Life at the end of the road

April 26, 2014

Live from Hallaig

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:54 pm

Seven thirty on Saturday evening and my first attempt at blogging from the ship, hard to believe that she’s been here six months now and this is almost the first time I’ve brought my laptop aboard. The truth is there’s just not been the time, only now after six months of working on her has there been time to get into a regular routine and start to relax a little. Between training ourselves, training others, getting used to all her systems so they become ‘second nature’ we’ve hardly had chance to get into a real regular routine. There have been some forty different crew ‘signed on’ since January, we’ve all taken holidays and there was of course the spell in Mallaig. Consequently it’s only this week that I’ve not been ‘chasing my tail’ in fact, it’s only today, for the first few days were spent deep in the ‘ISM filing system’ but I’ll not bore you with that.

Where was I

After my ‘wee rant’ last night I kind of lost the thread a bit and retired to bed but I seem to remember leaving you on Thursday, early as it turned out.



I managed to ‘jump ship’ as soon as we landed on Raasay at 7:10, leaving the vessel in the capable hands of the ‘opposite shift’ who had been called out to man her. A lorry had travelled up from Ocean Safety in Greenock with four replacement life rafts that had to be fitted overnight.



So, I left the ship and headed home, hoping to be there a little earlier than usual and perhaps do a little blogging. That all went ‘pear shaped’ when I decided to tinker about with the nozzles of the hydro turbine to try and squeeze a few more watts out of it. As we head into the ‘dry season’ it can help to turn off the larger nozzle so as not to have the turbine drawing in air when there’s not so much water in the burn.

Whilst down at the turbine shed I took the opportunity to switch them all off, inspect the jets and give everything a clean. Unfortunately as soon as I turned the water back on a hose burst and drenched me, I was not amused, especially as it was almost 21:00 by the time I got in.

Friday, well, I’ve no photo’s so can’t remember what I did, however, it was a lovely day and did bring with it the first cuckoo. Apart from that I seem to think I spent the day buried in the office chasing documents and registers. This morning brought with it the first greyness in a while and I arrived at work to find two yachts swinging on the freshly checked visitor moorings.



The youth hostel is ablaze!!

A quiet Saturday was brightened up by a blazing youth hostel, fire appliance, lifeboat and four casualties.


The helicopter couldn’t make it Smile it was of course just an exercise in dealing with a serious incident on Raasay.


The RNLB Stanley Watson Barker arriving just in time for the perfect photo opportunity Smile



Apparently the four casualties were recovered from the burning hostel and evacuated successfully.







With the excitement over for the day I turned my attention towards the paint locker and its contents.



A nice quite afternoon with the paint roller followed, the first time it’s been ‘used in anger’ aboard our ship Smile


Some cracking pictures of the exercise from David Carslaw’s photostream



and there’s some beauties of our newly refurbished community owned shop.

April 25, 2014

A cracking spell

Probably going to be a ‘little seldom’ on the posting front this next couple of weeks I think. The summer timetable, and indeed the summer weather is with us now and it’s after 20:00 before I’m in the house, by the time I’m fed watered and ‘decontaminated’ I’ve little time or energy left for plonking away on here. Indeed, if the truth be known, I’m only actually doing it to show you the staggering ineptitude, carelessness and plain ignorance of some ‘scooby doo’s’ that visited Sconser on Sunday.

It wasn’t until I joined the ship on Tuesday afternoon that I saw the photographs and I was flabbergasted, and this is coming from an ex diver who has done more than his fair share of stupid things. Yup, I’m guilty of being rescued by more responsible people, going out in weather that I shouldn’t have, diving in restricted areas and being airlifted to a recompression chamber. These incidents however pale into insignificance when compared to what these turkeys did.

It’s a ferry terminal right? so what goes in and out of there, a ferry, does it do it in secret, no it does it to a very strict timetable. So if you were desperate enough to go diving from a ferry terminal, what would you do?? well you’d check the sailing times right? Are they a secret? no, there’s a great big yellow sign illuminated with large friendly  red letters that inform anyone that can read what time the ferry is due. Now bear in mind this is Sunday so if you were stupid enough to dive around a slipway that’s in use you would at least have five and a half hours to do it in relative safety. During that time you’d only have the local clam diver and fish farmers to contend with, the 40m steel box with two huge ‘egg whisks’ at each end would be parked at Raasay.

Well, the plonkers , and for those who missed it here I’ll cut and paste the relative bit below.

