Ravensdale heading out onto the Solway Firth on Saturday. Photo by Adam Lamb
Ravensdale usually stays afloat at Maryport in Cumbria, UK, due to a sea gate that keeps water in our marina when the tide goes out.
But the cable snapped 10 days ago, and the marina is unable get a new one until next month, so the water drains down and our Neptunus 133 motor cruiser ends up sitting in the mud twice a day every day.
I was away when the cable went because I’d travelled to my hometown of Salisbury in the south of England to visit my elderly parents.
But I was determined to get back in time for our marina’s open day as we’d put our names down to take Ravensdale out on the Solway Firth as part of the event.
Gate cable snapped
The marina gate open at low tide after the cable snapped
The cable that operates the sea gate at Maryport Marina in Cumbria, UK, snapped early in the morning of Wednesday, June 19.
The cable that snapped usually goes around this wheel to operate the gate
The pontoon piles towering about Ravensdale at low water
He said he was awoken by the strange bubbling noises we hear when Ravensdale sinks down into the mud, so he went out to see what was happening.
When he found out what was going on, he adjusted our mooring ropes to make sure they didn’t overtighten.
The marina didn’t have a spare cable as it wasn’t due for changing for several years, so they’ve had to order a new one, which is supposed to be here by July 10.
Phil adjusting Ravensdale's mooring ropes as the water level drops
In the meantime, the marina drains right down, and the boats all settle in the mud every time the tide goes out.
This means that we have to keep checking our ropes and trying to pull the boat in a bit before it sinks into the mud, so we don’t end up with too big a jump across onto our boarding steps.
And the ramp up to the marina facilities is very steep at low tide, especially while I’ve been feeling unwell with the cough and cold, I brought home from Salisbury.
The plus side to the cable incident is that the water in the marina seems to be looking much cleaner now that it’s all getting changed with every tide.
And the low water level has made it possible to get a better look at some of the underwater wildlife that we wouldn’t normally see as clearly.
A compass jellyfish
A tiny flatfish in the mud at the bottom of the marina
Grey mullet in the shallow water at the marina
I don't know what these are but there are a lot of them underwater around the bottom of the walls
Marina open day
Maryport Marina flying bunting for the open day
The weather was fabulous for this year’s open day at Maryport Marina and there was a good turnout from members of the public.
Boats decorated for the open day
Last year, the open day was the only day of torrential rain in the middle of about three months of wall-to-wall sunshine, but this year the sun shone, and the weather was warm, dry and calm.
Another decorated boat in Maryport Marina
More boats went out on the Solway Firth at the same time then we’ve seen in the two and half years we’ve been here.
In fact, at times, there was a queue to get out of the marina gate and out of the basin onto the firth.
The first Venture West boat trip leaving the pontoon
Venture West heading for the marina gate
The open day included tours of the marina, free boat trips on local charter boat Venture West, Sea Cadet exercises and visits from the Maryport Inshore Rescue boat and the all-weather lifeboat from nearby Workington.
Maryport Inshore Rescue boat passing Ravensdale
The all-weather lifeboat from Workington waiting for us to leave the marina
Artists demonstrated their work, there were a couple of mini fairground rides for small children and food and refreshments were available on site.
Open day trip out on the Solway Firth
Me enjoying the sunshine on Ravensdale's aft deck
I made sure I was back from my trip to Salisbury in time for our marina’s open day as we’d said we’d take Ravensdale out on the Solway Firth during the event.
The management encouraged berth holders to take their boats out on the water during the open day so there’d be lots of boat movements to make the marina look busy.
They offered us a free framed photo of our boat leaving the marina, a Maryport pennant and free food.
Needless to say, we agreed to take part 😊
Ravensdale leaving Maryport Marina on Saturday
But we found it amusing that they sent the berth holders away during the event and couldn’t help wondering if they didn’t want us to talk to the visitors for some reason 😊
The all-weather lifeboat from Workington arrived just as we were about to leave, and we called to the crew that the hammerhead we were moored on would be free for a couple of hours if they wanted to use it.
They waited for us to leave and moved onto the pontoon we had vacated as soon as we’d gone.
We left the marina at around 2pm and followed a yacht decorated with flags out of the marina.
