Life at the end of the road

January 6, 2013

News from an old tug :-)

Filed under: daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:29 pm

Not been a terrific success on the achievement front today, had the neighbours around for a bit of a ceilidh last night and they’re nocturnal Smile Me, I’m ‘a morning person’ so only lasted until 1:30, darling wife stuck it out until 2:30. My son reliably informs me that they finally went home around 4:00am !!!! So this morning I was not my usual ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’ self Smile Taking more than a little comfort in the fact that the swineherd was feeling even worse, still it is the New Year and I’m back at work tomorrow. To be honest I’ll be glad of the rest and the warmth of the MV Finlaggan’s engine room will make a pleasant change from the ‘powerwashing’ that we’ve been getting of late.

What I have to do now is go on a serious diet for the first time in my life, I’ve only got one pair of trousers that I can actually fasten right now, luckily my mum brought me back a leather belt from Italy Smile I’m just not used to all this ‘inactivity’ and if I’m perfectly honest, the jobs I have been doing have left me feeling shattered. Week on, week off seems to suite my metabolism, these long periods of inactivity followed by the odd manic spell on the croft is giving me a figure like a champion darts player and leaving me wrecked whilst at home.

The tug Kingston Lacy

If I’d have made a real effort yesterday I could have got something ‘down on paper’ so to speak, but I got distracted by a 50 year old tug Smile A tug that played no small part in the construction of our beautiful harbour. A tug that was as much a part of daily life on Raasay for two years as the good ship Loch Striven.


 086 093

Built in 1960 by PK Harris of Appledore in Devon, now who built both the MV Clansman and MV Courisk. She was built for Shoreham port authority as the Kingston Buci and served with them for 24 years before being sold to Poole Harbour Commissioners and being renamed the Kingston lacy.


250909 022 (Large)

I dunno where she went after that but during her time on Raasay she was operated by Hapless sorry Atlas Marine who have gone bust more times than I’ve had hot dinners Smile Anyway the 76 ton 70’ long tug and her even older companion Hermes pushed, pulled and shoved just about anything and everything for Balfour Beatty during the construction of the new ferry terminal.



Here she is alongside the 1956 ex Swedish navy tug Hermes with her distinctive ‘ice breaker’ bow.

Anyway the fine old tug left these shores almost three years ago and has been undergoing a complete refit, first a dry docking in Arbroath in March 2010  where she had some welding done and a new propeller.



She then continued onto the Mersey for final fitting out to start work for her new owners Rea Towing.


Which takes me to yesterday and my distraction by an email from her new owner.



She’s had a full survey  is almost ready for work and I look forward to hearing from Peter on her continuing fortunes, 53, that’s nearly as old as me Smile

Back to the croft

OK, I know that was probably a little dull for none ‘boaty’ peeps but I can’t help but be impressed by this sturdy little workhorse and am full of admiration for anyone willing to put time, money and effort into keeping her ‘alive and working’. Many many years ago I spent a night onboard a similar but larger tug,


Carron Highlander

the 1960 ‘Carron Highlander’ at the  Howard Doris yard in Kishorn. She seemed old then and that was 1986 Smile Photograph courtesy of ‘Watson Class’ , though I have to admit I never actually asked him Smile The picture says that it was taken in 2012 but Highland Marine, the owners went bust about 20 years ago so that’s obviously a mistake. Another gem on Watson’s photo stream is this one of the MV Isle of Tiree,


isle of tiree

a converted fishing boat I think she once belonged to the Cunningham’s of Scalpay but I knew her in her role as a vessel for delivering fish feed to Arnish. In fact in that photograph you can clearly see three one ton stacks of fish feed covered in green tarps, who knows they could actually have been destined for Loch Arnish Smile

Saturday actually started off very mild, fresh and really dry so I wasted no time and got on with building up a stock of bedding for the pigs.



This will be pictures taken on phone and not camera so apologies if they’re not great as I’m just ‘feeling my way’ but it’s far easier than lugging the Panasonic about Smile


XC weather was giving rain after midday but it was late in arriving and we got most of the field cut and stored away in the barn.


011 013

Surer enough, after that the heavens opened and I spent the rest of the day spreading out rocks on my road before sending the Dude back to the quarry, well it is a half hour drive Smile


Well, it was certainly no 6:30 arising today, not a chance, in fact I awoke to find that I’d gone to bed with all my clothes on Sad smile The only pair of trousers that actually fit me were now looking a little worse for wear, luckily I’m not very fashion conscious Smile So, eventually, around 9:00am I got up, changed and went out,



congratulating myself on looking slightly better than the moulting hen Smile


As the day was pretty miserable (a bit like me) I thought that I’d give the barn another coat of PVA and water, just check out the Pepsi bottle on the right, it was actually the same size as the one on the left before I filled it with hot water !!!



Anyway we managed to get another coat on the floor just before wifey rushed off to be sick Smile OK, not actually sick but pretty green about the gills, don’t you just wish you had neighbours like ours Smile

006 009

After that it was the pishing rain and a few more dumper loads with the Dude as helper, finishing with a good soaking in the dark, feeding the pigs and then trying to get myself sorted for work tomorrow.

HOW MANY 6’ 10” people work for CalMac

Or more to the point how many 6’10” people are there on the planet???? It’s that time of year again when I order my new uniform and PPE (personal protective equipment) and I’m once more stunned by the bewildering array of sizes on the order form. Now me I’m mister average, 5’8”, 38” chest, 32” waist (normally Sad smile ) 32” inside leg, blah, blah, blah. Now I know from ten years experience that I need a small ‘hi viz’ vest yet XL tee shirt, I need a large jacket yet medium oilskins but the peach has to be the overalls. To get an overall that I can actually move in I need 44” and even at that the sleeves are so tight that I can’t roll them up to wash my hands. Now I get 44 regular because there is no option for short so my my wife has to take about 4” off the leg and I’m not particularly small.


