Life at the end of the road

January 26, 2012

Over current :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour, life off grid — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:34 pm

Dunno if I’ll ever finish this post, but I’ll give it a shot, I had intended scribbling a few witterings down last night but things went a little pear shaped on me. Things have been going a little pear shaped rather a lot of late but it’s just ‘that time of year’ and I’m sure they’ll improve.

As if I hadn’t lost enough sleep over the SEPA grass and my stopped hydro turbine I lost even more on Tuesday night thanks to our first power cut in five years 😦 Of course it didn’t happen until after midnight when I was pushing out zeds and wifey was up late watching some carp on the telly. The first decent sleep I’ve had in days and the swineherd has to drag me out of it to restore power 😦 Obviously she’d done the right thing for I also supply power to my neighbours and they’re on US east coast time, around five hours behind me so they’d have just finished dinner 🙂

A little fuzzy around the edges, in my pyjamas, boots and armed with a head torch I set off for the generator/battery shed some 25m away. The last time we had a power cut was five years ago and that was due to a mouse, our system is by far more reliable than the grid 🙂

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The Trace SW4548e inverter that turns the 48v DC into 230v AC had tripped and was showing a red flashing LED that said ‘over current’, exactly as it did five years ago when a mouse chomped through a power cable in one of our stone sheds.

At that time our diesel/wind/battery system was only a few months old and I was distraught, each time I reset it the power would come back on. Then after anything between five minutes and fifteen hours it would trip again, this particular light indicates one of two things, too much load on the inverter or a short. Well it certainly wasn’t too much load so it must have been a short. I spent the next week isolating all the circuits in the house, barn, shed’s and chalet in an attempt to find it but to no avail.

Then quite by chance I was in the lovely old stone byre that housed my reserve Lister’s when the power went off and I simultaneously heard a ‘crack’ from within the dry stone wall. Investigation revealed a thick cable half eaten by mice, that was either one mouse with insulated teeth or there was a whole pile of dead ones in the wall 🙂 I repaired that particular cable with some armoured stuff and all has been fine, up until now 😦

Anyway, as usual these things only ever happen when I’m on my ‘week on’ so I reset it and hoped for the best, going back to bed and leaving a light on in the Dude’s bedroom so I could see if the power was still on. Of course every time I nodded off I woke up with a jolt thinking we’d had a power cut 😦

It was a long night and 5:50, the time at which my alarm was set arrived far too early but at least it was accompanied by electric lights 😦

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The day at work was wet, windy and on the whole miserable, interspersed with frequent calls from wifey who’d made several trips to the shed to re set the Trace.

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Once home, sometime after 19:00 I spent long enough searching unsuccessfully for rodent eaten or otherwise damaged cables to no avail and went to bed.

By the time I’d left Arnish at 6:30 this morning we’d had uninterrupted power for over fifteen hours  but that ended with a phone call from wifey at 10:00am 😦 Still she reset it and all was well, for a while at least.

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The morning was lovely enough to have customers out on deck, a far cry from yesterday that had seen us almost blown off the pier at Sconser.

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It didn’t really live up to expectations though and turned out to be quite breezy, occasionally wet and very cold.

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So I found myself a nice warm corner 🙂

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Far better than being stuck up on a roof like some of the roofers at Raasay House 🙂

I know it’s rubbish and I’ve not even mentioned the MV Janet Mackenzie but it’s just after 22:00 and I’m ready for bed so I’ll leave you with these 🙂

janet mackenzie

That hammer in the first picture was carved ‘Rona boat’, brother of Calum who lived in this very house 🙂 The boat, named after a lady on Rona who kept a light burning in her window to guide fishermen to shelter called into Loch Arnish many times. She was the relief boat for the Rona light and would call here to pick up Calum for his month long stint on the light.


Here she is on Sanda before her name change.

The first Rona light was provided by a widow named Janet Mackenzie to warn boats of the rocks at the entrance to Big Harbour, where she is said to have lost her husband and sons.  Janet MacKenzie was a noted benefactor to the small boats of Rona and elsewhere which sought shelter in the great anchorage, and as such she is remembered in the name of the 1930’s light­house boat.

The Northern Lighthouse Board’s records include a letter dated 28 October 1851 from Capt Henry Otter, of H.M .S. Comet, to Alan Stevenson, Engineer to the Commissioners, about this "philanthropic widow":

“Her cottage is on the beach and in such a position that a light in one of her windows when in sight clears all the rocks at the entrance of the harbour. For 10 years she has kept this light burning except in light summer nights, and in stormy weather when vessels are seen beating about, she puts up two…..many fishing boats owe their safety from the storm to the poor widow’s lights when beating up the sound of Raasay in long winter nights and, unable to contend against the terrific squalls that blow from the Skye shore, they anxiously watch for a glimpse of the narrow belt of light”

Captain Otter goes on to say that the "only assistance she has ever received was £20 some years ago from the Trinity Board", and he suggested that the Commissioners for Northern Lights give her an Argand Burner with reflector, and keep her in oil. Mr Stevenson advised rather to reward her "praiseworthy exertions" with financial aid. The Commissioners accordingly sent a further £20 to her, asking Captain Otter to convey the gift.
In 1853 the Commissioner’s Engineer David Stevenson prepared a list of 45 possible sites to complete a lighthouse system for the Scottish coasts. The board prioritised 8 sites, including Rona to light the north entrance to the sound between Skye and the mainland. It was lit on 10th November 1857, and commemorated its 150th anniversary in 2007.  Special commemorative Rona
local carriage stamps and first day covers depicting the lighthouse are available.

Thanks to Bill Cowie at for that

charlie's letter

and many thanks to Charlie MacLeod and Julie Allan for the above letter. someone got a bargain there at £6750

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