Friday, 25 August 2017

Living the dream - anchors aweigh...

Photo of me enjoying the sunshine on Ravensdale's aft deck in the Solway Firth

Enjoying the sunshine on Ravensdale's aft deck in the Solway Firth

It’s been another busy week on Ravensdale, including our second trip out into the Solway Firth, further boat maintenance and Phil’s birthday.
Our first outing from Maryport Marina in Cumbria on our 43ft Neptunus 133 cruiser earlier this month was exciting, but in many ways the second on Monday of this week was better.
This time the new depth sounder/log, which had to be returned to the manufacturer because it wasn’t working properly, was back in situ so we knew what speeds we were doing and we were able to check this against the GPS on the plotter.
Photo of Phil at the helm of Ravensdale at sea

Phil at the helm of Ravensdale at sea

Phil took Ravensdale up to about 18 knots, which felt as though we were moving through the water pretty fast, and she still had more to give, but we decided not to push her any harder as the port engine seemed to be smoking a bit at speed.
However, she seemed very happy and was smoke-free at about 8-9 knots.
We’ve spoken to a number of people who have more experience of diesel engines than us and they didn’t seem to think it was too worrying.
It has been suggested that we run the fuel tank down as much as possible before refuelling to use up the old diesel before filling her up again so that's what we are planning to do.
It was a lovely calm day, with winds of just 5-6mph, so we took the opportunity to see how the boat would behave if we put the engines in neutral and let her drift.
And we decided this was a good time to have our first cup of tea on the aft deck at sea.
Photo of making our first cup of tea at sea

Making our first cup of tea at sea while the boat rocked around on the waves

Photo of Phil enjoying his first cup of tea at sea on the aft deck

Phil enjoys his first cup of tea at sea on the aft deck

The thinking behind this was that we wanted to discover how easy it would be to fish from the boat.
It seems it would be no problem at all when there’s very little wind and we wouldn’t be going out fishing in high winds anyway.
The rev counter on the port engine, which had been refusing to work on our first trip out into the firth, worked this time as Phil had checked all the connections and got it running again.

The blown water filter gasket

He had also replaced the gasket in the port engine water filter that we discovered was totally blown and, before we bought the boat, someone had used silicone sealant to seal down the perspex inspection cover that is supposed to be removed so the filter can be checked and if necessary cleaned out after every trip out to sea.
The lid can now be easily removed and the filter checked and cleaned.
It seems crazy that someone would seal the lid down rather than paying £11 for a new gasket, but that's what they had done.
Photo of fitting the new gasket to the water filter

Fitting the new gasket to the water filter

Sadly we still had no idea of the depth of water while we were out as, although the depth sounder worked briefly after it returned from the manufacturer, it packed up again just before we went out.
Photo of the depth sounder (top left)

The depth sounder (top left) registers "out" instead of the depth

We’ve now decided that there must be a problem with the “through hull” transducer. This sends a signal down to the seabed which bounces back, giving the depth reading.
In an attempt to rectify the problem without having Ravensdale lifted out of the water again, which would cost us more than £400, we decided it would be cheaper to buy an “in hull” transducer in the hope we will get a reading from that.
Phil’s in the process of fitting it as I write this, so I will provide an update on that in my next blog post.
In the meantime, Phil celebrated his birthday last week so I was faced with the near impossible task of finding something to get him as a present.
He already has just about every type of fishing rod imaginable (at least, that’s how it seems to me J) but he’d been saying he needed uptide rods so I ordered two rods and a pair of rod holders for his birthday.
Apparently uptide rods enable you to fish in reasonably shallow water, allowing you to cast fairly heavy weights away from the boat.
He seemed pleased with his present, so much so that he even went out in the rain on his birthday to fit the holders to the guard rail on either side of the bow, then tried the rods in them when the sun came out.
Photo of Phil fitting one of the new rod holders

