Friday, 1 September 2017

Wildlife watching in and around Maryport Marina

Photo of some of the shrimps we caught in our crab net

Some of the shrimps we caught in our crab net

Conger eels, cormorants, crabs, shrimps, flatfish and lizards - these are just some of the creatures we’ve seen in and around the marina over the past week.

Our crab net is being put to good use now as a trap for bait for our first fishing trip on Ravensdale.

We bought the net a couple of months ago just to discover what was living under our boat in Maryport Marina.

Soon afterwards the zip broke, but Phil has fixed it and it’s working again.

Photo of Phil repairing our crab net

Phil repairing our crab net

And he's now decided that the crabs and shrimps we catch will be useful bait for the new fishing rods that I bought him for his birthday.

He plans to use the shrimps, along with the frozen mackerel and squid that are sitting in our tiny freezer, out on our first fishing trip, which we're hoping will be tomorrow (Saturday).

We've been getting some good hauls of crabs, often a dozen or more at a time, and a similar number of shrimps every time we lift the net.
But the biggest surprise came when we pulled it up to find a flatfish in amongst them.

We had a good look at it, then returned it to the water as it wasn’t big enough to eat and neither of us would fancy eating anything that fed on the mud in the bottom of the marina anyway.

We weren’t 100% sure, but thought it looked like a flounder.

Photo of a flatfish, crabs and shrimps in our crab net

This catch included the flatfish, more than a dozen crabs and a similar number of shrimps

Photo of Phile examining the flatfish before returning it to the water

Examining the flatfish before returning it to the water

We also discovered why we seemed to be losing shrimps when we left them in the net as on one occasion when it was lifted we caught one of the crabs halfway through his shrimp supper :-)

We now know we need to get a separate keep net if we want to save live shrimps for bait.

Cormorants visit the marina from time to time, but I've only ever seen them from too far away to get a photograph.

This week one landed on one of the pontoon fingers near our boat and stayed for long enough for me to put the long lens on the camera to get a snap of it. My only disappointment was that it had finished drying its wings by the time the camera was set up.

Photo of a cormorant sunning itself on a pontoon near Ravensdale

A cormorant sunning itself on a pontoon near Ravensdale

But the most interesting marine visitor we saw this week was a three-foot conger eel that was swimming along in the narrow gap between the edge of the main pontoon and the marina wall.

We watched it twist and turn for a while before it dived down into the muddy water and disappeared.

Sadly I only had my phone with me and the photos I took weren’t great, but at least it meant we could make sure we’d correctly identified it.

Photo of a conger eel swimming along beside the marina wall

A conger eel swims along beside the marina wall

It’s the first one we’ve seen in the almost 10 months we’ve been living on board our 43ft Neptunus 133 cruiser in Maryport Marina, but there are probably more of them lurking in the muddy depths.

And I really hope I have my camera handy next time one comes anywhere near the surface while I’m around as they’re impressive, if a little scary, looking creatures.

I also discovered that there are loads of lizards on the fence posts alongside the road between the marina and the beach.

I bumped into a local who was walking his dog while I was over by the beach this week and he told me the lizards sun themselves on the tops of the posts on warm days. 

Photo of a lizard warming up in the sunshine

A lizard warms up in the sunshine 

Photo of another of the basking lizards on the fenceposts near the marina

Another of the basking lizards on the fence posts near the marina

The marina was busier than usual over the Bank Holiday weekend with a number of boats coming and going, but we decided to wait until the depth sounder was sorted before taking Ravensdale out again and Phil finished fitting the new in-hull transducer over the weekend.

Photo of Phil fitting the new in-hull transducer

Fitting the new in-hull transducer

He also fixed the large white lockers on the aft deck to the decking after discovering they were loose and could move around.

We’d always thought they were screwed down and worked around them when we cleaned and sealed the deck.

However, soon after we returned from our last trip out into the Solway Firth, Phil went to put something behind one of the lockers and saw it move.

Photo of the two large white lockers on Ravensdale's aft deck

The two large white lockers on Ravensdale's aft deck

Thank goodness we discovered it before taking the boat out in a rough sea as the lockers are very heavy and could’ve done real damage or gone straight through the fabric dodgers over the side into the water, if they’d been thrown around.

The weather was awful on Bank Holiday Monday so we hardly left the boat and I decided it was a good time to do something I’ve always wanted to do and start writing a novel.

I’ve had a few ideas for plots in my head for a while and decided it was time to make a start.

I thought I’d be easily distracted but found I really enjoyed the opportunity to use my imagination rather than having to stick to the facts as I’d had to do while working as a journalist.

And for any non journalists reading this, I know what you’re thinking and I can assure you we really don’t make it up as we go along J

In fact, I’m enjoying writing my book so much that the hardest thing is stopping myself typing to do the other things that need doing on the boat or even going outside to make the most of the sunshine - when the sun actually comes out that is.

I just wish I could find a way of typing out on the aft deck, but I’m sure the sun would reflect on the screen of my laptop. I must look into that one before the end of the summer.

I’m told the weather in Cumbria is usually nice for the first two weeks of September, just after the children go back to the school at the end of their summer holidays, so we’re now hoping we could be in for some more sunshine before autumn arrives.

If the weather is good, we are planning more trips out on Ravensdale, initially fishing, but then maybe to Kirkcudbright on the Scottish side of the Solway Firth.

I also want to get out and about more with my camera, when it comes back after being repaired. Phil has kindly lent me his while mine's been away, but it'll be good to have my own camera back again.

As always, there seems to be so much to do and so little time. I now know what retired folk mean when they say the don't know how they ever had time to go to work :-)

Photo of a dog walker on Grasslot Beach, Maryport

A dog walker on Grasslot Beach, Maryport

Photo of people walking along the coastal path towards Flimby

Walking along the coastal path towards Flimby

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