Life at the end of the road

July 26, 2011

The ‘hundred yard dash’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, hydro, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:28 pm

That’s it then, the holiday is officially over and I’m not long back in the house after doing my first stint on the Loch Striven. Only one run to Sconser and back to let my ‘back to back’ away, but working nonetheless, no more wine or pipe epics for a whole week at least but at least it will give my muscles (and liver) a well earned rest 🙂

A trip to my parents on the mainland yesterday and guests for dinner made a welcome change from the more physical side of my ‘holiday’ and the most strenuous thing that I did all day was trim a hedge.

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Not my own I hasten to add, for I prefer the more ‘rustic’ look and I’ve never even picked up a hedge trimmer in my life, let alone used one. Still it made someone very happy and I was rewarded by a fine plate of pasta 🙂

The evening at ‘the end of the road’ was a very civilised affair with eight around the table eating the finest sea food that Loch Arnish could provide followed by chicken breasts wrapped in bacon with a haggis on the side. We usually stuff the breasts with the haggis but the fine Scottish offering is not to everyone’s liking. As it turned out there was not a scrap of it left on the eight clean plates so it could have gone in anyway 🙂

A full hundred meters 🙂

Me, I bailed out early and was in my bed for 22:30 leaving wifey with the ‘hardcore party people’ around the kitchen table with several bottles of claret and the boys on the Xbox. They would pay for it in the morning 🙂 me I wanted to be fresh 🙂

The relentless north wind that has kept the midge away, dried out the croft and kept temperatures at respectable level for ‘hard labour’ has also built up quite a sea. Over the last couple of days it has eased somewhat but not enough to poke the Pioner Maxi’s nose out of the loch. As is also quite common with this wind is for it to fall away overnight then pick up again around 11:00am.

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It may not look like much on the graph, indeed from any other direction 10mph would barely cause a ripple. However with nothing between the Sound of Raasay and Iceland, and a lazy ground swell from a week in that quarter it’s no place for a 12’ boat.

If there was one thing that I just had to do before going back to work it was salvage some more ‘feed blower’ pipe for my hydro scheme, and I’d been reliably informed there was some west of Fladda. It was going nowhere on the neap tides just now, but who knows where it would end up on the springs with a change of wind direction.

Arising early to a bombsite of a kitchen and a dying wind I fed the pigs, cleared the wreckage of the previous evening, mixed up fuel and dragged the boys out of their pit 🙂 At shortly after 8:30 we were in the ‘rock proof’ Pioner and heading west toward the Camas Bahn on Fladda.

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Portree’s Cygnus Cyclone 26, the Marie Bhan was in the shallows searching for lobster

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and the Green Isle was in the muddy depths of Loch Arnish hunting prawns.

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Ten minutes later we were at the Camas Bhan on Fladda with our quarry in sight.

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Leaving the ‘idiot proof’ boat taking no harm from the rocky shore we set foot on land to check out the best approach to removing it. As it happened the other end was in the sea so we just got back in the boat, motored around the point, tied it on and dragged it off, it was VERY long 🙂

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A far cry from the five hour tow from Loch Ainort with the last batch we had this one, or at least half of it ashore in twenty minutes.

A quick trip to lift one of our creels that hadn’t been lifted for a week, a spell at home for breakfast and then back down with the Land Rover to drag it out of the sea and measure it.

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That’s the ‘Old Girl’ in that clump of trees up the hill, and with my newly recalibrated legs I reckon that to be a full hundred meters 🙂


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We towed the pipe onto the heather before hitching it up to the quad, only this time I’d the good sense not to get ‘bogged’

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The boys, that’s them on the horizon, took it as far as the old peat cutting,

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after which I took over,

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as it gets a little tricky 🙂

Wee Millie

Just before I took the helm the boys spotted a man and his dog walking across the heather towards us, probably not an uncommon sight in other parts of the country but a rarity here. This chap was obviously heading our way so we went to investigate.

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It turned out to be wee Millie, Molly’s seven month old pup who was on holiday from Perthshire for a few days

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and what a little character she’s turned out to be 🙂

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The views up here are stunning, that’s Aird Torran in the foreground, Fladda is the large mass behind it and the Camas Bahn is that bay on its left hand edge between the breaking reef and the small island.

