Life at the end of the road

October 23, 2016

A taste of home :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:57 pm

18:00 here in sunny Largs on the Ayrshire coast and that’s us just about to settle down to some roast Raasay pork. I guess that apart from a few sandwiches tomorrow that’ll be the ‘local’ produce finished. The sausages went yesterday just leaving us with a nice ‘rolled and boned leg that we’re gonna have with some roast spuds and sweet potato.

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The leg was just stabbed deeply with a sharp knife then slices of garlic were pushed into it.Then a bit of olive oil rubbed into it, wrapped in tinfoil and then stuck in the oven for three hours at 140ish. Spuds to my mums recipe for perfect roasters minus the rosemary. Normally I boil the spuds for five minutes in a pan with a tight fitting lid then drain the water (usually saving some to add to the gravy). With the pan dry add some olive oil, salt, chopped garlic and rosemary. Refit the lid, pick up the pan with both hands and the shake it madly to bruise the spuds and mix it all in. I put the spuds into a tray then added a sliced sweet potato to the pan and then did the same with that. Then put them in the oven at 220 for half an hour, pure delicious Smile 

Departing ‘The Toon’

So that’s it 19:00 now and we’re suitably stuffed so I’ll try and recall what happened today.

It was a fine, if not a little breezy on the end of the Campbeltown pier when we departed at 10:00 this morning.


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That’s the Oceanflow E35 tidal test turbine on the pier

Onshore Site Plan

It was on the pier this time last year too but my shipmate tells me they had to bring it back in because a boat hit and damaged it. Not sure how that happened as we sailed by it the year before and it was well marked.


Oceanflow’s E35 device was installed on its pre-laid moorings at Sanda Sound on the 7th August 2014 and will remain on station until the summer of 2015 when it will be brought back to port for inspection after approximately one year of survival sea trials. The semi-submerged platform’s motions, heading control and survivability have so far surpassed expectations and the company is looking forward to completing the grid connection and exporting the power to shore once the subsea power connection is completed.

The Sanda Sound test site was chosen for its combination of strong tidal flow and harsh wave climate in order to fully validate the operability and survivability of the Evopod™ low motion hull form. The unit is monitored from Oceanflow’s shore station near Southend, South Kintyre.

Oceanflow has completed two years of surveys, consultations and environmental monitoring activities resulting in a licence from Marine Scotland to deploy the E35 test device at the Sanda Sound site which was awarded in August 2012. A seabed lease was signed with The Crown Estate in January 2013 to secure the site for the exclusive use of Oceanflow until 2020. Energy from the device will be transmitted ashore via a seabed cable which will be connected to the grid. The grid extension down to the foreshore to connect with our device was commissioned from SSE and completed in 2012.

The trawler on the right is the Belfast registered Golden Reaper B127.

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Leaving ‘The Toon’ behind for another year we headed to sea, chances are the Hallaig will be back in a couple of weeks but I’ll not be aboard her. The return passage to Raasay will be done by the other crew, just hope they have as good a trip as we have. Once we cleared CT the wind fell away and we’d a blissful sail up the east Kintyre shore.

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That’ll be Carradale, in the distance which still has its fair share of fishing boats.

Next stop was Lochranza on Arran where we called briefly to admire the ‘third hybrid’ MV Catriona.


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She was busy plying the route between Arran and Kintyre, this being her last weekend here as this is only a summer route. Then I believe she’ll be doing relief around the fleet for the winter dry dockings.

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The Catriona is the third vessel to come out of Ferguson’s yard, though this one was built by ‘Ferguson Marine Engineering’ as ‘Ferguson Ship Builders’ went bust a couple of years ago. She’s got a few minor improvements that make life easier for the passengers and crew. For a start her lounge is much better laid out than Hallaig and Lochinvar’s and she’s not got a server cabinet the size of a fridge in her office like the other two. Engineering wise she’s got a slightly larger and seemingly better laid out LiFePO4 battery system made by SAFT.

Came across this below whilst looking for info on the slightly larger battery bank (800kWh as opposed to our 750kWh)

The innovations are not simply technical.

“If I had to point to one big lesson that the hybrid industry has learned, I’d say it was to bury any complexity under the hood,” says Walter van der Pennen.

The RHM team has first-hand experience of hybrid projects where promised operational savings have fallen short of expectation – not because there was a fault with the technology but because the crew hadn’t made the best use of the alternative running modes.

So when it came to assisting CMAL with its replacement programme, they had a fair idea of the pitfalls. Further, as the ferries had been in service for around three decades “the crew had to get familiar with a vessel light-years ahead of anything they were used to”, says Mr van der Pennen. RHM therefore decided on “a highly guided operation”, largely taking the decision for the most appropriate combination of batteries and diesel away from the driver.

