Friday, 31 March 2017

Scrubbing, scraping and sanding

Photo of scraping Ravensdale's trim tabs

Scraping the trim tabs attached to Ravensdale's stern.

The weather has not been kind to us over the past few days.

We had a couple of beautiful days of sunshine after the boat was lifted out of the water last Friday, then the wind and rain arrived making it virtually impossible to get anything done outside.

Not only did the bad weather stop us getting on, but I’ve been unable to do anything much at all since Tuesday night into Wednesday morning when I developed a truly awful stomach upset.

I won’t go into detail, but really not what you want when living on a boat (or at any other time come to that).

Meanwhile, Phil has been pushing ahead with work that needed doing inside, like fitting a servicing kit to the loo that flushes straight out into the water. Obviously, this one is only used while at sea.

He has also been trying to find out why only one of Ravensdale’s two trim tabs is working.
For the uninitiated (which included me until I did the yachtmaster offshore course), trim tabs are movable flat plates connected to the stern of a boat, used to control the angle of the boat in the water without the need for constant manual adjustment of the controls.

Photo of Sue wearing protective mask while scraping trim tabs

The Darth Vader-style mask stops me breathing the antifoul dust

I became very well acquainted with our trim tabs after spending the best part of two days scraping and sanding them before I was struck down with the dreaded lurgy.

For some reason, the port trim tab moves when the controls on the console are operated, but the starboard one refuses to budge.

The hydraulics for the trim tabs are under our bed so Phil had to wait for me to be fit enough to get up before he could get under there to have a look.

And, having done so, we are still none the wiser.

The pipes all seem to contain hydraulic fluid and the motor can be heard operating when switched on, but the starboard trim tab still refuses to budge. It seems further investigation is required.

Photo of inspecting trib tab hydraulics under bed

Checking the hydraulics on the trim tabs through an inspection panel under our bed

Earlier today it was blowing a gale at a time when there was a particularly high tide so we took a trip around to the lighthouse and then out along the prom to see what the waves were doing.

And we were glad we did as we got some fairly dramatic images. The sea was like a bubbling cauldron and enormous waves were crashing against the sea walls.

Photo of waves crashing against the sea wall at Maryport promenade

Waves crashing against the sea wall at Maryport promenade

I got caught by a couple that smashed into the wall close to where I was standing while taking photos. You would think I would have moved after the first one, but I’m not that sensible when it comes to getting the photo I want J

Photo of Phil scrubbing the fore deck

Phil scrubbing the fore deck

Since we got back, Phil has been out cleaning and scrubbing the deck, which is now looking lovely and white. Not sure how long it will stay that way, but it’s definitely looking good for now.

He has also been sanding the starboard side of the hull using 1000 grit wet and dry sandpaper to remove some black marks.

I’m taking today off as I’m still feeling a bit under the weather and want to recover properly before I start doing any hard physical work.

Photo of our newly-arrived radio licences

Our newly-arrived radio licences

And anyway it gives me a chance to catch up on my blog.
Almost forgot to mention that our RYA short range certificates permitting us to operate VHF radios turned up in the post this week so we’re all official on that front now.

The weather is supposed to improve over the next few days so I expect we'll both be out scrubbing, scraping and sanding in earnest again very soon...

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Ravensdale becomes a penthouse apartment

Photo of Ravensdale in the boat hoist

Ravensdale is transported up the slipway out of the marina.

The lift out went ahead as planned on Friday and our boat is now propped up on chocks on the hard standing so we can carry out work to the hull.

Photo of the view of the marina from our aft deck

The view of the marina from our aft deck

Our new location with the deck about 14ft off the ground means Ravensdale has been transformed into a penthouse apartment with a spectacular view over the marina.

And the fabulous weather we have had this weekend has meant we have been able to sit out on the aft deck and enjoy the sunshine during our coffee breaks.

Phil had a nasty shock when we set off from our mooring to the pump out on the way to the slipway for the lift out.

He checked the bow thrusters before we started to move and it was working fine, but it packed up and refused to work as he was pulling out of the mooring and went to use it to move the boat away from the pontoon.

