Gaping holes in Ravensdale's instrument panel where the depth sounder and plotter should be
I think of Ravensdale as our baby, which makes this week’s anniversary even more poignant.
Tomorrow (Friday August 4), it will be nine months since we moved onboard after selling our house in Corpach, Fort William, in the Highlands of Scotland, to buy our 43ft Neptunus 133 motor cruiser.
We’re still thoroughly enjoying our liveaboard lifestyle and I’m very happy that the move enabled me to give up work early and join Phil in retirement.
But the anniversary is tinged with a touch of sadness.
As the saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is...
I almost couldn’t believe it when we thought we’d got to the end of the myriad of jobs that needed doing to ensure Ravensdale was seaworthy.
And I was so excited last week when I thought we were just waiting for a tide and weather window to take her out to sea.
Ravensdale waiting to set off on her travels
I was checking the tide times daily and scouring the weather forecast as far ahead as I could in the hope that the wind would drop at a time when the Maryport Marina gate would be open as it’s only open for a couple of hours either side of high tide.
There were a couple of days that looked possible, so we sat back in happy anticipation of our first voyage (OK, wee trip out into the Solway Firth J) and waited for them to arrive.
Then it happened – AGAIN!
Ravensdale came up with another excuse not to leave the marina.
The new Nasa Clipper duet combined speed/distance log and echo sounder that we bought and fitted in April stopped working.
The new depth sounder/log soon after it was fitted
The screen that’s supposed to display the depth of water under the boat simply showed the word “out”.
We were so disappointed. I could’ve cried.
We can sort of understand things that have been on the boat for years packing up due to their age, lack of maintenance or even because they’re suddenly getting used frequently after years of laying idle for most of the time, but not a new piece of kit.
Phil read the manual again and checked out the fault online, but could find no obvious answer so he called Force 4 - the chandlery we bought it from – and they said to send it back.
We’ve since heard that they’ve sent it back to the manufacturer and we’re waiting to see what happens next.
The depth sounder/log is removed from the panel
Hopefully it will either be fixed or replaced and returned to us very soon.
Meanwhile, we discovered that the battery had run out on the Simrad plotter, which takes pride of place in Ravensdale’s instrument panel.
Again Phil consulted YouTube, which has become our oracle since we moved onboard in November of last year.
And he found out that although the battery has an expected life of about three years, the only way to remove and replace it is to dismantle the plotter as it’s soldered onto the circuit board. I have to admit that struck as more than a little crazy.
Anyway, he took it to bits, working on the theory that it didn’t work at the moment so he couldn’t actually make it any worse, and removed the CR2032 battery with three metal terminals attached.
The plotter dismantled on the coffee table
We then ordered a new one, which arrived the following day, and, although it’s only around the size of a pound coin, it turned up in a shoe box sized package.
Phil carefully soldered the battery in place, reassembled the plotter and was delighted to see that it actually worked again.
However, after all his efforts, he decided that it was too slow and the display was not good enough for our purposes so he’s been checking out the alternatives – more expense! L
In the meantime, we were lucky to get the opportunity to view another boat in the marina that’s currently for sale.
A survey vessel that would make a great liveaboard
It’s a Halmatic 20 metre (65.5ft) motor vessel, called Fleur De Lys, and would make a fabulous liveaboard.
The former Admiralty motor vessel, more recently operated as a survey boat, has a large saloon, with patio doors onto the aft deck, a generously sized galley and sleeps 10.
The engine room was also very spacious, with plenty of room to walk around her twin Detroit diesel engines, but I was really envious of the buttons on the control panel marked “torpedo” and “exocet” – how cool is that?
I don’t think the buttons actually do anything (at least I’m hoping they don’t live up to their names), but were included for use while she was used as an Admiralty training vessel.
The super cool torpedo and exocet buttons on Fleur De Lys instrument panel
We won’t be buying her (to be honest we were just being nosey) as we’re happy with the boat we’ve got once we finally get her sorted, but Fleurs De Lys would make a great family home.
I've borrowed an image of the buttons from Boatshed.com yacht brokers' website as I didn't get a chance to take one myself. Hoping the company won't mind me doing this if I include a link to the sales particulars here.
I’ve also spent quite a lot of time over the past week taking photos – mainly of Maryport Blues Festival, which was held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of last week.
The main tent was only about 100 yards from the marina so we were expecting to be able to hear the music from the comfort of our boat, but, rather surprisingly it wasn’t very loud when we were on board, even with all the windows open.
Ravensdale (left) with the main tent on the grass above
The music was even quieter at low tide when we were down behind the harbour wall and we could hardly hear it at all.
Fortunately, during the day on Friday, we met a guy called Dean who was staying in his camper van in the marina car park while doing some work on a friend’s boat and he kindly allowed us to join him in his van to listen to the music.
Chris and his unusual van at Maryport Blues Festival
One of the other vans that turned up for the festival caught my eye. It was a box van converted to look like a cross between a gypsy caravan and a shed.
I’d snapped it while taking photos of the tents in the festival camp site, but couldn’t resist going back for a closer look when I saw a man I presumed to be its owner sitting outside.
He told me he was called Chris and described himself as “a free spirit” who travels around festivals across England and Wales.
He was happy for me to photograph him sitting outside the vehicle on his own little piece of artificial grass and invited me in for a chat so I was able to get a sneaky peak at the inside of his van as well.
And as I left, the black crow model to the right of the door started squawking and flapping its wings. I was in fits of laughter J
Maryport Blues Festival is a major event with the main stage at the harbour and a popular blues trail at venues across the town.
Shipping Brow in Maryport during the blues festival
The publicity material stated that there were more than 150 acts performing over the three-day festival period.
There were lots of people out and about, following the trail and enjoying the craic in and around the pubs and various food outlets and on the streets when the weather permitted.
The town looked pretty busy to me, but locals tell me it was much less well attended than in previous years.
There were even fears that the lack of support could result in it not being held in the future, which would be a real shame.
Festivalgoers at South Quay, Maryport
A busker playing blues music on a street corner
The Captain Nelson Tavern in Maryport
Maryport Navy Club
The Lifeboat Inn, Maryport
Chilli Koko Cuisine...a taste of the Seychelles
Maryport's Shipping Brow during the blues festival
Maryport Marina's new caravan site was full for the festival