Snow blowing across Maryport Marina
Sub-zero temperatures, heavy snow and a mini earthquake have made for an unusual week in west Cumbria, UK.
The weather system, dubbed the Beast from the East, arrived overnight on Tuesday/Wednesday bringing temperatures down to -6C (21F) that felt more like -12C (10F) with the wind chill factor.
And on Wednesday morning local people in Maryport and surrounding areas reported feeling their homes move as a mini quake registering 3.2 on the Richter scale caused their windows and doors to rattle just after 7.30am.
We later learned that it was the largest earthquake in Cumbria since 2010.
Unsurprisingly, we didn’t feel the quake on our 43ft seagoing cruiser Ravensdale, but we certainly felt the effects of the Beast from the East.
The Beast from the East
Storm clouds gathering over Maryport heralding the arrival of "the Beast"
Despite the early warnings of the snow storm about to hit the UK from Siberia, we didn’t really expect to see much of an impact here as every severe weather warning for snow we’ve seen since we moved on board Ravensdale almost 16 months ago has failed to reach us.
And local people told us that they hadn’t seen any significant snowfall here for around seven to eight years.
You could say we prepared for the worst, but expected the best - except that we like snow, so no snow wasn’t really going to be the best outcome for us 😊
We filled up our water tank before the temperatures dropped so low that the supply to the pontoons was turned off to stop it freezing in the pipes. We realised that, if the forecast was correct, it could be off for days or even longer.
We also went shopping earlier than usual this week to make sure we had enough food on board to not need to shop again for a good week, if necessary.
We knew we had plenty of diesel in the tank to keep our Webasto Airtop Evo 55 diesel 24V running day and night if necessary.
The heater, which is designed for use in trucks, vans and mobile homes, is super-efficient and keeps us lovely and warm on board.
And we dug out our merino wool thermal underwear that was bought as a mountain base layer when we spent our spare time out walking in the Scottish mountains.
Happy that we’d done everything we could to prepare for whatever was heading our way, we settled down for the night on Tuesday and awoke the following morning to a white world 😊
The view from one of Ravensdale's windows on Wednesday morning
Despite leaving the heater on the economy setting overnight, it was still pretty chilly inside the boat and I soon discovered that the sliding door, which is the only access to the boat, and the sliding window on the port side were frozen shut.
Ravensdale's door was frozen shut on Wednesday morning
I checked the starboard window and discovered that still opened so at least we could climb out of the window if necessary. Thankfully it wasn’t necessary as Phil managed to get the door to open with a bit of brute force.
I was eager to get out and take photographs of the snow, so we decided to have a cooked breakfast at The Aquarium by Maryport harbour, which seems to be becoming our second home as we frequently end up walking over there for breakfast, coffee and cake or lunch.
The Aquarium at Maryport in Cumbria, UK
Inside The Aquarium on the harbourside in Maryport
After breakfast, I went for a walk with my camera, stopping to chat to the folk I met who were out walking their dogs, playing with their kids in the snow or, like me, taking photographs.
Maryport harbour looking beautiful in the snow
Snow covered docks at Maryport harbour
Youngsters playing in the snow near Maryport harbour
Sunshine and snow at Maryport harbour
A child sledging on a snowy slope near the harbour
Much of the time, the sun was shining but, from time to time, it clouded over and started snowing again.
Phil bringing us another jerrycan of water
Overnight Wednesday into Thursday was another very cold night with temperatures down to -5.6C (22F) and average wind speeds of up to 19mph, gusting up to 32mph.
And "the Beast" continued to bite yesterday (Thursday)
A snowman that appeared in the marina overnight on Wednesday
The temperature didn’t get above -1.1C (30F) during the day. We also had high winds, with average wind speeds of up to 32mph and gusts of up to 48mph recorded at nearby St Bee’s Head.
There were a number of heavy snow showers throughout the day and lying snow was being blown around by the strong winds.
Phil volunteered to shovel the snow off our pontoon, which is about 80m long. The snow had been compacted where people had walked on it so it was a time-consuming task but he didn't mind at all. In fact, the snow shovels he and marina staff used were the ones we brought with us from our previous life in Scotland and gave to the marina.
Phil clearing the snow from the pontoon leading to Ravensdale in the snow
He then spread salt on it and last night it was the least snowy pontoon in the marina, other than the ramp, which the marina staff keep clear and salted.
Overnight last night was less cold, with temperatures only going down to -0.3C, but it was very windy, so there was a lot of rocking and a lot of noise from creaking ropes, fenders knocking against the hull and wind whistling through the rigging of the nearby yachts.
Today (Friday) remains very windy, but there has been no more snow and the temperature has risen to 0C (32F) so I think "the Beast" has almost run his course.
And it’s looking unlikely that Storm Emma, which is affecting the south of England and Wales at the moment, will make it this far north.
I realise that many people reading this will be experiencing much worse weather and colder temperatures than we have here so I really hope you're all managing to stay safe and keep warm.
