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