Phil working on Ravensdale's broken down Webasto heater
The current situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic is just so weird and I’m still not sure if going through lockdown on a boat is any different to being told to stay at home in a house.
Our 43ft motor cruiser Ravensdale is certainly a more confined space than most houses and having a garden must make staying home a lot more bearable, but many land-dwellers don’t have the luxury of a garden either.
However, I think we can count ourselves lucky as we’re so much better off than people who are confined to high rise flats, with nowhere to go except their trips out for essential supplies or their daily exercise.
At least we can get out around the marina so I guess I shouldn’t really complain, and we have some lovely pathways around us here in Maryport, Cumbria, UK, for our daily walks 😊
But one thing we could really have done without was our diesel heater breaking down last month on one of the coldest nights we'd had in a long time.
Almost six weeks in lockdown
Ravensdale on a beautiful, calm, sunny day at Maryport Marina in Cumbria, UK
It will be six weeks ago on Tuesday (May 5) since the partial lockdown was imposed in the UK to slow down the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced it on the evening of Monday, March 23, with effect from the following morning.
Mr Johnson has since been treated in hospital for the virus before recovering at home and returning to work last week.
Our life at the marina continues much the same as usual except for not being able to go out when we want – either on the boat or on foot/by car.
We’re still taking our daily walks separately. Phil usually takes Ruby out in the morning and I take my exercise in the afternoon.
I like to wait until later in the day, so I have something to look forward to. I’m pretty sure I’d go stir crazy if I went out in the morning as, when I came home, I would know I couldn’t go out again until the following day.
I also think it’s good to go separately so that we both get a bit of time alone as being locked up on a boat together could otherwise be pretty claustrophobic.
Police checking on a vehicle parked on the road alongside the marina
It seems strange to see police stopping people in cars on the road that runs alongside the marina to the lighthouse and asking them what they're doing but it's good that they are keeping a close watch to ensure people are adhering to the restrictions.
It’s also strange that we’re being encouraged not to use cash in shops anymore. Who would’ve ever thought it? And, to discourage people from using notes and coins, contactless card payments have gone up from £30-£45.
I reckon shopping is the weirdest experience of the lot starting with queuing two metres (6ft 6ins) apart outside the store and only being allowed in on a "one out, one in" basis.
Shoppers queuing 2m apart outside the Lidl store in Maryport, Cumbria, UK
Most people are happy to observe the 2m social distancing rule, but a few just don’t seem to care and pass close by before you’re even aware that they’re there, which is really annoying.
It’s also odd to see the queue for the checkouts stretching to the far end of the store and it’s a fairly big supermarket.
The length of the queue is due to the 2m spacing between customers and when you get to the front of the queue the checkout operators, who are behind plastic screens, shout for the next customer to be served.
I have to confess that I’m beginning to struggle a bit with the restrictions.
I totally understand why they must remain in place and I observe them to the letter as I really don’t want to get the virus or to be the cause of anyone else getting it.
However, being stuck in a confined space for so many hours of the day is beginning to make me understand how wild animals feel when they’re caged up in zoos ☹
The good news for me is that tomorrow (Monday) I'm going back to work at Chimney Sheep - the factory I was working at before the lockdown - so my life will be a lot more normal than it has been over the past six weeks 😊
Running Ravensdale's engines
Ravensdale's engine room
We've been unable to take Ravensdale out on the water since March 22 - the day before the partial lockdown was announced.
As she hadn't been out of the marina for six week, we decided we should run up her two 300hp Volvo Penta engines to keep them running properly.
They were run under load for about 15 minutes yesterday morning (Saturday) and they seemed to be just fine. They sounded sweet, the temperature rose evenly on both engines and there was very little smoke.
This is something that we will be doing on a regular basis until we can move her again.
Our heater breaks down
Phil removing one of the fuses from the heater to check it
The heater packed up on the evening of Tuesday, April 14, which was one of the coldest nights we’d had in a good while.
The heat didn’t come up when I turned the heater on.
I went to turn it up a bit more and noticed that the green light that’s constantly illuminated when it’s switched on was flashing and we were both pretty sure that was what happened last time the filter needed changing.
Phil went down into the engine room to check the fuses, but they seemed OK.
Thankfully, I had ordered a service kit a couple of months previously so it would be here ready to service the heater when the weather warmed up, but it seems the heater wasn’t willing to wait that long.
It was getting late for starting on servicing the heater, so Phil said we’d just have to live without it for one night and he’d get on with it the following day.
I put on a body warmer that I wouldn’t usually wear indoors and dug out a fan heater, which took the chill off a bit during the evening. The electric blanket and dehumidifier warmed our cabin up a bit too.
I was more worried about poor Ruby sleeping in the saloon without any heating.
I was pleased to discover that, although she felt a little bit cooler than usual in the morning, her ears weren’t really cold, which is always a good indication of her temperature.
I checked the thermometer in the dinette, and it was reading 10.5C (51F) so cooler than it would normally be but still bearable.
Ravensdale's Webasto fitted to the side of the hull alongside her port engine
Phil looked out the servicing kit and set about the task of removing the Webasto Air Top Evo 55 heater.
He’s changed a filter on this heater before but not done a full service, so it was a bit of a steep learning curve.
I photographed the heater from various angles before he took it apart in case he needed the images to help with reassembly.
The dirty glow plug that came out of our heater
Phil dismantling the heater
Sadly, despite his best efforts and attempts to reset the heater by following the advice of a more knowledgeable friend, it still refused to work so we had to send it away for repair.
