Ravensdale heading out on the Solway Firth
Flat calm water and winter sunshine provided perfect conditions for Ravensdale’s first trip out on the water in 2019.
This gave us an opportunity to check that the recent repair to the exhaust system on our Neptunus 133 motor cruiser was working properly.
It was also the first time we’d taken our new staffie puppy, Ruby, out on our 43ft floating home.
Both proved highly successful, which is more than can be said for the fishing while we were out on the Solway Firth in Cumbria, UK, on Sunday morning.
Perfect winter cruising conditions
Ravensdale leaving Maryport for the first time this year
We were stuck in our marina at Maryport in Cumbria for more than five weeks due to exhaust problems on Ravensdale’s port engine.
The exhaust has now been fixed, so we were eagerly watching the weather forecast for an opportunity to take her out onto the Solway Firth.
The forecast for Sunday was for cold, calm and sunny conditions and the gate was due to open soon after 8am.
This seemed a good opportunity to try out the repair to the exhaust system on Ravensdale’s port engine, to take our staffie puppy, Ruby, on her first boat trip and to get in a spot of fishing.
We decided not to even attempt to set off immediately the gate opened as it really didn’t matter whether we were out for the full five hours that it would be open before it closed again when the tide was going out.
Calm conditions in Maryport Marina before we left on Sunday morning
We got up at a reasonable time and got ready to leave.
Phil does the outside preparations, such as taking the cover off the flybridge, removing all but the bow and stern ropes, taking the cover off the windlass, etc.
He also goes down into the engine room to open the seacocks and to check the oil and water and that there’s water in the seawater filters.
Meanwhile, I pack away everything inside that could go flying around if the going gets rough.
Packing ornaments, books, cooking equipment, plants, etc. away usually takes me about 15 minutes but it is considerably more difficult when you have a puppy wanting to get into everything you’re doing and attempting to persuade you to play with her.
All packed up and ready to go
I really didn’t want to put Ruby in her cage until we were ready to go as I wanted her to enjoy her first outing, so I managed to work around her.
Phil moved her cage, which normally lives below the wheel at the helm, as he needed to stand there to steer, and she went into it of her own free will while I finished packing.
When we were ready to go, we closed the door to her cage with no objections from her at all, started Ravensdale’s two 300hp Volvo Penta engines, which are pretty noisy but didn’t seem to bother her at all, and we set off.
She had to stay in her cage while we were travelling as we leave the door to the aft deck open so we can communicate.
She watched what was going on for a while, then laid down and went to sleep.
Ruby fast asleep in her cage
Phil opened the engines up a bit to blow the cobwebs away. He took the speed up to 13.8 knots and the repair to the exhaust elbow on the port engine was fine.
On our way to Allonby Bay
We headed up the coast to Allonby Bay and dropped anchor at a spot that has proved a successful fishing location on previous outings.
Ruby was still in her cage and seemed very interested in what was happening but was not very keen on the sound of the anchor chain rolling out.
While he set up his rods on the aft deck, I went in to let Ruby out.
Phil setting up one of his fishing rods
We hadn’t expected to get an opportunity to take the boat out so soon after it was fixed so we hadn’t got around to ordering her a lifejacket.
However, I wanted her to see what living on a boat was really like, so I put her on a lead and carried her out onto the aft deck, then let her walk around on her lead exploring the sights, smells and sounds.
Unsurprisingly, she particularly liked the smelly fishing bait 😊
I then took her for a little walk around the boat and let her have a good sniff around on the foredeck.
She was fascinated by the water moving around the boat and spent some time looking over the side. The sound that she seemed most interested in was the glugging noise coming from the drainage holes on either side of the boat.
Ruby sat on the top step
I then took her back into the saloon and shut the door so she could run around and have a bit of a play.
She kept wanting to go back out again and sat at the top of the steps that lead out onto the aft deck crying.
But, after a while, she asked to be picked up and fell asleep with her head in my lap.
Every time I picked her up she tried to eat the pompoms on the ties on my hat, so I took it off.
And, while we were playing indoors, she tried to bite the strap on my lifejacket that goes underneath to hold it in place and accidentally nipped my bottom, which gave me a bit of a shock 😊
As Phil had expected, the fishing was poor. All he caught were six dogfish, which are more trouble than they’re worth, and one whiting that was much too small to keep.
The small whiting Phil caught this trip
It would’ve been nice to have some decent fish, but it was still a good outing and we were very pleased to discover that Ruby was totally unfazed by the whole affair.
