Life at the end of the road

March 24, 2011

In a spin :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:52 pm

It’s been a while since I was on here and it’s certainly not been through any lack of stuff to write about, more a lack of time and inclination to get it down on paper so to speak.

To say that Monday was hectic would be something of an understatement, for a start it was off to Munro’s with Bee on the first ferry, a job I was not relishing. Bee, as regular readers will will know was our runty wee pig, that for long enough thought she was a person. I’m not sentimental about animals but I do like to give them the best possible life before they go for slaughter, the down side of which is that you do get quite close to them. Many people at this game refuse to give their stock names for that very reason but you do need to identify them and a name is far more dignified than a number or ‘that runt with no tail’. Anyway, I’m not keeping pigs as pets I’m keeping them to eat them and to sell them to people who appreciate good ‘happy’ meat, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself 😦

Anyway I ease my conscience by feeling guilty, yes even after all these years and dozens of trips I still get a little emotional. The strain of driving there and back and shopping on my own because wifey was in bed with the latest bug that’s doing the rounds on Raasay all made for an early and internet free evening.


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I set off from Arnish with my rather sad pig just after 7:00am to give me plenty of time for a nice leisurely drive down to the ferry. Pigs are not, on the whole good travellers and I did not want to stress wee Bee any more by bumping her at high speed down ‘Calum’s road’. We arrived at our lovely new pier just about high water and as you can see it was pretty high, a predicted 5.6m


that was pretty accurate as that last black bar on the gauge is at 5.75 🙂 The blocks being 1m tall and 6 high

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from the base which is at ‘chart datum’ though it was actually lower than the predicted .1m by a good few inches.

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It felt strange driving up onto the ferry as the car deck was higher than the pier 🙂

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With half a gale of southwest wind the journey through to Dingwall was quicker than normal and my much happier pig happily followed me for the last time into the abattoir.

As I write this on Thursday night she’ll be being turned into joints and sausages for a new season of visitors at the Garybuie guest house on Skye

I had intended doing quite a bit on my return to Arnish but the same wind that had pushed me along at 60mph in the Old Girl had me struggling at 50mph on the return so the 15:00 planned ferry became the 16:15. The dry breezy day had turned into a damp one at Clunie and I arrived home shattered. Too wet to cut bedding, no enthusiasm to go and look at my new hydro project and too tired to drive back down to the Raasay village hall to watch what promised to be a very funny play.



After an early night, and leaving a poorly swineherd in bed I took the boy to school and went onto the mainland to visit my parents.

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This time catching the 8:55 ferry that had just brought a lorry load of straw over from the east coast for the North Raasay Sheep Stock Club.

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I stopped briefly in Kyle to watch JST loading timber onto the coaster Fingal. It’s always a pleasure to watch these guys at work for they are real professionals and should shortly be returning to Raasay to start harvesting above the village.

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A pleasant few hours at my parents was followed by nice slow drive back to Sconser in the afternoon sunshine leaving me with a little spare time to take the ‘wee dug’ for a walk on the beach in Broadford.

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A low tide gave us a chance to check out some of the local prawn boats

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and an old favourite of mine the Q26 ‘Skye diver’. In the early 1980s these were the ‘must have’ boats for clam divers, fast, stable and very seaworthy. I always wanted one but could only ever afford it’s little sister the Q17, having said that ‘Annie V’ BRD10  my own 70hp version proved a very sound workhorse and set me on the path to bigger better things 🙂

This particular boat has been around as long as I can remember and I’ll never forget a day in April 1985 when I waited on a beach at Strollamus to be picked up by my possible employer for an interview. The job was ‘scallop farm manager’ the location Scalpay and the instruction, “ just wait on the beach and we’ll pick you up by boat”. Of course when I saw this (then almost new) Q26 heading towards the beach I assumed it was my prospective boss, not a chance, the Q26 sped past and was followed shortly afterwards by a 12’ aluminium boat full of holes powered by a 9.9hp outboard 🙂

I got the job, the aluminium boat turned out to be one of the better bits of equipment on the island and I stuck it for four years 🙂 I can’t really begin to describe the work I did but the derrick on this boat and the two ‘star wheels’ on the side became a familiar sight to me (though they were added to this boat some time later) over the next four years.


My employer grew scallops in these ‘lanterns’ hanging from a line some 10 or 12m below the surface.



