Me at the helm of Ravensdale - you can't do this in a house 😊
A two-week shore-based holiday set me thinking about what I missed about life on board while away from our boat.
And, although I hate to admit it, I also realised that there are a few things I miss about living in a house now we live on our 43ft cruiser Ravensdale.
But I guess it’s good that it took time spent ashore to remind me of these things – I rarely, if ever, think about them when we’re at home on our Neptunus 133.
Meanwhile, we're really enjoying our holiday in the Scottish Highlands, even if it has rained most of the time w've been here, while most of the rest of the UK (including our home port of Maryport in Cumbria) enjoyed a mini heatwave for the first week we were away. Typical! 😊
Things that are better on a boat
Ravensdale in Maryport Marina, Cumbria, UK at sunrise
1. The freedom to move our home anywhere we want without the cost and hassle of buying and selling a house. Having said that, we’re well aware that having to feed Ravensdale’s two hungry 300hp Volvo Penta engines means that the cost of diesel will limit how far we can go.
2. We can take our home out for a spin 😊 If we fancy a change of scenery, we can go for a little cruise or take her out to sea, drop anchor and do a spot of fishing or just enjoy being out on the water.
Ravensdale in the Solway Firth
3. If we didn’t like our neighbours, we could move - even if that only meant moving to another mooring in the same marina. However, we get on very well with the only person living on a boat near us, so that isn’t an issue at the moment.
4. The rocking motion of living on water can be very comforting, especially when laying in bed at night. Of course, there are times during high winds and big swells when the rocking couldn’t really be described as comforting, but that just makes life more interesting 😊
5. The feeling that we’re closer to nature. There’s always some sort of marine life or other wildlife to watch, whether in the marina or out at sea.
A barrel jellyfish that visited the marina last year
6. The social aspect of life in a marina. If we want to keep ourselves to ourselves, we can do that, but there are also lots of people around to chat to and share a coffee with if we’re in a more sociable mood.
7. And lastly, a big gain for me has been that the move from a house to a boat has enabled me to retire early, which has made a massive improvement to my life. I am no longer stressed out and my back, which had given me trouble for years, is so much better now I am up and moving around more than when I was sat in an office most of the time. I would say I feel like a new woman, however, every time I say that my husband says he feels the same but sadly he’s stuck with me 😊
Things that are better in a house/cottage/flat
1. Being able to open the windows and let in some fresh air even when it’s raining. On the boat, the water comes straight in if we dare to open the windows in the rain.Worse still is when we open the windows in fine weather and forget to close them before it rains.
Thankfully we have an island bed on Ravensdale but there's very little room on either side
2. Space – lots of space. We’ve only been living on a boat for 18 months and already we’ve got used to small space living, even if our Neptunus 133 is larger than the boats that some people live in. Both the holiday cottages we’ve stayed in during this break have been modest two-bedroom properties, but it is so weird having so much room to move around in, particularly while dressing and undressing.
3. A comfy sofa. If there’s one thing I would love to change about our boat, it’s the seating. I’ve sort of got used to sitting up straight while relaxing and watching TV, but it has been really nice to be able to stretch out on a comfortable sofa, even if it does mean that I fall asleep and miss the end of the film I'm trying to watch 😊
The seating in Ravensdale's saloon
4. A bathroom that we can use at any time. I’d forgotten what it was like to be able to go to the loo without having to either walk up to the marina facilities, which is a more than 300-step round trip, or use the onboard facilities, which will mean a pump-out will be required sooner. Being able to shower when I get up, without having to dress to walk up to the marina facilities has also been really nice. Yes, we do have a shower on the boat, but we try not to use it except in warm weather, so we don’t make the boat damp.
It’s very comforting to see that, having typed these lists, it seems I think there are almost twice as many good things about living on a boat than there are for living in a shore-based home 😊
Our lovely welcoming home - hopefully with no nasty surprises
Unsurprisingly, no boat jobs have been undertaken this week – mainly because we haven’t seen our boat, let alone set foot on her for almost a fortnight.
Much as we're enjoying our holiday, we’re looking forward to being back on board on Saturday and sincerely hoping Ravensdale hasn’t have come up with any new jobs for us while we’ve been away 😊
Back in the Scottish Highlands
Before we sold our house, bought a boat and moved onboard in November 2016, we lived in the Highlands for 16 years.
