Life at the end of the road

February 27, 2014

The hen run

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Land Rover, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:06 pm

Well, two days away from the Hallaig and I’ve only just put ‘pen to paper’, things have taken an unexpected turn so I’ve been a little distracted of late. Anyway, I’ll try and pick up where I left off, with of the course the aid of the camera.


Tuesday, the last day at work got off to a splendid start, it was even brightening to the east when I headed for the ferry at just after 6:00am. A tripod for the old Panasonic DMC FZ48 would have taken a far better picture of the moon over Dun Caan. Somehow propping the camera on top of the Land Rover bonnet didn’t do it justice. I just can’t sing the praises of this camera highly enough, since I last extolled its virtues It’s been for another mud bath and been left out in the rain. There are only two things that it needs, and one of those I’ve managed to add, a proper lens cap from the old Fuji. The Panasonic’s cap only covers the actual lens and does not prevent carp going into the camera if you keep it in your pocket. OK, I know most people wouldn’t keep a camera that size in their pocket and would take better care of it, but then if I didn’t keep it on my person I’d hardly take any pictures. It’s other serious failing which I can’t sort is the lack of a ‘forced flash’ facility, there’s plenty of times when a bright background prevents the flash from operating when you want it.


The fine, if not a little breezy weather continued throughout the morning and we sailed in conditions that were at times borderline. The day always looks better in the sunshine Smile


Fortunately though, tide was in our favour when the wind was at its strongest, those wave would have been breaking over the pier at high tide.


Sadly, it didn’t last, and by lunchtime the day had ‘gone to the dogs’


with even one of the clam dredgers seeking shelter.

The sun did make an occasional


and welcome reappearance at times, but on the whole it was pretty rubbish.



That’ll be the Norwegian ‘well boat’ Ronja Viking passing through the Raasay Narrows on her way to one of the local fish farms.


Finishing work early after spending a good hour with my ‘back to back’ handing over I managed to get home in daylight, by the time I return to work in a months time it’ll be ‘light both ways’ Smile Anyhow, upon firing up the laptop to deal with the days emails I got a surprise that fair messed up the weeks plans. I had an email informing me that I had just acquired another Proven 2.5kw wind turbine Smile and could I phone in the morning to arrange to collect it Sad smile 

Of course it’s over 400 miles away and circumstance dictates that Monday is the only practical day to dismantle it, so Wednesday morning was a little frantic trying to arrange things, first with the vendor, and secondly with my good mate MW. You know you have a good mate when, after thirty years  of hardly speaking to him you can still call up for a favour. Usually I phone him up when I want a car or something, but yesterday it was along the lines of, ‘any chance of a bed for a couple of nights and do you fancy driving over the Pennines to dismantle a wind turbine’.

Digs and labour sorted it was a bell next to another good mate who just happens to be building our house, for I needed a serious trailer and what self respecting builder doesn’t have one of those. True to form, nothing was too much trouble for Lachie Gillies and he arranged to meet me in Portree today (Thursday).

With the logistics sorted out, all I had to do then was make the twenty eight year old Land Rover fit for duty. She was almost 1300 miles short of the next major service but by the time I’d be back from Yorkshire that wouldn’t be far off, so I brought her schedule forward.



Twelve years, I’ve a record of every single job done on her and the previous owner had her for ten years and gave me a receipt for every penny he’d spent on her. It was a ‘biggy’ of a service she was due, the wheels needed changing, a track rod end, rear pads and all the oils.

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As I always wrap everything in ‘Densotope’ the track rod end was changed in minutes with no swearing, skinned knuckles or the need for a blow torch.



The rear end got a set of new brake pads, the whole underside a good power washing then spray with WD40


and the new wheels got fitted.

There was still much to do but fear of getting my new shed floor dirty had me working outside, it was getting dark and I’d had enough. She was mobile and I’d to get my own trailer with oil tank ready for tomorrows oil delivery to Raasay. Whilst it was just a matter of a good clean, fitting the tank and checking the wheel bearings it all had to be ready for an early start today.


Up early, animals fed then off south with the trailer and oil tank,


Scottish Fuels would be on the first ferry and I had to meet Lachie in Portree at 10:00.



Well, you certainly wouldn’t have got seven cars and the oil tanker on the Striven that’s for sure!!

Fifty years of MacBraynes

An hour later and I was in Portree full of mixed grains, layers pellets, sow rolls, gear oil, engine oil, deionized water, and being followed by trailer full of pallets to Struan. The feed, pallets and trailer I’d collected at Harbro, the oils and water at Macgregor’s before heading westwards over the hills of Skye




I guess that photograph looking westwards over Loch Bracadale was taken near the X on the map




I was destined to collect pullets  from ‘Donald the hen’ to add to wifey’s flock, it wasn’t actually on this months ‘to do’ list but when I’d spoken to ‘The hen man of Skye’ last night he just happened to have some. Well it was ‘a sign’ wasn’t it, me going to Portree and all that.

The business of loading the twelve ISA browns

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was conducted efficiently


as was checking out Donald’s Dexta, a fine three cylinder Ford tractor of early sixties vintage.

Business completed and then it was into the warm kitchen with himself and Katie for tea and cakes, lots of cakes Smile A good fifty years or more has Donald been ‘at the hens’ and his reputation, wisdom and knowledge are legendary. Well, he was telling me that in fifty years of shipping hens to the Western Isles that he’s only once ever had to bring a load back because the ferry didn’t sail.

Of course that’s not to say that the ferry only missed one sailing in fifty years but he was a very satisfied customer of CalMac, unlike some others who think that ferries are on rails and not at the whim of wind tide and weather.

Back home for just after 14:00 it was straight into the Land Rover for me whilst wifey prepared a shed for the new pullets.


They’ll be shut in here for a few days until they know it’s home


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and they certainly seemed happy enough.

February 24, 2014

Quite a contrast

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:21 pm

Last night I retired without finishing off, it was 22:00 and I was pure wrecked, the normal relaxing Sunday had been a hectic scramble up and down ladders accepting alarms, resetting breakers and rebooting servers. It was a pretty wild day to boot and borderline whether or not we sailed at 16:00


that’ll be a gust of 63.9knts whilst we were tied alongside yesterday afternoon!! That’s ‘violent storm 11’ just .1 of a knot short of an official hurricane!! Of course it wasn’t a constant wind so the sea never really built up but one of the squalls that hit us must have been approaching 90knts. Like I said yesterday I forgot my camera but picture never do the weather justice anyway. However, my shipmate Finlay spotted what could only be described as a tornado heading straight out of the mouth of Loch Sligachan bound for us



so we went outside to meet it! Well, it took our breath, nearly knocked us off our feet and went charging up the edge of the pier to make landfall near the boatshed. Once there it moved a heavy four wheeled galvanized plant trailer sideways before going onto move several large and heavily weighted down sheets of play across the road and into a field.


A little different today hey Smile


yup, Monday was a ‘pure peach’ of a day.


Funny how a little sunshine can very quickly make you forget just how bad the previous day actually was.


Twas even a good day to be a fish farmer Smile

Pretty poor effort I know, but hey it’s my last full day at work today, tomorrow I finish for a whole month of croft, house, pig, hen and Land Rover work.

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