Thankfully he was able to control Ravensdale using her two engines and got around to the pump out without incident. Strangely the bow thrusters decided to work again while out the pump out, but it is something else that we will be checking while out of the water.

Phil then had to drive her towards the slipway and the marina staff used a remote control to position the boat hoist underneath the vessel.

Photo of Ravensdale approaching the slipway

Approaching the slipway and the waiting boat hoist

Photo of boat being positioned on the boat hoist

Marina staff Reg and Mick make sure Ravensdale is in the correct position on the hoist

Photo of boat hoist being moved by remote control

Reg uses a remote control unit to bring Ravensdale up the slipway

Giant slings were placed under her hull and she was manoeuvred up the slipway and onto the hard standing, where the hull was pressure washed before she was placed on chocks and a wooden framework was erected to hold her upright in our current parking place.

Photo of pressure washing the hull

Adam pressure washing the hull

The boat ended up much higher than we had expected and the large wooden steps he had arranged to borrow turned out to be far too short so we called in a scaffolding firm to build a set of steps, which will be considerably safer than using a ladder.

Photo of scaffolders building our steps

The scaffolders building a 14ft flight of steps to Ravensdale's aft deck

Photo of the scaffolding steps

The scaffolding steps provide safe access to the aft deck

Unfortunately, one of the fibreglass exhaust manifolds was damaged during the lift out so Phil removed it so we could clean it up and repair it.

That was my job today.

Photo of sanding the exhaust manifold

Sanding the damaged exhaust manifold

I scraped off all the silicone sealant and muck and sanded the edges ready for repair and then reattaching it to the side of the boat. I have also been scraping the area of the hull where it was attached, but ran out of time so will be sanding that down tomorrow.

Photo of Phil removing vinyl tape

Phil removing the vinyl tape stripes from the hull

Meanwhile, Phil has been busy removing the many vinyl strips that have been used to create blue and black stripes on the hull and superstructure with a heat gun and scraper.

We have not yet decided whether to replace the stripes in the same pattern or to change them and use paint instead of tape as it should make it easier to redo in the future.

We were pleased to discover that the antifouling was in better condition than we had expected so will not have to be totally removed. Those with more experience of these things than us have told us that rubbing it down, priming any areas that need it and then painting on the new antifoul over the top.

Also, the sacrificial anodes that were put on when we first bought the boat are still in good condition so that is another job that will not need to be done this time.

We are really hoping that we can get all the work done in a fortnight as we are keen to get back in the water asap, but have accepted that we will just have to stay out as long as it takes to get the job done properly.

Not only have we been very lucky with the weather during the day since the lift out, but we have seen some fabulous sunsets, which looked even better viewed from our vantage point above the marina.
Photo of sunset over Maryport Marina

Sunset over Maryport Marina

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Spring lift out delayed until the wind drops

Photo of Maryport Marina

Maryport Marina with the pump out facility and diesel pump in the foreground.

Ravensdale’s spring beauty treatment has been delayed by a few days.

We had booked a lift out for tomorrow so we can antifoul her hull and give her a good clean up ready for our first trip out.

But we have decided to put it off until Friday due to a combination of windy weather and the chance of a better spot on the hard standing if we wait until another boat goes back in on Friday.

In fact, we have had high winds for the past week, ever since we discovered we needed a trip over to the pump out at the far end of the marina.

Soon after we returned from our trip down south to visit the family, we realised that our “black water” (toilet) holding tank was almost full.
We decided to empty it asap, rather than wait until we would be passing the pump out on the way to the slipway for the lift out as a full holding tank means the heads are out of commission and we have to use the marina facilities.

Photo of the marina's toilet and shower block

The marina's toilet and shower block

However, asap turned out to be not very soon at all.

And we have now decided that, as we've survived like this for a week, we might just as well carry on until Friday, especially as the wind isn’t forecast to drop much before then and manoeuvring the boat in the marina in high winds is not something we would do from choice.

So fingers crossed that the weather forecast is correct and all goes to plan for Friday.

