Life at the end of the road

July 31, 2010

Set in stone

Filed under: daily doings, harbour — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:55 pm

This is probably going to be a little mixed up to say the least, for a start it’s Saturday and I’ve not even finished waffling about Thursday, let alone Friday. Secondly the air cooled Lister LV1 fire pump is thundering away in void space number three to dry it out, try and imagine a very large single cylinder motor bike with no silencer revving at 3000rpm in a steel box and your in the right ball park. Only on the Loch Striven it’s never possible to be more than 30m away from anything 😦 Anyway I’m sat in the mess room with my ear defenders on awaiting the 20:30 sailing whilst my compatriots have quite rightly gone home for dinner 🙂


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So why am I drying out what should normally be a dry space anyway you may well ask, well once a month we run all the fire and bilge pumps in there various configurations to make sure all is well. There are two large electric pumps, the one on the left set up for bilge pumping and the one on the right for fire. The wee yellow screamer on the left is a Desmi pump driven by a Lister diesel and can be used for both fire and bilge in the event of power failure. Well today I did space number three on all three pumps, so after hoovering out the bucket full of water still remaining I’m drying it out to do a spot of painting down there in the unlikely event of it raining 🙂 raining!!!! will it ever stop?

Actually it will be concrete

Anyway at last the date for the official opening of Raasay’s new ferry terminal is ‘set in stone’ or at least laminated paper so it must be true 🙂

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Though why they have chosen to set the plaque in a lump of concrete and not one of the many beautiful boulders of Torridonian sandstone that have been hauled over from the former oil rig yard at Loch Kishorn is beyond me, better still why not one of Raasay’s own rocks, after all there is no shortage of them. The world has gone mad 🙂 Anyway the plan is for the 12:15 ex Raasay to be the last sailing ever from the old slipway at Suisnish and for the 13:00 ex Sconser to be the first one into the new terminal, I can’t wait 🙂

Buster’s here

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And aint he cute, as I’ve said on many occasions ‘I am not a dog person’ and it took years of persuasion and emotional blackmail for me to give in to wife and child’s desire for a ‘wee dug’. As you know Molly the wee Jack Russell arrived a year ago and now I love her almost as much as my Land Rover 🙂 However when wifey started mumbling some time ago about puppies I put my foot down “no way, I’ve had enough of mopping up dog pee and worse” says I. Well as you  can guess after more emotional blackmail and hints I came around to the idea on the understanding that we found the right mate, whilst secretly hoping that it would never happen, after all we are somewhat off the beaten track.

Unfortunately I mentioned this to the Portree harbour master on Thursday when he was over on new harbour business and before I knew it I had a Patterdale cross Yorkshire terrier waiting for me in a cage at Sconser. He’s only eight months old and we only have him for a few days so they can get used to each other but already I’m reluctant to give him back.

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He and Molly get along like a house on fire and I just can’t wait to see the puppies 🙂 at the moment he’s trying very hard but not quite sure what to do and she’s not interested but that’s gonna change when she comes on heat shortly. At least now we know they won’t tear chunks out of each other :-)          

Not only did wee Buster arrive yesterday but so did some more hardware belonging to in the shape of some special timber trailers behind a pair of huge tractors.

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These specially designed and built trailers have eight wheels instead of the more normal four to spread the load and reduce ground pressure.


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A very important consideration when hauling out thousands of tons of timber on poor forest (and Raasay) roads 🙂

More anchors

Whilst clearing the seabed of obstructions the divers came across yet another swastika bearing anchor from the days of the iron ore mine.

