Life at the end of the road

December 24, 2013

Spare a thought

Filed under: boats, daily doings, life off grid, listers, New hybrid ferry, pigs — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:24 pm

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 Smile 


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 Smile 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 Smile



Mind you, the lull that was expected in the morning seems to have vanished Sad smile 

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 Smile


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.

160712 021

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 Smile 

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.



  1. Enjoying life on your island. Not a great commenter but let me wish you all the best, good luck and good health for Christmas and the New Year.

    Comment by Stuart — December 24, 2013 @ 9:29 pm

  2. Have a great Christmas, Keep the blog going ‘as and when’. I find it fascinating and enjoyable reading. It should be compulsory reading for the fatcats you mention.

    Comment by mike9946 — December 24, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

  3. Hope the Weather clears up a bit and you have a Good Christmas.

    The profit on the Average Dual Fuel bill is £65, which is nothing considering £1,315 is the average dual fuel bill. Hardly an unreasonable figure in reality, that’s not to say I defend the pay and bonus culture of those who are at the upper echelons of administration and management in the energy companies. Even with nationalisation and increasing use of alternative sources of generation energy bills are only going to go in one direction and in terms of share of income, food and energy bills are at historically lower levels so hardly anything unexpected or unreasonable about the trend.

    Sorry to sound like a corporate shill on Christmas Eve

    Comment by ewaste1001ewaste — December 24, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

    • The profit on the Average Dual Fuel bill is £65

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      That is only because of there ‘creative accounting’ you know fine well that not even OFGEN can get to the bottom of what they charge each other within their own corporations.

      90% of the electricity in this part of the world is produced from dams built by government money almost 60 years ago and they require precious little maintenance once built. Why then are bills here more expensive than the rest of the country and where does the money go???

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 25, 2013 @ 6:48 am

      • An engineer, a mathematician and an accountant were each asked to do some simple maths: what is the sum of 2 + 2?

        The engineer paused for a moment, then said, “4.00”, while the mathematician waved his arm airily, saying, “Oh, about 4”; the accountant smiled quietly, “What would you like it to be?” 🙂

        Comment by San — December 25, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

      • Aye San, don’t you just love a good accountant 🙂 Having said that I can recommend mine, they never chastise me for getting my books in late and I’ve not paid any tax in years 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 25, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

      • Indeed corporate accountants will manipulate the numbers to suit through ‘creative accounting’ however the profit margins still won’t be much different in reality with a few fractions of a percent difference.

        Sounds like you’re in favour of localised energy markets something that many think will happen with the rise of prosumers, those both producing and consuming energy. Oddly enough similar how things worked before the national grid provided the opportunity to vary production to sell onto the national grid. Brings up the odd question of what do you do given the choice sell at below market rate only covering costs to locals or maximise income by selling into the market when needed at a premium. Easy decision for many to make when they don’t have to but when given the choice hypocrisy typically ensues.

        The problem is not ‘profit’ or cost at the end of the day as even the Socialist Party seem to have acknowledged when pressed but what happens to the profit generated. The model under which Hydro-Québec operates is essentially what NSHEB should have become, publically owned but operating in a competitive marketplace. Alas with the electoral cycle and political system as it is a quick buck to bribe taxpayers with is what the political puppets decided upon in their haste.

        Comment by ewaste1001 — December 25, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

      • Aye, your probably right Mish, all I know is that A, according to my accountant I’ve NEVER made a profit 🙂 and B, whenever wholesale energy prices rise so do the bills, but once they fall the invoices never do 😦 Personally I think people consume far too much of the stuff and could reduce their bills a whole lot more by being energy efficient. As a family of three with all the carp from China that everyone else has we managed for 8 years on 3.5kwh per day or around 61p per day for our electricity consumption, OK that doesn’t include heating or DHW but it’s amazing how having to generate your own power can focus the mind 🙂

        Merry Christmas, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 25, 2013 @ 10:08 pm

      • I’ll admit when it comes to accountants I appreciate the math when others seem to prefer wishful thinking in the interpretation, the maths doesn’t lie it’s only the interpretation that varies. I’ll admit when it comes to energy efficiency and the whole green thing I’m probably in the same camp, bugger all point in ideology if it isn’t practical.

        Thanks for working Christmas day both blogging and running a ferry service, I’m lucky this year my dad is enjoying his second Christmas Day off in about 23 years.

        Merry Christmas to you and the family, ewaste

        Comment by ewaste1001 — December 25, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

  4. Good luck tomorrow 949 mb is very low

    Comment by Roy Cleary — December 24, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

  5. Merry Christmas to you all and especially those who are out there helping to keep us all safe and warm.

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — December 25, 2013 @ 2:31 am

  6. Happy Christmas.

    Comment by San — December 25, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  7. Merry Christmas to you and all the Family. All the Best for 2014. Keep up the good work.

    Comment by eileen1929 — December 25, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    • Thank Eileen.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 25, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

  8. Merry Christmas Paul and all. enjoying all your news hens and pigs are looking well .For the record in almost 50 years of exporting chickens to the Western Isles I have only once had to cancel a delivery due to bad weather,Idont think any shipping co. could beat that .Keep the blog going.

    Comment by Donald MacDonald — December 25, 2013 @ 10:42 am

    • Hi Donald and thanks for the hens 🙂 Just wait until the new solar powered hen shed is built and wifey will be knocking on your door 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 25, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

  9. Merry Christmas to you and your family Paul. Just when I think you’re packing it in we get infrared pictures and great video of a gale!!

    Comment by Morgan — December 25, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

    • Hi Morgan, I’ll be here for a while yet, it’s the only way I remember things 🙂 The irregular posting over the last year and few weeks in particular has been pure ‘pressure of work.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 25, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

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