We're expecting to be out of the water for about a fortnight while we carry out the antifouling and general clean up ourselves. We considered booking holiday accommodation nearby for this period, but decided we didn’t want to waste our money on paying for somewhere to stay when we could still stay on the boat.

It is going to be strange staying on board while the boat is on chocks on the hardstanding and will mean placing a large bucket under the “grey water” (sink) outlet to enable us to wash-up, clean our teeth, etc. and we will definitely be using the marina facilities for showers.

Hopefully staying onboard will encourage us to get the work done faster, partly because we're on site so will not need to travel to and from the marina to holiday accommodation and partly because I’m sure we'll be more comfortable when Ravensdale is back in the water.

Photo of scrubbing some of the more stubborn marks

Phil scrubbing some of the more stubborn marks

Meanwhile, we've started cleaning the topside to speed things up when we're out of the water.

While searching online for cleaning products, Phil found Chine Shine, which was recommended by Practical Boat Owner magazine as one of their “best buys” so we ordered 5 litres to see if it was any good.

And it works like magic.

Photo of rinsing off the cleaning product

Rinsing off the Chine Shine

It has to be painted on and left for 15 minutes before washing it off and it transforms the surface to which it has been applied from a dirty-looking off-white, yellow colour to bright white, with a little bit of elbow grease to get rid of the more stubborn marks.

Photo of grass seed is growing in all the wrong places

The grass seed is growing in all the wrong places

Meanwhile, the marina’s new caravan site is nearing completion, but the grass seed that was supposed to grow in the cross-shaped holes in the concrete to create an area of grass that is tough enough to be driven over seems to be growing everywhere but in the holes.

When the contractors brushed the seed into the soil-filled holes it blew all over the place, with large quantities of the seed floating down onto the boats (ours included) and the pontoons below.

We washed it off our boat and the marina staff pressure washed the pontoons, but it was also blown into the gravel surrounding the “grass-crete” area and that is where it seems to be growing best.

Photo of the inshore rescue boat moored in the marina

The inshore rescue boat moored in the marina

And the Maryport Inshore Rescue boat is currently moored in the marina after the tractor used for launching it from the slipway by its nearby boathouse got stuck in the mud in the outer harbour.

A cold wind sweeps across Maryport Beach

Other than the high winds, the weather has been fairly bright over the last few days, but has become very chilly.

Roll on the spring...

Friday, 17 March 2017

Rolling v folding

Photo of rolled up clothes in a shop

A shop display of rolled up tops.

To roll or not to roll – that is the question.

Anyone who has read my previous posts will know that storage space on Ravensdale – or rather the lack of it - is a recurring theme.

We still have far more stuff than will fit in the cupboards and lockers on the boat and it’s getting more and more difficult to throw things away as we’ve already parted with the items we felt we could live without.

However, Phil has come up with a way to get more clothes, etc. into his storage spaces, or so he reckons. I’ve yet to be convinced.

He went through all the cupboards on his side of the bedroom and rolled up his T-shirts, fleeces, jumpers and trousers and claims this has enabled him to get more things into each space.

Phil also says it makes it easier to find the garments he wants and to pull them out without disturbing the rest of the clothes in the cupboard.

But I still favour the old-fashioned folding and stacking method, which seems to work perfectly well for me, although I have to confess that I haven’t tried rolling my clothes up and putting them back into the same space so I can’t really say whether it would create any more room.

So his side of the room now looks like this –
Photo of Phil's rolled up clothes

Phil's clothing rolls and lots of empty space

And mine looks like this –
|Photo of my neatly folded tops and scarves

My neatly folded tops and scarves

Photo of Cotton Traders display

The Cotton Trader display

I’m still convinced my way is best (no change there then
J), but Phil now claims to have been proved right by a display we saw in a motorway services shop while returning home from our recent trip down south.

Cotton Traders at Strensham Services, just about the M50/M5 junction in Worcestershire, had a display of rolled up polo shirts.

Perhaps I should listen to him on this one then...or maybe not J
Meanwhile, our freezer seems to be improving. The combination of bicarbonate of soda and a freezer deoderiser seem to have done the trick, but we're still a little reluctant to start putting new food into it.

