Life at the end of the road

December 5, 2013

Harder than stopping smoking :-)

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:32 pm

I started ‘not blogging’ because I’d just been plain far too busy, a minor problem on the good ship Hallaig had put us off the route and a few late nights ensued. After three or four nights of not slaving away over a hot laptop for two or three hours each night I began doing things that I used to pre December 2007 and actually began to like it. More time with the wife, less time on the internet and real conversations with the teenager of the house. This, I thought is what other people must do in power cuts, this is what normal people used to do before the ‘digital revolution’.

Not having had a power cut in twenty odd years, OK, apart from a few ten minute spells five years ago when a mouse chewed through a cable. Never having been without electricity you just don’t realize how totally screwed the rest of society is when the lights go out, and today was such a day.

The hurricane force winds that screamed out of the north west at 3:00am this morning were well forecast and as soon as it was daylight I went out to survey the damage.


North westerly is without a doubt the worst wind up at the new house site, and sure enough the place had been hammered. The ‘loo with a view’ was now matchwood, a well stacked timber pile had been blown over and pallets and debris lay everywhere. Some of the roof membrane had come off the house and the caravan had tried to move, it couldn’t because it was held down by 10ton ratchet straps wrapped around strainer posts. Whilst it was still securely anchored to Scotland two of the straps had come loose as the strainer posts had moved slightly.

At this stage it was still pretty wild up there but over the next couple of hours I managed to get three more anchor points onto the chassis of the van. This time I used chain and turnbuckles onto metal stakes driven into the ground as well as another onto an unused strainer. As the wind moderated a little I set about making the rest of the site safe, it was a pure miracle that nothing had hit either the caravan or barn.


And I could only take pictures when it was calmer, when the frequent showers of hail arrived on the back of another icy blast it was far rougher than that.


I managed to salvage some of the ‘dunny’ and turned it into a windbreak for the caravan, a bit rough I know but those metal sheets are far safer screwed to that heavy fence than stacked on the ground with blocks on top.

I thought I was having a bad day until I started speaking to people, though I couldn’t do much of that at first because the power was off on the rest of Raasay and parts of the mainland. My parents are still without some sixteen hours after it going off, luckily they have a wood burner so are warm and can heat food but their next door neighbour cannot. I think the village went off around the same time but that came back on mid afternoon, the resulting blackout preventing the posting of parcels, removal of money and no doubt causing chaos on the ferry. It had put the mobile phone mast out of action so no phones, no emails and of course no battery charger Sad smile Having said that the MV Hallaig is every bit as powerful and almost as quiet running on her generators only, she just uses more fuel.

Last week

After ten days of ‘maintaining radio silence’ it’s hard to know, or even remember where I left off, I got my Panasonic back right enough but haven’t really taken any pictures. I just realized I don’t actually have much interest in taking pictures unless its for the blog!! I just don’t see the point, I never look at them again unless they’re on here, can’t find them on my computer, by the time they’re really interesting the computer will be trashed and I never ‘back anything up’ anyway Smile

007    002  008

Gosh, I just remembered, that was another reason for not posting, for a while I was ‘home alone’ and the ‘Hen man of Arnish’ Smile


Then I was ‘rushing around like a blue ar5e fly’ trying to get the caravan lashed down on Tuesday prior to going to work.

010  012

And in retrospect it’s a boodly good job I did!!

At some point during the last week, and this is why I really must keep this frigging blog going Sad smile because it’s the only diary I have Smile

019 020

At some point Jamie Lea farrowed and produced nine healthy piglets.

It was nothing to do with the hamsters

Now our wonderful new ship has been getting much stick in the press of late and the ‘rumour machine’ has been in overdrive


but I can assure you the hamsters have been well fed all week.

The vessel in fact had two minor problems, both software related and nothing to do with the vessels hybrid system.


hallaig 01

Here’s a cracking picture of her taken by David Fairclough on Friday morning as we came into Loch Sligachan for the 11:25 from Sconser.