It was back breaking work, all done by hand and most of the time the lanterns looked like this.

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After my brief trip down memory lane I proceeded to Sconser  ‘joining ship’ at 15:00 for the start of the ‘working week’ 😦

Anyway, it’s 22:30 now and past my bed time, so despite the fact that I’ve not even got to Wednesday, I’m off to bed 🙂



  1. So that’s why I can’t get straw. It’s all been shipped to the east coast. Grrr!

    Comment by Stonehead — March 24, 2011 @ 10:59 pm

    • Morning Stoney in the ‘straw free zone’ 🙂 been shooting, killing butchering and eating everything from cormorants to goats but only ever have a problem with pigs 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 6:33 am

      • Small bale straw is £4.50-5.00 a bale. Big bale is £40. And that’s if you can get it. I had to buy a couple of bales of wood shavings, but they’re £6.60 each. It would be cheaper to be the pigs on Tesco duvets!

        Comment by Stonehead — March 27, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

      • Yikes Stoney, last big bale I bought was twelve quid, fortunately we grow lots of rushes around here 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

      • Morning Iain,

        I once fed one when I worked on the fish farm 🙂 We were grading fish and I saw a huge shadow, when I looked up this sea eagle was just feet above me so I threw it a salmon 🙂 The fish was far too big for it but it still had about five goes at flying off with it in its huge talons. It would get maybe 10′ in the air before having to drop it. What a magnificent site that was. When I was contract diving we covered about eleven fish farms and they were not uncommon.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 28, 2011 @ 5:14 am

  2. I don’t want to add to your tristesse but poor wee Bea…….I know what you mean, and probably how you feel: we did the same thing, and I always had a feeling of remorse when leaving the critters at the abbatoir! Never a good moment. Certainly a high-looking tide but it also looks like Spring has arrived with you on the island; hope it’s a good one!

    Comment by Iain — March 24, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

    • Morning Iain, spring seems to have temporarily vanished, we must be due the ‘lambing snow’ soon 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 6:34 am

  3. is a merdog or a silkie there diving scallops with the gent in the orange waders?

    Comment by jeannette — March 25, 2011 @ 4:41 am

    • should read: is THAT a merdog….

      Comment by jeannette — March 25, 2011 @ 4:41 am

      • Hi Jeannette,

        forgot to say that I lifted those images from an American website, think it’s somewhere in New York state.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 6:36 am

  4. I’m very sad to hear of poor Bea’s fate, I was quite attached to her as I saw the litter a few days after they were born last August, I remember you pointing her out to me. (hope I don’t make you feel too guilty).

    Comment by francesp — March 25, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    • Hi Frances, you’ve a better memory than me, I couldn’t remember how old Bee was 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 6:39 am

  5. i can’t bring myself to keep pigs, i know they will end up as pets.

    chickens and ducks all start looking alike when in a flock, so killing them isn’t that bad.

    Comment by magnus johnson — March 25, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    • Hi Magnus, pigs really are a ‘must have’ for living the ‘good life’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 6:38 am

  6. A couple of weeks back or so, you weren’t on Google Earth but you are now.

    Comment by Lorenzo — March 26, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

    • Hi Lorenzo,

      have you got a link ?? it takes me hours to find anything on Google Earth with my pathetic internet connection. Last time I looked it was only the south end of Raasay that had coverage, though the street view went right up to my driveway 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 9:15 am

  7. Aw poor Bee. Molly had better watch out else she’ll be turned into a hot dog. You’re always telling us you don’t like dogs 😦

    Comment by Rienza — March 26, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

    • Molly is quite safe Rienza 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — March 27, 2011 @ 9:16 am

  8. I must be a hard old bugger. I like our pigs and quite a few of the finished ones have acquired names by the time they go to slaughter, but I have absolutely no qualms about killing and eating them. I like them just as much dead as alive.

    Of course, I have been killing and eating animals since I was about seven or eight. Plus I’ve shot several hundred pigs over the years. And other species.

    I respect and like them enormously while they’re alive but I also like them on my plate. If an animal’s end is quick and clean, what’s there to feel a qualm about?

    Needless to say, many people think I’m a bit odd and totally heartless. Oh well, pass the bacon butty.

    Comment by Stonehead — March 26, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

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