Monday, 29 May 2017

Ravensdale's relaunch is imminent

Photo of new rams fitted to Ravensdale's trim tabs

New rams are fitted to Ravensdale's trim tabs

At long last Ravensdale is ready to go back in the water – nine weeks after she was lifted out for two to three weeks.

Phil finished fitting the new trim tabs system on Friday evening so we have completed all the work that needed to be done while the boat was on the hard standing.

All we are waiting for now is for the marina to be able to re-launch her, which we are hoping will be on Thursday unless they are able to slot us in sooner.

Photo of the scaffolding steps

The scaffolding steps have proved a godsend

But we also need to get the scaffolding steps removed before the boat can be lifted in the boat hoist.

We initially planned to antifoul the underwater area of Ravensdale’s hull and to give her a clean and polish.

We had also asked MPM engineering firm at the marina to fit an outlet for the holding tank that is connected to the toilet in our en suite bathroom so we will be able to empty it at sea.

The antifouling, cleaning and polishing took a little longer than anticipated and a few more weeks passed before MPM fitted the new skin fitting.

Meanwhile, we found plenty of other work to do both inside and on the outside of the boat.

And the final delay was when we discovered that the existing trim tab system was beyond repair as the parts were no longer available.

As the wires in the old system were not in conventional UK colours, Phil’s first job was to identify the cables, such as the earth and power leads.

Photo of Phil working on the electrics for our new trim tab system

Phil working on the electrics for our new trim tab system

Having discovered that it was virtually impossible to get the new electrical harness – the bundle of wires for the power and controls – through from the transom to the fuse box at the forward end of the saloon, he decided to connect into the old harness, which was still in good condition.

He was then faced with the daunting task of installing the new system.

Photo of fitting the new rams to Ravensdale's trim tabs

Fitting the new rams to Ravensdale's trim tabs

He fitted the rams, a little higher than the old ones to ensure he could get to them on the inside of the hull to connect them to the hydraulic pipes.
Photo of installing the new trim tab system

Much of the work had to be done behind the drawers in the bedside units

Photo of the new trim tabs motor under our bed

The new trim tabs motor can be seen below the fresh water pipe under our bed

He then mounted the motor on a board under our bed and cut the hydraulic tubing to length and connected it up.

Photo of tightening the connectors on the new hydraulic pipes

Tightening the connectors on the new hydraulic pipes

The moment of truth came when, after connecting up the hydraulic pipes and filling them with hydraulic fluid, Phil went down to watch the trim tabs while I operated the rocker switches on the console.

And the bad news was that – just as before – the starboard trim tab worked and the other didn’t, but thankfully this time it was easily rectified.

Phil discovered that the starboard trim tab, had taken all the fluid and he had to top it up three times before the port trim tab started working as well.

It was a huge relief to discover that we now had a fully operational trim tab system.

This is used to set the trim of the boat by helping to lift the bow up or drop it down, making the boat travel through the water more smoothly and helping to reduce fuel consumption.

He has since primed the new gelcoat around the rams and reapplied the antifouling paint.

Photo of fitting the new window trim

Fitting the new window trim

Meanwhile, I finished off fitting the new window trims to create unbroken black lines around the windows as the old trims had shrunk and there were lots of gaps where the screws holding the windows in place were on show.

Photo of the windows with their new trim

The windows look much neater with their new window trim

I also had an interesting lesson in splicing with Reg, the marina foreman. He showed me how to splice braid on braid ropes to create loops or eyes as knots reduce the strength of the rope more than a spliced join.

I haven’t had a go at it myself yet as we don’t have any ropes that need splicing at the moment and we don’t own any fids – the needles needed for this process - but Reg has said I can borrow his to give it a try so planning to do that very soon.

In preparation for our re-launch, I took our fenders over to the marina office and Reg blew them up for us.

Sadly three of them immediately went down again so it was looking as though we would have to buy three new ones, but we discovered we could buy new valves for them instead.

The new valves have now been fitted, but we need to get them blown up again before we know whether they are going to stay up now.

Life at the marina has been a lot less quiet than usual over the past week.