We tried to get by with the small fan heater, but it wasn’t really making much of an impact on the temperature on the boat.
Thankfully, the weather warmed up a bit after the first couple of pretty cold nights when the temperature went down to 9.5C (49F) in the saloon – or at least that’s what it was reading when we got up in the morning. It was probably lower during the night.
We also went to our storage container to collect two electric heaters and we’re managing to keep warm until the heater returns.
We've just heard that the heater needs a new fan. The part has been ordered so hopefully it can be repaired and will be back with us soon.
"New to us" plotter
The new plotter showing our position at Maryport Marina in Cumbria, UK
Just before the lockdown, we were offered a secondhand Simrad plotter that is a newer version of the one fitted in the console on Ravensdale.
The original plotter was black and white and had no card in it. We'd intended replacing the card but never got around to it so we only really used it as an extra check on our speed and location as the GPS was still working.
For navigation, we use Navionics on two tablets and a separate, smaller, Standard Horizon plotter, with charts and compass for back up if the electronics fail.
Phil testing the new plotter while fitting it
Phil has now fitted the replacement plotter and it's a vast improvement on the previous one.
For a start, the display is in colour and it has a much clearer screen. It also has an electronic card in it which means we'll be able to use it for navigational purposes as well.
Phil checking the generator
Soon after the partial lockdown was imposed, Phil decided to check the generator just in case we lose our electricity supply.
This is something that’s done fairly regularly anyway, but it just seemed to be a sensible precaution in case something goes wrong with the supply and there’s no one around to fix it.
My birthday and our cancelled holiday
Me with my birthday flowers
I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday, April 21, but it definitely wasn’t the birthday I'd had planned.
We lived in the Highlands for 16 years before we sold our house to buy a boat and it’s still one of my favourite places so I’m keen to return whenever I get the chance.
For this reason, I said it was where I wanted to celebrate my birthday and we booked a lovely remote cottage in Sutherland for a birthday break.
However, Covid-19 put paid to our plans ☹
The partial lockdown meant the holiday had to be cancelled so I’m hoping to be able to rebook when the restrictions are lifted.
Varnishing our new drawers
The new drawers in the saloon after they had been varnished
Phil has finished varnishing the new drawers we had built above the cupboards in the saloon to provide additional storage space and to stop Ruby pulling things off the shelf along the top of the cupboard.
They are looking a lot better now and blend in a bit better with the other woodwork although they're a bit darker than the original cupboards.
I'm hoping they might fade a bit and match in better still when the sun has been on them for a while.
The drawers are proving very useful too as any extra storage space is always very welcome.
Ruby of Ravensdale
Ruby waiting while I was taking photos
Ruby’s life hasn’t changed all that much since the partial lockdown.
Me walking Ruby on the shore
Ruby relaxing on her bed in the saloon
The problem is that she's already had everything I got for her so I'll have to pick up something else next time I go to buy her food.
Ruby with her new buffalo horn
Looking through a sculpture towards Maryport
One of the positives about the current situation is that I’ve been able to go out with my camera every day.
Fleming Square, Maryport
Crow Park, Maryport
Pathway through Crow Park
Another view of Crow Park
I take it with me when I walk Ruby and sometimes, if Ruby has already had a good walk with Phil, I go without her, which makes taking photos so much easier.
View across the rooftops to Maryport Lighthouse and the Solway Firth
Maryport and the River Ellen from Mote Hill
Looking out over Maryport Basin to the Solway Firth
Looking across the Solway Firth to the Scottish hills
Another view across the Solway Firth to Scotland
I have taken so many photos in and around Maryport over the past four weeks that I’m struggling to find new photos to take, but I don’t let that stop me snapping away.
A Maryport walkway known as Pigeon Well
Looking across to a field of rapeseed from a footpath known as Fat Lonning
The remains of Peel Tower, Senhouse Mansion, Maryport
The scenes change with the season, weather, tides and light so there’s always a chance I’ll get a better photo of a view I’ve photographed many times before.
Fishing boats in the harbour with Christ Church, Maryport, in the background
A wider view of Maryport Harbour
Sun breaking through heavy clouds over the Solway Firth
Looking out across Maryport Basin to the Solway Firth
Maryport Promenade at high tide
Shadows cast by the railings at the top of Market Steps, Maryport
Looking out over the Solway Firth from the sea brows at Maryport
Looking along the promenade towards Maryport
Sunset over Mayport Marina
And I’m working hard on looking for anything new to photograph or trying to take familiar views from a different angle.
Looking in the opposite direction through the same sculpture - to the Scottish hills
I was also pleased to get some photos of local fishing boat, Silver Stream, landing its catch of whelks at the harbour on Tuesday, March 31.
Silver Stream landing its catch of whelks at Maryport Harbour
A closer view of the whelks being unloaded
I also got a few photos of Silver Stream coming home from a fishing trip on April 17.
Silver Stream returning from another fishing trip
Silver Stream in Maryport Basin
Calm, sunny weather at Maryport Marina
It’s so frustrating that we’ve had more sunny, calm weather since the partial lockdown than we’d seen for months beforehand.
If this had happened at any other time, we would probably have considered a trip over to Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway but, for very good reasons, we’re not allowed to take the boat out on the water at the moment.
Me wearing shorts for the first time this year
Saturday, April 11 was the first day I considered it warm enough to put on my shorts this year and I've worn shorts almost every day since then 😊