Life at the end of the road

June 30, 2012

Southerly wind Northerly swell :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:16 pm

It’s Friday evening now and there’s little chance of me finishing this but I’ll make a start anyway, last night saw me in bed at 21:00 and tonight I think it will be even earlier for we’re both shattered. Wifey through shifting furniture and looking after children and me from… well I’m not sure what exactly because I’ve not really done a great deal. A little painting today on what was supposed to be a poor day,

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a spell in the wheelhouse,

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and the usual routine checks in the engine room. However that’s it, I’m off to bed 🙂

A pretty grim Saturday almost behind me I’ll try and recall what happened during the rest of the week 🙂


I really think that we’ve been getting the best of the weather for months now. Even though the real west coast summer has finally arrived, that’ll be the damp humid miserable one that we’re all so fond of 🙂 Even though it seems to be here, we do, once again seem to be getting the best of it judging by the media. Torrential rain, railways closed, landslips and chaos for commuters, all that seems to have passed us by to the south and even the gloom that was forecast wasn’t half as bad as they said.

The second full day aboard the good ship Loch Striven began just as forecast however but that didn’t stop the ‘Beetleman’ hitching a lift south at 6:30am 😦

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You think I’m eccentric 🙂 how does charging about Glame in the mist and rain for twelve hours looking for beetles ‘grab you’ 🙂 After Forty years and 770 beetles he’s still at it despite publishing a book on the subject . Essential reading for anyone interested in Raasay coleopterans, it is I think now available in the alongside the wife’s ‘Arnish eggs’ 🙂



Leaving Mr Moore opposite Portree with his pitfalls and butterfly net I sped south

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to try and catch a glimpse of two sleek looking warships that had cleared Manish point fifteen minutes later. They must have been doing around 18knts for already they were slowing to negotiate the Raasay narrows.

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Pushing 40mph in the ‘Old Girl’ on the straights I caught the last one just before it disappeared round Rubh na Cloiche.

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A sleek modern craft with what looked like a low radar signature it showed up on the AIS ShipAIS  as the Royal Dutch Navy fast patrol vessel P841 Zeeland . Her slightly newer sister the Friesland having rounded the point before I arrived. I say newer but the Zeeland was only commissioned in October of last year and the Friesland in April of this

Offshore patrol vessel

approx. 3,750 tons full load

108.4 metres

16 metres

4.55 metres

2x MAN 12V28/33D diesel engines (5460KW each)

21.5 kts

5000 nm @ 15 kts

Boats and landing
craft carried:

  • 1 x Fast Rescue Boat (FRB)
  • 2x Fast Raiding Interception and Special Forces Craft (FRISC)

50 (+ additional space for 40)

Sensors and
processing systems:

Thales Sensor Integrated Mast,SeaMaster 400 air warning radar

SeaWatcher 100 active phased array surface detection and tracking radar. RNLN Combat system Guardion and Rohde & Schwarz / / EID‘s communication systems where on-board users have access to internal and/or external communication channels and integrated remote control of communications equipment.


Aircraft carried:
1 x NH90 helicopter[1]

Aviation facilities:
fully equipped hangar for one medium-sized helicopter

File:Holland class P 840 Holland (1).jpg


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Our day on the ferry was not too bad with ethereal mists creeping down the sound from Staffin to the north, the odd shower but nothing too severe. Wifey on the other hand reported constant pishing rain and mist at Arnish ten miles north until she left at 14:45 to catch the 15:30 ferry.

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Just as well for had she caught the earlier one it would have been rather noisy 🙂 An exuberant bunch from Portobello high school in Edinburgh making an enthusiastic exit from Raasay after a spell of activities at 

Another visitor to these parts that I’ve not seen before was this ex fishing boat with a distinctive Danish bow,

white horse

showing up on the AIS as the MV Orlik she is in fact the diving charter vessel White Horse and has been for quite a few years.

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One thing about this unpredictable weather it certainly provides atmospheric material, here’s the Aird at Braes, Ben Tianavaig and the Storr all looking like they’re on top of each other when they’re actually over ten miles apart 🙂


That was me home and then pretty much straight to bed, then straight back out of it at 5:50am to go to work at 6:30, or at least that’s what it felt like. This particular morning however it was just me and the ‘wee dug’, the Beetleman staying north but no amount of persuasion could prevent Molly coming.

