Life at the end of the road

September 5, 2013

Batteries are included :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:10 pm

I had fully intended to spend an hour or two on here last night raving about how good our new ferry is after day two of this weeks ‘sea trials’. However it was well after 20:00 when I got in, and I was actually in bed before 21:00 after yet another long day, not that I’m complaining, it was a pleasure. In fact many people would pay good money to cruise down the Clyde on what was in effect a beautiful summers day, despite it being officially autumn.

The endurance test

There were many things ‘pencilled in’ for Wednesday’s trial, alarms to be tested, systems checked and of course the six hour so called endurance trial where the machinery is run ‘flat out’. All of this to be done under the watchful eye of Lloyds surveyors, the builders, the customers representatives, the system designers, the electrical contractors and of course the future operators Smile That’ll be us, or at least my employer.


Lloyd's Register Group    


Wednesday’s 8:30am planned departure didn’t actually happen due to a ‘technical issue’ but Raj and Alexander the guys from were soon ‘on the case’ and had it sorted.

002  003

Not that the ‘issue’ would have prevented us sailing, just that they wanted to identify just what had caused the problem in the first place. As with everything these days it’s sorted with a laptop and not a screwdriver or can of WD40 so I was a little out of my depth. However, having lived with and used a similar system in my house for eight years I’ve a good understanding of the functionality of the whole system. This whole hybrid thing gets much mockery from engineers in the main and ‘petrol heads’ in particular but I can assure you it works a treat and our power supply to is more reliable than the national grid.

That sorted we set off south ‘doon the water’



past the Garvel Embankment and Great harbour.


According to my knowledgeable guide Raymond, the embankment, and thus the ‘Great harbour’ were created by the spoil from the construction of the James Watt dock .


Judging by those two large silencers, that red brick and concrete structure covered in earth and that huge steel tank I’d be thinking there were at one time some serious generators on the embankment Smile At one time it would have provided shelter for the ships bringing sugar to Greenock, the other major industry in these parts beside shipbuilding. Now it is the berth for the odd Serco or Briggs ship and not the likes of the MV Captayannis that would fill the nearby warehouses with sugar.



The Greek owned ‘sugar boat’ capsized in a gale, when a tanker collided with her after dragging her anchor in January 1974 . Now, some forty years on with her owners having gone ‘bottoms up’ and no one wanting to accept liability she rests on her side in the Clyde covered in bird shit Smile Probably not strictly ‘PC’ but I think she looks great, remember, todays rubbish is tomorrows archaeological heritage Smile 



A little further south we came across the ‘Archer class’ patrol vessel HMS Biter a strange inshore patrol kind of vessel that has a high speed planing  hull design but they never quite sorted out the machinery. The hull is designed for speeds of 45knts yet few of them are capable of 20!!!


Another vessel that crossed our path, or should I say wake was Argyll Ferries catamaran Ali Cat on her way to Dunoon.



The tanker Bro Anton also ‘crossed our path’ so to speak and we steamed all the way down to, and around the island of Great Cumbrae


with its strange laval rock formation nicknamed the crouching lion .



It was quite fresh so far down the Clyde and Clydeport’s pilot boat sped northwards as we continued with our trial.

Once the six hours on the diesel generators was over we switched to a very silent ‘battery mode’ yet still managed to maintain 9knts,



and what an eerie sensation that was. The MV Hallaig is quiet at the best of times, even with three generators and all her fans running she’s quiet, but in ‘battery mode’ she’s silent, a pure joy. With the LiFePOP4 battery bank capable of delivering 20% of all her power requirements for a full 12 hour day they should be able to comfortably provide propulsion and ‘hotel’ loads for all of Sunday. I really am impressed with this vessel, we are looking at ‘cruise ship’ type levels of noise and vibration on a 40m long car ferry that will deliver significant savings in fuel and emissions Smile



Heading back north we encountered both the MV Argyle and Bute as they plied between Wemyss bay and Rothesay on Bute.



Though that picture was taken on Tuesday Smile


After yesterday’s excitement and early night it was ‘more of the same’ on Thursday



but with an earlier start


as we slipped the fitting out berth at Ferguson’s just after 9:00am


once more with barely a sound.


Today it was more about configuring the power management system and testing systems in manual mode with both ‘servers’ switched off, or at least ‘off line’. True to form, and beyond anyone’s expectations the Hallaig performed faultlessly, and not only that, we got back alongside for 16:30 Smile



  1. finished with servers does not have the same ring as finished with engines!!! hows the house coming on?

    Comment by v8mbov — September 5, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

    • Hi V8,
      finished with servers does not have the same ring as finished with engines!

      🙂 the house has just been ‘rebooted’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 6, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

  2. Is it battery mode or stealth mode? 🙂

    Comment by Gareth — September 5, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

  3. I well remember the storm that left the sugar ship on her side, Paul. I lived. In Rhu at the time and, what’s more, sugar was very scarce and was rationed in the shops! We used to use the ship as part of the racing course for sailing round once a year – the ’round the sugar ship’ race! I suppose it’s history now. Anne Macdonald

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — September 5, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

    • That’s a lovely memory, Anne. History it is but good history. History is far better as a collection of people’s memories than dry political analysis.


      Comment by Sue — September 6, 2013 @ 7:50 am

    • Thanks for that Anne, I remember seeing pictures of her shortly afterwards when the white was the paint and not the seagull pooh 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 6, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

  4. Paul, when I first glanced at the photo I thought it was a beached whale

    Comment by cazinatutu — September 6, 2013 @ 10:01 am

  5. Hi Paul, I know you’re busy, and your blog is a great read as normal, but I chanced upon this article today, which no doubt you have read, but thought my fellow Raasay “fans” would enjoy… It’s amazing how life was in Arnish in 1883.

    Comment by Doug Miller — September 6, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    • Fantastic link Doug, thanks, to think that all happened in the Torran schoolhouse 130 years ago, I wonder who ‘the man with three crofts’ was??

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 6, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

      • Oddly enough, I had googled “bridge to Raasay” to see if any sort of bridge from Skye to Raasay had ever been considered!! And I hit upon John Gillies on Fladda talking about a footbridge to let the children go to school. Amazing what you find on the Net!

        Comment by Doug Miller — September 6, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

  6. All that money spent on fancy control-gear in the bridge and they haven’t put a cup-holder in 🙂

    Comment by Phil Cook — September 6, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

    • There are two cup holders, one sink and a chart table 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — September 6, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

  7. So according to your photos, the skipper will always wear a white jump suit and all other hands will wear red jump suits?

    Comment by George Leddick — September 6, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

  8. Had to hook the car up to a laptop the other day for fault code reading.
    The result: Never in the history of British swearing has so much been directed at a car part so small,yet so expensive and so necessary to pass the forthcoming MOT.

    Comment by Andy — September 6, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

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