Friday, 3 August 2018

Rain stops play and causes more problems on Ravensdale

Photo of wet and windy weather heralds the return of the "typical British summer"

Wet and windy weather heralds the return of the "typical British summer"

I hate rain!

Yes, I know we need it, but it gets very depressing when it falls out of the sky almost constantly, which is what it feels like we’ve had here in Maryport, Cumbria, UK, over the past week.

The persistent precipitation has meant the hosepipe ban that was due to come into force here on Sunday has been lifted.

But, for us, it has meant more leaks to fix and the frequent downpours, coupled with high winds, have stopped us taking Ravensdale out on the water 

Photo of Phil inspecting the wastewater pump

Phil inspecting the wastewater pump

Our Neptunus 133 motor cruiser had been watertight since we moved onboard in November 2016.

But the long, hot, dry spell during May, June and the first few weeks of July followed by heavy rain seems to have resulted in one leak after another.

And, that wasn’t the only way water has caused problems for us this week.

The wastewater pump under the floor in the aft cabin became blocked and stopped working, which meant the water from the washbasin in the en suite heads was pouring into the bilges.

On a brighter note, the bad weather has meant that – after a long break – I’ve been getting on with my first attempt at writing a fictional novel and have very nearly finished the first draft.

More leaks! 

Just when we thought we’d sorted the leaking windows on Ravensdale, another one developed a slight leak during the heavy rain overnight last Friday into Saturday.

I discovered water had dripped onto the top of my laptop which sits on the shelf behind the dining table under the window along the back of the dinette.

There wasn’t much water coming in, but any ingress of rain is too much so Phil ran transparent sealer around the top of the window and we’ve had no further water getting in at that point since then.

Photo of Phil sealing along the top of the leaking window

Phil sealing along the top of the leaking window

Photo of Phil drilling a new drainage hole

Phil drilling a new drainage hole

However, yesterday (Thursday) morning, we discovered water on the floor of the en-suite shower in the aft cabin when it hadn’t been used for months because we use the showers in the marina’s toilet and shower block.

Initially, we thought it had come up through the drain hole when the waste water pump stopped working, but Phil discovered it was running down the wall beneath the steps that lead up to the door on the aft deck.

There was no obvious cause, but he thought it could be due to water building up in the channel in which the heavy metal door slides.

The door is fitted at an angle but looks as though it was designed to be installed upright as the drainage holes in the bottom of the channel are in the middle of what would be the bottom if it were vertical.

As it has been installed at an angle, water can sit in the channel below the drainage holes.

One of the new drainage holes 

When it actually stopped raining yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, Phil drilled drainage holes at the lowest point in the channel at each end of the door and in the middle.
He also cleaned out the channel and, when it dries out, he’s going to try applying sealant along the back, where it meets the frame, in case water is getting in that way.

Oh well, there are worse places for water to be coming in.

At least, there’s nothing for it to spoil or damage in the shower and it will just run away down the drain.

Wally the whale gulper

I heard a strange sound when I pulled the plug out of the wash basin in the en suite heads in the aft cabin on Tuesday morning.

It sounded as though water was going straight into the bilges, so I suggested that Phil might like to take a look.

We then realised that we hadn’t heard Wally working for a while. Wally is my name for the whale gulper 220 water pump that clears the waste water from the wash basin and shower at that end of the boat 😊

Phil lifted the inspection panel in the floor at the foot of the bed to discover that the pump had stopped working and the tank had overflowed into the bilges.

Photo of the whale gulper wastewater pump

The whale gulper wastewater pump

He found the pump to be clogged up so cleaned it out and pumped out the water that was in the bilges.

He then ran a hose pipe into the water tank, which Wally emptied several times without any problems before Phil cleaned and dried the bilges.

Another job done and all before coffee time 😊

"No fishing allowed"

We’ve been unable to take Ravensdale out fishing this week due to high winds, but probably wouldn’t have wanted to do so anyway when it was raining.

When we’re using diesel to go out on the water, it helps if it’s also fun and fishing in the rain has no appeal for me – Phil may disagree 😊

Meanwhile, it’s so frustrating to see lots of large grey mullet swimming around in the marina and not being able to catch them.

Photo of one of the grey mullet in the marina

One of the grey mullet in the marina

There’s a “no fishing” rule in the marina and, when we asked why this was, we were told it was due to fears that lost fishing line could become tangled around boat props.

Curtain hooks

Our bedroom curtains were still letting in too much light despite me replacing the existing thin lining material that was on the back of them with blackout fabric.

They were much better than before, but light was pouring in under the curtains and down the sides where they hung away from the walls.

