Ravensdale out on the Solway Firth on Saturday
We were delighted to be able to take Ravensdale out of the marina for a full day's fishing trip last weekend.
But what promised to be a nice, calm day out on the Solway Firth in Cumbria, UK, proved to be a very different experience.
The forecast was totally wrong resulting in the bumpiest conditions we've experienced at sea so far.
Items inside our 43ft Neptunus 133 motor cruiser, which haven't moved at all on previous outings, were flying around as Ravensdale rocked violently when she got stuck across the tide while we were at anchor.
We ended up bringing up the anchor long before we could get back into our marina and cruising up and down the coast while waiting for the marina gate to open so we could go home.
Saturday’s fishing trip
The weather was fairly calm last Friday but the forecast was for an even better day on Saturday.
Ravensdale heading towards the gate to leave Maryport Marina
The marina gate, which is only open for about two and a half hours on either side of high tide, wasn’t going to be open at a suitable time for going out and coming back on the same tide so we decided to make a full day of it.
The gate was due to close at around 9.15am on Saturday morning and to open for the evening tide at about 4.40pm, which would be after sunset but not too late.
We left the marina at around 8.20am and headed out onto the Solway Firth.
Ravensdale leaving Maryport Marina on Saturday morning
This was not long after sunrise and it was a bit misty but a beautiful morning.
Leaving Maryport as we headed down to North Workington
We quickly discovered the firth was much bumpier than we’d been expecting.
The wind wasn’t too bad but there was a good swell, which became even more noticeable when we dropped anchor off north Workington, just under four nautical miles south of Maryport.
Phil set up two fishing rods on Ravensdale's aft deck and we waited for the fish to bite.
It wasn’t long before he caught his first dogfish of the day, followed by another and another and so on…
Phil about to remove the hook from another troublesome dogfish
They really are a total menace! ☹
As Phil wasn’t catching anything worthwhile and the bumpy conditions weren’t particularly pleasant, we decided to move on at around 11am.
By this time, the marina gate had closed so going home was not an option and we knew it would be almost six hours before it reopened.
We set off for Three Fathoms Bank, about five miles out from where we were but turned back after a couple of miles because the water was getting even more choppy.
Phil at the helm as we headed out towards Three Fathoms Bank
Phil kept the speed down to about eight knots, but it was still pretty bumpy and a lot of water was being thrown up over the bow and foredeck, so we gave up on our plans and headed back towards Maryport.
We anchored a few hundred yards from the pier, close to the spot where Phil had caught his best cod of the season.
Phil setting up one of his fishing rods on Ravensdale's aft deck
He set up his rods again and we waited in the hope he might actually catch something to make all the rocking and rolling worthwhile.
At least he did catch a cod – just the one and it was too small to keep.
Phil with the small cod he caught - the only one of the day ☹
Other than that, all he reeled in were two crabs - again not big enough to keep - and more annoying dogfish ☹
We put our portable generator on for a while after lunch and I took the opportunity to use our coffee maker to make us cappuccinos. It is exactly the same make we always have but it tasted amazing. I’ve yet to work out why everything always tastes so much better at sea 😊
After the tide turned, the wind got up, the waves got bigger with more and more white horses and Ravensdale ended up sitting across the tide.
Our fishfinder trying to show us where the fish were
It was so frustrating not catching any decent fish when the fishfinder kept beeping to let us know there were fish under the boat and lots of little fishes were swimming across the screen. I guess they were all blasted dogfish.
As the day went on, the boat was rolling more and more.
It was becoming unsafe to fish, so Phil reeled his lines in and said he thought we should bring the anchor up before it got any worse in case it became too rough to get it up later.
Phil has to stand on the bow and lean over the guardrail to check on the chain direction during the process while I operate the engines to bring the boat around so the chain is in line with the windlass.
It was only about 3pm and I was a bit bothered that it would mean motoring for almost two hours and using a lot more diesel than intended but, if that was safer, it had to be done.