We got the pipe more or less in position, but whilst it was a full uninterrupted 100m long it did have five kinks in it, four of which had punctured the tube. Not the end of the world and easily repairable but that will have to wait for another day, as will the rest of the ‘days doings’. It’s almost 22:30 now and I’ve work tomorrow so I’ll save them for another day 🙂


July 24, 2011

Proven down, Proven up :-)

Filed under: daily doings, food, wind turbine — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:25 pm

Well the three weeks holiday is drawing to a close, the roof still isn’t painted, my Land Rover has still not got a guard in front of its oil cooler and the guttering at the rear of the house is still not repaired 😦 On the up side I did get an awful lot done on the mark III hydro scheme and I’ve caught my fair share of lobsters, the weather has been good and I’m still in one piece 🙂 We have also made lots of children very happy whilst they assisted with our labours on the croft, so all in all it’s been a great holiday, I just need to get back to work for a rest 🙂

The day got off to a bit of a shaky start, for whilst feeding the pigs I heard an ominous knocking noise from my Proven 2.5Kw wind turbine .


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So after feeding the herd, admiring yet another of Jamie Lee’s nests


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and watching Cheeky the tup square up to Molly, I went to check it out.

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First job being to stop it by putting on the brake, one of the features that sets the Proven apart from cheaper turbines is its easy to use disc brake. This is actuated by simply tying that cord around a lever then pulling the lever downwards.

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Once the turbine ground to a halt the broken furling spring was clearly visible, the turbine has nine of these, three on each blade and the allow the blades to ‘cone’ inwards during high winds to regulate it. The beauty of this simple design is that the turbine will continue to produce its full output even during storm force winds that would have an ‘upwind’ turbine braked or turned out of the wind. It does have more moving and therefore serviceable parts than a conventional design but this is only the second spring that’s failed in six years so I’m not complaining, Proven recommend they are changed at around four or five years anyway.

Common sense dictates that they are all changed at the same time but for now I’ll settle for a second hand one that I had as spare.

Lowering a Proven wind turbine

After returning home for breakfast I collected the rest of the team, loaded up ‘Tirfor’ and tools and set about it.



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First job is to set up the ‘gin pole’ and the ‘Tirfor’

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then get ‘Action man’ to drag the wire from the ‘Tirfor’ to the pole 🙂

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Once the ‘Tirfor’ wire is hooked to the ‘gin pole’ I took up most of the slack then undid the four M20 bolts that secure it to the hinged base.

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With, of course a little help from Rocky 🙂

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Once the bolts are out, the little slack that I’d left in the wire allowed me to gently ease the turbine and mast up off its base.

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Then it’s just a matter of winching it slowly down onto a convenient rest so the turbine is at a good height to work at.

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The broken spring was soon replaced

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but you can see from the picture that it is shorter than the original two nearer the camera, indicating that they could all do with changing before the winter. The springs were not the only thing worn, the plastic inserts and nylon washers also need changing and one of the hinge bolts was broken.

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No great problem but I really must sort it all out and give it a good coat of paint before October.

Proven wind turbine raising

With everything bolted up, torques checked and bearings greased it was just a matter of tirforing away until it was upright. Then the base bolts are re fitted, the brake released and away she goes.


To say that I’ve been pleased with the performance of this turbine would be a bit of an understatement, OK it cost us an arm and a leg but it’s made in Scotland and does exactly what it says on the tin 🙂

More lobsters 🙂

I could have thought of better things to do on a Sunday afternoon but my team had worked hard and wanted to go fishing, so after a bowl of noodles that’s what we did.

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The north wind had us tucked in behind the shelter of Aird Torran and nothing was caught on the handlines

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but I can think of worse things to do

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and the lobster pots proved quite productive. OK, we threw three of them back, but to be honest I get as much pleasure out of catching them as eating them 🙂

Wifey had to take our ‘team’ away for the 16:00 ferry so I spent the rest of the day in the garden pruning hawthorn trees and in the kitchen making chilli. It’s now 21:20 and I’m off for a bath then bed 🙂

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