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!!!!


  1. Hi Paul
    I’m looking forward to arriving at the new pier later in the summer but not looking forward to seeing a naked Glen! I realise most of the Forrest trees are not ‘natural’ but they have been there the best part of 40 years and to my eyes look better than bare heather and bracken. Any idea if the Forrestry Commision will re-plant?

    Comment by Derek — August 1, 2010 @ 10:39 am

    • Morning Derek,

      Personally I prefer it without the conifers that spoil the view and hide some lovely ruins and even a broch, though I can see your point. I’m not sure what the score is with replanting and I have asked, to be honest though if the deer and sheep are kept out it will (in my opinion) soon regenerate with birch and other native trees as well as a nice smattering of conifers with a more random and natural look.

      I went and took pictures for the blog but lost them and this crowd that are extracting are far more professional than the people who did Screapadale. It’s much neater and the stumps are much shorter. Next year it will be just a purple carpet of foxgloves so should look lovely for a few weeks at least 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 3, 2010 @ 5:14 am

  2. Hi Paul
    Am glad I don’t live near Raasay – I would be hard put not to grab one of the prospective little pups that hopefully Molly will have. Am a bit of a doggie person. Used to have three but now there’s only one left and she’s already 11 years old.
    Were any of the MacLeods at the Gathering originally from Raasay?

    Comment by Jan — August 1, 2010 @ 10:41 am

    • Good morning Jan,

      wherever you are 🙂 Not absolutely sure on that one but many of them certainly had relatives here, I think the clan chieftains great grand father was the chap that commissioned those hideous mermaids 🙂 (no disrespect chief :-))

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 3, 2010 @ 5:18 am

  3. Morning, Paul

    Thanks for the info about the anchor – always did wonder about its history. Glad it predates the 1930s given the swastika, which started its life benignly.

    Hope Molly and Buster continue to get on well, and that the forthcoming farrowing goes well. Looking forward to sailing into the new berth in late September.



    Comment by Sue — August 1, 2010 @ 10:59 am

    • Good morning Sue,

      Buster will be leaving today 😦 and we’ll all miss him September should at last see us safely berthed at Clachan 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 3, 2010 @ 5:20 am

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