Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Liveaboard storage wars - a place for everything and everything in it's place

Phil tears out his hair during our very own onboard storage wars

We have definitely got too much stuff for our liveaboard lifestyle.

I’m sure Ravensdale is now sitting lower in the water than when we moved on board at the beginning of November.

One of her big attractions was that she had a lot of storage space for a boat, but that just means we have more room for our junk and we have packed stuff into every wardrobe, cupboard and locker.

From day one, I started keeping lists of what was where.

Piles of stuff fill the boat during our big sort out

However, since then, extra stuff has been added and things have been moved from one location to another.

So much so that we’d reached a point where, every time we wPilanted to do something, we had to spend a good half hour searching for the tools or whatever was needed for the job and sometimes a good deal longer than that.

We set aside a day to tackle the problem and started early in the morning by pulling everything out of its hiding place. Tables, chairs and the floor were piled high with all our worldly possessions.

Then we set about the daunting task of sorting everything, getting rid of anything we really didn’t need and trying to establish some sort of order in the storage of the items that were staying.

And this time I recorded every item that went away and have typed up a “What’s Where” list that should make our lives a lot easier from here on – as long as things are always put backs in the right place...

One of our new fire extinguishers

We have also replaced our fire extinguishers on the boat as the existing ones were well past their use-by date and the directions for use were in Dutch. This meant we didn’t know what type of extinguishers we had and couldn’t read any of the instructions.

We’re guessing they were probably as old as the boat, which was built in Holland in 1984, so we decided there time was up.

And we have put plastic tubing over a couple of our new mooring ropes at the point where they pass through the cleats to prevent them from wearing too quickly.

I would have liked to have been able to get blue tubing to match the ropes, but a local firm gave us an off-cut of green tubing, which has worked a treat.

Meanwhile, I think Phil must have fancied a larger bedroom as he has attempted to water it on two separate occasions J

Phil tops up Ravensdale's water tank

Our cold water tank is under our bed and we have to be very careful when filling it not to let it overflow as the water pours in faster than it can overflow into the marina so it tends to spill over onto the floor under our bed.

Dex keeps a watchful eye on some passers by

We need to top it up every four to five days and thought we now knew roughly how long it took to fill, but we got chatting to someone who dropped in for a coffee and totally forgot the water was running in.

This resulted in the floor and the carpet being soaked so the carpet had to be lifted and towels were packed in around the base of the bed to soak up the excess water.

One of our dehumidifiers then had to work overtime for a couple of days to completely dry out the floor.

And, as if that wasn’t enough water in our bedroom, the next time we filled up the water tank Phil decided to hose down the hull without noticing that I had just opened all the windows in our bedroom to give it a good airing.

Needless to say the water poured in the windows and down the walls. It made puddles on the wooden surfaces and soaked the items sitting on them, including my handbag, which I had unfortunately left wide open.

So, once again, the dehumidifier was working flat out to dry out the bedroom and the soggy contents of my bag – so much for saving money on the electricity now we have a proper diesel heating system again L

The next thing on our “to do” list is to start studying for our VHF radio course next month.

Dex tries out one of our new cushions after a walk around the harbour. Another new fire extinguisher is just visible in the background

Maryport Harbour during one of our dog walks

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The past week has been mainly about the three 'F's – fishing, photography and a fuel filter :-)

Fishing off Maryport Pier

At long last we have got around to doing something other than studying and working on the boat.

A few beautiful sunny days have tempted us to put aside the various jobs we had planned to do onboard in the past week and to do some of the other things we enjoy, such as fishing and photography.

Waiting for a bite

Maryport pier, which is only about half a mile from the marina, is a popular fishing spot so you have to get their early to get a good location.

Phil proudly presents his first catch

We haven’t managed to get there early enough for the end of the pier yet, so have been fishing off the side, without much success. The only consolation has been that none of the other fishermen seem to have caught much while we were there either.

On his first attempt last week, Phil caught a small flat fish and an even smaller whiting and today he caught two small whiting.

While he was fishing, I took my camera for a walk along the shore and thankfully got back in time to get a quick snap of him with the little flat fish just before he returned it to the sea.

Next time, I may set up a rod too as two rods have to give us a better chance of catching something.

Despite the lack of a decent catch, both fishing trips were very enjoyable. There’s nothing like being outside doing something I want to do at a time when I would previously have been chained to my desk slaving over a hot keyboard.

Hope this fishing boat had more luck than we did

We have also taken our cameras for a walk around the harbour and, when I don’t have my camera with me, I take copious photos on my phone, some of which have come out much better than I had expected.

Dusk over Maryport Harbour

Another image of the harbour taken between heavy showers

But it has not been all play.

Phil disappears down into the engine room to change the oil filter on the heater

The new fuel filter is fitted in place

When the new heater was fitted, Gary, of Autolec in Carlisle, discovered the fuel filter was very dirty, but did not have a new one with him so his company sent out a new one that Phil fitted yesterday.

The heating system is now working really well. We are lovely and warm and it is so much quieter and cleaner than the old one was before it broke down.

We also did a couple of small jobs outside while the sun was shining and it was great to be able to sit outside for a coffee break.

Time for a well-earned break in the winter sunshine

And Dex loves being outside with us while we’re working.

Dex keeps a lookout for seagulls and passers-by

He spends his time watching sea gulls, running around the decks and greeting everyone that passes by on the pontoon or the promenade above the harbour when we are outside at high tide.

The last couple of days of fabulous weather have given us a taste of just how wonderful our new life will be in the spring and summer when it will hopefully be considerably warmer out there.

Another chore that was considerably less fun, but will save us money was the latest battle in our own personal storage war.