We had beautiful sunshine on Thursday and Friday of last week, which attracted more people to come down to their boats – either to work on them or to take them out for a spin.

In fact, it was so hot that the thermometer on our boat was reading 47C at one stage – admittedly it was sitting in the sun at the time. But it was still reading 32.5C after I moved it to a more shaded spot and opened every window and hatch.

Photo of the fair arriving at the marina

The fair arrives at the marina

A travelling fair set up on a grassed area next to the marina, alongside the new caravan site, and on Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday afternoon and evening we could hear the music and the screams of excitement from those on the rides.
Photo of the colourful fairground rides

The colourful fairground rides before the crowds arrived

Photo of another view of the fair

Another view of the fair

And Saturday was Maryport’s annual Trawler Race and the marina’s Spring Muster.

Many of the trawlers were decked out with flags on Friday ready for the race.

Photo of some of the trawlers decorated ready for the race

Some of the trawlers decorated ready for the race

Photo of more trawlers displaying their colourful flags

More trawlers displaying their colourful flags

Flags also decorated the boats in the marina that were planning to head out into the Solway Firth to watch the spectacle from the water.

We assumed we would be watching from the shore. However, shortly before the start or the race, we were offered an opportunity to go out on someone else’s yacht.

Chris, who used to works at the marina, invited us to join him on Montana and we jumped at the opportunity.

It was good to actually head out of the marina gate into the outer harbour for the first time, even if it wasn’t on our own boat. And we got to use our new lifejackets at long last.

Photo of leaving Maryport Marina heading for the Solway Firth

Leaving Maryport Marina heading for the Solway Firth

The weather was perfect for our first trip out since we arrived in Maryport almost seven months ago. It was dry and bright with a light wind.

Chris was great at explaining the basics of sailing and he allowed Phil to take the tiller for much of the time.

Photo of Phil at the tiller which Chris at his side

Phil takes the tiller under the watchful eye of our skipper

Me enjoying the sunshine on board the Montana

Enjoying the sunshine on board the Montana

I took loads of photos, but sadly we were too far away from the trawlers to get any decent images with the lenses I had with me. That said, it was impressive seeing all the trawlers line up and start heading towards us at speed as they raced around a buoy in the firth.

Photo of some of the trawlers rounding the buoy

Some of the trawlers rounding the buoy

Photo of Montana returning to Maryport

Montana returning to Maryport

We stayed out for about two hours before heading back to the marina for the get-together and buffet, which had to be held in the customer lounge because it started to rain soon after we got back on dry land.
Photo of a panoramic view of Maryport Harbour

A panoramic view of Maryport Harbour

Photo of sunset over Maryport Marina

Sunset over Maryport Marina

Monday, 22 May 2017

A mysterious noise and a nasty surprise

Photo of preparing for the new trim tab system to arrive

Preparing for the new trim tab system to arrive

A mysterious noise coming from the galley area of Ravensdale has been puzzling us for the past couple of weeks.

We have both spent time trying to identify its source.

And we had worked out that we only heard it when it was windy outside.

But we could not find anything that could be causing it.

The mystery was solved when Phil spotted that the new log he had fitted was registering a speed despite the fact the boat is currently on stilts on dry land and therefore very definitely not moving.

Photo of the new log registers 3 knots while the boat is standing still

The new log registers 3 knots while the boat is standing still

The highest speed he saw it register was 4 knots (nautical miles per hour). The highest it reached once I had my phone at the ready to take a photo was 3 knots.

The penny then dropped. The noise we were hearing was the new paddle wheel he had fitted on the underside of the hull in the galley area being blown around by the wind.

Photo of the new paddle wheel underneath the hull

The new paddle wheel underneath the hull

Meanwhile, a friend recently said my blog seemed to prove that boating was “equivalent to standing in a cold shower ripping up tenners” and the past week seems to have proved him right.

Well, not so much the bit about standing in a cold shower as the boat is warm and dry and the marina showers are lovely and hot, but definitely the bit about ripping up tenners - or maybe notes of a higher denomination would be more appropriate :-)

This week we had a nasty surprise regarding the trim tabs that have been holding up our return to the water for the past few weeks.

