Friday, 9 March 2018

Taking our house fishing, the big thaw and a very high tide

Photo of Phil laying on Ravensdale's foredeck waiting for a bite

Phil laying on Ravensdale's foredeck waiting for a bite

What a difference a few days can make to the weather!

Last week we had sub-zero temperatures, snow and high winds at Maryport in Cumbria, UK, and this week we’ve had sunshine and temperatures up to 7C (45F).

Photo of me on Ravensdale at sea

Me on Ravensdale at sea

And the best bit of all is that it’s been calm enough to take our home fishing 😊

We took Ravensdale out to sea for the third time this year on Monday and, although it wasn’t the sunniest day of the week, the wind speed was only 7-9mph so within our single figures rule.

We make no bones about it – for now we’re definitely fair-weather sailors (or rather cruisers) and only leave the marina when the wind speed is less than 10mph.

Taking Ravensdale fishing

The snow just about disappeared here over the weekend, although much of the UK still had a good depth of the white stuff and parts of the UK were again hit by snowstorms yesterday (Thursday).

I always keep a close eye on the weather forecast and was therefore aware that Monday was expected to be dry with very little wind.

Photo of the entrance to Maryport Marina

The entrance to Maryport Marina

The marina gate, which is only open for about two to two and half hours either side of high tide, was also due to open at a good time for a trip out on Monday.

We were considering going for a little cruise, partly for fun, but also to give Ravensdale’s twin 300hp Volvo Penta engines a run and to help keep her hull clean.

We were still trying to make up our minds when a couple of guys with small fishing boats in the marina visited our boat on Sunday to let us know they were going out the following day and to ask if we wanted to join them.

We also needed to fill up with diesel as we’d used a good bit on heating over the cold snap, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and go fishing then visit the fuel pontoon on the way back to our berth.
We had some bait left in the freezer from the previous fishing trip but needed more, so we walked over to The Aquarium by Maryport Harbour to buy some black lugworm in their fishing bait shop then stopped off for coffee and cake at the Aquarium cafe.

The marina gate wasn’t due to open until about 11.15am on Monday so there was no need to rush around.

Photo of our ornaments packed up ready to go to sea

Our ornaments packed up ready to go to sea

Phil did the engine checks, opened the seacocks and untied the spring lines (ropes used to limit fore-and-aft movement while moored), leaving just the bow and stern mooring ropes tied to the pontoon cleats until we were ready to cast off.
Meanwhile, I went through my usual packing up ritual inside the boat – anything loose that could be thrown around if the boat starts to roll gets packed away in collapsible packing crates and the microwave and freezer are strapped down.

We had a choice of which fishing boat to follow as one was staying quite close to Maryport to fish for cod and the other was going a bit further afield in search of skate. Phil chose to go for cod and we dropped anchor near the relevant boat.

Photo of Ravensdale leaving Maryport for our fishing trip

Ravensdale leaving Maryport for our fishing trip

Although we didn’t have bright sunshine, it was fairly pleasant outside and it didn’t rain while we were at sea, so we stretched out on the foredeck while waiting for the fish to bite.

It was surprisingly rocky, given that there was so little wind, but a lovely way to spend a winter Monday all the same. It definitely beats going to work 😊

Photo of my view while waiting for the fish to bite

My view while waiting for the fish to bite

Phil with the cod that had to be thrown back

After a couple of hours, we’d only caught one fish – a 12-inch cod that was too small to keep and had to be thrown back.

We considered moving to another location, but had been in touch with the other fishing boats out that day and it seemed no one was catching anything worth having so we decided to head home and save our diesel for another day.

On our return to the marina, we went straight to the fuel pontoon to top up Ravensdale’s 1,200 litre tank. It took almost 700 litres!

Phil then drove Ravensdale down to the far end of the marina for a practice run, turning her on her own length at either end before returning to our berth.

Although we didn’t catch any fish worth keeping, one of the other fishermen caught a slightly larger cod that he gutted and brought home, but didn’t want so he gave it to us and it contributed to a delicious fish pie.

Photo of Phil with his new fish measuring stick

Phil with his new fish measuring stick

Phil has since made a measuring stick marked with the lengths at which various fish species can be kept. These are laid down by the UK government via DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). For cod, the minimum size is 35cm (13.7 inches).

The aftermath of the Beast from the East

The arrival of Siberian weather, dubbed the Beast from the East, overnight on Tuesday February 27 into Wednesday February 28 brought snowstorms and temperatures down to -6C.

There was still a good bit of snow lying in the Maryport area of Cumbria last Friday, but very little left along the coast. However, we encountered some very slippery conditions when we decided to take a walk to our local Lidl store for a few odds and ends of groceries.

