Well, it was every bit as wild as they were saying with the weather hitting Arnish around 3:30am with a ferocity that was quite alarming. Right enough we’re sleeping upstairs whilst the relatives are here, so the storm was more audible against the Velux windows, but even so I think it was pretty fresh. It’s even worse now as I sit in the kitchen at 19:30 for I can see rain on the kitchen window!! It has to be wild indeed for water to hit our deeply recessed double glazing. In days gone by houses where not built for their view in this part of the world, every inch of ground was precious and ours is typical of being tucked away out of the weather on ground fit for nothing else.
Once awakened it was a restless couple of hours until the alarm went off at 5:30, I didn’t think we’d be sailing but still I was worrying about getting Hallaig ‘fired up’ on time. It’s an eleven mile journey and I’ve driven it in better conditions than this only to have to move fallen trees. Then of course there’s the extra time it takes to start a ‘blacked out’ ship if shore power has been lost. Though with all the practice I’ve had of late I wasn’t too worried about that
The first thing I did before heading down to work was to go up to the new house site to check on the caravan and house, all was well so I gingerly headed south to Hallaig.
It was dark and wild with waves breaking over the pier and the ship lying well off with little prospect of us pulling it in, but at least the power was still on. A little ‘lateral thinking’ that would have had the fleet safety officer throwing a wobbly soon had us aboard the 499.1GRT vessel without drama but there seemed little point in transferring from shore power to our own diesel generators. The Hallaig, with just about every other ferry on the west coast was going nowhere, until daylight at least, and even that was unlikely.
Photographs of bad weather are hard to get, especially in the pishing rain and sea spray, but this video taken from the wheelhouse and a few seconds near the end shot from the Land Rover give you an idea.
With every single rope out on both Loch Linnhe and Hallaig they were taking it well but the much smaller Lustre astern of Linnhe was having a hard time of it. The tidy wee trawler was beam on to the sea with the waves breaking over and onto her, I’m sure she’ll be just fine but it brought back memories of many a sleepless night when I had a storm bound boat at anchor.
70 knots (80mph) whilst I was up in the wheelhouse but it was certainly worse than that later on.
Paperwork and a little work in the engine room seemed the order of the day
and of course the long overdue job of altering the fridge door to open the right way.
After much deliberation and consultation, at midday it was decided to ‘knock it on the head’ and try to do a sailing on Christmas day.
Although we hadn’t sailed or the mail been delivered, several deliveries had got through to Sconser despite the Skye bridge being closed to high sided vehicles. With a little luck we’ll be able to collect those and any people wishing to get to Raasay on Christmas day, I don’t think I’ve ever worked on Christmas day in my life Not that myself or any of the other crew are bothered about that, we all finished early today and I suspect a few Christmas dinners will be awaiting ingredients still at Sconser
Mind you, the lull that was expected in the morning seems to have vanished
Doing my homework
Having left work early and in daylight I decided to take some work home, said ‘work’ being our Fluke thermal imaging camera that I’d not had time to fully get to grips with. It’s been a helluva busy few weeks on Hallaig and this bit of kit is essential for the early diagnosis of electrical faults so I figured that I’d better learn how to use it.
Ellie and her wains being the first subject
followed by Charlie.
Seriously though, I scanned my trusty 2.5kw Proven with the thermal imager
and you can see it’s been working hard but I also scanned my batteries and discovered a fault.
It’s hard to make out but that yellow bit in the middle is one of the connectors between the 24 x 2v traction cells that store energy for the house.
That’ll be the black things between the yellow things, well that one was connecting cells 14 and 15 together, and whilst it was the only one that showed yellow on the camera it was not obviously warm or loose. I did however managed to tighten it up almost a quarter of a turn, after which it cooled down and became indistinguishable from the other 22!! I am seriously impressed with this technology
Anyway, after all that I just had to go and have a wee sleep prior to a proper Christmas treat with the family. We all sat down to a selection of hot and cold smoked salmon plus a fine salad, fresh bread and roast potatoes!!!!! OK, I realise the roasted spuds is a little bizarre but we really do have a lot of electricity at the moment that needs using.
So, just before I collapse in front of ‘Last tango in Halifax’ with the rest of the family on this wild Christmas eve spare a thought for all those hard working guys from the utilities that are trying to restore power to their customers. The ‘big six’ are a shower of robbing ‘bar stewards’ that blame all their high costs on the pitiful amount they contribute to the so called ‘green levy’, which in reality adds a full £20 to the average yearly bill. I can’t say that I agree with people paying for other folks tax exempt income through a levy on bills but get real peeps. The £20 you pay towards a wind farm or solar PV array is diddly squat compared to the profits that these bandits cream off.
Anyway, whilst all these ‘fat cats’ are lording it up in comfort with their families there’s a whole crowd of dudes out there in Land Rovers in the pishing rain trying their damnedest to get the lights back on.
Keep up the good work chaps.