Think we'll just give it a few more days to be sure the smell really has gone for good.
(Edit - Just had another sniff and it still smells so not quite so hopeful that it can be saved now :-()

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday – we have a pterodactyl in the marina!

A sunny day at Maryport Marina.

Having worked as a journalist and a communications officer for the NHS, communicating is something with which I am very comfortable.

But, when it came to communicating with a VHF radio, I was considerably less confident.

Phil and I were determined that we would both take any necessary courses/qualifications relating to our new liveaboard lifestyle so that we would be interchangeable where all things boat related were concerned.

So we both signed up for the day-long VHF radio course that had been arranged at Maryport Marina and were sent two copies of the RYA VHF Handbook to study beforehand.

My copy of the VHF Handbook

We had already arranged to go away for the fortnight before the course, but decided we would still be able to read the book and learn the necessary information while away.

We both worked hard at it and all our studying paid off at the weekend when we passed the VHF Short Range Certificate exam giving us the authority to operate our VHF radio.

All we have to do now is to wait for the certificate, which looks rather like a driving licence, to arrive.

Not so sure about the next planned course though as I know absolutely nothing about diesel engines, except that they can be very useful for getting around J

Seriously though, I once (a very long time ago) tried to work out how to top up the oil in my car by running the oil into the hole the dipstick came out of so I’m not sure I will ever be able to service a 300hp diesel engine let alone the two Volvo Pentas that we have on Ravensdale.

But I’m willing to give it a go.

We were going to go along to a pre-arranged diesel engine maintenance course, but have found someone who is willing to come and do the course on Ravensdale using our own engines so we're planning to go for that option.

Meanwhile, our freezer is still well and truly out of action after the electricity went off while we were away. We returned home to discover its contents had defrosted soon after we left and the boat was filled with the stench of rotting meat.

The freezer is banished to the aft deck while we attempt to stop it stinking

We have tried everything to get rid of the smell and nothing has worked.

It's currently consigned to the aft deck with a fridge and freezer deoderiser inside in the hope it can be saved, but it’s looking less and less likely that it will ever be allowed back indoors.

The properties around Maryport Harbour bathed in evening sunshine

The weather has become very spring-like over the last couple of days, which gave me the chance to do a bit of handwashing and to dry it on the washing line we have rigged up over the aft deck.

Sunny weather and a good breeze provided great drying weather

It has given us a welcome taste of what living on board is going to be like during the warmer weather to come – hopefully J

And I came face to face with the marina’s very own pterodactyl tonight.

Giant bird footprints on the pontoon

Earlier today, I spotted some rather large bird footprints on the pontoon near our boat and photographed them with a 10p piece to give an indication of their size.

I showed them to Phil, who knows far more about birds than I do, and he said they had been left by a heron.

We have often heard one squawking as it flies off, which can be a scary sound in the dark, and I always refer to it as the marina pterodactyl, but I had no idea it had such big feet J

And tonight, as I was walking up to the marina facilities, I suddenly realised it was standing on the pontoon about 15ft in front of me.

I immediately stopped and got my phone out in the hope of getting a photo, but sadly it squawked and flew off before I could snap it.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The first break from our liveaboard lifestyle

Photo of Maryport Marina in Cumbria

Home sweet home - Maryport Marina.

We’ve just returned from our first stay ashore since we moved onto our boat at the start of November last year.

And the first night sleeping in a bed on solid ground was very strange.

I hadn’t realised I had become quite so used to the rocking motion on board, but apparently I have. So much so that I was more aware that the rooms we were staying in were still than I usually am that the boat is rocking. Often the only way I can tell we’re rolling from side to side is when I notice the curtains swinging backwards and forwards.

Photo of our liveaboard home - Ravensdale

Ravensdale - our liveaboard home

The motion is, of course, very easily noticeable when the wind is blowing a gale or the sea swell is particularly high in which case rocking would be an understatement for the motion we experience onboard.

We visited Wales and the south of England to visit family and, although it was lovely to see everyone again and there was a certain novelty to having so much room to move around in the holiday cottages we had booked, part of me missed Ravensdale.