We initially rented a 75sqft unit at Box Clever, near Cockermouth.  After much effort, we managed to downsize to a 50sqft unit and we have now moved into the smallest size unit available, which is just 25sqft.

The aim is to get rid of it altogether in the next few months and we will achieve it. Just wish we had been more ruthless before we moved as it was considerably easier sorting through our stuff and deciding what to keep, sell, rehome or throw away when we had a house to do it in.

The best advice I could give to anyone considering moving from a house to a boat is that you need much, much less than you think you will.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

At long last we have heat!!!

Gary from Caldew Autolec in Carlisle installs our new heater.

After more than a month without a proper heating system on Ravensdale, our new heater was installed today and it’s working J

Gary from Caldew Autolec in Carlisle turned up with our Webasto 5 before 9am this morning and once again our main saloon was turned into a building site.

The heater fits into a small space between one of the engines and the hull

We lifted the carpet and the section of flooring covering one of the engines and the area where the old heater used to be before it broke down, never to go again.

We had high hopes that installation would go smoothly, as we had sent the company photos of the space where the old heater had been to show the position, access, mountings, fittings and exhaust.

However, we did not know if they had provided all the information required to make all the parts needed to make the new heater work in this location.

But Gary did a great job and by the time he left the new heating system was working well and it is really, really quiet in comparison with the old one.

The new controls are fitted in the instrument panel at the helm

We are making the most of it tonight and have turned it up warmer than we would usually have our heating as a special treat after weeks of wrapping up in thermal underwear and blankets to keep warm.

And, for once, we were pleased to see a forecast of low temperatures overnight and for the next few days as we will really feel the benefit of our lovely new heater.

Dex waits patiently while I take photos on the beach

Poor old Dex had to spend a few hours in the car while the work was being carried out as we didn’t want him to fall down the hole into the engine room, but I took him for a good walk on Maryport Beach before putting him in the car and wrapped him up in a warm blanket in the boot, even though it wasn’t very cold today. He was not impressed!

However, when we took him back to the boat after the work was finished, he was delighted to discover warm air coming out of the heat outlets and stood at the foot of the steps down from the saloon into the galley for sometime soaking up the heat from the outlet at the foot of the stairs.

He is now curled up fast asleep on the seating in the dining area in a temperature of 24.5C – a vast improvement on the 7C we recorded in the same area earlier this week.
All in all, it has been a very good day and we popped out this afternoon to buy some bait for the planned fishing trip tomorrow morning.

A groyne on Maryport Beach

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Three months into our new liveaboard life and we’re still smiling

The sun sets over Maryport Marina.

We now have our Yachtmaster Offshore certificates and are booked for the VHF radio course early next month.

Our Yachtmaster Offshore certificates

The Yachtmaster theory course was pretty full on, but at least doing it that way has enabled us to finish it before we are ready to go to sea, in the spring/summer, which was all part of the plan when we decided to move onto a boat at the start of the winter.

Definitely not part of the plan was being without heating for a month during the coldest part of the year.

Our heater, which kept us so warm during our first two months on board, packed up on January 5.

Initially, we hoped the existing Eberspacher 7 heater could be fixed, but we were told it was beyond repair as the parts were no longer available so we ordered a new Webasto 5 heater on January 11.

We were told the heater had to be ordered from Germany and would take about a week to arrive in the UK. However, a series of delays, including the courier losing the first one that was sent, mean we are still without heat more than a month later.

But we received a call today to say it is now in Carlisle and is due to be fitted tomorrow so hopefully this time tomorrow evening, we will be sitting in a nice warm boat.

Phil checks our electricity consumption

We’ve been very fortunate that the weather has been relatively mild for the time of year, but we have still spent a lot of extra money on electricity and gas in attempt to stop the temperature on board from dropping too low.

Most of the time we have succeeded in this, but we did get up one morning to find the temperature in the main saloon was just 7C.

Now our coursework is over we still have various projects to carry out on the boat, but we are also hoping to find time for more leisure pursuits, such as walking, cycling, fishing and exploring the Lake District.

So far the nearest we have come to fishing is watching other people fish off the pier at Maryport during a Sunday morning walk on the beach.

For once, I took my proper camera with me, rather than taking snaps on my phone, which is what I usually end up doing.

Fishing on the pier at Maryport

The weather wasn’t great for scenic photography, but it made for some moody skies that looked pretty impressive over Iggesund Paperboard’s Workington Mill and the wind turbines that surround it.

Workington Mill from Maryport Pier

We’ve managed to get a few jobs done on the boat in between our studies.

Phil replaces the anchor light

Phil spent hours balanced on a rail on the fly bridge while trying to change the anchor light on a pole on the radar arch.

It was freezing cold and I was feeling really guilty as I had suggested doing that particular task that day, unaware it would take so long because he couldn’t see into the light fitting and had to use a mirror to fit it and to do all the electrical connections.

I stayed on the aft deck to give him moral support, passing him tools and even got him a cushion to reduce the pressure on his chest while leaning against the radar arch, but there was little more I could do.

The funniest part was when a friend later pointed out that we could have dropped the radar arch to carry out the work so Phil’s balancing act was totally unnecessary, which thankfully he found really funny.

We also replaced two more ropes with new ones so we now have a full set of new navy mooring ropes.

And Phil ended up fishing for litter in the marina after bits of plastic and other rubbish started blowing into the water from the building site above us, where a new touring caravan park is under construction.  

Phil's fishing trip

Not quite the type of fishing he had been hoping for, but I’m sure we’ll make up for that very soon.

We had been planning to go tomorrow morning, but that will not be happening now as the heater is supposed to be arriving first thing.

Maybe we will get to go fishing on Thursday or Friday...