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I really don’t why she bothers, she hates the ferry and only reluctantly lets you lift her on board, she then cowers for half an hour until we cast off and gets put in the Land Rover. At lunchtime she’ll get a wee walk or get dumped on Jessie Nicolson until I finish work at 19:15. All this instead of a day with wifey on the croft or in front of the fire. I dunno whether she’s extremely loyal or extremely dim 🙂

The arrival at our lovely pier was notable for the tension of the bow rope, the mooring line that faces the prevailing weather has been slack for weeks now if not months on account of all the north wind we’ve had of late. This change of direction not only bringing with it milder air but also more rain, though not half as much as everyone else got landed with. It was all around us, even at Arnish but I even managed a spot of painting.

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Pretty grim to the west and north but here on Raasay it was ‘just peachy’

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the only ‘landslips’ being man made ones 🙂 with not an oil skin or wellington in to be seen 🙂

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Another fresh sight was the tiny overfalls in the Raasay Narrows caused by the south wind meeting the flood, for long enough it’s been the ebb doing battle with the north wind as they push each other up and down the sound 🙂

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South the wind may have been but there was still no getting away from the northerly swell that had built up over weeks. Not obvious in this shot of the Golden Dawn punching north to Portree after a days fishing.

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A different story at our slipway however

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especially if you wanted to keep your feet dry 🙂

That was it really for Friday, our son finished school so we went to bed early and left him to shut the hens in 🙂


Well the less said about today the better for it has on the whole been pure miserable, typical July weather, wet, midge infested and cold 🙂 Not one single picture taken today, though I missed a cracker of a rare glimpse of sunshine on the ‘Golden cliff’ this morning. The Golden cliff being a sandstone cliff off Portree that faces east it catches the morning sun and the yellow stone turns gold, well it does if you have a good imagination 🙂 The normally quite day was alive with children and parents, two groups coming over from Skye for the day, probably 60 in all. Despite the weather they all seemed to be smiling and looked like they’d had a good day.


The monthly newsletter came out today full of lots of local interest and events.


   Raasay community news letter

electronic copies of which can be had from Joan or Lloyd our two development officers.

Here’s a small selection  

INVERARISH 1912 – 2012 (100 YEARS)

Friday the 13th July, 2012 has now been confirmed as the date on which the Community are to celebrate 100 years of Inverarish. A street party is to be held in the middle section of Inverarish Terrace from 3:00 to 5:00pm and it is hoped that as many people connected with Inverarish over the past century will come along and share photographs, stories, memories. Tables will be staged down the centre of the street and everyone is invited to bring and share some food. If on the day the weather is wet and wild, we shall decant into the Community Hall. A Photographer will be at the Street Party and photographs can be viewed the same evening at the Hall where orders can be taken.

Next briefing meeting for the street party is Thursday 5th July in Raasay Hall at 7:00pm.

There was news of ‘100 years of Inverarish’ and plans to celebrate with a street party

Another New Business Venture on Raasay

Barbara Camilli from Arnish has recently established herself as an official Egg Producer. Arnish Eggs is a means of supplying Raasay Stores with fresher, local eggs to replace the ones bought in from elsewhere. Barbara had decided to get hens for her own family croft and to supply themselves with fresh eggs, but after chatting to Caroline of Raasay Stores soon realised there was a market for supplying the local shop. Barbara continues….

.… “Anyone can sell eggs at the ‘farm gate’ but as I am selling to the shop I had to register with the Poultry Unit in Edinburgh. I am now officially an Egg Producer and Packing Station! Following an inspection by Malcolm Paris who is the Marketing Officer for this area, I can officially label the eggs as free range. That is what the codes are for on the labels. 1-UK-923-SCO is the production site code and UK-7-048 is the packing centre code.

The hens keenly supervised his visit!!

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I decided to get Calder Ranger hens which we’ve had before. They are a hybrid breed – otherwise known as ISA Browns which are very hardy and great layers, even throughout the winter season. Initially they were kept in an enclosed area, although a handful have been out free ranging since they arrived! Now that they’ve been here a couple of months and are really settled, the gate is left open. Although there are no real predators here, I close them in their houses at night. In the morning when they come out one or two at a time is the only time I can count them to see if they’re all there! as we have plenty space here a few extra wee chooks wouldn’t make much difference”.

