Friday, 13 July 2018

Sleeping more soundly thanks to our new high water alarm and blackout curtains

Photo of the new high water alarm in Ravensdale's engine room bilges

The new high water alarm in Ravensdale's engine room bilges

Fitting a high water alarm in Ravensdale’s engine room means we will now be alerted if a significant amount of water collects in her bilges.

The move was part of the response to our horrible experience earlier this year when the stern gland on the port prop shaft of our Neptunus 133 developed a nasty leak.

This led to a rising water level in the bilges, which we only discovered by chance.

We fitted an automatic bilge pump soon after the incident and will now sleep more soundly thanks to our new high water alarm.

Lining our bedroom curtains with blackout fabric has also helped to stop the early morning sun waking us earlier than we would like.

Meanwhile, the swan family returned to Maryport Marina in Cumbria, UK, yesterday (Thursday) in search of food.

High water alarm

Phil has this week fitted the high water alarm we ordered a couple of weeks ago to make sure we didn’t experience a repeat of the situation we faced when Ravensdale’s port stern gland sprang a leak.

Photo of the leaking stern gland on Ravensdale's port prop shaft

The leaking stern gland on Ravensdale's port prop shaft

At that stage, both our bilge pumps had to be manually switched on and we discovered the problem by chance late at night.

As that was the first time we’d experienced a leaking stern gland, we needed assistance with sorting the problem and couldn’t summon help until the morning, so Phil had to get up every two hours to manually switch on the bilge pump in the engine room.

The following morning a local man, who keeps his family’s fleet of fishing boats running, came along and sorted the problem. He helpfully explained what he was doing and showed us how to do it ourselves.

All that was needed was to tighten the bolts on the stern gland a little to compress the packing.

We immediately fitted an automatic bilge pump and, more recently, ordered the high water alarm as a “belt and braces” solution.

This means that, if we get a leaking stern gland again, not only will we have an alarm to warn us of rising water in the engine room and an automatic pump to clear the water, we will also be able to stop the leak ourselves.

We’re also going to have a look at whether the stern glands need repacking the next time we get Ravensdale out of the water.

Photo of Phil connecting up the cables to the high water alarm

Phil connecting up the cables to the high water alarm

Phil fitted the float switch for the alarm in the engine room bilges and connected up cables to the light and loud speaker above the console in the saloon.

He has set it higher than the level at which the automatic bilge pump kicks in, so it will hopefully only alert us to a real high water situation.

Put that light out!

Phil came up with a novel solution to the problem of light streaming through the portlights in our bedroom and waking us up well before sunrise.

The curtains that were on Ravensdale when we bought her were not thick enough to block the light so, as a temporary fix, he stretched the waistband of his black running tights around one portlight and fastened his cycling tights on the other one.

Photo of our unusual blackout blinds

Our unusual blackout blinds

This looked hilarious as it meant there were two pairs of legs hanging out below the curtains on the port side of the boat, which faces east when we're moored up, but it worked so we’ve been doing it every night since.

Meanwhile, we ordered some blackout fabric and this week I got around to using it to replace the linings on the bedroom curtains.

I unpicked the old cotton linings (which have been saved as cloths for use in the engine room), cut new linings from the blackout fabric, used the sewing machine to sew them along the tops and down the sides of the curtains then hemmed them by hand.

Photo of me sewing the hem on the bedroom curtains

Me sewing the hem on the bedroom curtains

The curtains are only very short but feel much heavier with their new linings and hang better than they did before.

As for cutting out the light, they are a partial success. No light comes through the curtains now, but light still gets in beneath them where they hang away from the wall.

I’m either going to have to fix them back to the wall in some way or find another way to cover the portlights to stop the light getting in.

But at least the work I’ve done so far has achieved enough to mean we no longer have to have two pairs of legs hanging out from under the curtains every night 😊

Where have all the fishies gone?

We seem to be going through a quiet spot on the fishing front in the Solway Firth at Maryport, Cumbira, UK, at the moment.

And one man who runs a local fishing club suggested the lack of mackerel could be because there were more jellyfish about than usual.

Photo of one of the jellyfish we saw on a recent fishing trip

One of the jellyfish we saw on a recent fishing trip

We don’t know if this is the reason, but we only caught one dogfish on our fishing trip last week, despite trying various baits and fishing methods, and other fishermen are reporting an equally dry period.

We haven’t been out fishing for more than a week now, partly due to the marina gate opening times coinciding with the windier parts of the day and partly because of the lack of fish.

We’re hoping things will pick up again soon and that our next fishing trip will be more successful.

The man who issued the warning about jellyfish said they had been using four rods with different feathers at different depths but didn’t catch a single mackerel.

He wrote: “Billions of jellyfish on the sounder and the feathers and anchor chain covered with their stinging tentacles – not surprisin’ the mackerel R stayin’ away.”

