Ravensdale at sunset during a brief lull in Stork Erik
Storm force wind - gusting to more than 70mph - battered this area overnight last Friday and during Saturday morning making for a very noisy and bumpy experience on board.
The south-westerly, then westerly, wind that was associated with Storm Erik caused Ravensdale to bounce around violently.
It was so rough that Phil got up in the middle of the night to strap down the microwave and freezer, which we usually only do when we’re taking our Neptunus 133 out on the water.
But, amazingly, our staffie puppy, Ruby, slept through the whole thing.
The weather calmed down a lot during Sunday and by Monday morning it was so calm that we decided to go out fishing when the marina gate opened around lunchtime.
Me enjoying the winter sunshine while Phil was fishing
A huge wave almost obscures the lighthouse on the end of the pier at Maryport
Storm Erik started to make its presence felt on Friday with howling wind, at times, coupled with torrential rain.
This was followed by a very windy night, that we are both convinced was our windiest night afloat yet and probably the longest period of high winds we’ve experienced since we moved on board Ravensdale in November 2016.
The Met Office issued a yellow severe weather warning for wind from 00:15 until 14:00 hours on Saturday.
The wind speeds during the afternoon and evening on Friday must have been just below the figure that trigger a warning as it was very windy during the day but definitely got considerably worse overnight.
Gusts of up to 74mph were recorded by another berth holder here in Maryport at the height of the storm.
And the top average wind speed recorded at St Bees Head – our nearest weather station - was 54mph, gusting 74mph, at 3am.
Initially, we were being battered by a south-westerly wind, which changed to a westerly direction during the night.
Ravensdale was rocking quite violently.
The wind was whistling around our 43ft Neptunus 133 and through the rigging on the nearby yachts, and the water was slapping against the hull.
The guardrail that was hitting the steps handrail during the storm
And, at other times, we could hear and feel the boat being thrown against the pontoon with great force.
We heard other noises during the night, of which we were unsure of the cause.
Investigation revealed that one was a round metal torch rolling around in our cabin and the louder metallic noise was Ravensdale’s guardrail banging against the hand rail on our boarding steps, which is usually around a foot to two foot six inches away.
Ravensdale's microwave and freezer strapped down at sea
He came back to report that there were big waves in the marina and that it looked more like the sea.
Another time he got up to strap down the microwave and freezer, as we do when we take Ravensdale out on the water.
Amazingly, Ruby either slept through the storm or just laid there quietly all night listening to it as she didn’t make a sound from the time we went to bed until we got up on Saturday morning.
It was still very windy when we got up with an average wind speed of 37mph, gusting 56mph, at 8am.
The anchor that sawed its way into the pontoon during the storm
Getting off the boat wasn’t easy at the height of the storm, especially when the boat was being blown away from the pontoon creating a very wide gap between the deck and our boarding steps.
I could get across by waiting for the boat to move in a bit each time I needed to get on or off but really didn’t feel happy carrying Ruby in those conditions, so Phil took her on and off the boat as needed.
I didn’t see the other boats bouncing around during the night as I was all nice and cosy in my bed, but, the following day, I saw the damage one of them had done to the pontoon.
It had obviously been blown onto the pontoon and the anchor had chopped into it like a saw.
Monday’s fishing trip
Calm conditions at Maryport Marina on Monday morning
After Storm Erik on Friday and Saturday, it was difficult to believe the forecast for very low single figure wind on Monday, so we didn’t even bother to make plans to take the boat out.
However, when we awoke on Monday morning, the water in the marina was so calm that Phil popped around to the pier to check out the sea state before breakfast.
He came back saying it was so calm that we’d be crazy not to go so we started making plans to go fishing but there was no mad rush as the gate wasn’t due to open until just before 1pm.
It was a while since we’d put any fuel in Ravensdale’s diesel tank and the recent cold weather meant we’d used a lot for heating, so we decided to top it up before we went out.
We popped over to the Aquarium on the harbourside to get some fishing bait.
The Aquarium by Maryport Harbour
They didn’t have any squid or lug worms, so Phil bought mackerel, bluey and sprats.
On our return to the marina, we were given some squid, lug worm and hermit crabs by a fisherman friend here for which we were very grateful.
I packed away all the loose items inside Ravensdale and made a flask of tea while Phil did his bit in the engine room and outside.
This involves opening the seacocks, carrying out the routine engine checks and taking off all the mooring ropes other than the bow and stern lines.
We put Ruby in her cage for her own safety just before Phil started the engines then moved Ravensdale down to the next hammerhead to the diesel pump.
Phil filling up Ravensdale's diesel tank
This involves turning the boat around as the filler is on the starboard side, which meant we were then facing the right way to leave the marina, so we waited on that pontoon until the gate opened.
We left the marina at 1.20pm and the water was really calm on the way out – a very different experience to our last outing when we were bouncing around all over the place.
Ravensdale leaving Maryport
We anchored off Flimby in just over 8m (26 feet) of water.
I then poured us a cup of tea and prepared our lunch while Phil set up his two uptide rods.
My view of Scotland through the galley window while I was preparing lunch
Ruby seemed quite happy in her cage, so we left her in there until we’d finished eating then fed her as it was time for her second meal of the day.