And another of her with the Striven in the background and the autumn sun above Glamaig.



Friday, which was almost our first full day of service, went a little pear-shaped on the last sailing when one of the Voith units shut down but the project manger from flew over from Holland on Sunday and repaired it. Not only did the amiable, brilliant and permanently smiling Dutchman fix it, he sorted out the software so that nothing similar could happen again, and did a few other tweaks to the PMS (power management system). 


Monday, we were back in service once more on a fine day and all went just peachy Smile


The Loch Striven did the first two runs whilst we did a few check but a t 9:55 we picked up the service from the venerable old lady and she moved back into our berth whilst we shifted to hers.



Ben Tianavaig and the Arduish.

Tuesday started off quite scabby


but improved as the day wore on.


The day was not the only thing that improved, a combination of tweaks by Alexander of Imtech and different ‘driving’ techniques by the skipper had brought about phenomenal fuel savings.


That’s a ‘screenshot’ from the ‘energy dashboard’ and will probably not mean much to most, however it was taken just before I left on Tuesday and shows the days fuel consumption as 337lts with just one more return trip to complete. Now I don’t know what the day’s total was but I do know that the good ship Loch Striven burns 500lts of MGO (diesel) per day so 62.5 per return journey. At 337lt for seven round trips that’s 48.1 so a significant saving. OK I know that doesn’t take into account the 564kwh of battery power but you have to remember this ship has almost double the capacity is twice as big and far more refined.

Riddon and Hallaig 2

picture courtesy of ‘Syntax’ from

Sure you will hear the argument of charging losses, battery replacement and using ‘dirty fossil fuels’ in the power station to provide the leccy but I say bollox. Of course there are losses but what’s saner, plugging in a ship to the national grid which (here at least) is 99% hydro, wind and nuclear or dragging oil from halfway around the planet and keeping troops there to make sure it flows!!! The batteries will need replacing and sure they are expensive but just like solar panels the price is falling. As for reliability well I’ve had continuous power for twenty odd years using a battery/diesel hybrid system, which is more than can be said for the rest of Scotland let alone Raasay.

I’m still here

I have to say that I felt so good for not spending half of my evenings doing this fecking blog that I seriously considered stuffing it. However my memory is so bad and I’ve still not got a diary so I’m afraid you’re stuck with it Smile I’ve stopped smoking, I’ve stopped drinking but I can’t stop this friggin blog Sad smile


After handing over to my ‘back to back’ it was the usual mad rush to catch up with jobs on the croft



the first one being to cut bedding for our two lactating sows.


Wifey and I managed to get a trailer load done before the shower arrived


and proceeded to take it to Ellie


who was in the barn with her seven ‘Tammies’



who eagerly helped make the bed.



That done, the ‘wee dug’ and I went to Tarbert to load up aggregate for repairing our drive.


With two loads of that done wifey and I got on with some wood cutting, with her being in charge of the chainsaw!!! OK, it was an electric one, but she is the only person with a certificate Smile


  1. Welcome back!
    I know first-hand how hard it is to make time to keep a diary, and thank you so much for taking the time to share your ‘antics’. I really enjoy reading the blog, and having kept up with your life over the years I always look forward to the next installment.

    Keep up the good work, and here’s hoping for many more posts to come!

    Comment by markphelandotnet — December 5, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

    • Thanks Mark.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:41 pm

  2. Glad to see you back on the blog – I began to think you had decided to give up on it. In the early days we used to ‘feel a Raasay coming on’ and head north! Now it’s not so easy for us and we count on you to give us a regular fix. Thanks

    Comment by Anne Macdonald — December 5, 2013 @ 11:29 pm

    • Hi Anne, nearly did give it up for a while there, life was so much easier without it, there’s a lot to be said for ‘pen and paper’ 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

  3. Glad to hear you weathered the storm, Paul and that Hallaig is back in action. Nobody should expect that a brand new vessel of a unique and innovative design is going to be 100% perfect from the start without even a few tweaks! Totally unrealistic! Why is it that folks feel the need to snipe all the time about things they don’t understand?