Ravensdale following Summer Wine out of the marina
As it was moving more slowly than we would usually go, Phil hung back and did a 360-degree turn before going out through the marina’s sea gate to give the yacht time to manoeuvre.
Ravensdale leaving Maryport
We then followed it out into the basin and out between the twin piers onto the Solway Firth.
The water was lovely and calm as we headed up to Allonby Bay to do a bit of fishing - or maybe I should say to try to do a bit of fishing.
Phil setting up one of his fishing rods
Phil set up rods with various baits in the hope he’d attract something but all he managed to catch were the inevitable dogfish and one small gurnard and, when I say small, I mean small 😊
The small gurnard
But it was the first gurnard he’d ever caught so at least it was interesting to see.
While we were out fishing, we had a visit from Maryport Inshore Rescue boat.
The crew dropped by to ask if we were catching anything then put on a little display while I snapped away with my camera.
Maryport Inshore Rescue boat performing for my camera
Our visit from the inshore rescue crew
The only other event of note while we were out was when a beautiful but poisonous lion’s mane jellyfish passed Ravensdale. It was lovely to see even if I was unable to get a clear photo of it.
A very poor photo of the lion's mane jellyfish
We were back in the marina at around 5.10pm after just over three hours out on the water during which time we travelled 7.8 nautical miles.
And, as we did so badly on the fishing front again, I’m referring to our outing as a mini cruise rather than a fishing trip 😊
Phil and Ruby stayed on Ravensdale while I travelled to Salisbury - more than 350 miles from Maryport - by train on Monday June 17 to see my parents.
It was the first time I’d travelled by train in a very long time, so I was bit nervous about having to make three changes in each direction.
I left Maryport at 7.50am and my first change was in Carlisle, where I caught a train to Wolverhampton after I managed to work out which platform I needed to be on and actually get me and my suitcase to the correct platform.
At Wolverhampton, I changed for Basingstoke despite having only eight minutes to make the connection but, thankfully, by this point, a woman I was sitting next to on the train had shown me how to look up the platform I needed on the trainline app on my mobile phone.
Strike action poster at Basingstoke
While waiting in Basingstoke for my train to Salisbury, I saw a poster informing passengers that strike action was likely to affect some services from June 18-22 and I was due to return on one of their trains on June 21. I hoped and prayed my service wouldn’t be affected.
I caught the Salisbury train and arrived in my hometown just before 3.30pm after seven and half hours of travelling.
I hailed a taxi to Victoria Lodge Guesthouse, which was less than a 10-minute walk to my Mum and Dad’s house and about the same distance from Salisbury city centre.
As soon as I logged into the guesthouse’s Wi-Fi, I received an email saying my first train on my way home wouldn’t be running due to the strike action.
I couldn’t believe it. If I’d known before I left home, I would’ve tried to put off my visit, but I was already there.
Victoria Lodge Guesthouse in Salisbury
I spent the days with my parents, which was lovely as I hadn’t seen them for far too long.
Mum (87) and Dad (89)
My Mum suffers from dementia and didn’t recognise me all of the time, but she definitely knew who I was most of the time I was there, and they were both pleased to see me.
We had lots to catch up on and went through a pile of old photo albums reliving memories from years gone by and I was able to help fill them in on some of the things they’d forgotten.
In the evenings, I walked along the River Avon into the city centre and visited places from my childhood.
Looking along the River Avon in Salisbury
The Boathouse sign on the River Avon
A bridge over the River Avon - one of the five rivers that meet in Salisbury
Shops along the side of the River Avon
A swan family feeding on the River Avon
The Boathouse on the River Avon with the cathedral spire in the distance
I loved wandering around Salisbury Cathedral close and, one evening, I took my supper there and ate it on a bench while admiring the beautiful old building. The cathedral was built between 1220 and 1258 and is regarded as one of the leading examples of early English architecture.
Salisbury Cathedral from the bench where I ate my supper
One of the gateways into Salisbury Cathedral Close
Attractive buildings in Salisbury Cathedral Close
Another old building in Salisbury Cathedral Close
Neatly trimmed hedges flank the path to another building in the close
I also enjoyed walking around the city remembering places and times from my youth.