Is there anybody that is actually this shape ???? I’m now wearing a pair that darling wife has turned up and the distance between the collar and the top of my head is 9”, add another 2” on for my rigger boots and these so called ‘regular’ overalls are designed for a person who is 6’10” tall !!!!! I just dread to think how long a tall person is Smile And before you ask, yes I’ve washed them beforehand to try and shrink them so heaven knows how long they were before.




  1. Paul, on the subject of tugs, you may be interested in the WC Daldy, here in Auckland. Steam powered, built in 1935 in Renfrew, and still going.

    Comment by Bob — January 6, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

    • The tug has her original two ‘Scotch’ coal fired boilers. Each boiler is 13ft 6in diameter and 11ft 6in long and has 3 furnaces. Thus, the firemen have six fires to tend and if the tug is working hard the boilers will have an appetite over a ton an hour. On a good day, there will be 4 stokers on board, two down and two up, swapping over every 30 minutes. The coal is in bunkers on each side of the vessel, alongside the boilers (up to 50 tons each side). If the bunkers are full, the coal finds its way into the stokehole without effort. If the bunkers are empty, then someone has to go into the bunker and shovel the coal into the door first, a process known as trimming. It is dirty dusty work and these days just part of the fireman’s job. There is also an aft bunker which can accomodate a further 80 tons of coal for long voyages.

      That is an impressive story Bob thanks.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 6, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

  2. There was a sailor once named Popeye, who had trouble getting shirts to fit over his forearms– especially when he ate spinach. That’s not likely the same trouble you have finding trousers to fit.

    Comment by drgeo — January 7, 2013 @ 12:39 am

    • NopeDrG, spinach is definitely not my problem 🙂 It’s more the lack of it, abundance of grub coupled with too much drink and not enough excersize 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2013 @ 8:32 pm

  3. I think the term is one size fits nobody. Somebody must have put the thing on the ground, as pictured and said “close enough.”!! Re the diet, I found one that worked, 10 kilos in 5 months and not too difficult.
    There’s a newspaper article on
    everybody’s different but it works for me, you can eat as much spinach as you like. Good luck.

    Comment by Jim Hewlett — January 7, 2013 @ 10:42 am

    • Cheers Jim, but I can feel the pounds rolling off already 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

  4. Hi Paul,
    Watched an old film on BBC Alba (yes, can get it on freeview down here in the sowf) last night, it looked to me as though it was filmed in Applecross, could see Raasay & Skye in the background, well it was about a fictitious village in the middle of nowhere (sorry mean the Highlands) who wanted a decent road to their community (saw footage of what looked to me like the Bealach na Mna – is that the right spelling? – before it was tarred) so in protest they stopped paying their road tax, delegation of politicians sent from London, in the end they got their road improved. Probably based on a true story? Well maybe the inhabitants of Raasay could stop paying their road tax until you get the roads repaired!

    Comment by francesp — January 7, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    • Been tried ..rates not paid in protest..council took them to court…council convener on bench…!

      Comment by SOTW — January 7, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  5. Saw that film on BBC Alba last night too, made in 1952 and starred a host of Scottish actors from Fulton MacKay to Rikki Fulton. And a very young Prunella Scales. It may well have been filmed at Applecross, but It might have been the shorefront at Arisaig? Very well made and though in B&W, well worth a watch.

    Comment by Carolyn — January 7, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

    • Carolyn, Very well made and though in B&W, well worth a watch I’m disappointed in you, some of my favourite films are in B&W and my favourite ones are in a foreign language 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

  6. Hi Paul

    Kingston Buci (aka Kingston by Sea) is an area of Shoreham about an hour down the road from me in Silly Sussex, (I was brought up even closer than that, in Brighton), so it’s nice to see an old Sussex neighbour, albeit some way from home! Thanks for the pictures

    Every good wish


    Comment by Cogidubnus — January 7, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

    • Glad you enjoyed it Dave 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

  7. the end of the isle of tiree…

    Comment by v8mboin — January 7, 2013 @ 8:31 pm

    • Nice link V8 🙂 yes a very sad end indeed 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 8, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

  8. Looking at the picture of Kingston Lacy in dry dock That must be Mackays Boatyard in Arbroath? I love going past and having a look to see what is getting a refit done … and all the ‘bits’ of boats stacked up in the yard … then their border collie tries to see me off!

    Comment by nonehpets — January 9, 2013 @ 10:25 am

    • Morning Nonehpets,

      then their border collie tries to see me off! 🙂 ‘meaner than a junkyard (shipyard) dog’ hey 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 12, 2013 @ 8:49 am

  9. […] 2. My granddad was Tugmaster of ‘Kingston Buci,  at Shoreham Harbour during the 1960s and 70s. I was just idly Googling this week and came up with details of what she’s been up to since she was moved on and renamed. […]

    Pingback by Five blogs, links and websites that I’ve enjoyed – Week 3 | kimberleycooperblog — July 26, 2015 @ 8:28 pm

  10. My dad was an engineer on the Kingston Buci back in the day and could well have served with above posters grandad.

    Comment by Sue Brown — January 22, 2017 @ 8:07 pm

    • Small world hey Sue 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — January 22, 2017 @ 10:22 pm

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