Not only did Barbara thoroughly research what was required to set up her new venture, she kindly invited the local Primary school children to get involved and they designed the logos for the egg box labels. A competition was set, but the standard of their work was so high it was impossible to choose just one, so there are 12 different labels to collect!

Barbara would like to take this opportunity and say a Big THANKS to all at the school for their time and hard work. Also to Jane for her first ‘proper’ hen house, Sarah and Dave Bulmer from Skye Harvest for her second hen house and all the advice. Paul, Ross and Robert for all the help working on them, Donnie for the candling torch, Brian Wells (a Portree fisherman) for saving the lovely grit, Jessie for sharing her knowledge, all who have given egg boxes and who have bought eggs – especially Caroline! And a final thanks to Donald ‘the hen’ for supplying the chooks and doing all the sums.

An article by the ‘hen lady’ 🙂

and a calendar of events for the summer


Kids Treasure Hunt – Saturday, 30th June – time to be confirmed

Raasay Big Day Out! – Saturday, 7th July – 10am to 6pmFun for all! Taster sessions on all activities at Raasay Outdoor Centre. Try mountain biking, archery, kayaking, abseiling and much more. BBQ & Bouncy Castle.

Buy two get one free on selected activities throughout the summer

Kayaking session – Thursday, 19th July

Climbing & Abseiling – Thursday, 9th August


INVERARISH STREET PARTY – Friday, 13th July, 2012.

June 27, 2012

Pretty thick :-(

Filed under: boats, Croft house for sale, daily doings, Land Rover, pigs — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:56 pm

Well that’s it, summer’s here at last, the kids are about to break up and the weather has gone ‘bottoms up’ after almost two months of glorious sunshine 😦 In all honesty we were probably needing the rain, well not me personally but the poor souls in the outer isles that were having to buy in hay on account of their grass not growing. Me I was loving the fact that I’ve not cut the lawn in two weeks and have forgotten where my wellies and waterproofs are. That all ended round about when I went back to work after what can only be described as the best (and cheapest) holiday in years, three weeks and two days sunshine at Arnish, why would you go anywhere else 🙂

Of course half the stuff I’d planned didn’t get done and I never did get out fishing, but who cares, apart from not getting to Rockness and having two ‘live wires’ staying with us for two weeks it was perfect 🙂 The two extra days I had tagged on the end courtesy of my ‘back to back’ finishing it off nicely. Even the ‘pay back’ on Friday and Saturday wasn’t so bad as the weather was poor, but hey ho that’s it, normality is restored and I’m now back at work for a rest 🙂 To be honest I’m quite glad, the fright that I had on Sunday when my back went left me once more feeling very vulnerable, I really cannot live here with a duff back. At least not in our current house, I simply could not cut the wood haul the coal or oil or a hundred and one other things. The pigs would have to go and I’d be well and truly stuffed 😦

That was a real scare I had on Sunday and left me unable to sit down for any length of time let alone bend down and do any lifting. Consequently the visit to my parents on Monday was cancelled, as was all the ‘pig movements that we had planned, two weaners to Balmacara, two to Sconser on Monday and two more on Tuesday. They all got shelved, leaving us with six extra mouths to feed and a shortage of grub 😦

Monday, the day I’d set aside to visit my parents so me flat on my back, unable and unwilling to get out of bed until late in the morning. Actually that’s not true, I did get up and even attempt some of what I had planned before quickly realizing it was a bad idea, then I went back to bed. Wifey taking charge of the important stuff like feeding hens, pigs and getting the teenager off to school. Me I was just really crabbit, stormed off in a huff and never said goodbye to my boy 😦

DIY resin filled joints

Eventually, around 11:30 I did get up, riddled with guilt from my bad mood of earlier and pi553d off at not being able to do anything. We had folk coming to look at the house tomorrow and I’d an open trench across the drive with some serious looking cables in it 😦 So sitting on a stool and getting wifey, the beetleman and her parents to help I started to joint the cable. It’s only 48v so not dangerous and the cable is only so thick because of the distance form the wind turbine and the 40amps that it has to carry in a gale, however it does need to be watertight and buried so I jointed it thus. A crimped ring terminal on each end fastened with a stainless steel nut and bolt then covered with ‘self amalgamating tape’. A nylon ‘cross piece’ that I’d found in the remains of an old jointing kit for 185mm square cable being inserted to keep the cables apart.


