Life at the end of the road

August 24, 2010

A good 250 :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:10 pm

Seven PM and the sun is at last out, it has been trying all afternoon with little success but this morning it was nowhere to be seen. In fact this morning was more like a day in November than August. I arose early as I was taking my friends RIB to the Skye Boat Centre at Strollamus whilst dropping off my newly acquired armoured cable on the way. I had planned to take the boy to school in the RIB but the north wind was a good deal stronger than forecast, or at least it was somewhere and we were getting far more sea than we should have been 🙂


Fourteen to sixteen MPH may not seem like much but with nothing between Raasay and Iceland in that direction it can build up quite a swell in a few hours. So after donning my oilskins yet again to feed the pigs in ‘summer’ I leapt on the quad and headed down for the shore and my mates RIB that was bobbing up and down on my mooring. A good onshore breeze with its attendant motion meant that there was little chance of me getting the tender back ashore on my own without damage to the boat so I lashed it on board and took it with me.

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Leaving the mooring after putting 40lts of fuel in the tank for good measure I soon cleared Manish point and turned south moving the sea from my shoulder to my ar5e so to speak 🙂

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Running before a big sea in a small displacement boat can be quite scary, speeding ahead of one in a large powerful RIB on the other hand is quite exhilarating. Especially down the west coast of Raasay with its stacks, arches and caves, all of which passed by quicker than I would have liked. The day was a little grey, wet and wobbly for dallying about, at least it  was until near Oscaig when I broke out the camera for a minute and shot this as I headed towards the Sgeir Cnapach.


A few minutes later I was within sheltered confines of our new ferry terminal at Clachan where I discharged my cargo of cable and the tender that I’d carried down from Arnish. With the armoured cable ashore I could at last measure it, well it was the full length of the Raasay pier, a good 118m which added to Sundays 134m comes in at well over 250. Not bad for a few gallons of fuel and some pork 🙂 Of course one does need very good friends as well 🙂 A big thank you to you all, that leaves me just 100m short, not bad considering my cable run is 470m and so far I’ve not bought any of it 🙂

With the cable and tender safely ashore I continued on my way south past the mouth of Loch Eynort

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where the Harvest Anne was filling up Marine Harvest’s feed silo and if you look carefully near the bow of the boat you can see all the feed blower pipes that make such good hydro turbine penstocks 🙂

Down memory lane

This journey had been a real nostalgic one for me down the coast of Raasay past all Willy Eyre’s and my owns favourite diving spots. Each one with an entry in his ‘little red book’ and each one with a name, the ‘Red Caves’ south of Manish the ‘Golf Course’ a little further south ‘Rebecca’s Chimney’, the ‘Nineteenth hole’, ‘Bottle Bank’, ‘Rubbish Dump’, ‘Elephant Hills’ and many more. This particular spot by the Moll was always a favourite in the winter when poor weather prevented more ambitious ground.

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A couple of minutes later and I was at the home I’d left 21 years ago on Scalpay, the ‘Narrows Cottage’ where I’d spent 4 years without road, ferry, phone or power (and you think Arnish is remote 🙂 ) Another few minutes later and I was safely tied alongside the pontoon at Skye Boat Centre and Lochside Campsite.

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Leaving the boat in their capable hands I only had to wait a few minutes for wifey to pick me up whereupon we went to my parents on the mainland for a lovely risotto lunch.

Returning home for 16:00 to spend the rest of what was left of my ‘rest week’ weeding, lifting tatties, feeding pigs, cutting bedding

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and picking mushrooms.

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And that was it really, It’s 21:00 and I’m off to bed, just hope that I go to the right ferry terminal in the morning 🙂

It’s been a while

Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:41 am

I’ve run out of adjectives to describe the weather here so I’ll just call it MISERABLE with capital letters to give you some idea. I should have known it was going to be mega on the miserable front when I went to feed the pigs this morning, for the ‘outdoor sow’ Shona had moved inside. Shona is one of our eccentric Gloucester old spot sows who for reasons only known unto herself chooses to farrow outside in preference to a nice warm dry shelter or ark. Not just in August but also in the teeth of a February blizzard 😦 Anyway when I ventured forth this morning at 7:00am to feed the herd on what seemed like a ‘not too bad a day’ she was in the barn,

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well she was in the barn until she heard me rattling feed buckets 🙂 I spent hours clearing out our old night club to make a nice warm dry place for Shona to farrow and she goes and does it outside in the pishing rain a week ago producing 14 healthy but very muddy piglets. One seems to have vanished (or I miscounted) but this morning we were down to twelve for she squashed a fine young boar during the night 😦 To be honest I think that’s why Shona chooses to farrow outside so she does not squash the piglets. For even if she does inadvertently lie on one the soft reed lined nest that she makes is far more forgiving than a concrete or wooden floor.

