Life at the end of the road

March 15, 2011

All go at Sconser :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:34 pm

In the half light just before dawn this morning I was pleased to look out of the rear Velux window and see the trusty Rutland FM910 wind turbine catching a steady breeze from the south east. The last few days it had been facing in the opposite direction sucking power from the cold dense north and north east winds from Scandinavia. The batteries may have been well charged but it was boodly freezing 😦 Not the kind of freezing that turns the pig troughs solid but the wind chilled cold that makes two degrees seem like minus six :-( 

I have in the past given this little turbine dogs abuse and slated it on many an internet forum,

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but for the last two years it’s performed faultlessly. This may well be a combination of lower average wind speeds this last two years and cutting down many of the surrounding trees to reduce turbulence, whatever the reason two winters is the longest that it’s gone without self destructing 🙂

Since I moved here in 1989 I must have overhauled it a dozen times, a task only made possible by the fact that I was given about six old ones that had suffered the same fate as mine and have been steadily cannibalizing them for years. Strangely enough whilst looking for a picture of my Rutland scrap pile I came across this from almost exactly three years ago. So the old turnip has been spinning away now for three years with no attention !!!!!! I take back all the bad stuff I ever said about it 🙂 Well apart from the fact that they stopped making spares for this model 18 years ago 😦

Oh, and that photo was taken two years ago, the moon is a little larger today 🙂

Anyway being Tuesday and the day of my last banana I was off to work early and full of enthusiasm, pretty much everything had been done and I’d be finishing early. After leaving the house and checking on our overnight electrical consumption and production I headed south, and I have to say I was a little disappointed, the mild south easterly that I’d anticipated was still raw having traversed the snow capped hills of the Highlands before arriving here 😦 Six or seven degrees said  UKWind more like two I thought.

Arriving at work early I got another coat of paint on the windlass clutch handle that Simon of Raasay Engineering had welded for us yesterday.

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Apart from finishing off the weeks paperwork, re fitting the clutch handle and doing a spot of painting that was about it on the work front and I got away at 15:00 in time to go to Portree for grunter feed. I say grunter because I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to avoid the P word all week on account of our skipper 🙂 Our relief skipper an ex fisherman of fishing stock refuses to mention pigs,‘curly tail sheep’ rabbits,‘underground chicken’ salmon,’pink fish’ ministers ‘men with funny collars’ and all manner of other things that could could bring misfortune to the unwary mariner. Me I’ve got an open mind on these matters but many years ago when I fished for lobster and my good friend Murdo Nicolson told me to say good morning to every lobster I caught and always wear a green jumper, I did 🙂 He was probably taking the pi55 out of the Sassenach but it did me no harm and I did catch lots of lobsters 🙂

Big improvements at Sconser

To match our new ferry terminal on Raasay we’ve a new 23 car diesel/electric/hybrid ferry due to replace the good ship Loch Striven in 2013. At 500 tons, capable of taking 2 articulated lorries and with three wider car lanes she’ll be a quiet and comfortable replacement for what will then be a 27 year old vessel. The old ‘Loch class’ have been fine boats but with cars and people getting wider they’re in danger of becoming eight car ferries 🙂

In view of this and the already overstretched car park at Sconser, the dilapidated toilets and the crumbling narrow slip, improvements have been planned.

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Option one being, ‘out the way’ into the sea,

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Option two being ‘along the way’ westwards towards Sligachan

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and option three being a bit of both. Personally I like the first one as it gives the most space but then I don’t have it on my doorstep and have to look at it all day long. Whatever is decided I hope it includes some nice stone work and is not just tarmac and galvanized steel.

As a first step the council divers are over surveying the pier and slip prior to widening and lengthening.

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This is them with a ultra high pressure lance blasting the piles prior to NDT (non destructive testing) but they’ll also be taking core samples from the slipway and NDTing the sheet piling on the slip.

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Whilst they were at that, Aspect surveys were preparing to launch they’re very fine RIB.