Photo of light shining out from under the bedroom curtains

Light shining out from under the bedroom curtains

Photo of one of the elastic loops on its hook

One of the elastic loops on its hook

We didn’t fancy permanently attaching them at the bottom of the curtains, so I tried a simple idea that seems to have worked.

I sewed elastic loops level with the top of the hem on each curtain far enough in from the ends to pull them fairly tight when they’re stretched over hooks in the walls on either side.

The hooks were placed higher than the point at which the curtain hung when loose to pull them in under the portlights and the knobs that fasten them, which protrude into the room.

The loops are on the back of the curtains so are not visible when the curtains are open and the hooks are neat and unobtrusive.

Photo of the curtain hooked up blocking out the light

The curtain hooked up blocking out the light

As I said, a very simple fix but it seems to have reduced the amount of light that comes in around them to a level which no longer wakes us at sunrise.

Rescuing our bikes

During a brief dry spell on Monday, Phil set about cleaning our bikes with oxcalic acid.

Photo of Phil painting oxcalic acid on his bike

Phil painting his bike with oxcalic acid

All the time we were living in houses on dry land, our bikes have been safely stored in sheds or garages.

When we moved onto our boat, there was no way of storing them out of the weather and here we have the added problem of salt in the air.

Unfortunately, the marina’s bike shelter is open to the prevailing winds and both bikes had succumbed to quite a lot of rust.

Phil came to the conclusion that we either had to get them sorted or take them to the tip.

We’d already tried cleaning them with all sorts of products without success, so the oxcalic acid was a bit of a last resort.

It made a big improvement, but the gears on Phil’s bike refused to work so we’ve taken it in for a service.

The plan is to do the same with mine, then get out and use them more even if they don’t look as good as they did before.

Marina hoist breaks down

The marina’s boat hoist broke down while lifting our neighbour’s boat out of the water on Tuesday.

Photo of the MPM boat hoist comes to the rescue of the marina's hoist

The MPM boat hoist comes to the rescue of the marina's hoist

MPM boat yard’s hoist was brought in to help. Fortunately, the boatyard is right next to the maina, at the top of the slipway, so it didn't have far to come.

The problem occurred just weeks after the marina hoist had been out of action for its annual service.

Reg, the marina foreman, later explained that it was due to a broken hose, which they were able to get fixed the same day.

Feeding time at Ravensdale

The swans arrived for food again when the marina gate opened on Monday morning and returned to the boat for a couple of feeds again while they were here.

However, they forgot to leave before the gate closed again as the tide was going out, which meant they were stuck in the marina for at least another seven hours.

Photo of the swan family feeding by Ravensdale's bow

The swan family feeding by Ravensdale's bow

When night time fell, they went over and laid on the marina slipway until the gate opened again and they could make good their escape.

I looked out to see them on the slipway on several occasions and one of the adults always appeared to be on sentry duty while the rest of the family slept.

Photo of one swan staying awake while the others sleep on the marina slipway

One adult swan stays awake while the others sleep on the marina slipway

They paid us regular visits over the next few days but were unable to get in when the gate was kept closed on a couple of occasions due to a big swell.

They were back looking for food when the gate opened yesterday (Thursday) afternoon.

Photo of one of the cygnets

One of the cygnets

And it looks as though I’m going to have to mug up on the life cycle and habits of the mute swan as passers-by, who see me feeding them, frequently ask questions to which I don’t know the answer, or at least not yet…

Missing our garden…or maybe not 😊

One of the things I thought we would really miss when we decided on a life afloat was having a garden.

Gardening had always been a big hobby for both of us and we’ve landscaped many gardens, but never stayed in the houses long enough to see them come to fruition.

Photo of weed seeds near the marina

Weed seeds near the marina

However, when I see all the weed seeds that are flying around here at this time of year, I’m very glad that none of them will be settling in our garden, giving us hours of back-breaking weeding ahead.

Also, the long, dry spell we’ve had in recent months has had gardeners tearing their hair out and praying for rain for their precious lawns and plants.

We had no such worries as the only plants we have to look after are our houseplants (or rather boatplants), which demand very little care and attention.

I’m pretty sure Phil doesn’t miss cutting the grass, especially as some of the gardens we’ve had in the past were a good size and therefore pretty time-consuming on the mowing front.

And, as he always says: “We may not have a garden, but we’ve got a blooming great pond.” 😊

Photo of Ravensdale sitting on our lovely big pond

Ravensdale sitting on our lovely big pond

Me deadheading the flowers in the marina's planters

Meanwhile, we got a chance to brush up on our gardening skills yesterday (Thursday) when we offered to deadhead the bedding plants in the pots outside the marina facilities to keep them flowering for longer.

My first foray into fiction

Writing a fictional novel is a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be.

I’ve spent all of my adult life, except for the time I spent at home caring for my children when they were small, writing for a living as a journalist and as a communications officer with a health board.

