Life at the end of the road

April 25, 2013

It’s on the list :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:52 pm

Another mainly fine day on the Minch with plenty of showers but few of them landing on the ship.


This was the exit from Lochmaddy during the late afternoon but just about sums up the day, a few hundred yards making all the difference between being dry or needing oilskins.


A shower chasing us across from the Sound of Harris that just couldn’t match our speed.


Unusually I never slept very well last night but the reason for that will have to remain a secret until I write the book, this will be the one that everyone keeps asking me to write. Having already had a request from a well known publishing house and a friend in the trade then I suppose I should, but it will most certainly have to wait until I retire and ‘put my feet up’ Smile

Anyway, it was a beautiful start to the day with a cup of tea and all of deck 6 to myself, I do love the vast expanse of this open deck and the fact that the public aren’t allowed up here.



I wasn’t the only one ‘up with the larks’ Loch Duart  salmon’s two landing craft Lady Heather and the much larger Lady Catherine were getting ready for action at just after 7:00.


The pile of fish bins on the car park indicating that some harvesting was afoot.


Not so busy on the car front today but a good smattering of commercials with cargoes of all descriptions, bitumen in an insulated tanker. Unlike Highland Regional Council the Western Isles Council actually maintain their roads. There was the usual trailer load of scrap vehicles, something that would have been unheard of ten years ago. The high price of scrap has seen everything of metal stolen from electric cables to brass memorials, but one good thing is, it’s clearing of the resident rusting heaps off the crofts, something that has blighted the islands for decades.



The strangest load of the day award going to FJ 56 KCU, Barclay of Inverness’s Volvo towing an empty water tanker to North Uist and bringing another empty one back.



Out at sea there was the Cygnus ‘Cyfish’ prawn creeler Lauren Karine, with half of her transom cutaway  on the starboard side she’s obviously rigged for single handed operation.


1 025

Just around the corner was one of the Ronja ‘well boats’,



the Pioneer at a guess.


Well to the north steaming down the east side of Lewis was this heavily laden bulk carrier,  no idea of her name though.

During the late afternoon, once everything had dried out and the ship was sailing in the right direction I got on with some painting, it is after all ‘on my list’.


The ‘list’ in my ‘training record book’ that is, this is the book that contains all the essential tasks I must complete before being ‘qualified’ Smile Obviously painting on the Heb must be different to that on the Striven Smile


Hardly what I’d describe as a ‘task’ though, it may have not been very warm and a touch draughty but the views were spectacular and I really enjoy a spot of painting on deck Smile



  Also crossing the Minch just astern of us on the last sailing to Uig was that fine landing craft the Lady Catherine, like her smaller sister, built at Noble’s in Girvan. A yard that have built a fine reputation over the years for building and repairing wooden boats but now seem to specialize in these sturdy workboats for fish farms. They don’t seem to have a website but here’s a list of the many boats they’ve built over the years . Lady Catherine was cruising along at I guess about 12 knots with her deck full of the freshly harvested salmon heading for these two Volvo’s sat on Uig pier.



The one on the left SY 54 AZW belonging to Ross Sutherland of Dingwall and a regular visitor to Raasay during the harbour construction.


Sure enough, just as we were departing Uig, Lady Catherine arrived with 50 tubs of fish on her deck.


She wasn’t the only one, as this aluminium catamaran, Shelagh Jane came in ahead of her, a different approach to the same kind of boat. Built by Alnmaritech from Blyth in Northumberland she comes from the same stable as the workboat we had on Scalpay.

Just for DrG

That was it really, we did the last run back to Harris, tied up for the night and I went out for a walk just to take some pictures for my mate in Texas Smile



Though he’s probably sick of boat pictures Smile



So here it is, Tarbert, its car park and yet another picture of a boat Sad smile



Rock beautiful rock Smile


Now this place really does belong in a frontier town,


I bet it’s full of really useful stuff like, methylated spirit, Stockholm tar, Tilley lamp spares, proper galvanized nails, caustic soda and real creosote. There’s even a pair of hand sheep clippers in the window and you can probably still buy stuff in pounds and ounces Smile This is my kind of shop, when I first moved to Raasay you could still get that sort of stuff in the ‘Finlay’s’ Smile



  1. Keep it coming Paul, still great to read.

    Comment by Lloyd — April 25, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

  2. We still have a store like that here everything crammed into a big shed…proper alladins shed..

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — April 25, 2013 @ 9:34 pm

    • Wonder if that shed will ever be a ‘listed shed’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2013 @ 9:56 am

      • could be listing before it gets listed 🙂

        Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — April 26, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  3. Hot diggity! Pictures of Tarbert, or at least a half mile of it. Thank you. I wonder if they sell galvanized wash tubs in that store? I read that the best way to soften Harris Tweed is to soak it in urine, so most country folks had a tub by the back door where a year’s worth would soak. Saved a walk down the path to the tiny house as well!
    The books I read were old, describing life in the 1920-40’s. Finlay J. Macdonald wrote 3 books about growing up on Harris: Crowdie and Cream, Crotal and White, and Corncrake and the Lysander. He recounted how folks in his tiny hamlet survived by catching fish and spinning tweed, and what a shock it was when he had to travel afar to visit the big town of Tarbert and attend the lone high school there. Not many structures in your photos look like they existed in the 1940’s…maybe the store. It is extremely helpful to see what the place looks like!