However, these vessels are still under the overall control of the captain. “We aim to present the operator with something they can relate to – like the cost of the fuel running through the engines… actually you can see the result of your actions, right in the moment, in Scottish pounds,” says Mr van der Pennen. The approach seems to have worked,

overall CMAL has seen an overall drop in fuel costs of around 38%, alongside a 28% reduction in running hours with 22% higher average diesel engine loading.

Interestingly, ‘big data’ could further shave running costs on CMAL’s third hybrid. Based on monitoring information coming back from its two sister vessels (MV Catriona and MV Hallaig), the battery bank has been tweaked, boosting it from 750 kWh to 800 kWh: “It’s shown you can use back data to achieve a finer balance between the investment and operational costs,” says Mr van der Pennen. However, alongside this there’s been a change of battery manufacturer due to bankruptcy. “It’s a problem with the market right now,” he says, “There’s a lot of start-ups, and a lot of turmoil…” he adds as the banks will need to be refreshed within the vessel’s lifetime it’s been thought prudent to change strategy and link up with an established manufacturer, “for instance, Saft”.

It certainly seems the case that ‘lessons have been learned’ speaking to Catriona’s crew today she seems to be averaging less than 500lts per day!!! More than we use but then we have a shorter crossing in more sheltered waters. The old Loch Striven used 500lts a day on our route and was half the size, slower and very noisy.

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Heading towards Millport I think, certainly that’s the conveyor for Hunterston power station.

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This French amphibious assault craft  Tonnerre was moored alongside the Hunterston pier. Well, at least I think that’s where it is, I’ve been servicing the sewage plant for much of the day and emptying the fresh water tanks.

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Largs at last, arriving at around 15:30 we got wet!!! the first rain in days and it arrived just as we were tying up, typical!

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It soon cleared right enough and here’s the MV Loch Shira who lives here Smile Considerably larger than the Hallaig she does have that same ‘Ferguson’s look’

So that’s it really, due at the dock gates tomorrow 15:00.

October 22, 2016

In the ‘Toon’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:29 pm

Well I reckon that’s the pleasantest Oban/Campbeltown trip I’ve ever done, normally ‘The Mull’ as the Mull of Kintyre is called was very kind to us. Normally the very mention of ‘The Mull’ has me thinking the worst, even on a calm day it can be quite ‘interesting’ and many is the ‘Loch Class’ that has tried and failed to get around it. CalMac small vessel skippers all have a ‘Mull tale’ that usually involves a perilous four hour journey around it, some even talk of going backwards or being in the same place for three hours without making headway. I kid you not, the Mull of Kintyre is not kind to flat bottomed steel boxes with a square bow!


That was five years ago on a reasonable day Smile on a scabby day you can’t take pictures Smile

Anyway, after a fine night at the North Pier in Oban last night we departed South around 8:00am

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and headed down the sound of Kerrera.

This is always one of my favourite parts of the journey to dry dock as it’s an area I frequented much in my yoof.

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The Ross of Mull and the Slate Islands were always popular diving sites. The area between Loch Spelve and Loch Buie being full of them. The hospital ship Maine  HMS Barcombe and the SS Meldon

to name just a few. Somewhere I’ve got a ‘bill of sale’ from the ‘Board of Trade’ as it was then. Me and five mates bought her in the 1970’s Smile Got her steam whistle in my garden

and the letters from the bow of the Maine too,


OK, it’s missing the I and part of the E but there it is.

Maine aground

Here she is aground and it’s the first time ever I’ve seen that picture, the Internet is truly amazing Smile

She was in fact the very first RFA hospital ship and even had a medal struck in her honour as she was funded by public donations, many from America if I recall.



Image result for HMS Barcombe

Another first! that’ll be HMS Barcombe aground in 1958 She was a ‘Bar Class boom defence vessel,  those ‘horns’ are for heavy lifting of anti submarine nets. They made 74 of them over the years apparently, must have had an awful lot of booms to lift at one time!

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That’ll be Easdale island on the left and Mull on the right, if you look carefully you can see surf on Frank Lockwood’s Isle, the Main’s final resting place.

Change of scene

With the weather good and the tides in our favour the skipper decided to take us through the Sound of Jura between Islay and Jura. It is a little longer but we’d catch the south going stream at it’s strongest and that would more than make up for the extra distance.

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Sure enough, once entering the Sound we ‘hitched a ride’ and were carried along at up to 14.4 Knots a good 50% increase on our so far leisurely pace of around 8.5 knots. Sure the Hallaig will do 10 knots no problem but at that speed she needs to be running 3 generators so why bother. We were in no great hurry and wanted to get the tide right for going round ‘The Mull’.


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The MV Hebridean Isles at Port Askaig


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The Caol Ila Distillery and the Jura ferry.

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A healthy lunch

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followed by a not so healthy chicken curry for dinner


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The Mull of Kintyre lighthouse

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and us snugly berthed ahead of the MV Gripfisk in ‘The Toon’ Smile

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