We’re both very happy on our boat, which is currently moored in Maryport Marina, but we miss the wildness of the Scottish landscape and easy access to the mountains.
We’re well aware that, while in Maryport, we have mountains fairly close by in the Lake District, but they seem to be much busier than the hills in the Highlands, particularly when we stay off the popular routes and tracks. And it’s the solitude of the mountains that we enjoy (if it’s even possible for two people to enjoy solitude together 😊).
We’d been missing Scotland over recent months, so we decided to book a cottage at Duror in Argyll for a week. We did so at very short notice and got a really good deal.
Our holiday cottage in Duror, Argyll, Scotland
It was in a fantastic location, on the shores of Loch Linnhe, which is a large sea loch.
The view across Loch Linnhe from the beach in front of the cottage
The sun was shining when we got there on Saturday, April 14, and we saw an otter swimming in the loch within minutes of our arrival.
An otter on the shore near the cottage
The following day we went for a walk along the beach, taking photos across the loch to the mountains of Ardgour on the far side, then met up with friends in Fort William for lunch followed by a bit of shopping for supplies for our week in self-catering accommodation.
Phil set up his fishing rod on the beach outside the cottage in the evening, despite the fact it had started raining, and we were delighted to discover that he could sit inside the cottage to watch it rather than having to stay out on the beach and get wet.
He also tried fishing around the time of the high tide on two further evenings that week during which time he tried a variety of different types of bait, but never even got a bite so decided he was wasting his time.
Phil fishing in the rain on the beach outside the cottage
The best weather we had that week was on the day we arrived and the day we left, which were both beautiful sunny days, but we still really enjoyed our stay and managed to get a few good walks out in the hills.
These included a 10.2-mile walk during which we reached the peak of an unnamed 2,555ft mountain near the cottage in Argyll, so not too shabby for our first trek out into the hills for many months 😊
The forestry track leading to the hill we climbed in Argyll
We set off from the car and walked out along a good forestry track in reasonable weather, then headed up the hill when we reached the end of the track.
Me on the way up the Argyll mountain
The views opened up as we climbed higher.
It was a long time since we’d done anything like it and we were delighted to discover we must still be fitter than we thought as we were nearing the top before we started to feel it in our legs.
On the way up before the rain arrived
We got to the highest point and took photos before finding somewhere out of the wind to sit down to eat our lunch and have a cup of tea.
Phil taking photos on the top of the unnamed Argyll mountain
As we were eating and drinking, we could see the rain coming in across the hills, so we rapidly put everything away and put on our waterproof jackets just as the rain reached us, only it wasn’t rain, it was hailstones – quite large and very heavy hailstones.
The hail storm heading towards us
On the way back down the hill, we had rain, sun, more hail, more rain and thunder and lightning and we got back to the car very wet and very tired, but very happy with our achievement.
We woke up the following morning aching all over, proving that we really need to be getting out doing more serious walks more often.
It took a couple of days for our legs to recover enough to face another good walk, so we spent one of our recovery days visiting Tarbert, a lovely little fishing town in Argyll with an excellent marina.
The weather was much better there than it was when we left the cottage in Duror.
The harbour area looked beautiful and the marina was very busy.
Tarbert harbour in Argyll, Scotland
It was good to see boats coming and going all the time, compared to Maryport where there’s very little boat movement most of the time.
The fishing dock at Tarbert Harbour in Aryll
This is partly due to the fact that boats can get in and out of Tarbert 24/7, whereas in Maryport the marina gate is only open for two to two and a half hours either side of high tide. Tarbert is also a much busier marina with many more boats moored there.
Part of the busy marina at Tarbert
We were very lucky that the location of our holiday cottage, which was on a working farm, meant we were able to watch lots of wildlife from the comfort of the property when the weather was bad or from the beach when it stopped raining.
We saw otters, a seal, swans, cormorants and lots of other seabirds, bullfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches, siskins and rabbits.