One thing that was very different from previous holidays is that I was very aware that I couldn’t buy anything much to take home.

Any memento had to be tiny and preferably have a use and look attractive to justify its place in our liveaboard home.

Having got rid of most of our possessions and battled to find homes for those considered absolutely necessary, we really couldn’t justify buying anything that didn’t meet these criteria.

Photo of the new signs for our boat

Our new boat signs

I’m not quite sure whether these signs that we bought to hang in the window to greet visitors class as attractive or useful, but we both liked them so they came home with us :-)

Three other purchases definitely fall into the useful category – a life raft, an outboard motor for our tender and three tins of antifoul paint, although they hardly class as mementos of our holiday.

We also bought a tiny wok that will be a much better fit on our little gas stove than the one we had and a set of ultra-slim digital kitchen scales to enable us to get rid of the larger ones we brought from our last home.

On our return journey, we were looking forward to getting home. However, when we opened Ravensdale’s door, we were less keen to be back.

Before we left, we had made sure there was plenty of electricity to cover our break and we had asked the marina staff to keep an eye on the meter and to feed it if necessary as we didn’t want our fridge, small freezer, dehumidifier and heating to go off while we were away.

Typically, the power went off the day we left. It turns out that a breaker went and blew the fuse on the pontoon.
Photo of our freezer on the boat

Our freezer sits on a cupboard above the galley

We were greeted by a freezer full of rotten food and the boat was filled with the smell of meat that had been at room temperature for a fortnight.

It was even worse when we opened the freezer and we were subjected to the full strength of the disgusting stench it produced.

We emptied it, threw away the food and attempted to clean it, but nothing would get rid of the disgusting smell so it's currently airing on our aft deck and we're waiting for a special freezer deoderiser to arrive tomorrow.

If it doesn’t work the freezer is going to have to go to the tip, which would be very sad given that it is only about three months since we bought it.

Other than that, we're happy to be back on board.
Looking on the bright side - at least we saved the money we would have spent on two weeks electricity, which will go some way towards restocking the freezer (if we ever get rid of the smell) or help with the cost of a new freezer (if necessary)...

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Storm Doris – the storm that never was for Maryport

A photo of Maryport Marina in Cumbria

A peaceful day at Maryport Marina in Cumbria.

The forecast that Storm Doris was heading our way gave us high hopes of snapping some dramatic seascapes.

Towards the end of last month, the weather forecasters warned that the fourth named storm of 2016/17 – Storm Doris – was expected to pay us a visit.

We checked our mooring ropes and made sure the fenders were not going to be creaking all night then went to bed expecting to wake up to wild, wild weather...but it didn’t happen.

Opening the curtains revealed calm water in the marina and none of the noise and drama we had been anticipating.

We put the TV on to check the forecast and could see that its impact was being felt all around us.

We assumed we must be in the eye of the storm and waited for it to hit us, but it never did. The wind got up a bit, but nothing like we'd been expecting.

Storm Angus passed us by in November, Barbara gave us a good lashing in the run up to Christmas and Conor, which hit the UK a couple of days later, failed to have any impact on us. Ewan also missed us, so we’ll have to wait to see what Fleur brings – whenever that may be.

Photo of fishing boats in Maryport Harbour in the run up to Storm Doris

Waiting for Doris

It seems the owners of the local fishing boats also believed the Storm Doris forecast and decided not to go out to sea as there were many more fishing vessels in the harbour at high tide than usual when I took Dex for his morning walk.
A photo of fishing boats in Maryport Harbour

Fishing boats in Maryport Harbour at high tide

Meanwhile, work is progressing on the caravan site that is being constructed at the marina. It is just above our mooring on the other side of the promenade.

Photo of work to create a caravan site at Maryport Marina

Work underway on the caravan site near our mooring

During the work, dirt, rubbish and grass seed blew down off the site onto the pontoons and our boat so we will be very glad when it is completed from that point of view. 

However, it will presumably mean that there will be more people using the excellent marina facilities, so we’re just hoping there will be enough toilets, showers and washing machines for everyone.