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A 90mm diameter of MDPE pipe was then cut to cover the bare area, a hole bored in it and then split with a jig saw so it could be slid over the cable, though had I not been so keen to keep the turbine connected I could have just slid it over the end.

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The ends of the joint were sealed with ‘Densotape’ and then the 50mm hole in the top built up with plasticine so the resin would come above the level of the pipe. A small hole was drilled at each end of the pipe to exclude air and then the resin mixed up.

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OK, it’s six years past its best before date, that just means you have to mix it harder and it goes off a little slower, bear in mind that this stuff is made for 33,000v joints so it’ll be just peachy on a 48v joint 🙂 The well mixed resin is then poured into the large hole until it comes out of the two wee holes at the end.


Once that had set I got my team to bury it then went to park my Land Rover over the cable and in front of some rubbish to hide it from Tuesday’s visitors.

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Well that’ll teach me for being ‘disingenuous’, for with my bad back and being unable to turn my head properly I reversed into a tree :-(  The rear window got smashed and the back door dented, serve me right 🙂

Calling it a day, before I did any more damage I went to bed early and blogless 🙂 Tuesday being yet another bonny day had me up earlier and gingerly feeding and worming the pigs.

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Four over ripe bananas being hacked apart to hide the 15g of ‘Flubenol’ required for each sow, a little molasses added to bind it all together 🙂

The rest of the day was spent quite leisurely and when our guests left  I got on with fixing the ‘Old Girl’,


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cleaning out the broken glass with a hoover, chisel and Stanley knife.

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Double luckily I had an old one on the croft, I say doubly because not only had I not thrown it out, smashed it or buried it but the window had at some time been replaced making it easy to remove. Normally these kind of ‘direct glazed’ windows require removing with piano wire if you do not want to break them, however I managed to cut it out easily with a sharp knife.

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The window sorted I turned my attention to a coat of paint on the new generator shed up at the house site before heading down the road to let my ‘back to back’ away.


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The first job before heading for work was a trip up to the water tanks to see what the ‘state of play’ was after almost two months of drought. I’d not checked since Sunday due to my back and someone leaving the bathroom tap running for three hours on Monday morning had made me fear the worst. However all was peachy with still over a thousand litres stored and the level rising. Water has always been an issue here at this time of year and it’s taken me the best part of twenty years to sort it properly, happily long gone are the times when we had to cut down on bathing, washing and flushing the loo in June 🙂

Once back on the good ship Loch Striven for the first full day it was straight into ‘defibrillator training’

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as all of our vessels will now have them on board. I’m not sure who’s providing them but the Scottish Ambulance Service provided  the excellent course. I have, along with many on Raasay already done one but that was in the village hall, doing the same thing on the ferry in service was a much more realistic affair. It makes more sense to deliver training in a cramped and moving saloon with a ‘Voith unit’ drowning out the instructions from the machine than in a silent and still hall with perfect conditions.

After that the day gradually deteriorated into a murk that seems peculiar to Skye and the western isles, a kind of muggy, mild and damp gloom infested with the dreaded midge 😦

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Though not before our namesake the ‘SD Raasay’ steamed by heading northwards through the Raasay Narrows. A mooring and anchor handling vessel built for SERCO and their billion plus pound contract to provided services formally delivered by the RMAS she is not the prettiest of ships. In fact she’s pretty ugly but certainly a very capable tool with her large deck and two big cranes Pity she had to be built in Holland and Poland to ‘save’ money 😦

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And speaking of the ‘Scottish Ambulance Service’ they were over today to attend a casualty that had to be airlifted from the east side of Raasay with a suspected broken ankle.

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Though by the time they left you could hardly see Glamaig or even Raasay for that matter 😦

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Talk about ‘Scotch mist’ 🙂

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