Juvenile swans coming ashore on the beach by our cottage
A beautiful-looking horse called Spencer spent a lot of the time in the field next to the cottage, there were also cows, sheep and lambs, but my favourite animal on the farm was Pedro the llama, kept as a pet by the owners of the farm.
Me getting a kiss from Pedro the llama
Spencer the horse waiting at the gate by our cottage
The weather was a little better on Friday and our legs had recovered so we went for a longer walk along the shore during which we decided we’d like to stay another week, despite the forecast of another week of bad weather.
We went to see the owners of a cottage in which we’d previously stayed at Ballachulish in Lochaber and discovered it was free, so we arranged to go there the following morning.
Saturday was my birthday and we awoke to a lovely sunny day with a clear view of the mountains on the other side of the loch.
The Ardgour mountains across Loch Linnhe just before we left
We packed and cleared up at the cottage in Duror, stopping to photograph an otter that was playing along the shoreline.
As we left, we said goodbye to the owners and to Pedro the llama 😊
I’m pretty sure we’ll be staying there again as it was a fantastic location and would have been totally amazing if we’d had better weather.
One of the beautiful sunsets we saw while staying in Duror
On the way to the next cottage, we rang our marina asking staff to top up the electricity metre to ensure our fridge, freezer and, more importantly, automatic bilge pump continue to receive power until we return.
We dumped our stuff at the Ballachulish cottage, changed into our walking gear and went for a 7.9-mile walk along part of the West Highland Way in Glen Coe, climbing to 990ft.
The 96-mile West Highland Way is acclaimed as the most walked long-distance trail in Scotland. It attracts about 85,000 people every year, of whom more than 30,000 walk the entire route.
The weather was fantastic all day, with temperatures up to 16.5C, and we had a brilliant walk, even if our legs were still feeling the effects of Tuesday’s trip up the unnamed Argyll mountain.
What a great way to spend my birthday! 😊
Setting off along the West Highland Way in the sunshine
Phil and I were enjoying our lunchbreak when another walker offered to take a photo of us
As usual, I took loads of photographs that kept me busy when the weather forecast proved to be accurate and it rained most of the time.
The West Highland Way between Glencoe and Bridge of Orchy
One of the amazing views from the West Highland Way
Another view from the West Highland Way
The wild beauty of Rannoch Moor
Sadly, the weather forecast was correct. It rained most of Saturday/Sunday night and was still pelting it down when we got up on Sunday, so we decided to make the 30-mile round trip to Fort William to shop for the coming week.
On Monday, we took another walk out along the West Highland Way. We went further this time and, when we got back, we checked the GPS to discover we'd walked more than 10 miles.
The photo opportunities were few and far between as the first couple of times I got my camera out, it got wet and I didn’t want to do that to it too often.
A view from the West Highland Way
The beautiful landscape of Rannoch Moor
One of the many streams that runs under the West Highland Way
Walkers sheltering from the rain behind Blackrock Cottage
Wet walkers on one of the few parts of the West Highland Way that follows the road
As expected, we got very wet, but still enjoyed being out walking in the Highlands.
One of the chaffinches that shared our lunch
Tuesday morning was wet, followed by a mix of sunshine and showers, but we didn’t want to do anything too strenuous as our legs were still recovering from the previous day’s walk.
We decided to take a drive up to Glen Coe, stopping and getting out at various locations to take photographs between the showers.
Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe
The Three Sisters in Glen Coe
Stob a' Ghlais Choire and Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe
We were planning to tackle another big hill on Wednesday morning, but we had more rain overnight and another wet start to the day, so put our plans on hold while waiting to see if the weather improved, which it didn’t.
Loch Leven at Ballachulish in Lochaber
The River Laroch at Ballachulish
Glencoe looking across Loch Leven from Ballachulish
More rain overnight on Wednesday into this morning (Thursday), which continued for the rest of today led us to decide to have another day off and save our legs for something more strenuous tomorrow (Friday) when better weather is forecast.
The cottage at Ballachulish in Lochaber, Scotland
Even when we've been unable to get out into the hills this week, it's been nice to be able to look at mountains out of the windows of our very comfortable holiday cottage.
The view from the cottage in Ballachulish
And spending more time indoors today (Thursday) enabled me to get most of my photos processed and to get on and write this 😊