    And now I’m reading the first in a trilogy by Peter May– except these are novels– detective stories set on Harris and Lewis. The first is called The Blackhouse, but I keep forgetting I own it because it is an electronic version. “When a grisly murder occurs on the Isle of Lewis that has the hallmarks of a killing he’s investigating on the mainland, Edinburgh detective and native islander Fin Macleod is dispatched to see if the two deaths are connected.” I realize, Paul , that they only give you a half hour to explore, so you likely don’t have time to solve mysteries and fight crime while also taking photos. Thanks again!

    Comment by drgeo — April 25, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

    • Morning DrG,

      Wifey is well into Peter May’s books, if only I had the time to read 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2013 @ 9:53 am

  4. I’d love to shop in that store.

    Comment by Marjorie Stintzi — April 25, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

  5. If we have to wait until you ‘put your feet up’ until we get the book that’ll be never then – you may eventually retire but you’re never going to find the time to put your feet up, you’ll always be too busy!


    Comment by Anne Macdonald — April 25, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

    • Morning Anne, well perhaps ‘finish the day job’ and not ‘put my feet up’ then 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2013 @ 6:33 am

  6. i love the finlay j. macdonald trilogy, it explained the clearances and the repopulation of new crofts by WW1 vets like his dad in detail. the galvanized tub full of his father’s tweed and the family, uh, blended is well described as is his father’s work and its distribution. the best stuff i’ve read about scotland except this. these pix are breathtaking and finlay didn’t have any. nor did he go to sea or under it. we await your scribblins.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — April 26, 2013 @ 1:51 am

  7. Think the big Bulker in the Minch was SG Express bound for the Suez Canal from Rotterdam.

    Comment by John MacDonald — April 26, 2013 @ 10:19 am

  8. The Tarbert stores have got a new sign since I was there in 2005 – then it had a sign in the window that said ‘Open except when closed’ !!!!

    Comment by Frances — April 26, 2013 @ 10:26 am

    • Less than eight years since that sign went up !!!!! the weather certainly takes it’s toll in Tarbert Frances.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 26, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  9. A great read. Hope I don’t have too long to read the book. Could you not manage a chapter a week when you are back to your normal wekk-on;week-off routine on the Hallaig?

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — April 26, 2013 @ 11:17 am

  10. Paul, Jeannette’s post above inspired me to google any other listed buildings in Tarbert.

    The West Loch Pier is listed–“probably late 18th/first half 19th century. Pier, approached from east by long stretch of roadway carried on retaining wall at shoreline. All rubble-built, including pier decking.”

    Free Presbyterian Church is near your dock. “Mid 19th century in appearance. Box-type church with small-paned flat-lintelled bipartite to both 2-bay flanks, entrance in
    north gable, Gothic window above with intersecting tracery, apex belfry also. Gothic. Modern dry-dash, painted ashlar detail; slate roof, with single modern rooflight on each flank.
    Small enclosure to front with square gatepiers, all modern in appearance.”

    Tarbert Primary School and Schoolhouse seems to be on the opposite side of town from your dock. “Probably c.1880. School and schoolhouse set side by side and in similar style to one another, with round-arched openings; school with plainer addition of early 20th century, modern wings at rear. Rubble-built, squared dressings, slate roofs.SCHOOLHOUSE: single storey and attic, round-arched openings, 2 bays with wide gabled bay to left (ground floor bipartite), doorway to right, gabled dormer over. 2-leaf boarded door with 3-pane semi-circular fanlight; glazing throughout sashes with small, near-square panes, astragals removed from dormer. End stacks.
    SCHOOL: originally, front near symmetrical, stepped 3-light window in wide centre gable projecting from body of school, gables recessed on either side (with bipartite left, single window to right); on body of building, to left, a modern slapping; to right, a link with early 20th century range, the latter having 3-bay L-plan front with flat-lintelled windows, concrete dressings, modern porch in re-entrant angle. Roof ventilators; stacks over original building. Modern glazing throughout, in traditional style.”

    Interestingly, the source is “Historic Scotland” which reports it has no photos. Perhaps you might gain a photo credit during your next visit? Although there might not be time to traverse town, it sure would be great to see photos of the inside of the store and church!

    Comment by drgeo — April 26, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

  11. Are you going back to Striven once you get your 3rd, or is it straight to Hallaig for familiarisation and trials?

    Comment by alastair — April 26, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

    • Morning Alastair, think my days on the Striven are over, have been since last September 😦 A spell on the Hallaig is due prior to her coming to Raasay but I dunno when or how long.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — April 30, 2013 @ 6:09 am

      • “crowdsourcing” means you get to tell us what to look up for you on the interwebs. You “outsource” your internet research by telling us to do it for you. It might cut down on your internet units, if only we were reliable!

        Comment by drgeo — May 13, 2013 @ 11:39 pm

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