The Poultry Cross in Salisbury
Walkway to St Thomas' Church in Salisbury
Impressive architecture on the corner of Market Square on a wet day in Salisbury
The white windows at street level used be Goddard's Newsagent - my first Saturday job
On a lighter note, I couldn’t resist snapping some amusing pub signs that I spotted on my wanders.
A chalk board outside a Salisbury pub
A particularly apt sign outside another pub in the city
An amusing message on the other side of the same sign
On my way to my parents one morning, I took a bit of a detour to pass my old senior school and couldn’t resist taking a few photos even if I did only have my phone with me.
South Wilts Grammar School for Girls
I just wish I could’ve taken my camera to Salisbury, but was trying to keep my luggage down - something I still didn’t manage to achieve 😊
And, on my last evening, I met up with an old friend (and I mean old as in someone I’ve known since my childhood not as in ancient 😊) for a pub meal.
The only trouble was that we chose a pub with an open mic night happening the evening we were there, so we had to go and eat upstairs to be able to have a proper catch up.
I was either super brave or super stupid that evening as I walked back to the guesthouse through a subway in Salisbury in which I was badly beaten up as a 17-year-old walking home from my Saturday job at Goddard's Newsagents many years ago.
The Salisbury subway where I was beaten up as a teenager
I hadn’t been down there since then until this trip when I walked through it during the day on my way to town.
It felt strange remembering what had happened there more than 40 years ago, but it obviously didn’t bother me too much as I was willing to do it again after dark and I survived to tell the tale 😊
And, all too soon, on Friday morning, it was time to set off home again.
Thankfully, I found an earlier train between Salisbury and Bristol run by a company that was not involved in the strike action for the first leg of my journey home. This enabled me to catch earlier trains at Birmingham and Carlisle, so I arrived home an hour earlier than I’d expected.
Nearly home - Carlisle railway station last Friday
My biggest problem on the train journeys, once I’d discovered that I could look up platforms on the trainline app, was wheeling my suitcase along inside the carriages without running over people’s toes, getting it on and off of the trains and, worse still, trying to find somewhere to stow it in the carriages.
So, next time I attempt rail travel, I will definitely be taking a smaller suitcase.
It was good to see Mum and Dad again and the town where I grew up, but it was nice to get back to my life afloat at the end of the week – even if Ravensdale isn’t actually afloat all the time at the moment 😊
And I got a very warm welcome from Ruby on my return.
Phil said he was pleased to see me too, but his welcome wasn’t anywhere near as enthusiastic as Ruby’s – possibly because he knew I’d caught a nasty cough and cold while away and didn’t want to catch it 😊
Ruby of Ravensdale
Ruby and Phil on the sea wall at Maryport
Ruby is turning into a fantastic boat dog 😊
She’s very calm on board and doesn’t seem to be phased by anything we do.
Taking Ravensdale out on the water is no big deal for her.
As soon as Phil starts the engine, she goes straight in her cage and is totally relaxed about being in there until we let her out once we’re settled at anchor and she goes back in her cage quite happily before we head back to the marina.
Ruby sunbathing on Ravensdale's aft deck
If we let her have the run of the boat (inside and out) while we’re doing something elsewhere in the marina, she either sits or lays on deck and waits for us to come back or disappears inside and is totally chilled out when we get back.
And, if we have to go out and leave her inside the boat for short periods (we would never leave her on deck when we’re not around), she doesn’t seem to care at all.
If we tell her she’s not coming and to look after the boat, she just settles down on the floor or the seating and waits for us to return.
We don’t put her in her cage when we go out anymore and, at night, she sleeps on the seating in the saloon just outside the aft cabin where we sleep.
Ruby goes to bed when we do, and we don’t hear a sound from her until we get up in the morning despite the fact she must be able to hear us chatting while we have a cup of tea in bed before getting up.
Ruby in the spot where she now sleeps just outside our cabin
She’s friendly to everyone and all the dogs she meets while out on her walks.
Ruby greeting a friend's dog called Sandy while out for a walk
She's getting much better on the lead and is fantastic when we let her off the lead as she follows us really closely and comes when called.
