Ravensdale returning to Maryport on Monday. Photo by Ronnie Bell
Two years ago this week we were on a boat-finding mission.
We were in the process of selling our house in Scotland to buy another when we lost the property we were hoping to buy and there was nothing else suitable on the market in the area.
From time to time, we’d considered selling our house and buying a boat and this situation presented us with the opportunity to take the plunge.
I’d already booked a week off work, so we gave ourselves one week to find a boat that we wanted to live on.
The plan being that, if we couldn’t find a suitable boat, we'd pull out of the sale and keep our house.
Thankfully we did find the boat we wanted – a Neptunus 133 at Maryport in Cumbria – two years ago tomorrow (Saturday).
I’m also very glad we were brave enough to go through with one of the scariest decisions we’ve ever had to make.
And, two years on, we’re very happy living on board our 43ft seagoing cruiser - now called Ravensdale.
Our cosy floating home
This week we’ve taken her out fishing on the Solway Firth twice and there really is nothing to compare with bobbing around on the waves in our home 😊
A momentous decision
“So, do we do it or not?
“Now is the time to say if you want to keep the house.”
These were the words Phil said the morning we were due to sign the papers at the solicitors that would mean we were committed to the sale of our last house.
The house we sold to buy our boat, which we named after this road
We were also going to make a firm offer on the boat we’d chosen the same day.
To say it was scary would be an understatement.
I loved Ravensdale – then called Candlelight – when we saw her for the first time on August 18, 2016, but we would no longer have a shore-based home.
The first time we saw Ravensdale - then called Candlelight
I couldn’t help thinking the sensible and responsible thing to do would be to cancel the sale of our house and stay put but that was also the boring option and I was ready for a new adventure.
Me interviewing Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon just months before our big decision
I thought about Phil’s question, took a deep breath, then said: “I want to do it if you’re sure it’s what you want too.”
He agreed and the decision was made – there was no turning back.
The process that followed was anything but simple and I will confess there were odd moments, usually in the early hours of the morning, when I wondered if we were doing the right thing.
Me loving my life afloat
But, looking back, I’m very glad I didn’t chicken out on one of the biggest decisions of our lives.
I was thinking about this while sitting on the foredeck of Ravensdale on our latest fishing trip.
We were enjoying a cup of tea in the sunshine while the boat was being gently rocked around by the waves.
My thought process went something like this.
“So, would you rather be sat in an office working your socks off with no clue what time you’d get home this evening or sat here doing this?”
I didn’t even have to think about the answer to that one. It was a no-brainer.
I’m definitely happier where I am, doing what I’m doing now than I had been for a very long time before we started our life afloat in November 2016.
Here is a link to the first post I wrote after we moved on board Ravensdale - Mad or what?
I called it “Mad or what?” partly because I wasn’t sure of the answer to that one myself at the time and partly because I’m sure most the people we told of our plans thought we were totally bonkers 😊
Two fishing trips in three days
The past week has been a very good week in that we were able to take Ravensdale out to play on the Solway Firth twice over a three-day period.
The first outing was on Saturday.
I regularly check the forecast looking for the next opportunity to get out on the water and Saturday looked like the only chance we were going to get this week, so we decided to go for it.
As expected, we weren’t the only ones to think it was a good day for a trip out and several other boats from our marina were also out on the Solway Firth, which is always nice - not least because it gives me something else to photograph 😊
We left the marina soon after 10am and headed for our usual fishing spot.
Ravensdale following yacht Sea Otter out between Maryport's twin piers
Phil baiting a hook with a hardback crab
Nothing showed any interest in the crab so, after about an hour, Phil but bluey on that line too.
He caught two tope and two dogfish.
We didn’t weigh either of the tope, but one was a reasonable size and the other was a bit smaller. The dogfish are of no interest to us. All were returned to the sea.
The larger of the two tope Phil caught on this trip
We set off home a bit earlier than we’d intended when the wind blew up and Phil decided to give the engines a bit of a blast.
He took them up to 1700 revs, which gave us about 12-13 knots into the tide.
The high water alarm went off while Phil was driving back to Maryport.
I went to check the engine room bilges but there was no sign of high water.
Phil explained that it was a small amount of water being rocked around, which is why it went off briefly a couple of times but didn’t stay on. Oh well, at least we now know it works 😊
Ravensdale returning to Maryport
We returned to the marina at 12.45pm when the average wind speed recorded locally was 16mph.