The calm before the storm
Maryport enjoyed sunshine, clear blue skies and very little wind on Friday of last week and over the weekend.
Sunshine and clear blue skies over Maryport shore on Sunday
However, although the sun felt warm by day, temperatures were pretty cold at night - down to around -1C and the marina had a coating of ice on the water in the mornings, some of which remained throughout the three-day period.
We were awoken on Monday morning by loud scraping noises. This coincided with the opening of the marina gate - as the tide came in it broke up the ice pushing it up against Ravensdale’s hull.
It was also very cold overnight on Monday with snow flurries, including one quite heavy snow shower, during the morning, but it didn’t last.
The swans that frequently visit the marina turned up searching for food
The berth holder who usually feeds them is away from the marina at the moment, but we bumped into him recently and he said we could feed them the floating duck and swan food stored on his boat.
They looked so hungry that I gave them a couple of scoops of food and they gobbled it up in no time, polishing it off before the seagulls turned up in force in an attempt to steal it.
Feeding time for the swans at Maryport Marina
Cleaning our bikes
Treating the rust on the forks on Phil's bike
We keep them in the marina bike shed, which is unfortunately open to the prevailing wind.
The chrome on the forks and all the other metal bits had become very rusty so we treated them with a rust remover and used a wire brush and wire wool to clean it off.
We then gave them a good wash.
They will need more attention and probably a full service, but at least we’ve made a start on them with the intention of getting out on them in the spring.
Phil scrubbing our bikes before I hosed them off
The parrot and the octopus
Another unusual event during the past week was our Sunday afternoon walk along the coastal path above the shore to Maryport lighthouse in glorious sunshine.
As usual, we got chatting to some of the people fishing from the pier, but this time we also bumped into a guy with a small blue parrot sitting on his shoulder.
Ben the fisherman with his parrot Gerald
The fisherman, who introduced himself as Ben, said he'd brought his pet blue Quaker parrot Gerald with him because the bird would get lonely if he was left home alone.
Ben was happy to have his photo taken with Gerald.
He also let Phil and I hold the parrot for a little while.
Gerald the blue Quaker parrot sitting on my shoulder
Gerald pooped on Phil’s fleece, but thankfully didn’t leave any little presents on my favourite woolly jumper 😊.
We also met a guy called Paul, who is an aquarist at the Aquarium in Maryport.
He was trying to retrieve a net he’d been using to catch crabs to feed to the Aquarium’s octopus.
The spider crab we caught in our prawn pot last month
And, if we catch any more spider crabs, he wants them to include in the displays at the Aquarium.
I love Maryport! Where else could you go for a short walk on a sunny Sunday afternoon and end up with a parrot sitting on your shoulder and agreeing to help feed an octopus? 😊
It made my day. Random experiences like this are one of the joys of our new lifestyle. And, yes, I know, I’m easily pleased 😊
Mending the bimini cover
Ravensdale’s bimini was still up after we'd opened it to check it last week.
I’d been planning to patch the bimini cover, which had become damaged where the straps that secure it in place had rubbed through the fabric, on Monday, then it started snowing and we decided the bimini needed be packed away asap.
We folded it up and were about to put the damaged cover back on and take it off to repair it on the next fine day when it stopped snowing again, so I decided to try to get it done there and then.
Sewing the Sunbrella fabric patches onto the bimini cover was a lot easier than repairing the flybridge cover had been as there was less fabric to manoeuvre through the sewing machine.
Me sewing patches onto the cover for Ravensdale's bimini
I found the easiest way to do this was to sew both ends and one side in one go, then stop before moving the cover along to sew the fourth side.
This meant I could always have the narrow ends of the cover under the machine, making it much easier to work than trying to push the full bulk of the cover through the machine to stitch all four sides in one go.
And we managed to get the bimini packed away in its cover before the real snow arrived.
The bimini wrapped up in its newly repaired cover
Mystery pattern on aft locker
Flower design formed by generator exhaust
On Sunday, I discovered an unusual pattern on the port locker on Ravensdale’s aft deck.
It looked as though someone had carefully drawn a flower on the white gelcoat.
At first, I was totally baffled as to how it got there, then I realised that Phil had started the generator in front of it and the intricate flower pattern had been created by its exhaust. It was so pretty that I just had to photograph it.
I have taken more than a thousand photos this week so will definitely have to start deleting the worst of them – correction, most of them 😊 – very soon or I will run out of space on my laptop.
Meanwhile, here are a few more shots from this week’s photography walks.
Maryport pier viewed through an old groyne on the beach
The Aquarium from across Maryport harbour at sunset
Sunset across the Solway Firth from Maryport shore
Sunset over Maryport Marina
Maryport Marina in the snow
Ice on the water at Maryport Marina
Bridge over the River Ellen leading into Maryport town centre
Ellen Footbridge at Maryport harbour in the snow
Maryport's Maritime Museum and statue depicting the town's fishing heritage
Maryport pier at sunset with snow approaching from across the Solway Firth