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At 9’ long it would make a perfect companion for the 11’ one I lifted almost twenty years ago and now lies just at the top of the slipway

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Both anchors were forged by Byres of Sunderland over 100 years ago, probably while Hitler was an art student and long before the swastika had any sinister symbolism. The one I lifted was over four tons so it’s little brother must be getting up for three, there is another four ton one down there complete with the old Loch Arkaig’s anchor tangled up in it. I know because I found it about nine years ago whilst clam diving, I know it’s the Loch Arkaig’s anchor because when I lifted the one in the picture all those years ago ‘Alan the post’ told me so, going into great detail of how she’d dropped her stern anchor to hold her off the pier in a gale of south wind. This was apparently common practice in stormy weather so as to enable the ship to get off the pier with the wind pushing her on, no bow thrusters or Voith units in those days. After doing her duties at the pier the windlass hauled her clear but would not lift the anchor so it had to be cut. Quite correctly, as I discovered all those years after Alan’s father had said that it had fouled one of the old iron ore mooring anchors laid over 50 years earlier.


Well that got off to a hilarious start with thirteen piglets in the garden and two dogs helping me chase them out, Buster loves piglets 🙂 It did however leave me without time to shave before going to work so I apologize if I looked a little scruffier than normal today 🙂



Now, when I did arrive for work just after 7:00 there was no wood here, twelve hours later there’s a mountain but I only ever saw one man working. He was obviously not trained by the council or any government department for at 20:20, just as we’re about to depart Raasay he’s still at it and the the pile is even bigger!!!!

July 30, 2010

A pier a day :-)

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:06 pm

Helps you work rest and play, or may even keep the doctor away 🙂 Joking aside I’ve just seen one appear before my very eyes, it’s quite amazing really. Here we are over two years since the first turf was cut and 17 months overdue for our new pier at Clachan. There was even a Gala day last week to celebrate it’s opening and still it’s not finished, and along come and knock one up in less than a week. In fact most of it went up in a day, I have to say I’m well impressed, they started extending and raising the old forestry pier to the south of our berth on Saturday.

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And here is the progress on Monday,

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a nice big area cleared and a huge tractor dumping rock for the big machines to shape into a pier.

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By Wednesday it was at its full height

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and when I arrived for work on Thursday at just after 7:00 the tug ‘Red Empress’ was alongside the ‘hammerhead’ with a barge and a smaller version of the Sydney bridge. The previous day had seen much activity on the shore and in the sea with machines burying anchors and divers checking the sea bed for obstructions and ensuring that the seaward anchors had a good grip.

It was a perfect day for getting this serious kit in position with not a breath of wind,

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even so the newly refurbished ‘Enchanted’ ex ‘Celtic Star’

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had been drafted in to help with fine adjustments 🙂

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Though a few ‘tweeks’ were required by the man formally known as ‘Grumpy digger driver’ and A.N. Other 🙂


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What really impressed me was the speed with which they turned their buckets around from diggers to pushers, none of this knocking out of pins carry on, just release the ‘quickhitch’ push the bucket round with the boom then hitch back up, all over in seconds, amazing 🙂

I missed the next bit because at some point they must have turned the barge around,

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from this position,


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to this position,

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and once the barge with its connecting bridge was securely in position the two legs that it would ride up and down on with the tide were dropped in position by the Liebherr on deck.

You have to laugh really ‘Hapless’ sorry, the now defunct Atlas marine spent 18 weeks of good weather doing less than this on the Raasay ferry terminal and JST come along, throw up a pier and are hoping to be away before the end of September with god knows how many thousand tons of timber. Of course I know nothing of these matters being a mere grease monkey and pig keeper but it looked pretty slick to me 🙂

Buster is here 🙂

Now I didn’t post yesterday because I was in my bed long before 22:00 so here’s a couple of late pictures from the Macleod gathering on Raasay courtesy of  George (oyster) Rankine 🙂

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And this surely must be Raasay village hall’s busiest venue to date and I even get a mention on the Macleod website, I REALLY am honoured 🙂 Anyway, after all the excitement of Wednesday and Thursday I kind of  hoped Friday would be a bit saner, not a chance, but it’s 23:00 now and I’ll have to tell you all about Buster tomorrow.

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