Life at the end of the road

August 21, 2010

Some things never change

Filed under: daily doings, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:26 pm

By the grace of God it’s been a great day up here at the north end of Raasay but I know from the forecast, speaking to others and seeing some nasty showers speed up the Sound of Raasay that we’ve been lucky. When I say great day what I mean is great day on land, it would have not been so comfortable at sea today. It’s been a busy old day but I’ve not got a great deal to say on the matter because I’ve only actually done a couple of things today and it makes dull reading 😦

The first job, after of course feeding everyone was to find a task suitable for a windy day with heavy showers forecast, a job that would not normally be tackled in August due to the dreaded midge, a job that would utilise my boys pal who was helping me and a job that would involve lots of quad riding to keep him amused and rewarded 🙂


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It did not take me long to come up with a solution, a concrete floor in my hydro turbine shed 🙂 The half gale of south west wind would keep the midge away from this normally infested spot and it would also (via my wind turbine) power the cement mixer quite happily all day 🙂 The trek through the birch woods on the quads would keep my helper happy and mixing Lord knows how many buckets of concrete would get rid of the last bags of five year old cement that were festering in one of my sheds. Bags that had turned into 25kg square rocks that needed pounding with a lump hammer before use 😦 In short bags of cement that were fit for nothing other than a rough floor 🙂

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Anywhere else and you’d just mix on site, tip into a barrow, wheel it to the spot and pour it in, not here, no chance, it’s mix in mixer up at house, tip in barrow then scoop into buckets, not too much because they have to be carried down a very steep bank.

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A job which took the three of us all day,

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OK, it’s a little rough but it’s thick and solid 🙂

Trawling the archives

Apart from the feeding round and cutting and changing bedding that was about it for the day so I thought that I’d have a look through my old diaries and log books.

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A mere nine years ago Willy Eyre and I were diving in Loch Arnish, well Willy was driving the boat, finding the spots and throwing me over the side to collect the scallops. You will of course notice that the date is the 23rd of August, well that’s because the 21st and 22nd were too windy, hmm, sounds familiar 🙂

Nineteen years ago it was a bonny day after a shitty day and I was doing repairs to the fuel tank on my ‘23’ Wilson Flyer’ Sylvia Jean. The day after, the heavens opened and Steve White made me a tent over the boat to enable me to fibre glass the 70 gallon fuel tank below deck, the rain being so heavy that the generator stopped 😦 However it appears that I got it sorted in the end and even towed a boat called ‘Sea Otter’ into Portree on the following day.

Tuesday the 21st of August 1990 was, surprise surprise wet and windy and I’d been unsuccessfully trying to dry hay on wooden tripods for some time. The afternoon was much more productive when I went out fishing and caught 25 lobsters. I quite clearly, twenty years on remember this as a day of revelation, I’d been turning this grass and trying to dry it for days, it took a long time, was hard work and every time I almost got it dry it pished down 😦 I could buy two bales of good fresh hay for the price I got for one lobster and I actually enjoyed catching them 🙂 Needless to say 1990 was the last time that I made hay, or tried to 🙂 And whilst the week from Monday the 20th to Sunday 26th of august was pretty miserable it did furnish me with 90 lobsters 🙂

Going even further back to August 1979 I was diving on a wreck called the SS Floristan off Islay.


Built in 1923 for the Strick Line she was wrecked in January 1942 at Kilcherean bay on Islay, taking with her a general cargo that included locomotives, rolling stock, lorries and mercury, some of which I salvaged. I made no mention of the weather in my log book but I do seem to remember it as good. At that time, a mere 37 years after her loss the locomotives were still intact and quite a mad sight lying on the sea bed, a few years later due to the pounding Atlantic seas the boilers had rolled off, now I suspect they’re just twisted metal and a few steel wheels 😦


Map picture

Anyway, that’s it, I’m off to bed so I’ll just leave you with some typical west coast August weather.


Weather that just seems to be ‘par for the course’ here at this time of year 😦


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Wasted kilowatts :-(

Filed under: daily doings, hydro, life off grid, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:30 am

My experiment with hydro electricity a couple of years ago was such a success that I opted to go for a much more ambitious turbine than the 200w unit that I bought from in 2008. Of course me being me took far longer to get to this decision than most normal people, and when I did finally shell out close on 3K for a ‘Stream Engine’ from in December last year it’s taken me a further eight months to get the thing installed but it’s still not putting any power in the batteries that power our house 😦 The only thing between me and eternal light in our little tin roof stone dwelling is 350m of 6mm square steel wire armoured cable. Now I do have 500m languishing in the ground several land and nautical miles from here but the logistics of actually getting it have taken a long time in coming together. The logistics being suitable boat, handy JCB, weather window, willing crew and of course time off work, well today they almost came together. I had the boat, the man with the JCB was standing by, I was of course off work but the weather turned out to be ‘pants’ and it got even more ‘pants’ as the day wore on.




The early afternoon calmness and deluge being replaced by an ever freshening but at least dry south westerly which might have been good on land but would have been decidedly foolhardy in a small boat with 300kg of wire on board.


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So, as I could not go and get my cable I went down to my little ‘power station’ on the shore and finished connecting up my three ‘penstock’ pipes, these being the pipes that supply water to the turbine.

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There are actually places for four jets on the turbine but as of yet I’ve decided to utilize only three.

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With a torrent raging down the burn fit to grace a day in November and three nozzles spraying a jet of water on to the bronze ‘Turgo runner’ the hand held rev counter was reading 3600RPM and the meter 471Vac, not that that actually means a great deal to me or the vast majority of readers but it did seem quite spectacular 🙂

Of course once I do finally get the cable and get it laid there will be much experimenting to be done with different sized jets but I am getting there. I just wish I’d have got my finger out earlier to make use of all that rain falling from the sky.

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The rest of the day was taken up with feeding pigs and an episode of hypoglycaemia with a nearby diabetic that took a couple of years off me and involved several people missing dinner 😦


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However Rocky, Ed and Eddy got fed on time, though Eddy did keel over for a scratch whilst Molly rounded everyone up 🙂

That’s it really it’s 7:00am now on a very grey and windy Saturday morning and I better go and feed everyone before the heavens open, though according to UKWind that should not actually happen until the afternoon, well I don’t believe a word of it! Last night it was promising a perfect day for a trip to Rona on Sunday, light southerly wind and clear skies, now it’s showing showers and a good south westerly breeze 😦

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So I’ll just cheer myself up by the thought that even though it’s probably like this at Suisnish today,

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and if the good ship Loch Striven were at her old berth it would look like this. Whereas she is now safely tucked up alongside the new pier at Clachan, not that I’m going anywhere but we are expecting a visit 🙂

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