I spent many years working from home and have never had a problem with being distracted from my work – admittedly that was before I lived on a boat and there seem to be more distractions here than there were in a house 😊

Photo of me trying to finish the first draft of my book on yet another wet day

Me trying to finish the first draft of my book on yet another wet day

Anyway, I really thought my background would make writing a book a doddle.

I relished the idea of being able to make it up as I went along, rather than having to stick to the facts (and, yes, this journalist really did stick to the facts 😊)

But it has proved to be so much harder than I expected.

I had what I thought was a good idea for the plot of a psychological thriller and thoroughly enjoyed the research involved and the satisfaction of finishing another chapter.

I set off at a good pace and got more than three-quarters of the way through it before I ran out of steam.

This was partly due to the glorious sunshine that made it very hard to want to stay inside writing when I really didn’t have to, but mainly due to realising how difficult it is to write an ending.

I now have five possible endings and I think I’m going to have to write them all before I decide which one works best.

And, if that doesn’t work, I'll go back to the beginning and read it all again in the hope it will become obvious which ending I should use. 
Or I may do that while working on the next draft. 

Sunsets and dramatic skies

I took my camera out for a walk along the shore and around the marina just before the rain started on Friday evening.
Photo of wildflowers on the coastal path at Maryport

Wildflowers on the coastal path at Maryport

Photo of sun breaking through the clouds over the Solway Firth

Sun breaking through the clouds over the Solway Firth

The light on the ground wasn’t great, but I managed to get a few shots of some dramatic clouds and the last rays of sunshine breaking through between them.

And, on Monday night, I popped out with my camera when I saw the sky start to colour up a bit in the hope of getting some nice sunset photos.

What I got was a very different sunset to those we've seen during the long spell of warm, dry weather we've had here in Maryport this summer.

The Solway Firth is well known for its colourful sunsets, which can be truly stunning.

Tuesday night's sunset was considerably less colourful but, what it lacked in colour, it made up for with dramatic cloud formations.

And the heavy rain over the previous few days left a number of large puddles that provided some good reflections.

Photo of reflections in a puddle on Maryport pier at sunset

Reflections in a puddle on Maryport pier at sunset

Another view of Monday night's sunset at Maryport

Wet and windy weather

I think we were totally spoilt by the beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying at Maryport in Cumbria for most of the summer.

We should be used to wet and windy weather at this time of year, but the warm, sunny days and equally balmy nights had lulled us into a false sense of security and duped us into believing we were living in a much more temperate climate.

So, the wind and rain over the past week was something of a rude awakening.

Photo of Maryport last Friday - the last day of fine weather before the rain arrived

Maryport last Friday - the last day of fine weather before the rain arrived

We had heavy rain overnight Friday into Saturday and it was still tipping it down, albeit very calm, when we got up. The rain stopped and the wind blew up during the morning, but it was pouring again by lunchtime and the rest of the day was punctuated by heavy showers.

The highest temperature was 17C (63F) at 7am and the top average wind speed was 31mph, gusting 46mph, at 1pm.

Photo of soggy Sunday at Maryport Marina

Soggy Sunday at Maryport Marina

We had more rain overnight and throughout the day on Sunday when the top temperature was 16.1C (61F) and the highest average wind speed was 28mph, gusting 41mph.

Monday started wet before changing to a mixture of sunshine and showers, but it remained very windy until the evening with a top average wind speed of 21mph, gusting 30mph. The highest temperature recorded locally was 17.3C (63F).

Photo of a brief period of calm weather on Monday evening

A brief period of calm weather on Monday evening

It looked as though Tuesday was going to buck the trend when we woke up to dry and fairly bright conditions, but the cloud soon started to build and it remained overcast throughout the afternoon.

The top temperature was 17C (63F) and the top average wind speed reached 26mph, gusting 37mph.

The marina gate was left closed at lunchtime on Tuesday due to the weather and a big swell, but Ravensdale was still rocking well during the afternoon.

Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday continued windy with lots of creaking from our mooring ropes. The top night-time wind speed was 23mph, gusting 34mph.

Wednesday started dry and fairly bright, but it soon clouded over and started raining mid-afternoon. The high winds continued all day with a top average speed of 19mph, gusting 33mph, and the highest daytime temperature recorded locally was 16.5C (62F).

Photo of wet Wednesday at Maryport Marina

Wet Wednesday at Maryport Marina

It was raining first thing yesterday (Thursday) and remained wet until around lunchtime when the rain stopped but it stayed overcast. The top daytime temperature was 16C (61F) with the average wind speed peaking at 16mph.

And, so far, today (Friday) the weather has been...yes, you guessed right - wet. It was spitting first thing and now it's pouring with rain