Ruby staying with Phil while off the lead
Ruby trying to work out how to get up on the wall with Phil
Ruby following Phil while off the lead
Ruby's much better at playing fetch as she actually searches for the ball if she can’t find it immediately rather than giving up and coming back without it.
Ruby fetching her ball
And she’s great fun to have around indoors and still likes lots of love and cuddles.
She shows an interest in anything we’re doing but backs off and quietly chews on her stag antlers and bones when we’re not available to play with her. And, if we say “No” or tell her to leave something she does as she’s told.
Ruby looking out to sea
All in all, Ruby is rapidly becoming the dog we’ve always wanted 😊
Sadly, we had to take her to the vet again on Monday as, every time we took the inflatable collar off, she started scratching her ear again.
Ruby wearing her inflatable collar
When we took her to the vet a couple of weeks ago, she couldn’t see anything wrong with Ruby’s ear.
This time the vet said she had a nasty ear infection, which had caused her ear canal to close. She treated Ruby with a corticosteroid injection and an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ear gel.
She also took a sample from her ear to send away for testing, so she’d know which antibiotic to use if the infection doesn’t clear up before we take her back to the vet on Monday.
We’ve been able to leave the collar off since Wednesday and she doesn’t seem to be scratching the ear anymore so we’re hoping it’s sorted.
Ruby getting a cuddle from Phil
Ruby sitting quietly at Phil's feet
The mackerel we were given bagged up ready for freezing
We heard someone knocking on the side of our boat.
I went outside to find one of the guys who’d been out on one of the small fishing boats in the marina that evening holding a carrier bag and asking if we wanted a couple of “cod fish”, which is what they tend to call cod here.
I took them, said thank you and asked him to thank the boat owner, then took them in for Phil to gut and fillet them.
No sooner had I gone inside, than he was back again asking if we wanted any mackerel, so I grabbed a carrier bag and went over to their boat, where the boat owner put eight nice mackerel in my bag.
I didn’t get a chance to photograph the cod as Phil was cutting them up by the time I got back with the mackerel.
All were safely stowed in the freezer. The cod for us to eat and the mackerel will be used as bait the next time we go fishing ourselves.
There’s nothing like a random act of kindness to warm the cockles of your heart 😊
And it amused me that we’d ended up with more fish while sitting watching TV in the marina than we’d managed catch on most of our recent fishing trips 😊
I don’t really know what the weather was like here in Maryport while I was away in Salisbury except that, rather unusually, it was better up here in the north of England than it was where I was in the south.
In Salisbury, it was grey and cloudy with drizzle at times, but whenever I spoke to Phil, he was telling me that it was lovely and warm in Maryport.
And I’m fairly sure he was telling the truth and not just trying to wind me up because I was getting miserable weather while I was away 😊
The sun was certainly shining when I got back to Maryport on Friday afternoon and the weather’s been lovely most of the time since then – particularly at the weekend and over the past few days.
Blue sky and white. fluffy clouds over the northern fells on Saturday afternoon
Saturday was dry, sunny and relatively calm. The top temperature was 16C (61F) and the top average wind speed was 9mph and 6-8mph while out on the water.
Sunday was dry, bright and warm but cloudier and a bit windier than the previous day with a little light rain in the evening. The temperature peaked at 19C (66F) and the average wind speed reached 16mph.
We had heavy rain overnight Sunday into Monday and it was still raining when we got up in the morning.
A cloudy day at Maryport Marina on Monday
The weather soon dried up, but it stayed cloudy with a top temperature of 17C (63F) and a top average wind speed of 9mph.
Tuesday was dry, bright and breezy with a top temperature of 19C (66F) and a top average wind speed of 18mph.
Wednesday was dry, sunny and relatively calm. The top temperature was 18C (64F) and the top average wind speed was 11mph.
Blue sky and sunshine at Maryport Marina on Wednesday
Yesterday (Thursday) was warm, dry and sunny if a bit breezy during the morning. The top temperature was 22C (72F) and the top average wind speed at St Bees Head – our nearest weather station - was 7mph, but it felt a bit higher than that here for the first half of the day.
Maryport Marina just after sunset last night (Thursday)
And, so far today (Friday), the weather has been warm, dry and sunny. The top temperature so far was 22C (72F) and the top average wind speed was 7mph.