Phil fitting one of the new rod holders

Photo of Phil trying a rod in one of the new rod holders

Phil trying a rod in one of the new rod holders

However, he hadn’t had time to sort out the rest of his fishing gear before our trip out on Monday so that will be something to look forward to on our next outing.
He has been busy making up traces and we’ve managed to squeeze some frozen bait into our tiny freezer to ensure that he will be ready to fish at a moment’s notice when we decide to go out again.
I was so glad the fishing rods and holders were a success as my attempts at making him a cake were anything but. After bragging that I thought I’d sussed out the temperature controls on our little oven, his birthday cake was an unmitigated disaster.
As a change from the courgette cakes I’ve been making lately, I decided to try a coffee and walnut cake and all went well until I got it out of the oven to discover that the sides were burnt and the middle immediately sank.
Photo of my sad apology for a coffee and walnut cake

My sad apology for a coffee and walnut cake

Thankfully, Phil thought it was hilarious and decided to share it with the local wildlife. He threw it overboard for the seagulls, who seemed none the worse for their birthday tea.
Oh well, they say it’s the thought that counts...
And I went out and bought a Belgian chocolate cheesecake instead (no image of that I'm afraid as we ate it before I could take a photo of it :-)).
While Ravensdale was out of the water on the hard standing earlier this year, we ordered and fitted a new trident logo to replace the existing one on the bow which was looking more than a little the worse for wear.
The only trouble was that we forgot to make a hole through the vinyl logo to allow the anchor chain locker to drain.
So, while we were moving the boat across onto the adjoining pontoon to enable Phil to clean the starboard side of the hull, I suggested this would be a good opportunity to pull the bow around to within reach of the pontoon to pierce the vinyl.
Poor Ravensdale looked a bit sad moored at 45 degrees to the pontoon and I’m sure passers by must’ve thought we were really bad at parking our boat, but it did the trick.
Photo of Ravensdale moored at a crazy angle so we could get to the bow

Ravensdale moored at a crazy angle so we could get to the bow

Photo of Ravensdale moored at an angle to the pontoon

Ravensdale moored at an angle to the pontoon

Photo of Ravensdale's chain locker emptying into the marina

Ravensdale's chain locker empties into the marina

Phil then used a hot soldering iron to make a neat hole and, immediately he pierced the vinyl, a steady stream of water started pouring out.
And it kept running for such a long time that I can only think it wouldn’t have been long before it would’ve started pouring out onto the bunks in the fore cabin where the internal access to the chain locker is situated.
We also decided it would be a good idea to try dropping the anchor in the marina before we needed to do so at sea, just to make sure that the winch was working properly after Phil replaced the switch and that it would lift the anchor.
Photo of Ravensdale dropping anchor for the first time

Ravensdale drops anchor for the first time

And it was a very good job we did...
Only about 10m of the 55m chain came out when he dropped the anchor and he had to inspect the chain locker to see what was happening.
The main problem here being that, lack of storage space has meant a number of homeless boxes of stuff and various other items had been “temporarily” placed on the bunks in the forward cabin.
These all had to be removed before he could get to the chain locker to discover that the chain was tangled up. He untangled it and the rest of the chain slid out into the water.
And, thankfully, the winch brought the chain and anchor back in again, but the chain needed hosing down as it went back in as it was very dirty after being sat in the mud at the bottom of the marina.
Photo washing the anchor after we tested it by dropping it in the marina

Washing the anchor after we tested it by dropping it in the marina

This little exercise taught us another lesson. We need unhindered access to the chain locker hatch while at sea.
If we’d been dropping the anchor in a rough sea, we would’ve had a terrible job on our hands moving all our stuff out of the cabin while the boat was being tossed around by the waves.
So we sorted all the stuff we had pulled out before putting it back to decide what we didn’t really need on the boat and anything that was considered unnecessary on board was taken to the storage facility we use near Cockermouth the following day.
The access to the chain locker is now clear. The only challenge will be keeping it that way... J