Ruby resting in her cage
I was amazed that she wolfed it down just the same as she would’ve done under normal circumstances.
Phil went back out and carried on fishing while I cleared away our lunch things.
Ruby wasn’t too happy with being dressed up in her life jacket this time. She seemed to think it was a game, but I managed to get it on her eventually and took her out on the aft deck on her long lead.
Ruby in her life jacket
Me giving Ruby a cuddle on the aft deck
Ruby climbing up my legs in search of treats
Ruby looking out at the water
It wasn’t as calm as her first trip out on the boat and definitely nowhere near as rough as her last outing so was a good in between sort of experience for her.
She eventually decided she’d had enough and made it clear that she wanted to go back indoors.
So, I took her in and spent a bit of time playing with her and giving her a cuddle before putting her back in her cage. I then went back outside to see how Phil was getting on with his fishing.
It turned out to be our most successful fishing trip in recent months.
He caught 12 whiting, including five that were big enough to keep, one small codling and two dogfish, all of which were put back in the water.
Phil with one of the larger whiting he caught on this trip
Phil with the codling that was returned to the water
The wind got up a bit and the temperature dropped making it feel a lot colder.
Ravensdale out on the Solway Firth on Monday. Photo by Glyn Dixon
We could’ve stayed out for longer but decided to head home and for the first time in ages, we actually brought home some fish we could eat 😊
We returned to the marina at 4.25pm after three hours and 15 minutes out on the water, during which time we’d travelled 4.5 nautical miles.
We were pleased to discover that Glyn Dixon, who operates Venture West charter boat, had taken some photos of Ravensdale while I was taking photos of his boat. Thanks Glyn! 😊
Windscreen cover repairs
Phil fitting new studs to the windscreen cover
Some time back, Phil replaced the ones on the two corners on the starboard side with little bungee fastenings.
More studs had since broken, and the cover wasn’t secured properly anymore, so he ordered some replacements.
He replaced four of the broken studs with new ones.
Phil trying to drill a hole for the part of the stud that is fixed to the superstructure
He also fitted two further bungee fastenings – one on the top corner of the port side, where it was impossible to drill a new hole for a stud, and the other half way down the cover on the port side as the canvas had shrunk too much to get enough overlap to fit a stud.
The windscreen cover is now a nice snug fit again.
Fishing rod storage
Phil cutting the plumbing pipe he used for fishing rod storage
Phil has been planning to sort some better storage for his fishing rods for sometime and this week he got around to doing it.
They were pushed in along one side of the flybridge and the rings kept getting caught up on each other and on the boat hook that was stored in the same place.
He bought three black, 68mm diameter, plastic downpipes.
He then attached them with the brackets made for this size of pipe before slipping fishing rods into two of them and the boat hook into the other.
Rods and boat hook neatly stowed away in their newly fitted pipes
That area now looks much tidier and he can slide his rods and the boat hook in and out without causing any damage to the rods.
Ruby watching us from a comfy spot in the sun
Ruby continues to grow rapidly.
When we got her just before Christmas, she was 4.5kg. She has since more than doubled her weight and yesterday (Thursday) weighed 9.5kg.
She’s also learned to negotiate more of the steps on Ravensdale.
She still cries to be lifted down from the top of the four steps leading up out of the saloon onto the aft deck but will do it herself if she has a good enough reason or gets impatient while waiting for a lift.
She can now climb up the steps from the galley to the saloon but hasn’t yet attempted to go down them as the first step down is a bit of a big drop.
The steps from Ravensdale's galley up into the saloon and the dinette seat she now jumps from
Until now, she has always sat on the end seat and asked to be lifted into the saloon.
She hasn’t attempted this jump in the opposite direction yet and she hasn’t yet worked out that, if she jumped off the seating onto the floor under the dining table, she could then climb up the steps out of the galley.
But I’m sure it won’t be long before she does one or the other – or both
The days of being able to put her in one area of Ravensdale knowing she will stay there are nearly over. Soon she will have the run of the boat 😊
Ruby's favourite spot in the saloon
She hasn’t had as many beach walks this week due to the bad weather.
However, on Saturday afternoon when it was still pretty windy, I took her for a walk along the coastal path on top of the seawall and she really didn’t like the sound made by the huge waves crashing onto the shore.
And I didn’t take my camera on a walk along the beach on Tuesday because the weather wasn’t very nice, but I really wish I had as she seemed happier getting closer to the water’s edge than on previous occasions.
I grabbed a few shots of her and Phil walking on the beach with my phone, but the quality is nowhere near as good as I get from my camera.
Ruby watches the waves with Phil
Me and Ruby on the beach at Maryport yesterday (Thursday)
But at least I had my camera when we took her for a run on the beach yesterday (Thursday) and she found a small flatfish in the sand. She seemed so pleased with herself and was very reluctant to give it up.
Ruby with the flatfish she found in the wet sand yesterday (Thursday)
Ruby digging a hole in the sand
Ruby was totally unconcerned by Storm Erik, apart from not liking the wind much when she had to go out to do her business.