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These chaps surveyed the new Raasay pier prior to Balfour Beatty finishing it, in fact they did it three times because BB kept leaving rather large hard bits of Scotland protruding above the sea bed 😦 Actually that’s unfair because it was the several times defunct ‘Hapless Marine’ that were the marine contractor, who have incidentally gone bump yet again 🙂

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Of course I had to spend a little time chatting to George, the head diver, who I’ve known for as long as I’ve lived on Raasay, the main topic of conversation being his new compressor.


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This is a Bauer Mariner 7CFM and it is the ‘Lister’ of diving compressors, at £7000 they’re are not cheap but the one it replaced was a 1985 and it’s still working 🙂 I have a Bauer myself though mine is a Utilus 10b of 3.5CFM and they are the biz. I think mine was £1100 in 1985 and apart from all the sport diving I did with it in the eighties, it lived on my boat for years and filled three bottles a day six days a week with little attention. The third stage piston failed on it after about ten years and was on back order from Germany at the time, if I couldn’t fill my bottles I couldn’t dive and if I couldn’t dive I earned no money 😦 So in desperation I bought an Italian Coltri, now if the Bauer is the Lister (or Mercedes) of compressors then the Coltri is the Fiat, and like any Fiat it was a pile of rust at twelve months old and died shortly afterwards 😦

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Just look at all that activity 🙂

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and there was even more at the fish farm, not only that but the wind dropped the sun came out and it turned into a lovely warm afternoon and evening.

I managed to get home before 17:30, fed the pigs, started messing about with pipes for my new hydro scheme and measured my power production over exactly fourteen days. Actually that’s not true, I measured my total power used and dumped which takes into account both ‘charging deficit’ (the amount you lose putting in and taking out of a battery) and inverter losses. the grand total of house consumption 67Kwh, dumps 152.6Kwh and chalet 20Kwh comes to 239.6Kwh or 713 watts produced every hour over the first two weeks in March. Not sure if that’s good or bad because it’s the first time that I’ve actually measured it.


  1. Morning, Paul

    Exciting happenings as Sconser! The parking was extended not long since (well – must have been over 12 years ago?) but not to accommodate larger traffic. As for a new, larger ferry – yes, the Loch Striven is space limited though lovely, and cars are getting bigger. No problem even on the MV Raasay when I was driving a Fiat Panda, but things change!

    Have a good week doing ‘homework’.



    Comment by Sue — March 16, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    • Hi Sue, 12 years !!!!, think it was much longer ago than that, how time flies when you gat to our age 🙂 not that I’m suggesting that you’re as old as me 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 17, 2011 @ 10:35 pm

  2. Hi Paul, Hope that the plans for the new ferry and Sconser make it through the planning stage faster than those down here in the SW for the Isles of Scilly to Penzance plans – years and years of arguments,appeals and appeals against the appeals and what do we have – nothing and no money now either and a ferry well over 30 years old – hmmm ! ! Sue

    Comment by Sue Mason — March 16, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    • Hi Sue, funny you should say that, when I read about all the shinannigans (several years ago) I thought that only Raasay could put up so many daft objections to a new ferry terminal and ferry 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 17, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

  3. Hi Paul.Good to see plans moving along for Sconser.With the continual rise in fuel costs maybe plenty of bicycle racks,horse tethers and oars(or sails!),for the ferry, would be worth looking into.Surely a commercially viable alternative now exists for the internal combustion engine?I cannot help thinking that patents have been bought up and developments sat on for such alternatives since the internal combustion engine has been around since the 1880s.Cheers,Andy.

    Comment by Andy — March 16, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  4. Paul
    have to correct you on one thing old chap. Wasnt Atlas who got the blasting wrong it was Crushrock. They got the calcs wrong and ended up with little pyramids of (very hard) rock sticking up all over the place between blast areas. Atlas were left to carry the can as Crushrock refused to remove them. Hence Crushrock were removed and replaced by Albion drilling. The additional cost to Atlas no doubt being a major factor in their recent demise. Always better to know the facts.
    Cheers JoP

    Comment by JoP — March 17, 2011 @ 4:44 am

    • Thanks for pointing that out JoP, right enough Hapless didn’t do the blasting but then it wasn’t clearing up that has caused them to go bust yet again, or have I got that wrong too 🙂 Glad to see you’re still keeping up with developments and the pier beautiful, a pleasure to work from.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 17, 2011 @ 6:44 am

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