We’ve also learnt that motoring is so much more comfortable than sitting at anchor in choppy conditions.
While Phil was on the bow bringing up the anchor, the boat started rolling even more. It looked as though it was going over to about 45 degrees in each direction, but it probably wasn’t as much as that in reality.
Phil bringing up the anchor in better conditions in the summer - Saturday was nothing like this
The coffee table and stools in the saloon, which have never moved while we’ve been out on the water even when we thought it was pretty choppy, started sliding around the saloon behind me and it sounded as though all the china in a cupboard by the galley was being smashed to pieces.
I heard a loud bang as something was thrown around in the aft cabin but couldn’t go to check what it was because I needed to be at the helm to help Phil bring the anchor up.
I was so pleased to see the anchor back on board and even more pleased when Phil made it safely along the side of the boat and back into the saloon.
He took over at the helm and started steering Ravensdale up and down the coast while I went to investigate what had been happening elsewhere in the boat when we were rolling so violently.
The dehumidifier in the aft cabin had fallen off the deep shelf on which it lives and has never fallen from before.
The dehumidifier and tea-maker live on a shelf by the bed in the aft cabin
It was face down on the carpet with the filter cover off. Unfortunately, it had been full of water so the carpet was very wet.
Our tea-making machine was on our bed – thankfully that was empty so the bedding didn’t get a soaking.
The dehumidifier in the forward cabin had also fallen over pouring water all over the carpet but thankfully that one was already on the floor.
I didn’t attempt to do anything with them at that point except for making sure everything was safely laying on the floor and couldn’t move any further.
Ravensdale motoring while we waited for the marina gate to open
We just kept moving until close to the time the gate was due to open when I called the marina on the VHF radio to ask them to let us know as soon as it opened as were waiting to get in.
We were back in the marina just before 5pm after eight hours and 40 minutes out on the water, during which time we’d travelled 22.9 nautical miles.
And, this time, we were very glad to be safely back at our mooring.
We then had to check whether any damage had been done when things were being flung around by the rough conditions.
Amazingly, there was no serious damage at all.
Both dehumidifiers still worked. The water reservoir on the one in the aft cabin had cracked but that has been repaired and seems to be fine now.
Even the china that I’d heard rattling around in the cupboard while we were lifting the anchor was still intact.
The loo roll that unrolled itself
We discovered that the hatch had also fallen off the chain locker in the forward cabin and the chain had spilled out onto the higher of the two V-berths.
And the drop-down hatch that provides access to the underside of the console at the helm had dropped down, despite being held in place by a bolt on either side. It was sitting on the top of our wall-mounted TV but had thankfully not damaged it.
The loo roll in the ensuite heads for the aft cabin had also unrolled itself and I was pleased to discover that it hadn't emptied the whole roll.
I think we were very lucky to have got off so lightly and have definitely learned that, for future trips, we need to secure more things than we’ve so far considered necessary.
At the very least, we need to make sure anything that could possibly fall over is already on the floor.
We were really pleased that friends, who were also out fishing on Saturday, took some photos of Ravensdale out on the water for us. I’m sure they must have found taking photos of us as difficult as I found taking photos of them while both boats were rolling around on the waves. Many thanks Richie and Carl 😊
Ravensdale out on the Solway Firth
Another photo of Ravensdale on Saturday
Richie and Carl heading towards us on Bethany Sheila
The forecast had been for wind speeds of only 5-8mph throughout the day.
We later discovered that the highest average wind speed recorded at St. Bees Head, which is our nearest weather station, was 7mph but it was considerably more than that where we were on the Solway Firth.
Cleaning Ravensdale appears to be rather like painting the Forth Bridge - a never-ending task.
It’s always necessary when we return from a trip out on the water and, on this occasion, this was particularly true because she’d been covered by salt water and spray while we were driving through the waves.
