Life at the end of the road

October 1, 2013

A successful deployment :-)

A busy old day this first day in October, starting with a heavy lift and finishing with a deployment of one of our four 100 man life rafts . The first job after our arrival aboard the MV Hallaig was to assist with an emergency lift of the aft ramp. It’s something that we are well practiced in with the Loch Striven but it had to proved to the attending MCA inspector and the procedure is slightly different. The Hallaig ramps inner and outer leaves have separate hydraulic rams that have to be lifted in two stages, they’re also a little heavier, but surprisingly not by much. The emergency lifting gear is pretty much the same and consists of two lovely 10ton Yale chain blocks plus a smaller half ton block for lifting them into position on the two ‘Samson posts’ that support the stowed outer leaf.




The first section is lifted into the vertical position then bolted to the inner leaf whilst the tackles are lowered and their purchase transferred.

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It is a long and strenuous job that takes a good two hours of heaving with a crew of four, however with a dozen strong men comprising of two crews and some yard workers we had it housed in 1 hour 45 minutes.




After lunch the operation of the four 100man life rafts was explained to us by Cedric, a French technician from Survitech Zodiac prior to our deploying one of them. An invaluable exercise as most people seldom get to use one of these huge rafts for real as training is normally given on smaller versions and with video footage. The casing has to replaced after every deployment and that alone is about £2k so this very realistic exercise of abandoning the ship via the upper deck and chute exciting indeed.

The life raft is released remotely from the wheelhouse by the skipper, it rolls into the sea then is winched into position by two members of the crew.



Once it is within a few feet of it’s position by the embarkation gate it automatically inflates.

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The life raft is then pulled in hard to the ships side and the normal route would be to step straight into it from the car deck.



There is however an alternative entry from the next deck should access to the gate be impossible, and that would be via an inflatable chute on the port mez deck. Sadly being on the ‘muster list’ as one of the rescue boat operators I missed out on that treat but was assured it was great fun Smile


You can tell by all the smiling faces Smile



I was pretty impressed with the rescue boat too, its 40hp four stroke Yamaha engine with electric start and power trim and tilt giving it plenty of power and manoeuvrability for marshalling the deployed rafts and towing them to safety. 



With the life raft successfully launched, all the passengers and crew saved it was left to Cedric and the two chaps from Ocean Safety pack it away.



with a little help from the yards crane that is Smile





That was it for today at the yard, I commuted back to my mates flat stopping along the way to buy some fresh scallops from Morrison’s. OK, perhaps not that fresh as they were only £1.35 but they had bright enough roes and no smell so I couldn’t wait to get them home and into the frying pan with some butter. Having spent a good deal of my adult life on and under the water farming and diving for them I’ve eaten rather a lot and can usually tell if they’re going to be good. I wasn’t anticipating anything cordon bleu as they will have been dredged rather than picked but I was still expecting a mouth watering treat. So much so that I skipped the garlic and chopped up bacon to just savour them. They were absolutely tasteless Sad smile great firm texture nice solid roes but no taste whatsoever, I was gutted.

And just before I turn in here’s a ship that passed by during our ramp lift,


the MV Nordstrand belonging to Faversham Ships .



  1. Great shots and thanks for posting this explanation of the liferafts.

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — October 2, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

    • Glad you liked it Nigel, it was great fun 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 3, 2013 @ 5:57 am

  2. That’s a peach of a liferaft paul, looks like you all had some fun.

    Comment by jimmy mcmillan — October 2, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

    • Aye Jimmy, it would make a fine swimming pool 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 3, 2013 @ 5:57 am

  3. Paul, for a vessel of that size, you seem to have rather a large capacity for rescuing people. Is Hallaig much bigger than the good ship Loch Striven, then?

    Comment by Lloyd — October 2, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

    • Far bigger Lloyd, but she actually carries less passengers than the Striven can.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 3, 2013 @ 5:56 am

  4. Hello Paul…we met a few years back when I was on Raasay rsearching “Calum’s Road”. My radio telling of the inspirational story goes out on BBC Radio 4 this Saturday (5th October) at 2.30pm. It’ll have an audience of about one million people. Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars etc) plays Calum.