The ‘silly season’

No sooner had the good ship Hallaig entered service than she was disrupted by ‘fecking halfwits’. The trouble with having a beautiful new ferry terminal and waiting room at Sconser is that it attracts numpties, normally of the kayaking variety that jam up the car park and slipway. Now if you happen to be a ‘paddle your own canoe’ type then forgive me for this rant, for I’m sure, that on the whole kayakers are responsible and courteous types that behave well. We just happen to get all the plonkers at Sconser that festoon the slipway with their carp and bare their arses for the customers. I know that you’re not all like that, anyway, yesterday it was the divers that took the ‘prat of the year award’ off the kayakers.

Now I can’t get too sanctimonious about this cos I’ve been a bit of a prick myself at times, but this takes the biscuit.

As the ferry arrived at Sconser yesterday it was greeted by waving arms and shouting from people on the shore, because there were divers in the water!!!!!!!! Now excuse me, this is a ferry terminal, with a huge sign on the car park informing ‘Joe Public’ what time the ferry comes and goes, so why on earth were divers in the water??? It gets better, for the underwater planks, who were towing a buoy, then approached the ferry and she had to shut one of her units down for fear of dragging the buffoons into the propeller. 

Yup, all we need now is the ‘bin bag fairy worshippers’, these are the tools that leave their nappies and rubbish in laybys for the mythical ‘bin bag fairy’ to collect.

Now when the ferry arrived at Sconser the divers hadn’t inflated this sausage, they did that as an after thought, probably spurred on by the noise . This is the eejits just a few meters from the stern of Hallaig and her aft ‘Voith unit’.

photo 3

Now for those that don’t know what a ‘Voith unit’ is here’s one of the Striven’s smaller ones in action at her annual dry docking.




The blades are over a meter long, point down into the sea unshielded and unlike a conventional propeller they DO NOT STOP when the vessel is at rest. You can just imagine what they’d do to a diver, it doesn’t bear thinking about and there’s one of these at each end!!!!


photo 4 (1)

This is them coming out from under the other side of the ship after the unit had been shutdown!!!

photo 2 (1)

heading for the pier

photo 1

then beaching like three stranded whales, you couldn’t make it up could you?

The thing is, it can actually be quite interesting diving around old piers and harbours but you do it responsibly by checking ferry sailing times, informing the harbour master and displaying an ‘A flag’.


None of these these details seem to have figured in their ‘dive plan’ and consequently, as a result it’s very likely that there will just be a blanket ban on diving around HRC and CMAL piers in future.


yup, it’s Friday now, I started that ‘full on rant’ two days ago but just writing about it without using four letter expletives in every sentence proved such a strain that I had to go to bed on Wednesday. Thursday I got distracted by doing some minor adjustments to my hydro turbine, got soaked and once more went to bed early. However, with the help of what’s in my camera I’ll try and recall the weeks events.

A cracking day on Tuesday started with me taking my son to school then doing some last minute work on the hen shed and turbine base.

  011 012 010

The ‘hoose’ got decked all the way along the front and the 8 studs bonded into Scotland for my wind turbine base got tightened up with a 3/4” drive socket and a 4’ length of scaffolding tube. I dunno what that is in Nm (Newton meters) but it’s very very tight.



Sadly, by 14:30 it was time to pack up and head for the Hallaig, which was in the midst of an ISM audit by the MCA. The drive south had me seeing my first lamb on Raasay, not that it was by anyway the first, just the first one I’d seen.



Again, something that I’d seen for the first time but had probably happened weeks ago was the new roof on the Raasay Heritage Centre.

The four hours at work passed quickly and I headed home shattered on a beautiful spring evening.


It was straight into the thick of things on Wednesday with our first ever waste oil collection.


The 1200lt tank in the engine room that stores all our waste oil was hardly full but the tanker was on passing on its way to the MV Hebrides at Uig so called in to collect ours.



It was a good exercise to be doing before the tank was full and went without a hitch, not that I’d say otherwise Smile

After that there was fuel to bunker and of course the usual mountain of paperwork associated oil and ships, be it clean or dirty, every drop has to be accounted for.


The council divers were busy checking, and by the looks of it replacing some of the chain on the four ‘visitor moorings’ in Churchton bay.


The day finishing when I arrived home and found that wifey had brought Ellie in on the croft, she’s not actually due for a couple of weeks but she looks pretty ‘full’ to me.


Thursday saw Hallaig’s huge deck getting well loaded with 44ton of Eyre Plant’s Scania with a load for Raasay House.


It also saw preparations by Raasay House  for the launching of the Oigh Niseach


but it’s after 22:00 and time for bed Smile

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