Phil washing Ravensdale after our last outing
As it was dark when we got back on Saturday, Phil gave her a good wash down with Starbrite Boat Wash the following day and now she’s looking beautiful again – or at least I think so but then I could be biased 😊
Our table and chairs on Ravensdale's aft deck during the summer
Now the weather is so much colder here, we decided that we wouldn’t need our aft deck table and chairs until next summer.
So, we took them over to our shore-based storage unit on Tuesday afternoon, along with our summer clothes that had been packed up and waiting to go for a couple of weeks.
I had hoped to find my favourite woolly winter hat while there as it doesn’t appear to be on the boat.
I have plenty of other woolly hats but really want the missing one because it’s really warm and has ear flaps with ties that I can fasten under my chin to stop it blowing away when it’s really windy.
Sadly, the hat wasn’t there so the search continues…
Me feeding the swans on one of their regular visits to Ravensdale
The swans and cygnets have continued to turn up regularly for food, but they don’t seem to stay together as much now.
On one occasion, two of the cygnets came to Ravensdale for food while the adults and other cygnet were elsewhere in the marina.
I saw them all together again later the same day when they were eating weed off the harbour wall opposite our boat.
And they have returned at some stage on most days over the past week.
We had to order some more floating swan and duck food for them this week as the bags of food we inherited from the berth holder who used to feed them here were running out. He left us several bags of food when he died earlier this year.
I searched online for the best deal but couldn’t find anything that looked to be as good for less than the brand we’ve been giving them so I ordered the same one.
As usual, a full day at sea meant I took literally hundreds of photos of the coast, the sky and other boats that we saw while out on the Solway Firth.
A local fisherman tending his nets
Maryport from the Solway Firth
Cormorants on a navigation marker in the Solway Firth
The sun going down over the Solway Firth
I’ve also taken my camera out for walks around the harbour and have taken photos of the marina when there were good reflections or interesting skies.
Fishing boats in Maryport Harbour
Boat reflections in Maryport Harbour
Another view of Maryport Harbour
Ellenfoot Bridge across Maryport Harbour
Looking down the River Ellen to Christ Church, Maryport
We’ve had fairly mixed weather this week with varying degrees of sunshine, cloud and wind, but thankfully we've had very little rain.
Saturday started with misty sunshine. It was fairly calm first thing, but the wind got up while we were out at sea.
A sunny start to Saturday at Maryport Marina
The top temp was 9.7C (49F) and the highest average wind speed recorded at St Bees Head was 7mph but it was considerably more than that much of the time we were out on the water.
Sunday was sunny and dry with a cool breeze. The top average wind speed was 7mph but again it seemed more than that here. The top temperature recorded locally was 14.1C (57F) but I really don’t think it was that high here.
We had an overcast but dry start to Monday morning with the sun manging to break through the clouds from time to time during the day. The temperature reached 9C (48F) and the average wind speed peaked at 15mph.
Sun breaking through the clouds over Maryport harbour on Monday
Tuesday was dry, cloudy and bright with small patches of blue sky and some heavy-looking clouds. It was a lot colder than of late with the temperature not getting higher than 6.7C (44F). It was also fairly windy, which made it feel even colder, with a top average wind speed of 19mph, gusting 36mph.
Cool, cloudy conditions at Maryport Marina on Tuesday
A calm period at Maryport Marina on Wednesday
Wednesday was an even colder day. It started dry, bright and fairly calm.
The wind got up a bit around lunchtime when we had a little bit of rain. The wind then dropped again.
The daytime temperature only reached 5.4C (42F) and the top average wind speed was 26mph, gusting 38mph.
Overnight Wednesday into yesterday (Thursday) was a very cold night with the thermometer falling to 1.2C (34F) and we awoke to slippery frost on the pontoons yesterday morning.
The day started fairly sunny and calm with the wind getting up a bit later in the day. It also became more overcast as the day went on.
The top temperature was 5.8C (42F) and the top average wind speed was 9mph.
The weather, so far, today (Friday) has been dry, fairly bright and very calm.
Calm conditions at Maryport Marina this morning (Friday)