Life at the end of the road

December 30, 2013

Filling up :-)

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry, weather — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:05 pm

Well it’s been a pure peach of a day by recent standards, not that I’ve seen much of it, for I’ve been ‘stuck in the office’ all day!!! And believe me, I never, ever in my whole life thought I’d utter those words as I dislike paperwork more than Rupert Murdoch, soup spoons, sprouts and Donald Trump rolled into one. The thought of being confined to a desk on a nice day after two weeks of wind and rain is enough to make me feel sick.


OK, it’s quite a nice wee office and the view from the ‘escape window’ changes by the minute but it’s still a friggin desk and computer, and it doesn’t come naturally Sad smile Sadly it’s the world we live in and filling in the right piece of paper these days is more important than actually  doing the job. Me, I was born ten years too late, 1946 would have had me just missing WWII, enjoying the ‘swinging sixties’ and diving on loads of untouched shipwrecks. I would now be retired like my ex workmate ‘Lucky Jim’ and laughing at all these fools that have to fill in a risk assessment to blow their nose and have a certificate to operate a microwave oven. In short I am a dinosaur and proud of it Smile 

Anyway, enough of that, it’s the penultimate day of 2013 and I finish work tomorrow for two whole weeks, yes indeed we’re going ‘two weeks on two weeks off’ and I can’t wait. OK, I’ll have to work for two whole weeks, but apart from the paperwork I actually really enjoy my job and a fortnight at work will enable me to get on with some serious projects. Not only that but a full two weeks off will leave me much more scope for getting wrecked at summer festivals Smile Well it will once I finally get my house built, pay off all my debts and send my son to college or university Sad smile On second thoughts I don’t think I’m ever going to have enough money to do anything like that ever again. Of course when ‘I write the book’ I’ll make a fortune but I’ll not be able to that until I retire for fear of losing my job, driving licence, firearm certificate, disclosure, and possibly wife Smile

You’ve got to laugh

It wasn’t all paperwork, I managed to fix Henry too, that’ll be Henry the hoover


who’d seized up with that expensive smell of smoke associated with ‘Lucas prince of darkness’.


Now these Numatic vacuum cleaners are normally the Rolls Royce, dogs danglies or just plain best hoover on the planet. Trust me on this one, a Numatic hoover will suck up anything from hydraulic oil, to soot and even raw sewage and it will do it year in year out, I know cos I’ve done all three plus bilge water engine oil and even gear oil. They are in short indestructible, until now Sad smile


Me suspects that ours has at some point been dropped in the sea, however, after cleaning it all out, removing the brushes and freeing them off Henry recovered nicely.



Look, half a dozen potholes worth of tarmac, you gotta laugh, that’ll be well over £100 on the ferry for a 7m pickup with 1 ton of tar when for double that they could send 12m truck with 15 ton of tar Smile

The day was getting busier and busier on the traffic front as it progressed, with locals going out to ‘stock up’ and visitors arriving by the car load.


The 16:15 ferry carried 15 cars and a trailer but what really made me laugh was car number 13 complaining about our new ferry. Car number thirteen would have complained a lot more had he been left behind if a Loch Class ferry had come over at 16:00 and only taken away 10 or 12 cars Smile Smile 


Just look at that, three lanes of traffic, enough room to easily get out of your car and you can hold a conversation on deck, even if it is to moan Smile This is a really good ship.

It’s looking like it’s going to be a really ‘kicking’ New Year here, Raasay House is full, there’s a band playing and a whole heap of crew on Hallaig. I reckon this Hogmanay will be like they used to be twenty years ago, pure epic and lasting for days Smile

The best calendar ever

After getting most of my paperwork done and tying up for the night I headed home past a festively illuminated Raasay House



that was finally getting into the ‘swing’ of things only 19 days shy of the fifth anniversary of the great fire and the thirteenth of our wedding anniversary.





Once home I got tore straight into a rum and coke and the best calendar I have ever, ever seen, forget the legendary ‘Pirelli calendar’ it’s not a patch on the Kinlochshiel Shinty club effort, and I’m not gay. This offering is a pure work of art,



seriously, it’s brilliant, better than all the calendars that I’ve ever seen.