Pigs fed and boys pal driven down to catch the 7:55 ferry I returned home to an ever deteriorating day and after a quick feed headed down to the shore to get my cable ashore.

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With the tide quite high and my mates very expensive RIB sitting on a relatively soft part of the beach I managed to drag the cable off and get the boat back on the mooring without getting it stuck. I had in fact planned to let the boat ‘ebb’ there, but the whole operation went much smoother than anticipated. With the RIB back on the mooring I set about dragging what turned out to be 134m of armoured cable to my hydro turbine several hundred meters away.

With one end at the turbine house and the other end through a duct under the track to Torran I went home for a rest, reinforcements and food 🙂 It took wifey and I another hour or so to get all of the cable under the track and into position, and by around 12:30 we were finished. All had gone far smoother than anticipated so as we had the boat, the weather, the time, fuel and the day was actually fit for little else we decided to ‘go for it’. Go for it being a trek round the east side of Rona to recover the rest of the cable.

I’ve spent a good deal of my working life around Rona and have always had a soft spot for it, many of my good friends had families that hailed from there and the coastline and sea bed has always proved productive for scallops and lobsters. The scenery is amazing with the folds of Lewisian Gneiss ( the worlds oldest rock ) tumbling down to the deepest waters on the European continental shelf. So deep in fact that it is where NATO and the navy do much of their submarine trials and ‘acoustic fingerprinting’. Weather it be fish farming, scallop diving, lobster fishing or just moving furniture for the people there I’ve always enjoyed my visits to Rona. It is however many years since I’ve been round the east side.

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And whilst I was a little apprehensive about finding the spot where the cable entered the sea I needn’t have been for we went straight to it. Just north of the church cave it was easy to find as the beach must have been cleared by the navy at one time to lay the much heftier underwater cable that I presume goes to the mainland.

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Apart from the rain and midge’s the day was perfect, flat calm and with the tide just about to turn so no worries about the boat. It was a bit of a jungle ashore but I soon hacked my way through it to where the cable disappeared into a bog and cut it. Had it been less ‘infested’ and had I had more time I’d have brought a ‘Tirfor’ and tried to drag it out but time was precious as we had to collect my boy from school.

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  Despite the heat of the oil skins and the stinging eyes from the midge repellent it all went quite well, apart from one place where a birch tree root had grown around the cable, fortunately the tree proved no match for the hacksaw 🙂

With what looked like a good 100m of cable on board we headed home past the ‘Church Cave’, Uaimh an Fhuamhair or Giant’s cave in Gaelic.

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a place where people on Rona, devoid of a church until the mission house at  Dry Harbour was built in 1912 would worship.

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It does have rudimentary stone pews and a font but we had no time to investigate.

It is depicted bottom left on a special Rona stamp

available from Bill at

here’s an image I lifted from of the stone pews at the back

and here’s one from that shows the stone font ( to the right of picture with what looks like a spade leaning on it.

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Anyway with 90hp on the back and lightly laden we were soon back on our mooring in Loch Arnish, the 10 or so mile journey having been achieved in less than 20 mins on a very light throttle opening.

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After picking up my boy from school then having a wee lie down for an hour !!!!!!! (my afternoon naps are becoming quite regular, a sure sign of old age 🙂 )

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Refreshed after my beauty sleep I went back down to the shore to haul out the Pioner Maxi though I could not resist the temptation to go and check the creels first. With only enough bait and time to lift three I was rewarded with a nice large brown crab, a perfect gift for my parents 🙂

That was about it really, I left the cable in the RIB with the intention of offloading it at the new pier tomorrow (Tuesday) on the way to Skye Boat Centre with the RIB. This length of cable is for the house end so it makes more sense to take it by road.

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