Photo of the last of the snow on the ramp at Maryport Marina

The last of the snow on the ramp at Maryport Marina

We didn’t really need to go, but it was a chance to get some exercise as well as more wine and chocolate for the weekend as we’d accidentally eaten our weekend goodies during the week 😊

We don’t normally buy them until Friday because we know we can’t be trusted, but shopped early in case we got snowed in. We now know that was a mistake 😊.

And we discovered it was a good job we’d already stocked up on the basics as there was no bread or milk and very little fruit or veg left in the store because the delivery lorries had been unable to reach Maryport.

The snow on the path to Lidl had been compacted by people walking on it. It had then frozen over so staying upright was difficult at times. Luckily, we managed to get there and back without either of us taking a tumble.

Meanwhile, the marina snowman was slowly melting away and collapsing over to one side. By Sunday, he looked rather deformed and decidedly creepy 😊

Photo of the demise of the marina snowman

The demise of the marina snowman

Very high tide

We had one of the highest tides of the year in Maryport last weekend.

There was a difference of almost 9m (29ft 6ins) between the high and the low tides on Saturday - 9.2m at 12.15pm and 0.3m at 7.11pm.

Photo of Maryport Marina at high tide on Friday

Maryport Marina at high tide on Friday

Photo showing our pontoon almost level with the car park at the very high tide

Our pontoon almost level with the car park at the very high tide

I always find it amazing how different the marina, the harbour and the area around the basin and River Ellen look when the water comes up almost to the top of the harbour walls and I can never resist the chance to go out and take photos.

On previous occasions, I’ve captured images of waves crashing up against the sea walls and spilling over onto the promenade, but the northerly wind on Saturday meant the waves were coming from a different direction to those caused by the usual west to south-westerly winds.

Photo of Maryport lighthouse at high tide

Maryport lighthouse at high tide

Unfortunately, it was dark by the time the very low tide arrived or I would’ve been out taking photos for comparison purposes.

Feathered friends

There are often quite a lot of pigeons in the area around the marina and one pair has been nesting in one of the drainage pipes that comes down through the harbour wall near our boat.

We came back from taking photos of the high tide on Saturday to find them totally bewildered by the disappearance of the hole they use as an entrance.

They were sitting on the edge of the wall above the hole, flying up and down the wall frantically trying to find the way in, but they had to wait for the water level in the marina to drop before they could go home.

Photo of one of the pigeons searching for the hole

One of the pigeons searching for the hole

Photo of the pigeons waiting for the water level to drop

The pigeons waiting for the water level to drop

As soon as it was below the level of the hole, they were back inside.

Photo of one of the pigeons happily back in its hole

Pigeon hole - one of the pigeons happily back in its home 

We still can’t work out how they manage to stay in there as, whenever it rains, the water runs off the road and down through the pipe into the marina.

The swans that have been visiting the marina since long before we moved on board our 43ft seagoing cruiser 16 months ago have been back looking for food again this week.

Another berth holder, who is away from the marina at the moment, used to feed them whenever they appeared, sometimes up to five times a day, and they seemed to be really missing him.

He told us to use the food he stored on his boat to feed them whenever we saw them, so I’ve been doing as he asked.

Photo of me feeding the swans in Maryport Marina

Me feeding the swans in Maryport Marina

But I’ve now discovered that other people here are also feeding them, including a member of staff and at least one other berth holder, so perhaps they aren't as hungry as I thought they were 😊

Photo of Mic, one of the marina staff, feeding the swans

Mic, one of the marina staff, feeding the swans

Variable weather

We’ve had a real mixed bag of weather over the past week from the freezing conditions last weekend to warmer day-time temperatures in recent days.

It was cold and windy overnight Friday/Saturday - nowhere near as cold as the previous nights, but still quite windy.

On Saturday morning, there were light snow flurries and still a very chilly wind.

Overnight Saturday/Sunday the lowest temperature recorded locally was -0.9C (34F) at 8pm and the wind had dropped so there was less rocking, creaking of ropes and sploshing of water going on which made for a much quieter night for us.

Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday were mainly dry and bright by day with temperatures up to around 6C (43F).

Wednesday was quite windy with a beautiful sunset in the evening.

Photo of Maryport Harbour

Maryport Harbour

Photo of Maryport lighthouse

Maryport lighthouse

Photo of Maryport Harbour

Maryport Harbour

Photo of another view of Maryport Harbour

Another view of Maryport Harbour

Photos of Maryport Marina at sunset

Maryport Marina at sunset

Yesterday was mainly dry and bright and much calmer, with a wind speed of just 1mph first thing increasing to 15mph later in the day.

And today (Friday) is another calm sunny day with temperatures expected to go up to about 7C (45F). Perhaps spring really is just around the corner at long last...

Photo of Maryport lighthouse in the sunshine yesterday

Maryport lighthouse in the sunshine yesterday

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