Shot in black and white, sponsored by local businesses and featuring one or two people I recognize it is pure genius,



just look at that stonework


and that Cat, ‘no hill too steep’ Smile priceless. OK, not actually priceless but only £10 from

Dornie Store, Glenelg Shop, Buth Bheag, Kyle Pharmacy  and Inverinate Filling Station

All I can say is, well done chaps, that must have taken an ‘awful lot of bottle’ Smile

December 29, 2013

Settling in

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry, weather — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:21 pm

At last, it feels like some kind of normality is being restored, the weather seems to be calming down, the days stretching ever so slightly and our new ship settling in nicely. I think we’d all be hard pushed to go back to a ‘Loch Class’ now, especially the folk who ‘would’ have been left behind on Saturday.  A whole bunch of cars and vans turned up at 12:15 along with the bin lorry, two or three of them at least would have been stuck on Raasay until 14:30 had they been journeying on the Loch Striven or Loch Linnhe.

Saturday was the first ‘long’ day I’ve done on the Hallaig and she managed it in ‘hybrid mode’ for the whole day, I was well impressed. The normal working day is pretty much 12 hours from ‘start up’ to ‘shut down’ but Saturday’s late ‘requested’ sailing can push that up to a 15 hour day. All the poor weather of late seems to have put folk off requesting the late sailing, at least on my shift, so yesterday was a real ‘eye-opener’ especially as at least three of the sailings were in the dark.

The ships ‘power management system’ acquires data over the course of the week and then depletes the batteries accordingly. The idea being to drain them over the course of the day evenly and share the load with the ‘in service’ generator. The great advantage of this over a regular ‘diesel electric’ PMS is that demand for extra power is supplied instantly by the battery bank rather than having to wait for another generator to ‘come online’. it’s called ‘peak shaving’ and provides great savings in fuel plus wear and tear on the generators. The PMS in ‘diesel only’ mode is excellent but generators are inevitably brought ‘on line’ early and switched off late due to warming up, cooling down and safety considerations. The ‘static generator’ of the Hallaig’s 740kwh of LiFePo4 batteries is instantaneous, free of harmonic distortion and can be shut down instantly.

Of course it comes at a price, the batteries aren’t cheap, don’t last forever and the technology (in ships at least) is pretty ‘cutting edge’, so there have been one or two glitches. However, they’ve been either resolved or are being resolved by the excellent technicians at

and TecSource 

who designed, built and provided such excellent back up for our new ship.

The only PITA as far as I can see is that it takes a good deal longer to start up and shutdown than the old ‘Loch Class’ so I’ve less time for blogging Smile


Normally I’d be leaving home in daylight at this time of year on a Sunday, I’d even feed the pigs before I left for work, but not now, no today I was away for just after 8:00, almost two hours prior to sailing. The old ‘Loch class’ could be ‘fired up’ in a fraction of the time and I didn’t have to put up with ‘ Sunday Worship’ on Radio 4, no I could usually leave it until ‘A Point of View’ or even ‘BH’ before heading south.



Still, by the time I got there and had her ‘flashed up’ it was a bonny old day



and the ‘Golden Dawn’ from Portree was making the most of it too.


It’s a while since we’ve had a day like this on Raasay and our day on ‘batteries only’ seemed to fit right in with the peace and quiet that has been missing of late.


Funny how a lovely day can suddenly wipe away the strain of a fortnight or more of continuous gales and rain Smile




A decent day had the washing gear out to power wash  away the salt and made the weekly boat drill


a far more pleasurable experience than of late.





The Penfold rock buoy in the Raasay narrows, a favourite clam diving spot of mine, or should I say a favourite spot of my skippers, for Willie Eyre would dump me in here, usually with an ebbing tide. He had a theory that the clam dredgers would ‘spill’ their dredges here as they turned, and like most of Willie’s ‘theories’ there was something in them Smile


Apart from all that, and the traditional ‘big breakfast’ I got on with routine stuff like topping up the ‘Aquamist’ water tank and filling up the fresh water tanks.



Actually, that’s a lie, the rest of the crew filled the fresh water tank, I just cancelled the alarm and told them to stop when it was full. Much to my amusement the tank indicator turned from blue to red when it was full Smile I do like this ship Smile


That was it really, I meandered home in the old girl, was treated to the customary Sunday roast by darling wife prior to all settling down around the kitchen table for a game of ‘Pass the bomb’ .

Pass the Bomb

Hardly ‘Grand theft auto V’ by your average teenagers way of thinking but a great laugh with two deaf people and several cans of cider Smile

Anyway, it’s way past my bedtime now so I’ll just leave you with the Raasay weather

weather 291213



which by recent standards has been exceedingly boring!!

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