Photo of the dead trim tab motor

The dead trim tab motor

We had hoped they were getting fixed but it now turns out that the motor is not repairable as the parts are no longer available so we have had to scrap it and buy a whole new system.

Two guys from Forth Engineering at Maryport turned up at the door of our boat with the bad news on Thursday.

And, despite the fact they were unable to help on this occasion, we would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone. They have spent hours desperately trying to track down the parts for us, without success, and made a total of four visits to our boat while trying to come up with a solution, but would not take a penny for their efforts.

We ordered the new trim tab system, including four new rams, the motor, two console switches (one for the saloon console and one for the fly bridge) and all the relevant cables, late on Thursday and it arrived this afternoon.

So our re-launch date is now in Phil’s hands - no pressure there then J

While waiting for the new kit to arrive, he stripped out the old system.

Photo of Phil removing the old trim tab rams

Phil removes the old trim tab rams

Phil removed the old rams that were supposed to make the trim tabs move up and down and made good the holes they had left in the hull by filling them with fibreglass, fibreglassing over the areas where they had been then putting a new coat of gelcoat over the top.

Photo of Phil applying gelcoat to the holes

Applying gelcoat on top of the fibreglass covering the holes where the old rams had been

He is planning to start work on the refit tomorrow and is anticipating the biggest problem being the wiring. The cables need to go from the motor, which will be fitted on the transom under our bed in the stern cabin, through to the switches on the console at the forward end of the saloon and up on the fly bridge when there is no obvious or easy route for them to follow.

Photo of our newly whipped fender ropes

Our newly whipped fender ropes

A close-up photo of my whipping

Close-up of my whipping

I have been busy finishing off cleaning and polishing all the stainless steel on the boat with chrome cleaner and whipping the new ropes we have bought for our fenders.

Sadly my lesson in whipping from our friend did not help as he showed me how to whip braid ropes and we bought three strand rope for the job.

So I followed a really simple video for sailmaker’s whipping that I found on YouTube.

There were seven ropes to do, which meant I had 14 ends to whip.

My plan was to do half of them at one sitting and the other half another time as I thought pulling the whipping twine tight would make my fingers sore. And I was right, it did, but once I was half way through the task I just wanted to get it finished.

The next new skill I am planning to learn is splicing and Reg, who is the marina foreman, has offered to give us a lesson on Wednesday so I’m looking forward to that.

In the meantime, I've been out and about with my camera again, trying to get some different photos of Maryport. 
Photo of the blue bridge across the River Ellon to Mote Hill, Maryport

The blue bridge across the River Ellon to Mote Hill, Maryport

Photo of a wide view of Maryport from Mote Hill

A wide view of Maryport from Mote Hill

A photo of River Ellon from Mote Hill

River Ellon from Mote Hill

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Trim tabs, sunshine and seagulls

Photo of Ravensdale's troublesome trim tabs

Ravensdale's troublesome trim tabs

Ravensdale’s relaunch has moved a step closer thanks to the perseverance of the engineering firm that is trying to mend her trim tabs.

It was beginning to look as though Forth Engineering of Maryport wouldn’t be able to source the parts needed because the company that made the motor had gone out of business, but after much calling around, they tell us they have ordered the parts, which should arrive early next week.

And they’re hoping to come and fit them on Tuesday.

It will then remain to be seen whether the rams on the trim tabs are working, but hopefully that will be less difficult to sort if they need to be serviced or replaced.

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.

When we bought the boat they were both set at different angles. We questioned this and were told that they were set for the boat and didn’t need changing and rather naively we accepted this explanation.

However, when we got Ravensdale out of the water at the end of March for antifouling, cleaning and a few minor (or so we thought) repairs, we discovered that they didn’t work at all.

The port trim tab moved when the controls on the console were operated, but the starboard one refused to budge.

Photo of Phil checking the hydraulics on the trim tabs

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

Initially, Phil was trying to sort them himself, but we eventually decided to get them serviced and asked Forth Engineering to take a look.

