Life at the end of the road

January 28, 2014

A fast fortnight :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry, shed/house — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:01 pm

Well that went by pretty quick that’s for sure, this ‘two weeks on two weeks off’ has a lot going for it. At least it does for me anyway, as I’m home every night, not so sure if I’d be so keen if I was away from home right enough, but right now I’m just loving it. Ask me again if I’m stuck in dry dock down the Clyde for a fortnight and I’ll probably say something else. Seriously though, it’s nearly the end of January, February is just around the corner, the days are stretching and I’ve fourteen days on the croft to look forward to. Not only that but after my next shift I’m on holiday for a month Smile 

It’s been a hectic two weeks aboard the good ship Hallaig with a couple of extra crew being ‘inducted’ in preparation for the commissioning of her sister the MV Lochinvar. The Lochinvar will be going into service on the Tarbert Portavadie route during the summer so the crews and their reliefs will be training aboard the Hallaig for a while yet.



The snags, hitches, glitches and ‘lessons learned’ on Hallaig should make her passage into service a far smother affair than ours, and no doubt the weather will help too Smile One thing for sure, the Hallaig has been well tested in stormy conditions, punching into seas at 8knts that would have had the Striven doing 4knts and sailing when the Loch Class wouldn’t. Sure she’s missed a couple, but it is the middle of the worst winter in years, half the country is underwater, battered by gales and without power, it’s not a train on rails, it’s a ship Smile

Calm at last

After our recent battering it was good to have some respite, and whilst Monday started off pretty grim at 6:00am



it gradually improved as the day wore on.



In preparation for today’s planned power outage, SSE sent over a large generator and cherry picker


that you barely noticed  on the car deck.



Incessant rain was gradually replaced by showers, the wind died away and it turned into a lovely afternoon.



Fantastic vistas over towards the east and Plockton.


Light enough at 17:00 to do the Sunday boat drill that had been shelved due to the weather,


with smiles all round as our shifts started to draw to a close.

When all ‘ferrying’ was finished for the day I headed home, calling at the new house to admire Lachie’s slating that he was still doing by  floodlight and head torch.


The last day of the shift and the best day of the year


What a start Smile


Well you wouldn’t have got this lot on the Striven, that’s for sure,



there would have been a few ‘late starts’ today had a ‘loch class’ made the first sailing. OK there were one or two quieter runs but on the whole it was very busy, the well forecast power cut driving people off the island to do shopping I guess. And I’m guessing the 17:30 was ‘mobbed’ for I handed over to my ‘back to back’ at 16:15 and the island was still full of traffic then.

Wifey reported sun streaming into the house and I headed home in daylight Smile



OK, perhaps not full daylight



but a lovely pink glow on the sea by Manitoba.


January 26, 2014

Almost daylight :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:12 pm

That’ll be a full week since I put down some ‘doings’ on what was once my daily blog, I guess postings will become more frequent as the days stretch but as it is just now I’ve not seen proper daylight at home for almost two weeks. That’s a strange one I can tell you, even in the depths of winter I managed to leave home after sunrise on a working Sunday, but not now, well not until today that is, though it was hardly light, the pishing rain, thick cloud and storm force southerly put paid to that. In fact it would have been daylight had not the threat of another ‘blackout’ at Raasay’s south end made me set off for work at 8:00am.

A lightning strike had put the power off yesterday and as well as taking out a router and fax machine ashore it had caused pandemonium on the Hallaig. Nothing serious but it had left me with with one blank screen and another with five red pages of alarms to clear prior to sailing. Consequently I missed out on my morning cuppa and Fionnlagh’s porridge until well after day break Sad smile Well I didn’t want a repeat performance of that so we all mustered on the pier well before 9:00am. I say ‘mustered’ but it was more a case of cowering behind the seawall and Land rover as we got the gangway ready. Not that we needed to rush, it was quite obvious we were going nowhere with the wind gusting to over 67knts, a ‘baw hair’ off 80mph.

Volvo D13 600h service

With the month drawing to a close it was a good opportunity to finish of some of the ‘PM’ (planned maintenance) and service one of the three main diesel generators. Normally these wouldn’t be used anyway on a Sunday as we normally sail in ‘Battery Only’ mode, but today I’d have the nice quite engine room to work in thanks to ‘Shore Power’. I struggle getting used to a quiet, warm and well lit ship engine room, there was no getting away from the noise in the Striven unless you were in near darkness on ‘emergency lighting’ and even the Finlaggan had to have at least one generator running within earshot.



So after doing much paperwork, reading the manual and making up the obligatory laminated ‘checklist’, that seems to go along with everything other than using the toilet Smile I had breakfast, or should I say, we all had breakfast, all six of us, then I serviced the Volvo, or should I say, I tried to, for I couldn’t get the oil out of it!!!!


The thirteen litre 330kW beast refused to part with its 45lts of old sump oil despite me checking and rechecking all the valves to the waste oil tank were open. I even lifted some of the floor plates to make sure the pipe was going to the right place but no joy, after less then half a stroke of the 500ml pump it went solid.


Nothing for it but to start pulling the valves apart to check them, and luckily the problem was at the first of the five in the line that I check, It was fitted the wrong way round!!!


And by the time time I’d sorted that out, the once hot and thin oil was now cold and thick so I fired up the generator, put it ‘back on the board’ to load it up and went for tea Smile


006 009

A hundred strokes of the hand pump later the sump was empty the two main and one bypass filter changed, an oil sample taken and the sump refilled, though not by me alone. By this time most of the rest of the crew had turned up to lend a helping hand.

011 012

Three hundred and twenty strokes of the filling pump tells me that Ferguson’s could have done with fitting a bigger one!! I won’t always have such an enthusiastic bunch of shipmates Smile

The rest of the service amounted to changing fuel filter, air filter, checking belts, pulleys and generally having a good look around the hoses and joints for leaks. That done, and with no sign of the weather improving we ‘knocked it on the head’ at 16:30 and I set off home in the twilight, by the time I start my next two week shift it should be daylight for all of Sunday Smile

The rest of the week

Probably a bit pointless me trying to remember really, and I didn’t take many pictures either, as it was on the whole pretty wet and miserable and I spent a good deal of the week in the office.



There was much activity at the fish farm with the ‘Coastal Hunter’ still on peroxide duty.



There was also much activity on the roof of the new house on Monday night with Orion watching over Lachie Gillies as he worked by lamplight late into the night. It’s not a great picture and I was resting the camera on the Land rover window but you can clearly see the distinctive red ‘super giant’ Betelgeuse of his right shoulder



Wednesday had three commercials looking lost on Hallaig’s huge car deck, the car that also turned up later would have normally been left behind and stuck until 14:30.



Northern Lighthouse Board’s Pole Star paid us a visit too and replaced the flashing light on the east cardinal just out from Braes, it having gone really dim of late.



Thursday had us bunkering 3000lts of MGO that will under normal conditions last the whole week and more.


Saturday saw a little brightness during the day




the trawler Dunan Star,


and some ‘monkey’s fists’ getting a soaking Smile



it also had a half decent sunset, the first I’ve seen in a while.




It was even better on the way back Smile




So, that’s it, I’ll just leave you with the bridge of the Hallaig as it’s 22:00 and time for bed.


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