Life at the end of the road

April 18, 2013

A little sanity :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:15 pm

Wednesday 17th April

Probably my first ever ordinary working day aboard the MV Hebrides has just come to an end, I’m showered, dressed (in normal trousers) and have just eaten a scrumptious dinner of haddock goujons and chips. Not only that but I had sweet too, a delicious sponge cake topped with chocolate and served with ice cream, yum yum. Probably not what I should be eating prior to a medical tomorrow, especially as I gave myself a fright the other day when I checked my blood pressure and found it ‘through the roof’ with my heart doing 87 BPM Sad smile Methinks (or at least hopes) that the monitor was dickey, for I’ve never ever had remotely high blood pressure and years of diving has left me with the ability to slow my metabolism down to save air. If it turns out that my blood pressure is above normal it must be South Shields that’s done it to me, five weeks of eating carp, drinking Weston’s cider and precious little exercise must have taken its toll Sad smile 

Actually, come to think of it, a couple of weeks on here probably hasn’t helped either, lots of good food and not half as many steps as on the Finlaggan Smile Then of course there’s the stress of learning new skills at 56, I’ve tied up scores if not hundreds of boats, but even the 200 ton MV Loch Striven is like rowing boat compared to the 5500 tons of ‘Heb’. The gale force winds of late has meant tricky berthing, with extra ropes and terrific strains put upon them. The skill and co ordination between the bridge fore deck and aft under these conditions is tremendous with little room for error and I am seriously impressed.

Sure, I’m no stranger to the sea but this ‘big boat stuff’ is a whole different ‘ball game’, and, when I’m not ‘shaking in my boots’ at the thought of a rope parting I’m quite enjoying it Smile The hiccups of the last few days, the breakdown of the MV Isle of Lewis and ourselves, all seem far away and life seems to have returned to normal.



A little more traffic in the Minch, probably an indication of worse weather to the west,


this lightly laden container ship called the ‘Green Reefer’ steadily ploughing through the humps and troughs with her ‘bulbous bow’

A bulbous bow is a protruding bulb at the bow (or front) of a ship just below the waterline. The bulb modifies the way the water flows around the hull, reducing drag and thus increasing speed, range, fuel efficiency, and stability. Large ships with bulbous bows generally have a twelve to fifteen percent better fuel efficiency than similar vessels without them.[1] A bulbous bow also increases the buoyancy of the forward part and hence reduces the pitching of the ship to some small degree.

Bulbous bows have been found to be most effective when used in vessels that meet the following conditions:

  • the waterline length is longer than about 15 metres (49 ft)
  • the vessel will operate most of the time at or near its maximum speed [2]

Thus large vessels that cross large bodies of water near their best speed will benefit from a bulbous bow. This would include naval vessels, cargo ships, passenger ships, tankers and supertankers. All of these ships tend to be large and usually operate within a small range of speeds close to their top speed.[3] Bulbous bows are less beneficial in smaller craft and may actually be detrimental to their performance and economy. Thus, they are rarely used on recreational craft like powerboats, sailing vessels, tug boats, fishing trawlers and yachts.




A clam dredger just off the Ascrib islands.


Judging by the satellite dome and wide square stern a survey ship of some description.



As slow as a week in jail

Well it’s Thursday now, I just had to give up last night due to an abysmal internet connection at Lochmaddy, that was, as my good lady says “ as slow as a week in jail “. Tonight however it is sunny Harris that will be our berth until tomorrow, so I’m pretty well assured of a good 3g signal for my dongle. Another hour or so to go right enough as we’re just 30 minutes out of Uig, which was anything but sunny, positively miserable in fact and not good weather for house building Sad smile

The morning started off quiet enough in Lochmaddy with the crew pulling the ship ahead on the mooring ropes toward the linkspan.


003  004

Well, they did tell me to just watch and take photographs Smile

This is usual practice and done without the use of the ships engines, indeed they may well not have been started at this point, as all the fine adjustments along the pier are done by the capstans and winches. Once underway and after the demolition of a bacon sandwich I went to the bridge to start my first session on the helm, so that’ll explain the wiggly wake Smile Quite a bit different than the two ‘agricultural’ steering wheels of the Loch Striven I’ll say. In fact it’s a darned sight easier to keep the Hebrides in a straight line than the old Striven, though I have to say I’m a little disappointed with the ‘wheel’, or should I say lack of it.