    Hope you can catch it. And I hope you like it. best wishes, Colin

    Comment by Colin MacDonald — October 3, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

    • Excellent play Colin really enjoyed it and had a tear in my eye, can’t wait for the movie 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 5, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

      • Thanks for listening Paul and for your kind words. Thought you’d like Terry in your house!

        Comment by Colin MacDonald — October 6, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  5. Hi Paul, 2 more new ferries are expected to arrive on the clyde tomorrow, the new Westerns, ETA about midday

    Comment by Jup — October 3, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

    • Hello and welcome Jup,

      just been to see them at James Watt dock, very nice 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 5, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

  6. Paul not sure you’ll get this, but do share with me what’s linked to your Harry to get him started automatically !!?? I have a long run hr2 set like yours, with a very sad old ATS changeover box I can’t fix.. So if you get five please let me know what’s connected to yours from the fuel solenoid/ starter up?? Were off grid too and I have my slab been laid next week. I cant cope with my 2kw petrol honda… Cause the suns gone in and the winds stopped!!Thanks. Marty .sorry if you get two messages

    Comment by marty lauri — October 5, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

    • Hi Marty,

      mine is connected directly to a Trace SW4548e inverter which contains all the relays required to start the generator, all you need to do is add one solenoid to the fuel rack. around page 76, however this is ‘old technology’ and Trace/Xantrex are no longer supported in the UK, which is why I suggested the DSE type generator start module. Sorry I can’t be more specific but mine came without the ‘mains failure’ cabinet so I just wired it up to my inverter, I’m no electrician 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 5, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

  7. Ahh, much appreciated, mine came with a rather large (walk inside large) cabinet too, pretty much the lot, long fuel tank, oil sump, charger unit (the charger unit is about the size of a modern ATS alone 🙂 … Any road it should have been idiot proof, all simply disconnected transported here and reconnected with the aid of the schematics, alas it seems one simple ‘smr’ wire has me stumped.. Alas I shall look up what you’re using, sorry where did you mention the DSE thingy,? Thanks

    Comment by marty lauri — October 6, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    • It’s still ongoing work Marty, the batteries will go on that heavy shelf at the back, the inverters for wind, solar and hydro on the right and the Sunny Islands on the right.


      Sadly Marty I’m no electrician however the Trace inverter is pretty idiot proof and contains all the required relays and all the parameters are adjustable.

      Good luck, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  8. Oh durr I think it just dawned on deep sea engineering!! Oddly I saw one of these two days ago Think it was a DSE 5220 attached to some Lister petter t model thing. Then all I need is the rather small accompanying control box, I thought. Oh how technology has moved on in 30 years :-). I’m determined to rewire the old ATS then put the 21 century version on the same wall :-). Curiously how big is Harry’s shed , I’ve shuttered a 4000mm by 2500mm space, but I’m thinking it might need some serious sound proofing 🙂 well I’ll start with a solid block wall, and see how we get on

    Comment by marty lauri — October 6, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    • Hi Marty,

      Harry’s new purpose built shed is 12 x 8 on the outside made with 6″ framing so 11 x 7 inside.







      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2013 @ 5:02 pm

  9. Well you’ve certainly set the benchmark and helping to keep me focused :-). Yesterday I rolled my Big Engine That Howls..’Beth’ to you and me :-). On to her new slab, more importantly today I managed to fire her up (several times obviously) off the button :-). 🙂 just need to stabilise her AC output 200-280 !! And then I’ll get the mixer on ..happy days.. Photos to follow..

    Comment by marty lauri — October 11, 2013 @ 8:24 pm

    • Morning Marty, can’t wait for the photos but don’t forget the video too 🙂 I’m off to do a little more work on Harry today, good luck with the AVR or whatever it is.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 12, 2013 @ 7:26 am

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