Life at the end of the road

August 31, 2011

Southampton to South Arnish

Filed under: animals, boats, daily doings, harbour, life off grid, listers — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:44 pm

Early nights and mountains of paperwork have been responsible for very little effort on the blogging from Raasay front of late. A terrible memory will ensure that I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve done but the pictures may help. Monday was memorable for its drama, for the customers at least, of timing their crossing of the ramp with the rolling swell and it wasn’t even particularly windy. There may not have been much wind but it had been steady from the north for a couple of days and built up quite a sea.

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As you can see from this picture taken on the way to work from Glame looking over to Portree, a big lift but no white horses. Still with the new moon on Saturday and high tide around 7:30 it was going to make the 7:55 sailing, or at least boarding interesting 🙂

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It had also been ‘interesting’ for this little boat that didn’t belong there 🙂

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I arrived at work around high water to find that the car park had got a wash 🙂

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Then I got one myself

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as I foolishly lingered on the pier

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to watch Jim’s van getting its tyres cleaned 🙂

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It’s really difficult being a teenager and trying to look cool whilst your running, especially if it’s on the way to school 🙂 Fortunately as the tide ebbed and Goat Island was once more joined to the Arduish things improved greatly, but I can’t help thinking that it was a mistake not to fill in the gap whilst the machinery was here. 

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But then I suppose it was only ever a ‘proposed breakwater’, somebody with sense proposed it and someone holding the purse strings un proposed it 🙂

After the day at work I arrived home to find two of the ‘spotties’ digging up the veg patch, having burrowed their way under the fence,

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so we arranged fresh accommodation for them. It would be fairly easy to have repaired the fence but I was far too tired and added it to the ‘to do’ list for the week off. Meanwhile they could go in the field in front of the house 🙂

The swell had moderated on Tuesday, assisted by a change to a more westerly quarter and the day passed quickly in the mad rush of week and month end paperwork.

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The harbour master making use of the large ebb to make a fine job of power washing growth off the slipway whilst we had our lunch.

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Work was progressing nicely on the new house sites between the village hall and School Park

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and this fine catamaran belonging to SeaFari flew by at 15:30 but it’s so new that it’s not even on their website 😦

Cyril arrives safely

You may think I’m bonkers for parting with £700 to a complete stranger at the other end of the British Isles to buy a generator that I’ve not seen or even know works. Especially when the chap himself didn’t even know, it was however a Lister with only 50 hours on it, and as these generators are virtually indestructible I took a chance. It wasn’t much of a gamble really, despite it being almost forty years old and having lain idle for ten. It came out of a police station in Winchester so would have been ‘maintained  regardless’, so basically if it turned over, which he assured me it did, it would be OK.

Still, when I went over on the first ferry this morning to collect it from Skye Express in Portree I was a little apprehensive. ‘Tibster’ may have been honest enough but who knows what can happen to a 450Kg lump with ancillaries attached on the 650 mile trip north. When I arrived at their depot I was not disappointed, even with its ‘shrinkwrap’ coat I could see that this was a pure gem. Not only was the exhaust spotlessly clean, a sure sign of low hours but all the bolts, pipe wiring and fuel tank were carefully parcelled up.

After collecting some wormer from our vet twelve bags of pig feed from and no wine from the Co op 😦 I raced for the 10:25 ferry. Five minutes waiting for that bottle of red would have caused me to miss it. What is the point of a law that forbids you to buy a bottle of wine before 10:00am????? How many wino’s, teenagers, or delinquents do you see out of bed before then, let alone queuing up for Buckfast 😦 It may have taken me twenty five minutes to drive the eleven miles from Portree to Sconser but it took me almost an hour to weave my way round and over the pot holes on the last eleven miles home, I did not want to damage my precious cargo 🙂 It had travelled 650 miles without incident, I wasn’t going to jolt it off its mountings on the last leg.



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As I eagerly unwrapped my new, well new to me 1972 Lister SR2 6Kw generator it just kept getting better and better.

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No carbon up the exhaust, no dust or oil on the flywheel,

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and just look at that valve gear, as new, this baby was as good as new, and for the same price as some high revving piece of sh1t from China 🙂

I just coupled up the fuel tank, changed the fuel filter, bled the fuel line, turned the handle, heard the distinctive ‘crack’ of a pumping injector, flipped the decompression lever over and he fired up. As soon as the first pisto hit TDC it burst into life, not even one full turn!!!

Next I got a couple of batteries connected up, wired up the electrical panel into the workshop main after isolating it from the house and started it on the motor.


The lights blazed on in the workshop, the pillar drill ran, the grinders worked and I was ecstatic 🙂 the only fly in the ointment being that the voltmeter does not work, think I’ll ask for my money back 🙂

With so many of these old standby ‘mains failure’ sets still about I find it hard to comprehend why anyone living ‘off grid’ would consider anything else. A new Chinese clone of a Honda or Yanmar would cost as much and you’d be lucky to get three years out of it. A quality Kubota or genuine Yanmar or even a new Lister would cost you three times as much and you may get 10 years out of it. My 1978 ST2 7Kw (for which Cyril is a replacement) ran twelve hours a day for 18 years before I bought it and is still perfectly good as a standby thousands of hours and 15 years later. They just don’t make em like this anymore 🙂


  1. Very jealous of that Lister. We’re on grid here, but with “Irene” our power went on and off four or five times. We routinely get 24 and 36 hour power cuts. In 1998 with an ice storm power was out for nearly two weeks. So a lot of us have gennys. Ours is a Generac, which is a good American firm, runs on propane (Calor) and cost $1500 new, but after probably 1,000 hours or more (I used to keep it in our off-grid rental) it’s getting tired.

    A local firm was selling new “Indian” Listers a while back for a few grand. I think the base model was $1,400. I won’t make the same mistake when the Generac gives up the ghost. Problem is, it won’t. I can probably keep it running another 20 years at this rate.

    Comment by Mick — September 1, 2011 @ 7:02 am

    • Morning Mick not had a power cut here in 22 years thanks to the Lister’s, come close once or twice right enough when we’ve almost run out of diesel.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 3, 2011 @ 5:27 am

  2. Is it possible to call the Coop the day before (after 10 am) give them your credit card number for a nice bottle of wine and close the purchase, then have them hold the package (and receipt) for you until you can gather it up the next morning? That way you are not buying wine too early, the Coop sells more, and you can reach the ferry on time? Or perhaps the Dude will learn how to make wine out of honey and you can begin keeping bees?

    Comment by drgeo — August 3, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

    • Bees is definitely the way to go DrG 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — August 3, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

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