Monday’s trip out to sea
We really hadn’t expected another opportunity to go fishing this week.
The forecast for Monday was reasonable but there was still a good wind blowing when we got up on Monday morning.
We decided to stay put and set about some of the jobs we wanted to get done.
After we’d eaten, Phil cleared the saloon and removed the carpet and seating on the starboard side while I went back up to the launderette to move our laundry from a washing machine into one of the tumble dryers.
I then helped Phil lift the saloon floor ready for him to drain the water/antifreeze mixture from that engine. The plan was to replace it with a new mix as he’d done on the port engine a couple of weeks ago.
It was at this point that I saw a friend heading along the pontoon towards his boat to go out fishing.
I told Phil what I’d seen and he came up on deck to see what the weather was doing.
It was almost flat calm and the marina gate was due to open very soon.
We took a snap decision to go fishing again so Phil rebuilt the saloon while I packed up all our loose belongings, made a flask of tea then dived up to the launderette to retrieve our washing even though it hadn’t been in the dryer for as long as usual.
I suppose I could’ve left it to finish but I wouldn’t dream of putting one of the two dryers out of commission for hours while we were out on the water.
As it happened, it was only 15 minutes before the dryer was due to finish and our washing was already dry (note to self – put less money in next time as I’m obviously paying for too long 😊)
We left the marina at 11.40am heading for our usual place when we passed the friend who’d caused us to make the decision to go out fishing.
Maryport from the basin as we left the marina on Monday
We spoke to him on the VHF radio and he told us he was going in search of thornback rays (AKA skate).
We asked if he minded us tagging along and he was happy for us to do that, so we dropped anchor near him and Phil put out his two uptide rods.
Sadly, while he was doing this, he discovered that the top 14 inches of one of his rods was broken and it snapped right off.
He put it out anyway and, ironically, all three thornback rays he landed that day were caught on the broken rod, so it was a good job he decided to carry on using it. He also caught three dogfish.
Phil with the biggest ray he caught that day on the broken rod behind him
We didn’t weigh any of the fish he caught but the largest ray was probably around 4lb.
Another of the rays caught on the broken rod
He’s mended the broken rod by putting a new top ring on the end, but we’ll probably buy a new one, and keep the repaired one, which is now much shorter than it should be, as a spare.
We ate our lunch while out at sea and it still strikes me as weird that it’s just the same as eating in the marina as our home goes wherever we go 😊
The wind was supposed to decrease further while we were out on the water but, as usual, it went the other way and, once again, we got stuck across the tide when it turned so we got a very rocky ride.
We stayed for a while as the fishing was good then headed home a little earlier than was needed to get back before the marina gate closed.
Returning to Maryport after our fishing trip
We were back in the marina at 3.20pm having done a round-trip of eight nautical miles.
Phil marked the location on the Navionics chart so we can return there another day.
I later checked the wind speed to discover that it was 8mph to 16mph while we were out on the Solway.
Changing the antifreeze
Last month, Phil changed the antifreeze and water in Ravensdale’s port engine.
And, this month, he decided to give the starboard engine the same treatment.
Phil trying to get to the drain plug for the heat exchanger on the starboard engine
However, this one was more difficult as it was hard to get to one of the drain plugs at the bottom of the heat exchanger.
The plug for the port engine is in the alley down the centre of the engine room between Ravensdale’s twin 300hp Volvo Penta engines.
To get to the same plug on the starboard engine, he had to lower himself into the gap between the engine and the side of the hull.
It’s definitely a job for a small person, but as neither of us really fits into that category, Phil had to squeeze himself into the very confined space.
Phil pouring the new antifreeze/water mixture into the starboard engine
He managed to reach the plug, emptied out the old antifreeze/water mixture, flushed it through a few times with a hosepipe then refilled it with a new 50/50 mix.
Feeding the swans
The Maryport swan family has been paying regular visits to the marina in search of food, including on Monday while we were out on the Solway Firth.
I felt so guilty when a friend posted a video on YouTube showing the cygnets crying for food where Ravensdale is usually moored but I’m sure someone else here will have given them something to keep them going.
Me feeding the swan family
The cygnets are getting really big now and the whole family seems to be hungrier than ever.
