Cormorants enjoying the winter sunshine at Maryport Marina
Winter is beginning to make its presence known here now.
We’ve had a couple of days of lovely winter sunshine over the past week, but it has also been getting a lot colder, especially at night.
We haven’t had any frost yet, but I'm sure it won't be long before it arrives.
Looking back at one of my first blog posts, written soon after we moved onboard this time last year, I can see that it was so cold that the water in the marina froze over on November 21.
And, for a few days before that, the marina staff were putting salt on the pontoons to make them less slippery.
A cold sunny day at Maryport Marina
The lowest temperature we’ve seen on the thermometer inside our 43ft Neptunus 133 cruiser Ravensdale so far this winter is 8C (46.4F) in the saloon first thing on Monday morning, but it was probably lower during the night.
It looks as though we’re going to have to start leaving our Webasto 5 diesel heater on overnight soon.
Thankfully the new heater we had fitted after the existing Eberspacher heater broke down in January of this year is a lot quieter than the old one, which means it doesn’t disturb our sleep as much as the Eberspacher, but we still prefer not to put it on until we really have to.
We’ve also swapped the tyres on our car for winter tyres this week ready for the colder months. They’re probably not really necessary in Cumbria, but we already had them from when we were living in Scotland so we will carry on using them until they wear out.
I really can’t believe how quickly the year has flown by. It’ll be Christmas again before we know it.
In fact, the shops seem to think it’s Christmas already. Some of them put their decorations up as soon as Halloween was over. I love Christmas, but I still think it’s way too soon. Surely they could at least wait until December before expecting us to get into the festive spirit?
New starter batteries to ensure Ravensdale's two 300hp engines start first time
Phil fitting the new batteries in the engine room
That said, Ravensdale has been allowed to have her Christmas present early this year.
Phil fitted two new 180 ampere hour starter batteries in her battery bank last weekend so hopefully she will start first time every time now.
And, after many years of retirement, Phil is now going out to work again – but only on a temporary basis. For as long as I can remember, I've been the one going to work while Phil stayed at home and now the roles are reversed, but I'm definitely not complaining J
This week, he’s been providing relief cover for the operational staff while they were undergoing training from Monday to Wednesday.
And he got a call yesterday (Thursday) lunchtime asking if he could do a few hours yesterday evening to cover for a member of staff who had called in sick.
Phil has been carrying out short periods of relief work, mainly opening and closing the marina gate and raising and lowering the footbridge across the harbour, for a few weeks now, but this was the first time he’d worked full days.
The funniest part was that, on his first day, three of the jobs he was given were fixing problems that I’d reported.
These were a toilet that had stopped flushing, a blocked shower drain and the replacement of a full-length mirror in the ladies toilet and shower block that was removed when the new door fob system was fitted.
Just goes to show that, even if he tries to go out to work to get away from me, he can’t get away from me finding jobs for him to do J
I’m pleased to report that, after his efforts, the broken loo is now working again, the shower drain is running better and the mirror has been reinstated.
Another job that he spent a good bit of time on was scrubbing birds’ mess off one of the pontoons that seems to attract a lot of flying visitors.
But, before he started, he kindly gave me a phone call to let me know that the cormorants I’d been wanting to photograph were sitting on the pontoon.
I've been trying to get a photo of the adult and juvenile cormorants together and this was the first time we'd seen them in the same place at the same time.
I was able to get a few reasonable shots before I got too close and they flew away onto another pontoon, leaving Phil to get on with the job of scrubbing the messy one.
The adult cormorant takes flight
The down side of the many birds that visit the marina is guano on the pontoons
Two cormorants sitting on a pontoon near the marina gate
I’ve also been trying to get some shots of the cormorants diving, but not had any luck as yet. The nearest I've got so far is a few shots of them swimming and a swan that was determined to get in on the photo shoot J
The juvenile cormorant urges the adult bird to join it in the water
A young cormorant surfaces after diving for food
One of the two swans that are very regular visitors to the marina
Pigeons bathing in a puddle on a dinghy cover
Spaces in the marina where boats have been lifted out for the winter
And there have been a few things going on in the marina this week.
One of the larger boats left for pastures new on Tuesday evening.
Dive vessel, MV Susan H, has been sold and is heading to Antwerp, en route to Chile, where she's going to be used for oceanographic survey work.
MV Susan H taking on fuel ready for the trip - taken from Ravensdale's aft deck
The survey team's GPS equipment
A small team from Swansea in Wales has been up here surveying the seabed in the marina, the harbour and the basin between Maryport’s two piers to see how bed levels have changed since the area was last dredged in 2015.
They set up a tripod with an aerial near the marina building to enable them to take accurate GPS readings and drove a small dinghy around the areas they were surveying to record the levels.
The results will give the marina an accurate picture of how much silt has built up since the last time it was dredged and give an indication of when it's likely to need doing again.
I'm told the marina is usually dredged at roughly five-yearly intervals.
The bed level survey being carried out in the marina
Survey work underway in the harbour
And an old metal walkway that used to sit on top of the marina gate was cut up and taken away this week.
The bridge, which used to shorten the walk from Maryport to the beach, was removed a couple of years ago when it was discovered that it was too heavy for the gate and was putting it under strain. It had been sitting on the hard standing ever since.
The old bridge being cut up - taken from Ravensdale's fore deck
And, as usual, I’ve been out and about with my camera capturing the ever-changing views of Maryport, which I'm affectionately calling my adopted hometown J
|One of the local fishing boats bringing home its catch|
The sun going down over Grasslot shore at Maryport
Fishing as the sun sets
A local fishing boat returning home to Maryport
Winter sun on the grasses above the beach at Maryport