Meanwhile the marina’s boat hoist has been out of action after a problem occurred while it was lifting a large concrete boat out of the water at the start of this month.

The hoist lifts up to 25 tonne and the vessel weighed less than 20 tonnes so it should have been easily able to take its weight. Hydraulic experts decided it may have an “intermittent fault with a winch valve” so the relevant parts had to be changed before it could be used for large vessels again.

Photo of Ravensdale in the hoist when she was lifted out of the water

Ravensdale in the hoist when she was lifted out of the water

However this has now been fixed so as soon as Ravensdale is ready they will be able to put her back in the water.

We decided to use the extra time out on the hard standing to do lots of jobs that we had intended to leave until we were back in the water.

And we've had some beautiful weather for getting the outside tasks done. We had about a week of wall-to-wall sunshine, albeit with some pretty chilly wind, but the rain arrived yesterday.

In fact, it was more comfortable outdoors than in as all the windows around the main saloon behave rather like a greenhouse. One day when we left the windows closed while out shopping we returned to find the temperature inside the boat had gone up to 32C with the heating switched off.

Photo of polishing one of the aft deck lockers in the sunshine

Polishing one of the aft deck lockers in the sunshine

Photo of the new anchor connector

The new anchor connector

My outdoor jobs have included using rubbing compound on the lockers on the aft deck before polishing and waxing them and cleaning the chrome guardrails and stanchions.
And Phil has fitted a new anchor connector to allow smooth launching and retrieval of the anchor.

He has also been working on the frame finishing trim around the windows. Just about every window had gaps where the trim was too short so he has been using the existing trim to fill the gaps and we've ordered new trim to fill in the missing sections.

Photo of removing the old frame finishing trim

Removing the old frame finishing trim

Phil has also fixed “Lift here” stickers at the points where the boat slings should be located during lifting operations and “Do not lift here” stickers above the new transducer and paddle wheel for the log to save them from damage.

Photo of one of the new "Lift here" stickers

One of the new "Lift here" stickers

One strange thing about living on a boat is not having a shed or workshop to work in, which means we have to find other places to carry out jobs that would normally have been done in the shed.

Below is a photo of Phil using the worktop in the galley for a spot of soldering.

Photo of the the galley worktop being used as an indoor work bench

The galley worktop becomes an indoor work bench

Photo of the worktop being used for its proper purpose

The worktop being used for its proper purpose

Yesterday we decided to take a complete break from working on the boat and headed off to the Lake District for the first day of Windermere Boat Show at Ferry Nab Jetties at Bowness on Windermere.

Photo of visitors to Windermere Boat Show

Visitors to Windermere Boat Show

Photo of a quiet start to the show

A quiet start to the show

Photo of a new boat that at £312,866 is well out of our league

Phil admires a new boat that at £312,866 is well out of our league

It was fairly quiet while we were there, but the event is only in its second year and we were told that Friday was also the quietest day last year.

It was interesting to look at some of the new boats on show even though we would never be able to afford them.

But more interesting to us were the stalls manned by companies providing services to boat owners, such as canopies and upholstery, electronic gadgets and electrical rewiring, new and used tenders and local marinas.

While we were at the boat show the new ropes we had ordered for our fenders arrived so it looks as though my next job will be practising my newly acquired whipping skills once Phil has cut them to length with our new rope seal hot knife.

Photo of seagulls nesting on a nearby cruiser

Seagulls nesting on a nearby cruiser

In the meantime, it seems that a pair of seagulls have built a nest on the flybridge of one of the other cruisers on the hard standing here.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Our six-month liveaboard anniversary

Photo of Ravensdale basking in the sunshine on the hard standing

Ravensdale basking in the sunshine on the hard standing

We celebrated our six-month liveaboard anniversary last Thursday and on Friday it was six weeks since Ravensdale was lifted out of the marina.
I’m really looking forward to getting back in the water as living on a boat on dry land just feels wrong.
It’s rather like staying in a funny shaped caravan balanced on top of a load of tree trunks.
Having said that, it does have its advantages – the toilet and shower block is slightly closer and the walk to the facilities doesn’t include a steep ramp at low tide.
We have a great view of the whole marina from up here.
Photo of the view from our aft deck