    Good Luck!


    Comment by fingalextravaganza — December 6, 2013 @ 12:08 am

    • I agree, Mark. When the fuel savings get publicized, maybe most will change their tune. After all, wind is like a Scottish export vs a Saudi import and the Hallaig is like the Prius to the Loch Striven’s Cadillac, except that this Prius is also twice as big as the Cadillac.

      Comment by Will — December 6, 2013 @ 4:43 am

    • Hi Fingal, tis human nature to snipe I guess 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

  4. Glad all you lost was Lachey’s dunny. Eileen Donan castle was closed today due to “storm damage”. Did the tarp on the new house get re-fitted? I feel sorry for the Dude because how can there be a “snow day” off of school if you live there? It is 50 degrees colder here today than yesterday, and because of icy roads all schools have the day off tomorrow.

    Comment by drgeo — December 6, 2013 @ 12:26 am

    • Hi DrG, all is now sorted thanks.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

  5. Was worried that something had happened at the end of the road, So glad your back.
    It made me dig out the only Diary I ever kept which was while I lived in my van winter 99-00, and the first entry in that was 5th Dec ’99 after I’d been on the Island a week. 🙂
    It was good to see Fergusons yard and the 2 hybrid ferries on the tele the other day (David Dimblebys brtain and the sea)

    Comment by Jeff Knine — December 6, 2013 @ 12:48 am

    • Aye, those were the days hey Jeff, whatever happened to the old van, do you still have it???

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:47 pm

      • That van went years ago, current festival transportation is a 7.5 ton horsebox, 20ft box front half living and rear half for moving gear needed for work (24 wheelie bins, marque, catering stuff etc). Both dogs from then have past on 1 resting at the Wickerman site, the other at Knockengorroch.

        Comment by jeff ostle — December 8, 2013 @ 12:48 am

      • 7.5tons hey, well you’ll not be trying to bring that up to our house then, or will you!!!!!!! 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 8, 2013 @ 8:09 am

  6. yer glad to read/see your back and all’s ok, hope you’v taken a bit of time off for xmas to slow down a bit, all the best to the Arnish posse !

    Comment by mike — December 6, 2013 @ 2:03 am

    • Hi Mike, ‘Arnish posse’ just fine thanks 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:48 pm

  7. Great to have you back, Paul; I was a little worried. Wonderful that the Hallaig’s kinks are being ironed out. I’m sorry for your storm damage, but glad it wasn’t worse.
    I love to see your rainbows and darling spotted pigs. Please keep writing, even if you take wee breaks.

    Comment by Flora — December 6, 2013 @ 2:35 am

  8. Rumour machine …………. or humour machine?

    Comment by Jonathan — December 6, 2013 @ 8:43 am

  9. Morning Paul

    I’m sure the skippers of the Hallaig would like to wear rings on their sleeves as in the cartoon! My friend the other skipper isn’t mentioned in the article – hope he’s still around and driving the boat.

    That wind was lethal even if here and gone quickly. Hope the damage is all repairable.


    Comment by Sue — December 6, 2013 @ 8:50 am

  10. Good to hear all the new ship needed was an update and restart.Regarding giving up blogging, maybe wearing boxing gloves when you get near a keyboard would help 🙂 . Life would not be the same without “Life at the end of the road”,but we should all respect you need to have a life too.

    Comment by Andy — December 6, 2013 @ 9:20 am

  11. That wind looks devastating. I lived 3 years in a caravan in kishorn which wasn’t tied down and was side on to the westerly’s. I am surprised it never went over though it was protected by trees though that would probably have been more life threatening if one came down in the winds. I must say I don’t miss living in that caravan.