And she was no trouble at all during our trip out on Ravensdale on Monday.
Ruby was also pretty good when a friend visited us on the boat on Saturday.
Ruby checking out our visitor on Saturday
Ruby smiling for the camera
And this week I got a photo of her that I totally love. I managed to get a snap of her smiling for the camera 😊
Among the many good things about living on a boat are the sea creatures and other wildlife we see on a regular basis.
However, the swan family seems to be visiting the marina much less frequently at the moment and we haven’t seen them here at all this week.
I initially thought it was because they didn’t like Ruby.
I then remembered that it was around this time last year that the parents stopped visiting for a few months before returning with their babies so maybe they’re about to begin the nesting process for this year’s brood.
We’ve seen a couple of unusual sights in the marina this week – one I did manage to photograph and one that I sadly missed.
We heard a knock on Ravensdale’s window on Tuesday morning and went to see who was there.
It was one of the marina staff calling us to go and see a large shoal of fish close to the pontoon near the ramp up to the marina facilities.
All we could see was a black mass under the water about four or five feet in diameter.
The black mass that we could see in the water at Maryport Marina
At first glance, it looked like oil, but it was obviously moving around.
When we looked more closely, we could just make out the shapes of what lookes like thousands of small fish, with the occasional glint of silver as one of them turned over.
I went to get my camera and crept along the pontoon to get as close as possible without disturbing them.
A close up of a section of the shoal of fish
I took lots of photos in the hope the fish would be visible in one of them as the movement of the water and the reflections of the sunlight were making it quite difficult to see them.
And, when I got the images on my computer, I discovered that some actually showed the huge number of fish in the black ball.
Phil scooping out some of the fish with his landing net
We didn’t know what type of fish they were so Phil got our landing net and scooped a few up to get a closer look before putting them back and we discovered them to be small grey mullet that were about three to four inches long.
One of the thousands of grey mullet in the shoal
And the unusual sight that would’ve made a great photo, if only I’d been quicker grabbing my camera, was a seagull standing on the pontoon by Ravensdale holding a large starfish in its beak.
Soon after I spotted it, it flew off obviously weighed down by its prey.
It was being very closely watched by a group of gulls that were apparently hoping it would drop the starfish so they could swoop in and grab it.
I haven’t gone out for many walks with my camera this week other than going down onto the shore here at Maryport during Storm Erik last Friday and Saturday.
Giant waves crashing onto the shore at Maryport during Storm Erik
Big waves rolling in at the start of the storm
Spray being whipped up by the high winds
Surprisingly, given the horrendous weather we had during the storm, there was a pretty impressive sunset on Friday evening but, by the time I realised it was happening, I only had time to grab a few photos in the marina.
Sunset at Maryport Marina with Ravensdale at the far end of the pontoon
Another view of the sunset at Maryport Marina
And, as always, I took loads of photos while we were out on the Solway Firth on Monday.
Maryport from the Solway Firth with a dusting of snow on the distant fells
Cormorants on a navigation mark in the Solway Firth
Iggesund paperboard mill at Workington from the Solway Firth
Another view of Maryport from the Solway Firth
Fishing charter boat Venture West out on the Solway Firth
Another view of Venture West with Robin Rigg wind farm in the background
High winds have been the predominant feature of the past week’s weather with one really calm day in between.
Overnight Friday into Saturday was our windiest night on board yet.
The highest average wind speed recorded locally during the night was 54mph, gusting 74mph.
It was still very windy when we got up of Saturday morning when the average wind speed was 37mph, gusting 56mph, and it continued to blow a gale until well into the afternoon.
It was a bright day of cloud and sunny intervals with a top temperature of 7.4C (45F).
Sunday afternoon at Maryport Marina
We had a sunny start to the day on Sunday, which was followed by cloud and sunny intervals. The top temperature was 5.5C (42F) and the highest average wind speed during the day was 22mph, gusting 33mph.
Monday morning was very sunny and very calm, so we decided to take the boat out.
The wind speed was just 2-3mph in the morning while the marina gate was shut. It was still calm when we left the marina, but the wind increased while we were out. The top average wind speed during the day was 10mph at 6pm.
Sunny weather on the Solway Firth on Monday afternoon
The temperature reached 6.3C (43F) at midday, dropping to 3.3C (38F) by 6pm.
It rained overnight and was still raining first thing on Tuesday morning but soon cleared up.
Tuesday was much windier than the previous day and it rained again for a while around lunchtime.
The top temperature was 7.8C (46F) and the top average wind speed was 18mph.
Wednesday was cloudy but dry and bright, with a top temperature of 7.6C (46F). It was another windy day with a top average wind speed of 25mph, gusting 36mph.
Cloud and wind at Maryport Marina on Wednesday
Yesterday (Thursday) started cloudy but dry. The cloud cleared during the morning to give way to sunshine during the afternoon.
The temperature reached 7.3C (45F) and the top average wind speed was 22mph, gusting 29mph.
Clear sky over the beach at Maryport this afternoon (Friday)
And, today (Friday), started sunny, mild and fairly calm, but the wind got up later in the day. The top temperature was 10.1C and the average wind speed reached 23mph, gusting 31mph.