Sadly, I was so busy looking after her that I didn't get any photos of her out on deck.
Phil and I on Ravensdale's aft deck on the Solway Firth
Ruby in her cage on the way back to the marina
She went back in her cage for the journey home, then came out again when we were back in the marina and carried on as normal except for being very tired and sleeping a lot more than usual during the afternoon.
We left the marina at 8.50am and returned at 12.35pm so spent three hours and 45 minutes out on the water, during which time we travelled 6.9 nautical miles.
Ravensdale in Maryport Basin about to enter the gate to the marina
And I ordered Ruby’s lifejacket as soon as we got back.
Freezing temperatures and marina gate problems
Ravensdale surrounded by ice on Wednesday morning
We’ve had some pretty cold night and frosty mornings this week.
We’d been considering taking Ravensdale out again on Wednesday as the forecast was for another very calm day.
We were still trying to decide whether to go on Tuesday evening and decided to wait and see what the weather was like in the morning as the gate wasn’t due to open until just before 10.30am.
When we got up on Wednesday morning, the pontoons were white with frost and the water in the marina was covered with ice.
Frost on the pontoon and one of Ravensdale's mooring ropes
Ravensdale’s decks were also iced over and very slippery.
We decided to give it a miss as we’d been out on Sunday, partly due to the weather and partly because we wanted to wait until Ruby’s lifejacket arrived.
It was just as well we decided not to go as the marina gate didn’t open that morning.
Water pouring over the marina gate when it remained closed on Wednesday morning
We hadn’t been warned it was going to happen so assumed it was due to some sort of problem.
We later discovered the dock gate hydraulic oil tank was being cleaned out.
The marina later said the pump broke during the opening procedure, so staff were unable to open the gate, and they apologised to anyone who had wanted to go out that day and been unable to do so.
There was still ice around Ravensdale at 1pm
The weather was amazing all day and the ice on the end of the marina furthest from the dock gate, where Ravensdale is currently moored, lasted for most of the day.
There were some lovely patterns in the ice on the lockers on Ravensdale’s aft deck.
Patterns in the ice on one of Ravensdale's aft lockers
I also liked the designs made by the bubbles that were trapped under the ice covering the surface of the water in the marina.
Bubbles under the ice on the marina water
Ruby at 12 weeks
She is so much fun and learning new things all the time.
This week she learnt to climb the four steps up from the saloon to the door that opens out onto the aft deck.
This has also made it easier for her to let us know when she needs to go out and do her business.
She goes up and sits on the top step and cries until we take her out.
Initially, she seemed to be doing this as a game as she can climb up the steps but can’t get back down again so she would climb up, cry, get lifted back down, then climb straight back up again…over and over again.
Now, she only seems to go up there if there if she needs to go out or if there’s something going on outside that she wants to watch.
Ruby sitting on the top step in Ravensdale's saloon asking to go out
Ruby leaving the marina yesterday (Thursday) for her first proper walk
This week was also the first time she was able to go out for a proper walk, rather than just being walked around the pontoons in the marina.
She had her second vaccination on Thursday of last week so could walk out of the marina for the first time yesterday (Thursday) as we were told to wait a week for the vaccination to take effect before taking her out.
Ruby trotting along beside Phil
Phil giving Ruby a treat for being a good girl
We only took her a short distance along the top of the marina and down to the basin, but she seemed to enjoy all the new sights and smells.
She particularly liked sniffing around on the grass as she hasn’t seen grass in the month she has been with us.
Me with Ruby on a grassy area by the marina
And she met a couple of dogs –
Meanwhile, she had her first introduction to the file that will be used to file her claws this week.
Ruby's introduction to the file for her claws
Phil held her on his lap as if he was going to file her claws then let her sniff it and generally investigate it before he rubbed it gently over her claws in the hope she’ll be less bothered by it when he actually files them.
And she’s been topping up her tan during the lovely sunny weather we’ve had on a couple of days this week 😊
She settled in the corner of the seating in the saloon that is a lovely sun trap and looked so happy that we didn’t have the heart to move her.
Ruby sunbathing in Ravensdale's saloon
We’d been about to put her in her cage so we could go out for a walk, so we waited until she’d had enough of sunbathing before going out. I very much doubt she’ll get away with that one again, but it was the first time she had really felt the heat of the sun on her coat.
