Life at the end of the road

October 31, 2013

We’re both in shock :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:53 pm

Nay posting this last couple of days, quite simply because I’ve been spending some time with the stranger that is my wife. Fourteen months of living out of bags has finally come to an end and on Wednesday morning I set off for work on Raasay for the first time since the middle of September 2012. Twenty two unbroken days of sleeping in my own bed followed by a commute down ‘Calum’s road’, I think we’re both in shock and keep waiting for the phone call that will once more drag me away, well I’m not going Smile

It was such a pleasure to get up on Wednesday morning, don my working clothes and tootle down the road in the ‘Old Girl’ to join the Hallaig. I wouldn’t have cared if I’d been joining a Chinese junk, it was just so good to be returning to some kind of normality.  The weather was fine the wind fresh and it wasn’t even too dark when I arrived at a very busy harbour. As well as the two Raasay ferries shuttling in and out there was much activity from Ferguson Transport’s ex tank landing craft ‘Harvest Anne,


who was on hire to the council.


The busy workhorse was running backwards and forwards constantly with tar lorries for the ‘youth hostel road’ which was getting some 600 tons of new road surface deposited on it.

The good ship Hallaig however was due to carry out anchor trails under the watchful eye of Lloyds and the captain had decided to conduct them just to the north of Sgeir Cnapach off Oscaig.



Choosing a patch of ground that I knew very well, too well in fact for it was here that I suffered a bend whilst clam diving some eighteen years or so ago. An incident that ended up in a helicopter ride, ten hour decompression on oxygen and a night under observation in hospital. It also gave me a new insight into my own mortality and changed forever the way I view life. Today however I’d bee keeping dry whilst the 750kg gave a few scallops a headache as the 499GRT Hallaig dragged its anchor over them in the 45knot wind. The day was in fact turning in to pure minger


luckily south wind is probably the best direction for Sconser, where we went to pick up the BBC. Of course as soon as the press were on board the day really ‘went to 5h1t’ and the total silence of a Hallaig propelled purely on batteries was lost in the force nine gusting ten southerly ‘severe gale’. The planned filming of her arriving on the Raasay slip abandoned in favour of returning to the berth and putting out four stern lines, two head lines and two springs . One of those parting like a gunshot and leaving me with sore hands, not to mention boots full of water. Still it was a great ‘shakedown’ for the new vessel and her crew.




Wi Fi too Smile

Today was probably less windy but colder and with less of the wet stuff, though some of it did fall very noisily as hail. Many of the yard workers departed, as did the ‘passage crew’ leaving us to do some cleaning up, paperwork and recover from an unexpected blackout. For at some point during the early hours both power and internet had gone off on Raasay. Well it had at parts connected to the national grid anyway Smile  we at the north end DO NOT suffer from power cuts, and if we do they’re for minutes only. Our internet is also faster and more reliable too now, the joys of ‘self sufficiency’ in energy Smile

Anyway it proved an interesting exercise in resetting the various trips and rebooting systems on our hi tech hybrid ship Smile 



Doesn’t she look lovely now with all her fresh paint and signage.



002 005 004

The latest addition to the CalMac fleet has also been having a WiFi network fitted on board  for the customers.


This chap was only supposed to be sorting out the software so turned up without a ladder, luckily I have one on the back of the Land rover Smile



Of course I carried out a ‘risk assessment’ first, obtained a ‘permit to work’ cordoned off the area, wore a safety harness and made the installer sign a disclaimer  Smile Well it was either that or send him away without fitting the stuff Smile



  1. Finally on the good ship Hallaig. Well done. So its a nine to five now like the rest of us eh, back at home for tea time, perhaps not quite but surely a lot better than the weeks away you have endured.

    Comment by Alistair — October 31, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

    • Morning Alistair, aye, normality at last, all we need to do now is get ‘on the route’ and start carrying passengers 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 1, 2013 @ 6:28 am

  2. “we at the north end DO NOT suffer from power cuts” … well you might soon be one of the few people in the UK with affordable electricity if the doom and gloom in the news recently is true

    Comment by cazinatutu — October 31, 2013 @ 10:07 pm

    • We have so much electricity at this time of year Caz that it’s hard to use it all 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 1, 2013 @ 6:29 am

  3. I wish I could just drive a Landy up to some of my customers and stand on the roof for installations. I’ve recently been given a caution for wearing hi-vis without a company logo on it!

    Great to see you’re returning to normality, looking forward to taking a trip on the new hybrid soon!

    Comment by Mark — October 31, 2013 @ 10:38 pm

    • Morning Mark, I’m expecting a ‘caution’ myself for being so irresponsible 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 1, 2013 @ 6:31 am

  4. Hmmmm something to be said for self sufficient electric supply.

    A colleague of mine really shocked me as to the price of energy. . Electric gas and heating oil is more than an inverter and battery system

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — October 31, 2013 @ 10:40 pm

    • Hmmmm something to be said for self sufficient electric supply.

      I wouldn’t take a grid connection if I was offered one Steve, standing charges, inexplicable tariffs, extortionate bills and power cuts that are only going to get worse as more and more people use heat pumps and the grid collapses through lack of investment. Sure, it probably is still more expensive (just) to be ‘off grid’ but the gap is closing all the time.

      There was a program on the TV recently about some folk with a croft up Glen Affric who wanted a grid connection, however when you saw the carp batteries, wind turbine, generator and inverter he was using it’s no wonder. The clown wouldn’t even buy solar panels cos they didn’t work at night 🙂 🙂 He lives in one of the wettest places in Britain with a river running by his front door yet had no hydro 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 1, 2013 @ 6:41 am

      • You’re right Paul, the cost of getting the grid here is £485.000.. how many systems could be installed for that

        Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — November 1, 2013 @ 7:55 am

  5. The Hallaig is a beauty!

    Comment by Susan — October 31, 2013 @ 11:25 pm

    • Morning and welcome Susan.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 1, 2013 @ 6:42 am

  6. i am thrilled to think of you back in arnish, with your wife and molly and all your wonderful tales of life at the end of the road. i’ve missed it — certainly not as much as you have. but certainly, just the same.

    Comment by jeannettesmyth — November 1, 2013 @ 3:03 am

    • Thanks Jeannette, I promise to keep you all better informed from now on 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 1, 2013 @ 6:43 am

  7. Hi Paul

    Great to see the new ferry in service. We are on our way up for a couple of days and hope to catch the 11.25. The 15 minute crossing won’t be long enough to explore ‘MV Hallaig’ 🙂

    Comment by Derek — November 1, 2013 @ 7:16 am

  8. Paul, your understanding of off grid power is pretty d4mn good, up to date, and practice based rather than theoretical. That combined with your blogging skills. Ever thought about an formal online instruction manual, ebook or something? (But don’t reduce the blog) Great to see you home again.

    Comment by englishjimJim — November 1, 2013 @ 10:52 am

  9. Hi Paul,
    Glad you’re back to “normal”… What about some of that black stuff for Callums Road

    Comment by chrisb — November 1, 2013 @ 10:23 pm

  10. If there is going to be road work, there might be a need for volunteers to mark the potholes with paint again. What color is the official color.

    Comment by Drgeo — November 2, 2013 @ 12:06 am

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