    Comment by Alistair — December 6, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  12. Glad you are back online again…no doubt the final teething problems on MV Hallaig will be flushed out before long…you might be mildly concerned if it was all going seamlessly! The blog will doubtless feel like a millstone around your neck at times, but from a very selfish perspective I hope you can keep it going, even if on a slightly less frequent basis. “Life” would not be the same without lifeattheendoftheroad!

    Comment by Andrew Thomson — December 6, 2013 @ 10:36 am

  13. Paul , great to read your blog. Please , please keep it up.

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — December 6, 2013 @ 11:07 am

  14. Hi Paul you were so close to getting a phone call.

    Comment by MW — December 6, 2013 @ 11:22 am

  15. Hi Paul.
    Thought you’d been confined to the brig, but its great to see your back blogging away keeping us city dwellers up to date with all that’s gone on since your last report. As it’s that time of year I’d like to wish you and your kin a good run up to the festive season and the bad weather to settle down for you.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — December 6, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

    • All well Walter, thanks.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

  16. great to have another post from you, Paul … I tried keeping a diary once and failed miserably, so I really applaud your dedication in keeping yours going (and in sharing it with us) and I don’t underestimate how much work you must put into it … obviously I really love reading it and (selfishly perhaps) wish you’ll keep it up, I just hope very much you find the benefit to yourself enough to keep going, I just feel very sad that maybe it’s at the expense of together time with your wife

    Comment by cazinatutu — December 6, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

  17. Glad you are back, we were afraid you might have been blown off the rock. We are great complainers about the weather here in Nova Scotia, so for years I have been telling people to check out the breeze at “the end of the road”. You have a lot of fans here so blog when you can, and the next time I’m in Skye I will leave the price of their best glass of plonk for you at the Pier in Portree…….on second thought, perhaps you should stick to the guinness. Cheers, Bruce

    Comment by Bruce MacCulloch — December 6, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

    • Hi Bruce, welcome and thanks, I don’t get much chance to visit other blogs or sites but I did enjoy the NS one

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 7, 2013 @ 10:54 pm

  18. I agree with all the other posts, it’s great to have you blogging again after what seemed like ages without anything from you. We might all be a bit selfish wanting to hear from you as much as possible, but it really is great for us far away to hear what’s going on on Raasay, so please carry on, even if it’s less frequent! Great picture of the Hallaig with Dun Caan in the background.

    Comment by Frances — December 6, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

  19. Hi Paul, glad to hear all is well on Raasay. Your disapearence was concerning, if you do decide to stop, and I hope you don’t, please give us some warning.

    Comment by David Stubbings in the "wilds" of Norfolk — December 6, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

  20. Please don’t give up blogging. I’d miss the news from the Highlands.

    Comment by eileen1929 — December 6, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

  21. I’m glad the hamsters were not in mortal danger! Amazingly curative at times is Alt-Ctrl-Del – even on top of the range hybrid ferries it would seem. :-)) Glad you are back to blogging Paul – we’d miss you.

    Comment by Carrie — December 6, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

  22. See you this weekend!! grant and I are off our tin islands!!

    Comment by v8mbov — December 6, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

  23. Glad the damage was fixable.. We were in the Lake District and we missed the worst of the storm.
    You may have seen these Crazy Unicyclist who have made this video around Skye….
    Best wishes for the Festivities up there

    Comment by chrisb — December 7, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    • Wow! The extreme unicycle lads are something else! Goodness, talk about “don’t try this at home” – what an adventuresome sport.

      Comment by Carrie — December 7, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  24. Welcome back mate, was worried that you been blown over to Applecross for a while.

    Comment by Simon — December 7, 2013 @ 10:04 pm

  25. Hi Paul,
    Your unique reflection on the Good Life / Ferryinteresting has been greatly missed. You have a special gift which is appreciated by many. Lightning and the Dude will look back in future years and marvel at the education in life skills which you have documented and illustrated so well.
    Best wishes to you and yours.

    Comment by CEAPILOT — December 9, 2013 @ 1:55 am

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