Me and Ruby having a cuddle
Ruby eating my sweatshirt while I try to take our photo
And, I've learnt that it's virtually impossible to take a half decent selfie with her as she either moves, tries to get away or, as happened in this case, tries to eat my clothes, which is why I had to get Phil to take a photo of me with her so I could hold her still 😊
The lovely, bright conditions on the colder days this week and the heavy clouds on Tuesday made for some good photographic opportunities.
I took my camera for a walk along the shore and around the marina on Saturday.
Maryport beach on Saturday
Reflections at Maryport Marina
And, Sunday’s trip out on Ravensdale, meant I could take photos of the shore from the Solway Firth.
Maryport across the basin early on Sunday morning
Another shot of the sun breaking through heavy clouds over the Solway Firth
Maryport from the Solway Firth looking across north pier
Maryport's old lighthouse and the entrance to the basin from the Solway Firth
On Monday, the weather wasn’t so good for photos, but I took a few shots of the shore.
Maryport shore looking towards Flimby
Fishing boats in Maryport Harbour
The River Ellen at Maryport
Ellenfoot Bridge across Maryport Harbour
More boats in Maryport Harbour
The swan family in Maryport Harbour
Wednesday’s cold, bright conditions lit up the colourful fishing boats in the harbour and the still water provided some lovely reflections.
Cottages on North Quay, Maryport, reflected in the still water
Colourful fishing boats refelected in the still water at Maryport Harbour
More fishing boats in Maryport Harbour
Another view of boats in Maryport Harbour at high tide
Fishing boat Solway Prospector on the move in Maryport Harbour
I also took my camera around to the shore and took photos of the pier, some boats out on the Solway Firth and a digger removing stones from the beach to prevent them from being washed through the pier and blocking the channel out of the basin.
Blue sky reflected in the ice on Maryport Pier
The local fisheries vessel and a small fishing boat on the Solway Firth
A digger removing stones from the shore by Maryport Pier
And yesterday (Thursday) I took a few more cold, misty shots of the marina.
It’s been a fairly cold week here at Maryport in Cumbria, but we haven’t had the snow that has affected much of the UK this week.
We awoke to frosty pontoons on Saturday morning. This was followed by a dry, bright and calm morning with increasing cloud during the afternoon.
Saturday morning at Maryport Marina
The top temperature recorded locally was 4.9C (41F) and the average wind speed was 11mph at 9am, then 1-5mph for rest of day.
Sunday was calm and dry. It was cloudy with sunny intervals and a sea mist during the morning. The wind got up during the afternoon then dropped off again in the evening.
Sunshine breaking through the clouds over the Solway Firth on Sunday
The daytime temperature reached 5.7C (42F) and the top average wind speed was 15mph at 5pm, but it was only 2-3mph for most of the day including while we were out on the Solway Firth.
Sunday night into Monday was a very cold night with the temperature falling to 0.4C (33F) and just 1.3C (34F) at 8am
The weather was cloudy but bright first thing on Monday with frost on the pontoons
The walk along the sea wall at Maryport around midday on Monday
It became cloudier during the morning with light rain around lunchtime. This brought milder conditions and the wind got up later in the day. The top temperature was 5.8C (42F) at 5pm and the top average wind speed was 25mph, gusting 37mph.
The forecast for Tuesday was for snow and sleet, but it never happened here. We had some very stormy-looking skies, but it stayed mainly dry with a heavy downpour during the morning.
Heavy clouds over Maryport Harbour on Tuesday
The temperature only reached 3.5C (38F) and the top average wind speed was 16mph, gusting 29mph.
Tuesday night into Wednesday was the coldest night of the week with the temperature falling to -1.8C (29F).
This was followed by a bright, sunny, cold morning on Wednesday.
There was a thick frost on the pontoons and the water in the marina had iced over.
Frosty pontoons at Maryport Marina on Wednesday morning
It stayed cold, dry and sunny until just before sunset with the temperature peaking at 3.6C (38F). The top average wind speed recorded locally was 6mph but was just 2-3mph during the time the gate should’ve been open.
Yesterday (Thursday) we awoke to very misty conditions.
Mist at Maryport Marina yesterday (Thursday) morning
It felt much milder than the previous day and the mist cleared to give blue skies and sunshine during the morning. The weather became much colder with a damp feel to the air as the day went on.
The top temperature was 4.9C (41F) and the average wind speed reached 8mph.
And, so far, today (Friday), the weather has been overcast and damp but much milder with a top temperature so far of 8.7C (48F). It's also windier than recent days with a top average wind speed of 30mph, gusting 37mph.