They visit the boat more often than they did and seem to be demanding more and more food while here.
The swans gobbling up the food we give them
I checked online and it seems you can’t overfeed swans as they will stop when they’ve had enough food, so I guess it’s OK to just keep on providing it whenever they come calling.
One of the cygnets drinking from our hosepipe
And the cygnets are getting used to drinking from a dripping hosepipe. Not that long ago, they used to watch their parents but kept well back. Now they're happy to take their turn.
One of the berth holders here had a bit of shock when he visited his yacht this week to find a dead sea trout in his aft cockpit.
The fish, which was about 2ft 6ins long and must have weighed 6-7lb, had apparently leapt into his boat.
Kamikaze sea trout that was found dead on a yacht in Maryport Marina
The area was badly stained with blood where it had obviously been trying to escape, sadly without success.
We had no idea there were sea trout in the marina as most of the fish we see here are grey mullet but I'm fairly sure I saw another close to one of the other boats here later on the day the dead one was discovered.
Most of the photos I’ve taken this week were taken on our two fishing trips, including photos of the other boats out on the Solway Firth at the same time as us.
Bethany Sheila on the Solway Firth
Flame on the Solway Firth
Sea Otter on the Solway Firth
By the Way on the Solway Firth
And I’ve taken rather a lot of photos of the swans and cygnets 😊
One of the adult swans that visits the marina with their young
The cygnets investigate the hosepipe
I also snapped some shots of fishermen digging for lugworms on the beach when the tide was out last Friday evening.
Digging for lugworm on the beach at Maryport
Another photo of fishermen digging for lugworm on Maryport beach
And I took my camera with me when I walked up to town on Wednesday, but the weather was so horrible that I only took a few shots around the harbour.
A different view of Maryport Harbour
My most annoying missed opportunity this week was when a beautiful rainbow appeared yesterday (Thursday) evening and I didn’t have my camera with me. By the time I got back to the boat to get my camera, the rainbow had gone ☹
Alena of Castletown on the Isle of Man passed Ravensdale on its way to the MPM boatyard next to the marina last Friday. It left again on Sunday.
Alena of Castletown leaving the marina
Another fishing boat, Maryport-based Alauna of Peel, arrived in the marina while we were out on the Solway Firth on Monday and is now on the hard-standing outside MPM where it's undergoing work.
Alauna on the boat hoist in the MPM boatyard
We’ve had a wide range of different weather conditions in Maryport again this week.
Last Friday was a day of sunshine and heavy showers, with the emphasis on heavy showers. The temperature reached 15.8C (60F). It was fairly windy by day but became more so during the evening with a top wind speed of 22mph at 8pm.
Sunny Saturday morning on the Solway Firth
Saturday started dry, bright and calm. The wind blew up around high tide at midday and the cloud increased as the day went on giving an overcast evening. The top temperature was 17.5C (63.5F) and the highest average wind speed during the day was16mph.
It rained first thing on Sunday, but the rain soon dried up and it remained dry but cloudy for most of the rest of the day. The sun was warm when it managed to break through the clouds giving a top temperature of 18C (64.5F). The average wind speed reached a high of 17mph.
Clouds over Scotland as the wind got up on the Solway Firth on Monday afternoon
Monday was mainly dry and bright. There was a slight wind first thing which dropped off just before the marina gate was due to open. The highest daytime temperature recorded locally was 17.8C (64F) and the top average wind speed was 17mph.
We had a damp start to the day on Tuesday and it remained overcast all day with regular showers and more persistent rain during the evening. The temperature reached 16.7C (62F) and the top average wind speed was 15mph.
Windy Wednesday in Maryport Harbour
It was dry but very windy on Wednesday morning becoming even windier as the day went on and it started raining at about 4pm. The highest daytime temperature recorded locally was 16.7C (62F) and the top average wind speed was 25mph, gusting 36mph.
Wednesday night into yesterday (Thursday) morning was wet and windy, followed by another very windy day with sunshine and showers. Yesterday’s temperature peaked at 16.1C (61F) and the average wind speed reached 23mph, gusting 31mph.
A torrential downpour on Thursday afternoon
So far today (Friday) the weather has been overcast, damp and blustery with the temperature reaching 14.4C (60F) and a top average wind speed of 22mph, gusting 30mph.