifted and has had to be repaired.

Photo of Phil and Mic working on one of the blocks

Bird's eye view of Phil and Mic working on one of the blocks

Photo of Phil holding the port side block in place

Phil holding the port side block in place

Photo of Phil hauling shopping up onto the boat

Phil hauls shopping up onto the boat

Meanwhile, the loss of the scaffolding means we now have to clamber up and down ladders to the aft deck, which is about 14 ft off the ground.

This is a bit of a pain at the best of times, but even more so when bringing home shopping, which has to be hauled up on a rope or if one needs to pop out to use the marina facilities in the middle of the night.

There is one other factor that could delay Ravensdale’s relaunch – the weather.

She will not be going back in until the wind drops as it makes the boat very difficult to control in the enclosed spaces around the other boats and pontoons in the marina.

So for now we continue to live behind bars in our home on stilts high above the marina.

Photo of the fence around the hard standing

Our view of the Barrule through the fence around the hard standing

We have been enjoying the lovely sunshine we have had lately and are both sure that we have already seen more sunny days here than we ever did in Scotland. However, I can’t help thinking that there must have been sunny days really (even in Fort William J) I just didn’t notice because I was at work.
Photo of the temperature on the boat

Feeling hot, hot, hot :-)

The temperature soars on the boat when the sun comes out due to the amount of glass in the main saloon. This time, the highest temperature I saw on the thermometer was 42.5C, but it was in direct sunlight at the time.

While killing time during the long wait to get back in the water, we got out the dinghy that was on board when we bought the boat and had hoped would serve as a tender to discover that it wasn’t really suitable for our purposes.

It will only take a 1.5hp engine and is more suited for lakes than the sea so we started looking for a replacement and have been offered a second-hand 2.3m Suzumar dinghy that looks like it will do the job.

It needed a good clean and is now blown up on the aft deck to see if it stays up before we decide whether to keep it.

Photo of me giving the "new" dinghy a good scrub

Giving the "new" dinghy a good scrub

Photo of the "new" dinghy on Ravensdale's aft deck

The "new" dinghy on Ravensdale's aft deck

If nothing else, perhaps we could take that in the marina and pootle around in it while we wait for our real boat to be back where she belongs...