Life at the end of the road

April 10, 2011

The ‘silly season’ :-)

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:54 pm



Despite it being a day that sees me away from home for almost sixteen hours it flew by on account of it being rather busy, both on the car deck and ‘up the funnel’. Though it did get off to a rather shaky start, the ‘Old girl’ would not go, I went out at 6:30 to flash her up and nothing, not even a click. Fortunately it was not entirely unexpected and I’d left her on a hill and isolated the spare battery. The driving rain at the beginning of the week had managed to find its way into one of the headlamp relays and switched them on for a few hours whilst the vehicle was unattended.


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The white little box is the offending article and was full of water, my own fault really because this did happen several years ago and I made a point of mounting it with the terminals pointing downwards. However a ‘senior moment’ in the not too distant past had seen me refit it incorrectly when changing a fuse 😦 To be honest even this foolhardy oversight should not have caused my very expensive Exide Maxxima 900 batteries to go flat but one of those had died too 😦 At over £110 each eight years ago I was not a happy chappy but they do get a lot of stick with my Christmas tree lights and 9500lb electric winch so it’s hardly surprising. For six months of the year I’m driving up and down ‘Calum’s road’ in the dark with all lights blazing, the stereo blaring and quite often with two heaters going 😦

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MAXXIMA 900 – orbital technology for best CCA
MAXXIMA 900 high performance batteries are developed for applications where high cold cranking currents and shockproof construction are demanded. These batteries perfectly fit into construction machines, agricultural machinery, emergency vehicles with short distance use (fire brigade, ambulance, police) or powering bow thrusters of yachts.
MAXXIMA batteries are also recommended by leading manufacturers of handicapped accessible vehicles.
EXIDE have optimized the innovative concept of orbital technology, which is based on an enlarged plate surface. The key to maximum cold cranking and starting power are wound battery cells with thin electrodes, rolled evenly and compact. This design ensures a rapid recharge of MAXXIMA 900, due
to low internal resistance and high charge acceptance (over 100 A).
MAXXIMA 900 are extremely suitable for application in vehicles in short distance use. With the application of MAXXIMA 900 excellent results were achieved in urban public-transit buses and motor-coaches in such a way that the number of annual jump starts was reduced considerably.
MAXXIMA 900 DC (deep cycle) – orbital technology for extreme cyclic load.
MAXXIMA 900 DC batteries are provided with all technical features of MAXXIMA 900 but in addition have thicker plates, which remarkably enhance cyclic performance and increase durability. Low self discharge allows for increased shelf life of MAXXIMAs compared to conventional batteries.

Anyway, after the minor set back I made it to work on what turned out to be the start proper of the ‘silly season’, that time of year that that sees us overwhelmed by silliness 🙂 With Easter just around the corner and the schools shut, the hoards have arrived 🙂

To be honest I love seeing the fresh faces, the extra traffic makes the day go by and does the local traders good, but as with any increase in numbers there is also a proportional rise in foolishness. The foolishness that causes people who cannot reverse to take holidays on single track roads and ignore signs that say ‘WAIT HERE UNTIL DIRECTED BY FERRY CREW’ 🙂 Still the silliness is not confined to the incomers, the local Co op chooses the busiest day of the year so far to man the tills with sixteen year olds who can’t serve alcohol thus causing huge tailbacks at the checkouts as they shout for supervisors at every other customer :-( 

It was not just on land that it was busy, Saturday saw a couple of yachts sailing by and the NLB Pole Star servicing the starboard hand buoy on the Jackal rock.


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Northern Lighthouse Board

Port of registry:

Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow

Laid down:
28 July 1999

15 September 2000



General characteristics

Class and type:
Lloyd’s + 100A1, LA, + LMC, UMS

Buoy / Lighthouse Vessel


Gross Tonnage: 1174 Tonnes

NET (Registered): Tonnage 352 Tonnes

1,174 tonnes

o/a: 51.52 m; B.P: 44.00 m

12 m

Air Draught 25 m

3.2 m

to Upper Deck: 5.00 m

Cummins Wartsila CW8L170 – 3 x 920 kW AC Diesel-electric dynamic positioning system, 2 x azimuth thrusters, 2 x tunnel bow thrusters

12 knots

Boats and landing
craft carried:
Workboat: Sea Rover 5.5 m


15 x Single Berth Cabins,

2 x Twin Berth Cabins

6 x Officers, 9 x Ratings



The Pole Star was not on her own in lifting buoys,

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this workboat who’s name could be Toohey B or Tooney B was lifting our now superfluous emergency mooring. The council laid it for the Loch Striven some years ago when it looked like the old pier might become unusable as a safe berth. The original open concrete structure will probably still be here once all the glaciers have melted as it was built by Mac Alpine’s in an era when things were made to last.


Copied from where you’ll find many more images of the Raasay mine.