The view from our aft deck

And we can carry out dirty jobs, like stirring and pouring varnish and paint on the gravelled hard standing rather than having to do it on the boat.
But, I believe these are outweighed by the disadvantages, which include not being able to use the toilets on board because we can’t empty the holding tank until we’re back in the water and can visit the pump out.
I’m also missing the comforting sound/feel of water lapping around Ravensdale’s hull.
And, let’s face it, a boat belongs in the water J
Although Phil is jokingly saying that he’s not putting our nice clean boat back in the water because it will only get dirty again – at least I think it’s a joke.
Photo of reflections on Ravensdale's shiny hull

Reflections on Ravensdale's shiny hull

Over the past couple of weeks, he has polished and waxed the hull and fitted our new depth sounder and log. This involved cutting four holes through the hull.
I have to admit that I found the whole idea pretty scary as I would rather any water stayed on the outside of the hull.
Photo of drilling the first hole through the hull

Drilling the first hole through the hull

Photo of fixing the transducer under the boat

Fixing the transducer under the boat

Hopefully he has done a good job of sealing around the transducer for the depth sounder and the paddle wheel for the log. I guess we’ll find out when we get back in the water.
Phil has also got the onboard compass working properly – apparently two of the wires had dropped out.
Photo of the instrument panel with the new depth sounder/ log top left

The instrument panel with the new depth sounder/ log top left and the compass top right

One sunny day (and we’ve had a lot of them lately J) we decided to get the anchor chain out so we could measure it and calibrate it with some little plastic markers we had bought for the purpose.
We pulled out all 55m and marked every five metres then pressed the button on the windlass to wind it back in to discover that it was no longer working so we were faced with the job of winching it all back in by hand using the handle on the windlass, which only ratchets in about two links at a time.
Photo of winding in the anchor chain with the winch handle

Winding in the anchor chain with the winch handle

Phil did the lion’s share, but I took a couple of turns to give him a rest.
The following day, he and our friend, Chris, took the windlass apart to see why it wouldn’t work.
Photo of Chris and Phil working on the windlass

Chris and Phil working on the windlass

I was beginning to think it was something else we were going to have to replace and, like everything else boat-related, they don’t come cheap, but the guys discovered it was just the switch so a £5 switch from Maplins has solved the problem, which thankfully saved us from having to raid the diesel fund.
Photo of our newly varnished coffee table and stools

Our newly varnished coffee table and stools

Meanwhile, I’ve been sanding and varnishing the coffee table and stools in the main saloon over and over again. The table top ended up with six coats of varnish so will hopefully be a lot more hardwearing now.
Chris also showed me how to whip ropes so that I can whip the ends of the new ropes we’ve ordered for our fenders when they arrive.
However, there are still a couple of jobs that need to be done before Ravensdale can be relaunched.
The main one is getting the trim tabs fixed. Phil has been trying to sort out what was wrong with them and was about to try replacing the hydraulic fluid when we decided to get the system serviced.
Forth Engineering of Maryport sent someone around to the boat to look at them less than an hour after we dropped in to ask them to do the work and it seems there's a problem with the motor.
We’re told the solenoid has gone and they are having difficulty sourcing a replacement part. We’re hoping they will be able to come up with a solution soon as it has to be done while we're on the hard standing.
And Phil is going to convert the toilet in the forward cabin to sea water as it is currently connected to the fresh water supply.
However, we would not be able to go back in the water yet anyway as the marina has a problem with its boat hoist, which means it can only lift small boats at the moment. They’re hoping to get it fixed soon so hopefully it will be done by the time we're ready for the relaunch.
In the meantime, I've been making the most of the good weather to get out and take some more photos of Maryport.
Photo of a sunny evening at Maryport Harbour

A sunny evening at Maryport Harbour

Another image of the harbour in the sunshine

Another image of the harbour in the sunshine

Photo of the view across the shore at Maryport with the Scottish hills in the distance

A view across the shore at Maryport with the Scottish hills in the distance