Life at the end of the road

October 5, 2013

Busy blog :-)

Filed under: boats, Croft house for sale, daily doings, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:12 pm

Well Raasay is certainly getting some press these days, between our new ferry, Raasay House, Sconser ferry terminal and now an excellent play on Radio 4 by Colin Macdonald. Aired at 14:30 today and loosely based on Roger Hutchinson’s book of the same name . Some of the names have been changed, there’s a little ‘artistic licence’ and Terry from the council moves into my house with his wife Katy and their two children but I loved it Smile Sneaking out from work for an hour at 14:30 to sit in the car park at Ferguson’s shipbuilders on the Clyde and hoping nobody would see me crying Smile The play wasn’t particularly sad but I’m 200 miles from home and like Calum I hate being away from Arnish. Twenty four years I’ve lived there and all I want to do is get back there to my wife, child and ‘wee dug’ Sad smile 


  Calums road cast


Colin is a prolific writer for TV and Radio and you’ll have seen or heard much of his output even I have and I don’t watch the TV. Ian MacDiarmid has been around since ‘Adam was a lad’, has featured in 47 films and has probably been in more ‘Star wars’ films than anybody else.

It’ll be available on in a few hours and is well worth a listen. OK, it’s factually inaccurate in a few places but think nonetheless of it for that, indeed some references are actually portrayed in a better light than reality. However Colin has captured the spirit of the story and the actors have put it across in a way that makes it poignant and ultimately true to life. Arnish has once more new blood, children and industry thanks to one mans determination in the face of the overwhelming odds stacked against him.

Meanwhile on the Hallaig

It’s been a while since I was on here I know, in fact I’ve hardly switched my laptop on this last few days, preferring to retire early and listen to audio tapes and CD’s. Sure, my good mate does have a TV but I’m not certain how to switch it on and seldom watch the ‘one eyed monster’ anyway. The fact of the matter is that I’ve spent the vast majority of the last year away from home and I’m getting severely ‘pi55ed off’ with it. Still, it’s all drawing to a close now as the ‘good ship’ Hallaig nears completion and should be heading to Raasay within the week.

Me, well I’ve been down here at Ferguson’s with the rest of the crew doing drills familiarizing ourselves with with myriad of electronic systems and generally getting to know our ‘cutting edge’ vessel.


Not that it’s all ‘cutting edge’, some of the jobs have been the same for 100 years,


like removing the inspection covers from the various oil storage tanks to check and clean them prior to filling with oil.

This will be the inside of one of the 400lt tanks that carry spare oil for the ‘Voith Schneider’ drive units.


With all the engine, hydraulic and drive storage tanks checked and their covers replaced we filled them up.



A conventional pneumatic pump being the ‘weapon of choice’ it’s rhythmic beat starting off at about 70bpm in the ‘drum and bass’ genre and finishing off at full 4/4 techno and 140bpm Smile I think the yard workers thought we’d been smoking something as we stamped our feet to the tempo of Mobil HSP 32 Smile 




Filling oil tanks may not be very ‘high tech’ but this lot certainly is, the propulsion cabinets in the drive spaces with their ‘climate controlled’ cabinets and mixture of high voltage AC and DC circuits which are water cooled!!!!!


Twenty years old but still going strong the ‘type 23’ frigate HMS Northumberland headed up the Clyde on Friday, or was it Thursday, anyway it was pretty driech whenever it was.


Laid down in 1989 and launched in 1992 she’s the ninth to bear that name.

More new ferries on the Clyde

There was a good deal of activity on the Clyde on Friday and it wasn’t until I got back to my mates flat in Gourock that I ‘clocked’ why the Clyde Clipper was flying all those flags.


She had in fact been chartered to go and meet Western Ferries  two ‘new builds’ the MV Sound of Seil and MV Sound of Soay  who had just made the journey north from Cammell Laird in Birkenhead .


Not sure if ‘Clyde Marine’s’ tug Bruiser had anything to do with it but she was out too.


Here’s the ‘Sound of Soay’



and ‘Sound of Seil’ at James Watt dock this morning.

And now it’s time for bed Smile



  1. How do you do emergency steering with a voith drive?

    Comment by Thinfourth — October 5, 2013 @ 8:35 pm

    • How do you do emergency steering with a voith drive? With great difficulty 🙂

      There’s a gyro repeater in each prop space and you can operate the unit manually, in practice though you just steer with the second unit from the bridge. As both units are completely separate it’s unlikely they’d both fail at once.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2013 @ 6:40 am

  2. The Hallaig looks so ship shape, I pity the first person to track in mud!

    Comment by Drgeo — October 5, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

  3. I enjoyed the radio play, Paul … I was scratching my head a bit about Terry, the man from the council, because I’d never heard him mentioned before and he doesn’t figure in the book, so I was relieved when you mentioned “artistic licence” … as a matter of curiosity, who did you buy your croft from

    Comment by cazinatutu — October 5, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

  4. PS … it’s a relief to hear the Hallaig will soon he heading “home” which will presumably mean you can stop your traipsing about the world

    Comment by cazinatutu — October 5, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

  5. HMS northumbria. …… Oooops Northumberland was in the Tyne recently. . Missed getting a look around our good ship. .
    I can just imagine you lot stomping the feet to the drum and bass rythem. … could almost see you with the white gloves and glow sticks … 😀

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — October 6, 2013 @ 1:57 am

  6. Ah, Paul – I listened to the Calum’s Road play too and was weepy at the bad and the good parts. Felt very privileged to know all the places and to have walked and driven the road so many times. I did wonder whether ‘Terry’ and his wife had moved into your croft….


    Comment by Sue — October 6, 2013 @ 8:52 am

  7. Paul,
    Excellent news that you & the Hallaig will soon be heading ‘home’. Will the ‘Old Girl’ get to be one of the first vehicles to use her from The Clyde back to Raasay?
    I can sympathise with you being away from home for a long period of time. I look forward to crofting updates when ‘normal service’ resumes soon.


    Comment by Arthur T Bomber Harris — October 6, 2013 @ 9:47 am

  8. Enjoyed the Radio4 play Calum’s Road and looking at some of the pics a truly staggering project! Especially when most of it was done by just one or two men with picks,shovels and a wheelbarrow!

    Comment by confidential rick — October 6, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  9. Thank you for listening Paul, and thank you for your kind words. I appreciate them hugely. I am so glad you heard it, and I thought you’d like the fact that Terry moves into your house!

    Comment by Colin MacDonald — October 6, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

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