Life at the end of the road

November 4, 2011

Well done Ferguson’s

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry, pigs, weather — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:07 am

Once more I was in bed before 21:00 and up up at ‘stupid o clock’ thanks to this clock changing malarky. It’s just after 4:00am now and I’ve been tossing and turning since 3:00 😦 Though I did think that it was 4:00 and 5:00 till I actually got up and realized that the clock I’d been looking at had not been ‘put back’ on account of the instructions for altering it are far too small for my ailing eyesight to read 😦 Well at least that’s sorted now, with the aid of a magnifying glass and cup of strong black coffee 🙂

I did make an effort at putting pen to paper so to speak but couldn’t do the days news justice so gave up and went to bed. of course I never heard about it until informed by others, my choice of listening being  the Today program on Radio 4. Obviously this piece of ground breaking news about the construction of the worlds first sea going hybrid Ro Ro ferry was of no interest to the vast majority of its mainly south of England audience 😦 Bit surprising really when you consider that it is to be built at a Scottish yard Ferguson’s  who have not built a ship for almost four years and were in danger of going under, putting the remaining 75 workers out on the street. They fought of stiff competition from yards in Spain and Poland to secure the £20 million contract for two of these ‘green’ ferries.

Hopefully it will put them at the forefront of this emerging technology to produce cleaner, quieter and more economical shipping. It will certainly provide an extra 100 full time jobs and twenty apprenticeships to an employment black spot with a long history of shipbuilding.

I say ‘emerging technology’ but there is nothing new about ‘diesel electric’ propulsion or ‘diesel battery’ propulsion. The former widely used in ships and locomotives for almost 100 years and the latter in submarines with great success since before WW1. What the new hybrid system does is to marry the two technologies with modern computerized control gear and the latest in lithium ion batteries .

Whilst the new ferries will be a first, they are certainly not the first sea going vessel to apply this system. That accolade goes to the Foss Maritime tug Carolyn Dorothy.


A study of a hybrid tugboat, funded by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and conducted by UC Riverside, found that when compared with a conventional diesel-powered version, a hybrid tugboat can reduce emissions of PM2.5 by about by 73%, NOx by 51%, and CO2 by 27%.

The hybrid tug used in the study, the Carolyn Dorothy (earlier post), is powered by two 1,342 kW Cummins QSK50-M main engines and 317 kW Cummins QSM11-M auxiliary generators. It also has 126 soft gel lead acid batteries for power storage that are separated into two arrays with 63 batteries each. Each array stores 170.1 kWh of energy when fully charged. All engines meet United Stated Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 2 certification. Built by Seattle-based Foss Maritime, it began working the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in January 2009.

The study compared the hybrid “dolphin class” tug to a conventional version powered by two 1,902 kW CAT 3512C main engines and two 195 kW John Deere 6081 auxiliary engines.


The hybrid tug’s specification said that it’s system must fit within and existing dolphin class hull and deliver the same power. No mean feat but one that was undertaken and successfully completed by Canadian company AKA and their affiliate Xero point

The idea of a hybrid ferry was first mooted a few years ago and as part of the feasibility study representatives from both companies spent a couple of days aboard the Loch Striven monitoring our ‘duty cycle’ and power requirements throughout the day This was all done in real time by Kurtis Mink and John Eldridge with the results going straight back to Canada via the internet. It proved to be a most interesting and informative couple of days, both John and Kurtis being big into renewable energy we had lots to talk about.


Kurtis is the one with hair 🙂

The tug has been in operation now for a couple of years with great feedback from all who sail in her, she’s quieter, cleaner and handles better due to the weight of her lead acid battery bank. Of course the ‘duty cycle’ of a ferry is completely different to that of a tug so the fuel savings and emission reductions may not be quite so dramatic and whilst plugging into the mains overnight may not produce any emissions on the route it is drawing power from the grid. This will in effect produce emissions somewhere, however one thing Raasay is not short of is wind, water and strong tides. The design of the boat is such that it will be able to make use of these as and when they become available.


Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow, Scotland will be working alongside Glasgow based ship design specialists Seatec and electrical specialists Tec-Source to build two hybrid ferries.

The ferries, which will be operated by the current operator of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services, CalMac are designed for use on many of the short crossing routes around the Clyde and Hebrides and will use some of the most innovative new ‘green’ technology, including battery banks supplying a minimum of 20% of the energy consumed on board.

Each ferry will be designed to accommodate 150 passengers, 23 cars or 2 HGVs, with a service speed of nine knots and will be powered by small diesel generator sets, feeding power to a 400 volt switchboard, which will supply power to electric propulsion motors that turn the propulsion units. In addition 2 battery banks with a total of 700kWh will also be able supply power to the units reducing fuel and CO2 consumption by at least 20%. The battery banks will be charged overnight from the mains.

The vessel design and power configuration will additionally realise 19-24% savings of power input to the propulsion units over a conventional diesel mechanical solution reducing Carbon Dioxide, Sulphur Oxide and Nitrous Oxide emissions.

We are also looking at the possibility of using energy from local wind, wave or solar systems to charge the batteries, making the process even more environmentally friendly.

The project will provide a fantastic commercial opportunity for Scotland and show how, as a nation, we are leading the way in innovative ferry design.

The first vessel is anticipated to enter service in Spring 2013.


The pictures below are old so the new boats will not be exactly the same but it gives you some idea of the proposed lay out.

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More links here if you’re interested

The rest of the day

Well it was quite nice actually, mainly dry with a lovely warm south easterly wind 🙂


Pretty quiet on the traffic front so a good excuse to remove some of the rust streaks acquired after a week of strong wind and rain.

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Marine Harvest’s catamaran ‘Bradan Mhor’ (big salmon) arrived in Loch Sligachan loaded with oxygen,

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so it looks like a spot of ‘de lousing’, net changing or harvesting is on the cards.


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When the day was done I drove home to find the three spotty pigs grubbing around in the dark by Hooky’s digger, they obviously like checking out what he’s dug up 🙂



  1. Paul

    It was for the introduction of these new ferries that the Highland Council has me looking at the options for the widening of the slip (and other improvements) at Sconser in January / February this year (remember the info session in your hall which you attended) so their introduction has been on the cards for a wee while now. Not sure where the other one is going yet but Portavadie – Tarbet or Tayinloan – Gigha has been mentioned and in fact I have just kicked off widening the slip at Tayinloan where the Lochranza currently operates. Maybe Gigha will get theirs before you do!

    Good news that the building work has gone to a Scottish yard though. Good to see work on your house has started … I wish I could say the same about mine but I suppose Building Control are only doing their job!


    Comment by alan macdonald — November 4, 2011 @ 8:17 am

    • Morning Alan,

      I had to laugh, for yesterday we got plan number six, or was it sixteen 🙂 to look at for Sconser 🙂 I thought of you when it came through 🙂

      Good luck with the house

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 5, 2011 @ 6:17 am

  2. Hi Paul. Good news about Fergusons building two ferries.What with trains built in germany and london buses being built in china i sometimes despair!With your interest in alternative energy i bet youd like to have one on your route!Keep up the good work on what is the most interesting blog on the web.cheers,Alan.

    Comment by alan — November 4, 2011 @ 8:23 am

    • Morning Alan and welcome, buses from China!!! the world has gone mad 🙂 Yep, I believe we are getting the first one, can’t wait 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 5, 2011 @ 6:19 am

  3. Think I agree that your blog is the most interesting one on the web! Am most impressed at how comprehensive it is with all the appropriate links and brilliant photos, not to mention extraneous things like scanned ship plans! Honestly don’t think you sleep at all! Found the ferry info most interesting and heartening, will let my ancient husband look at the computer to see what you’ve posted! Which reminds me chimney pots.

    Comment by may cruickshank — November 4, 2011 @ 9:19 am

    • Morning May,

      glad you’re still paying attention 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 5, 2011 @ 6:20 am

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