And he suggested that gloves should be warn when handling anchor ropes and chains in case their venomous tentacles have become caught up in them.

We have a windlass to bring in the anchor chain, but if ever have to handle it for any reason, we’ll take his advice as we really don’t want to suffer jellyfish stings.

Rescue of stranded children

Emergency service vehicles rushed to Maryport shore on Sunday afternoon with blue lights flashing and sirens wailing.

Photo of emergency vehicles parked by Maryport pier

Emergency vehicles parked by Maryport pier

We were about to leave the marina for a walk along the shore when we saw and heard three police vehicles and a fire engine heading along the road beside the marina towards the lighthouse.

As we walked along the path by the sea wall, we could see the emergency vehicles parked by south pier.

An ambulance also arrived at the scene.

We later heard that two children, who clambered onto rocks by the end of the pier at low tide, became cut off by the rising tide.

Maryport Coastguard Rescue Team issued a statement saying two casualties were removed from the water by Cumbria Police.

It said the casualties were checked over and placed in a police van to keep warm until the ambulance arrived.

Photo of the ambulance arriving at Maryport pier

The ambulance arrives at Maryport pier

The mother of one of the youngsters later posted on Facebook that her daughter and friend were rescued from the water by “a fabulous police officer”.

We were very pleased to hear that both children were safe and well.

Unusual Facebook request that nearly killed me 😊

I recently received a request on Facebook from someone who lives in Nottingham asking me to take a photo of the house in Maryport where his Nan used to live showing its proximity to the sea.

He said he used to spend his school holidays there as a child and asked me to take the photo from a certain location showing his Nan’s old house and the sea so he could show it to his partner.

I had no idea who he was but could see no reason not to do as he’d asked as it wasn’t really going to be a chore – or so I thought.

When I got there, I discovered that his Nan’s house was in the middle of a terrace on the opposite side of the road from the sea and the green he wanted the photo taken from was beyond the end of the terrace on the same side of the road as the house.

I decided the solution was to take four photos from different angles, including a panoramic image from the green showing the end of the terrace and the sea as I didn’t have a wide enough lens to get it all in one shot.

Photo of the row of terraced houses I was asked to photograph

The row of terraced houses I was asked to photograph

They aren’t the most artistic photos I’ve ever taken, but he seemed to be happy with them, which made my day 😊

The worst part of the exercise was that I tried to take the photos on the way to a hair appointment with little time to spare.

To check I was in the right place, I asked one person I met if I was on the right street. He wasn’t sure and knocked on the door of a woman living nearby to ask for more information.

I then had to explain what I was doing.

The householder wanted to know who the name of the man's Nan, but I didn’t know the answer to that one.

She started to tell me some of the history of the street and normally I would have been interested to listen but had to make my excuses as I was getting late.

After hurriedly taking the photos, I realised I had just four minutes to get up to the town for my appointment.

Another shot of the terraced house showing its proximity to the sea

Another shot of the terraced house showing its proximity to the sea

I decided a long zigzag flight of steps, known as Market Steps, would be the quickest route and nearly gave myself a heart attack trying to hurry up 108 steps – that’s if I didn’t lose count when I felt as though I was dying and ended up having to haul myself up the last 20 or so steps using the handrail.

I was just two minutes late getting to the hairdressers, but I was puffing and blowing like a steam train 😊

Photo of Market Steps at Maryport

Market Steps at Maryport

I went back to have another look at the steep steps and to take some photos of them on Tuesday.

This time, I paced myself and was in less of a state when I reached the top, but it's definitely not something to hurry or to tackle on a very warm day.

I counted the steps again and there are definitely 108 of them.

I'm considering doing them regularly as a form of exercise but have a feeling that would result in one of three outcomes - I'll either fall and break my neck, have a heart attack as a result of the exertion or end up very fit.

The trouble is that I'm not sure which is the most likely outcome so the jury's out on that one at the moment 😊

Photo of the view from the top of Market Steps

View from the top of Market Steps

Another shot of the view from the top of the 108 steps

Another shot of the view from the top of the 108 steps

Photographing Maryport

As usual the marina and harbour proved popular subjects for my photographic outings this week, partly because I totally love boats and partly because they're quite literally on my doorstep 😊
Photo of Maryport Harbour at low tide

Maryport Harbour at low tide

But I also enjoy taking photos around the town in Maryport and took advantage of a walk up to town for a hair appointment last Friday afternoon to get some more street scenes.
Photo of looking down Shipping Brow towards the Solway Firth

Looking down Shipping Brow towards the Solway Firth

On Sunday evening, there were some great reflections in the water that were just crying out to be snapped.