 A Ship Steering Wheel

It is absolutely nothing like that one above, in fact it bares more resemblance to a tuning knob on a radio than a ships helm, still it seemed to work just fine and I did manage to get us across the Minch safely. Hardly a major achievement really, but I did feel pretty pleased with myself before handing over to the quartermaster when we got to the tricky bit. That will be the hard bits of Skye that must be avoided at all costs, well the hard bits of anything come to think of it Smile 


By 9:00 when we arrived at Uig it was blowing a full gale from the west, not a good combination of direction and location. Uig is much exposed to both the north and west but the masters skill and the crews coordination soon had us berthed alongside, albeit with eight ropes singing like violin strings but safely attached to Scotland.

Another trip over the Minch, a little spell on the helm, Irish stew,


back to Skye and then,  for me at least, a trip to Portree for a medical, whereupon I discovered I’m getting shorter and heavier Sad smile Not a good combination, a full 1.5” and half a stone, still ‘fit for purpose’ and relatively healthy but something I’m going to have to work on. It’s gonna be hard though with ‘happy meals’ like this though, my lunch was almost smiling at me.




Returning back to Uig just as the rather large and serious prawn creel boat Cesca, SY4 was arriving,



and the ‘Brewer’ was leaving Smile









That was it really, South Harris, its rock and heather looked lovely, the boat got tied up and I retired to my cabin, job done Smile

On the ‘home front’

Raasay news has been a little thin on the ground of late, me not being home that much and all but I believe that shares in the local community shop are going well.




We’ve not actually bought ours yet but they’re on the shopping list for next ‘pay day’ and I’m much encouraged by news from one of my compatriots on the MV Hebrides. He informs me that their community shop on Scalpay and several others on the Outer Isles are thriving, even against competition from much larger supermarkets than our Co Op’s on Skye.


Also Raasay House is at last open and will be celebrating with a dance on Friday May 3rd

We have welcomed our very first guests, served our first coffees, poured our first pints and remade our first beds to do it all over again! …BUT…we have not had our first dance!

Our ‘Return to Raasay House’ celebrations begin on Friday the 3rd of May with Music, Activities and a lot of Good Craic.


Make sure you are there to help us usher in this Fabulous New Era at Raasay House.

Best Wishes from the Raasay House Team x


  1. Glad to read the buyout is going well and even better that the Raasay house is opened once more. Hopefully it will plow money back into the local community and keep much needed jobs on the island:)

    Comment by jay mitchell — April 18, 2013 @ 9:46 pm

  2. Have you seen much military traffic?
    massive exercise over lewis just now

    Comment by Roy cleary — April 18, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

    • Hi Roy,

      seen plenty of marine military traffic but never really close enough to photograph apart from the German auxiliary the other day.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 20, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

      • There was a Navy exercise off the coast of Arran yesterday. I was on the hills on Arran, and it was funny seeing the Caledonian Isles ferry being mobbed by a bunch of naval destroyers as she slowly sailed into Brodick. I nearly missed the boat home because I spent so much time on top of Goatfell watching the free show!

        Comment by Simon — April 20, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

  3. You are getting shorter?

    “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach, and hear the mermaids singing each to each …”

    T S Eliot

    Comment by drgeo — April 19, 2013 @ 1:40 am

    • We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

      T. S. Eliot

      My personal TS favourite 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 20, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  4. That survey boat, Paul, I’d say you were spot on. Looks like a Seismic Survey boat, mostly used for oil exploration. If it was working it’d be doing 5kts and have piles of cables hanging off the back. So I think it was just in transit somewhere. Pity we couldn’t read the name though, might have been one I’d worked on.

    There’s a furore going on here in NZ about one of those, the Voyager Explorer I think. Something to do with scaring the dolphins or something. Hope it’s not true, we like dolphins.

    Comment by Bob — April 19, 2013 @ 6:26 am

  5. I think you should get that smiley Irish Stew turned into a smiley emoticon for your blog … and get the chef to do you a grumpy face stew, a sad face stew. etc. His talents clearly deserve global acclaim though your blog. As always some fabulous photographs of your travels.

    Comment by nonehpets — April 19, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    • Hi Nonephets,

      glad you’re still enjoying the blog and pictures, gives me a little encouragement 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 20, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

  6. Hi Paul how can us blog readers go about investing in Raasay shop , I may not be able to afford an offer on your house (yet) , but I’ll have my own little bit of Raasay

    Comment by mike — April 20, 2013 @ 2:12 am

    • Good morning Mike,

      just contact Joan or Lloyd on 01478 660 358.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 20, 2013 @ 6:03 am

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