However in the late 1970s some sixty years after this image was taken in 1917 the pier was sheet piled and filled in with rubble. Whilst this made a fine job of protecting the ferry from the northerly motion that swept through the open structure it didn’t last. Corrosion had eaten through the sheet piling causing the infill to spill out on to the sea bed becoming a danger to the ferry. It also caused gaping holes to appear in the top after storms making it unsafe for the crew. The latter issue was addressed by building a walkway over the top but the  large underwater mole hills that were in danger of putting a hole in the ferry could not be sorted so the mooring was laid just in case we got chased out of there.

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Fortunately the new harbour was finished before it ever got too ‘hilly’ on the south side and we only ever tied up to it as an exercise. It was however just in time for over the winter the piling on the south side has given way and it would now be impossible for the Loch Striven to berth there.

Anyway, I seem to have got distracted and lost my way a little, where was I ?

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Ah, that’s it painting again 🙂 right up to around 19:00 when I took a break and a run up to see how the lumberjacks were getting on up the Glen road.

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I just love all this hardware but my favourite has to be this baby 🙂



The Tigercat H855C, awesome 🙂


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That was about it for Saturday, we did the last run at 20:30 and returned once again to our secret new pier.

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The council are hiding it from us by not switching the lights on, so we have to go looking for it every Saturday night with our searchlight 🙂


Today was, well it was a peach of a day, I was up early, cleaned out the fire, fed our rapidly growing pigs and even set off for work early. Not only that but I did it all in my sandals, my steel toe cap ones that is 🙂 This time last week I’d have been losing my wellies feeding the pigs, now the grass is six inches tall in places, the hawthorn, elder and larch are green and even the sycamore and horse chestnut are threatening to burst into leaf.

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I may have been keen, but not half as keen as these two canoeists who’d just paddled into Tarbert at 8:45. I have to say that my first thought was “I wonder if I’ll end up rescuing them” 🙂 I’ve lost count of the number that I’ve ‘assisted’, not that any of them were in any actual danger just generally storm bound or lost. I suppose that the worst thing that could have happened to ones I’ve towed with my boat or put on the roof of the Land Rover is loosing a day or two off work and I’ve never begrudged it. It’s just another of those things that you do in the ‘silly season’, like reversing 400m with a trailer on when the tourist you’ve met has just passed a passing place 🙂

The day at work was busy enough and finished with an almost full car deck on the last sailing from Sconser. The journey home was unusual in that I saw THREE cars, the last one some two miles from home at Brochel and he was going my way, only very slowly. No sweat, I’m not in a rush, but I had to laugh, he kept stopping to admire the view in the middle of the road before he kindly let me by in a passing place. That in itself put him in my ‘good books’ as some tourists don’t realize that passing places are also to let people by. Anyway a mile or so up the road I stopped myself to admire two of my friends.

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The fine stag on the left and the one who’s antlers I had in my boot on the right, they were only yards from the road and the car that let me by drove right past them 🙂


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That’s about it really,we finished the day with the first barbie of the year 🙂



  1. Your carbon dioxide alarm went off…do you have a carbon monoxide alarm as well..?
    Heatwave here is over and its back to rain and cold…!

    Comment by sotw — April 11, 2011 @ 7:58 am

    • Morning She,

      think yourself lucky it’s only rain, we had hail, brrrrrrrrr 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 12, 2011 @ 5:03 am

  2. Hi Paul,
    Ain’t those tree-scrunchers amazing things? I used to watch them in action a lot in Sweden. Extraordinary power and the way they clear tracts of land is awesome.
    It must be time for the council to switch on the pier lights – or are they waiting for a celeb switch-on by Jeremy Clarkson or one of his ilk?!

    Comment by Iain — April 11, 2011 @ 9:05 am

    • Morning Iain,

      once they’ve saved enough money on the electric bill they’ll pay someone to fix them 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 12, 2011 @ 5:05 am

  3. Hi Paul.
    Just to say, I want one of those tree scrunchers for some of the dead wood we have in our city what away to dispose of them. Trees as well.

    Comment by Polite Scouse — April 11, 2011 @ 10:55 am

    • Walter 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 12, 2011 @ 5:05 am

  4. Dem’s kayaks Paul – canoe is an open cockpit thing paddled with a single blade.

    May sound pedantic but so F annoying to those of us that participate. Bit like calling a pig a warthog.

    Comment by Across the Minch — April 11, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

    • Many apologies ATM,

      yes, I know what you mean after 30 odd years of people calling my diving cylinders ‘oxygen bottles’. If they had oxygen in I’d be dead, or at least severely brain damaged 😦 perhaps they did have O2 in after all 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 12, 2011 @ 5:10 am

  5. Coming up to say hello at easter Paul – Was going to bring an apple for Wee Bee 😦

    Comment by Across the Minch — April 12, 2011 @ 9:50 am

    • Morning ATM,

      you’ll just have to bring two for Thelma and Louise 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 13, 2011 @ 6:29 am

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