Life at the end of the road

April 23, 2013

Back at the helm

Filed under: boats, daily doings, shed/house — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 5:09 am

Another ‘April showery’ day passes into memory here as I rock gently in my cabin on an irregular sailing from Tarbert to Lochmaddy. Irregular because it’s Monday and not Sunday, the Sabbath being the only day that the ‘Heb’ actually sails the full ‘Uig triangle’ under normal circumstances. Unfortunately there was a ‘technical problem’ today and the mornings departure from Tarbert at 7:30 was delayed until 11:00 or so whilst the heroes in the engine room replaced a cylinder head. Pretty good going that, for it would take me that long to change one on the Land Rover and that’s about a tenth of the size and does not require a block and tackle to lift it.

Of course none of this I discovered until after I’d left the house at 7:00am so it left me with time to kill before driving to Uig.



A full three hours in fact, so after admiring the new Sconser waiting room dressed in its Irish stone I headed for Portree to pay some bills and check out the harbour. Being a pretty poor day there were few boats at sea and I had chance to catch up with a few old acquaintances, most of them being, like myself ‘ex fishermen’ which tells you something about the state of the industry.


The first thing that caught my eye was this newish landing craft belonging to The Scottish Salmon Company which was in fact built by Kishorn Mechanical services recently at their workshop on the old Howard Doris site. Not quite the ‘Ninian Central’ but it’s good to see seaworthy craft being fabricated there whatever the size. An ex compatriot of mine and former clam diver was its skipper and spoke highly of it, and he should know because he’s been operating this type of craft since ‘Adam was a lad’ Smile



The locally built prawn creeler Serene BRD 75, once a regular at Sconser was just coming alongside ahead of the local trawlers Dunan Star BRD 123 and Iris II BRD 19.



The rest of the fleet lay at their moorings out in the bay, the calm inside the harbour giving no clue as to just how scabby it actually was out in the sound, but then it is not called ‘the king of ports’ for nothing.



Not actually realising it until I downloaded the picture, but there, out by the ‘Black Rock’ on a blue mooring lies the old landing craft Magnus built some twenty or so years ago for Kenmore Salmon. I ‘cut my teeth’ on this solid old tank of a boat in the early nineties making many a six hour trip to Loch Torridon and back in her. I ran her aground on a rock in Kenmore bay and had to wait some six or more hours for her to float off, very embarrassing Sad smile  Another time the gearbox failed near Kyleakin and I had to be rescued by the Madalia, a fishing boat from Kyle, again very embarrassing, she was a pig to steer, noisy as hell and only did six knots but we all loved her. I can’t remember the name of the yard that built her, someone from Wick I think but she’s outlasted many similar craft by decades not years.


There she is just behind Kevin and Pam’s Spindrift IV



who I also managed to pass the time of day with Smile

When I finally joined my boat I did a spell at the helm, notching up a couple more hours towards my ‘steering ticket’, the Minch being pretty quite apart from a couple of warships and the Norwegian ‘anchor handler’ that steamed ahead of us into Tarbert.






The ‘boys are back in town’ Smile

Other news via email comes from darling wife at Arnish with some pictures of a roof under construction Smile

22 apr 13 003


22 apr 13 001

Also a couple of crackers from Ron Henderson the assistant harbour master in Portree of the Hebridean Princess alongside Raasay pier last week.



A shame that she pokes out so much at the stern



but they couldn’t make the pier any longer for fear of ruining the view from Raasay house. I wonder if any of the guests wandered up there and spent some money Smile



Not the Hebridean Princess, but a lovely painting of her sister the Hebrides that I spotted at Uig today in the office.



  1. Seeing pictures of the Fish farm landing craft reminded me of The Fionn KLD’s boat which like you I used when I was working at KLD (and Kishorn Shellfish) 90-93. She was a pig of a boat under powered to say the least, cramped you would be lucky to get 3 in the wheelhouse. But she did her job taking out feed to the salmon cages, harvesting fish and of course for harvesting the mussels from the six mussel rafts we had.

    I wonder what became of her? probably tied up somewhere. or worse.

    Thanks for reminding me of the old days beats a wet tuesday morning in Manchester.

    Comment by Alistair — April 23, 2013 @ 7:52 am

  2. So nice to see each step of your new home.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — April 23, 2013 @ 11:28 am

  3. Hey, that’s Willie Fulton’s picture of the old Heb! I’ve just been looking at it on Facebook – great picture…and what a lovely fella Willie is too!

    It’ll be good to get a roof on the new house! Give the swimming pool time ti drain without top ups!

    Good Luck!


    Comment by fingalextravaganza — April 23, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

    • Hi Mark, Willie must have copied it from that photo in the lounge for she has the same length of rope hanging over the port side aft 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 24, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

  4. What the hell is a an anker handler? Was around boats for quiet few years building them etc, but never came across that before.



    Comment by Yorkshire Miner — April 24, 2013 @ 5:22 am

    • It’s what it says on the tin..mostly to do with handling anchors for big ships, rigs etc, also can tow

      Comment by SOTW — April 24, 2013 @ 8:36 am

      • It’s what it says on the tin..mostly to do with handling anchors for big ships, rigs etc, also can tow

        Couldn’t have put it better myself She 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 24, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

    • Dunno what and anker handler is Dave but anchor handlers are very popular around oil rigs, that clear and profiled stern with no obstructions being a dead giveaway as to their purpose.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 24, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  5. From memory the “Maggie” was built at James Maccaugheys in Wick, 1989 I think. See you later.

    Comment by The (ex)Purser — April 24, 2013 @ 7:07 am

    • Yes Mr (ex) P, you’re absolutely right about the yard at least, it was on the tip of my tongue, the very first steel boat they ever built I believe, and what a fine job they made of her too.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 24, 2013 @ 9:17 pm

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