Photo of reflections at Maryport Marina in Cumbria, UK

Reflections at Maryport Marina in Cumbria, UK

Photo of the marina building in Maryport

The marina building in Maryport

A short walk along the shore to the lighthouse and back along the side of the marina on Monday afternoon provided more photographic opportunities. These included a man collecting peeler crabs for fishing bait from plastic pipes he'd buried in the mud in Maryport Basin.

Photo of two people and a dog enjoying a sunny day on Maryport beach

Two people and a dog enjoying a sunny day on Maryport beach

Photo of a man collecting peeler crabs in Maryport Basin

A man collecting peeler crabs in Maryport Basin

There was also a beautiful sunset on Monday evening. I was of two minds as to whether to go out and photograph it and eventually decided, just in time, that it was too good to miss.

Photo of Maryport lighthouse at sunset

Maryport lighthouse at sunset

And a walk up to town for a bit of shopping on Tuesday was another excuse to try to get some different shots around the town.

Photo of Fleming Square at Maryport

Fleming Square at Maryport

It was on this trip that I discovered the impressive architecture we have here in Maryport.

There are some lovely old buildings, monuments and sculptures around the town.

Photo of Crosby Street in Maryport

Crosby Street in Maryport

Photo of Senhouse Street in Maryport

Senhouse Street in Maryport

Photo of Shipping Brow in Maryport

Shipping Brow in Maryport

These, together with the shore, the harbour and the marina make the north Cumbrian town a photographer’s paradise IMHO 😊

Marina wildlife

We saw the swan family in the marina for the first time in nearly a fortnight yesterday (Thursday).

And they headed towards me as soon as I rattled their tub of floating duck and swan food.

I was really pleased to see that the three cygnets are still alive and seem to be thriving as they were much bigger than the last time we saw them.

Photo of me feeding the swan family

Me feeding the swan family

Photo of the swan family waiting for another feed

The swan family waiting for another feed

Photo of the cygnets enjoying their food

The cygnets enjoying their food

Although a bumper crop of jellyfish are being blamed for the poor mackerel fishing so far this summer, we’ve seen far fewer in the marina than were around by this time last year.

Until yesterday (Thursday), the odd ones I’d seen always seemed to appear when I didn’t have my camera with me.

I tried to take a couple of snaps with my mobile phone, but it really doesn’t take good photos especially if I try to zoom in on something.
Photo of a compass jellyfish at Maryport Marina

A compass jellyfish at Maryport Marina

Thankfully, I discovered one close to Ravensdale yesterday and it stayed long enough for me to fetch my camera and take a few photos of it.

Meanwhile it looks as though the pigeons nesting in the drainage hole in the harbour wall near Ravensdale may have produced two young.

There have been four pigeons going in and out of the hole this week – the usual pair and two others that look smaller and slimmer. One is also much darker in colour than its usual inhabitants.

Photo of one of the new arrivals

One of the new arrivals

Photo of the other new inhabitant of the drainage hole

The other new inhabitant of the drainage hole

They look like young birds so I’m hoping it means the pair that have been trying to breed in the hole since the spring finally managed to raise a brood.

More sunny summer weather

The warm summer weather continues making us wonder if we really are in the north of England.

This just doesn’t happen here or at least it hasn’t for many years, not that I'm complaining 😊

The only down side to the weather over the past week is that the wind speed has been 10mph or more at the times when the marina gate was open so we haven't been able to take Ravensdale out to play on the water.

Saturday was sunny and warm with a top temperature of 20C and a top average wind speed of 10mph.

Photo of sunny intervals on Sunday at Maryport Marina

Sunny intervals on Sunday at Maryport Marina

Sunday started a bit cloudy. The clouds continued throughout the morning with sunny intervals, but it got very warm when the sun came out during the afternoon with the mercury rising to 22C (72F) and average winds speeds of up to 13mph.

Monday morning was a little overcast, but it soon got warm again even though it was a bit cloudier than of late. The highest daytime temperature recorded locally was 19.1C (66F).

The top temperature on Tuesday was 19.7C (67F) with the average wind speed peaking at 13mph. It felt very warm again, particularly up in the town, but the sea breeze made it feel more comfortable in the marina.
Photo of another sunny day at Maryport Marina on Tuesday

Another sunny day at Maryport Marina on Tuesday

Wednesday was another bright and sunny day with a good breeze. The temperature reached 19.7C (67F) with a top average wind speed of 11mph.

Just for a change, yesterday (Thursday) was warm and sunny 😊 The highest temperature recorded at St Bees Head was 19.3C (67F), but it felt much warmer here despite the wind, which peaked at 10mph.

Photo of sun-baked grasses on the shore at Maryport on Thursday

Sun-baked grasses on the shore at Maryport on Thursday

Today (Friday) started wet with a short spell of heavy rain – the first real rain for weeks. The weather brightened up as the day went on with a top temperature of 16.6C (62F).