Life at the end of the road

November 11, 2014

Well done Phoebe :-)

I had fully intended a little scribbling last night, buoyed up as I was by the beautiful day and a bottle of Barbera D’ Asti my mother had given me. At 14.5% with a real cork and 2011 vintage it promised to be special, not that I found out for I was in bed at 19:30 without even getting undressed!! I’m sure it’s the messing about with the clocks that messes me up for weeks, I friggin hate it.

Anyway, being Monday I was up early to take my son to school on the first ferry, arranging the rest of my day on the mainland and Skye. Unusually, for a Monday, or any day in fact I’d been allowed to use Phoebe, mainly due to the Land Rover not having a clutch, the Almera’s boot being stuck shut and Phoebe needing petrol. Phoebe being darling wife’s latest wee car, a Daihatsu Terios of 2004 vintage, and Phoebe being the ‘best thing since sliced bread’ as far as the ‘hen lady’ is concerned.

 MV Loch Tarbert


We have the MV Loch Tarbert up on Raasay for the first time ever, not even sure if the Tarbert has ever even been this far north. She replaced the noisy and thirsty MV Loch Bhrusda some time last week as she was needed on Barra to relieve the MV Loch Dunvegan. Gosh it must really be a headache for CalMac when the dry docking comes around and they have to juggle all these ships and crews about. Headache, more like nightmare as both the crew and ship have to be suitable for the route.

The Tarbert was one of the last of the proper ‘Loch Class’ that will be the ones the size of the Striven that were built between 1986 and 1992.



What I didn’t realize was that she, along with the Loch Buie, were built at JN Miller’s of St Monans in Fife. Miller’s were famed for their wooden ‘Fyfie’ fishing boats and yachts and I worked with a chap who’s father worked there. As that was between 1985 and 1989 I guess he must have worked on one or both of them. Funnily enough Miller’s went ‘t1ts up’ in 1992 after completing these two ships, just like Ferguson’s did after finishing the Hallaig and Lochinvar. Mind you Miller’s had been going since 1747 and was just about the only employer in the picturesque fishing village of St Monans where my mate lived.

She’s well looked after on her regular summer route from Lochranza on Arran to Claonaig on the Kintyre peninsula.


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It’s very much a ‘tourist route’ as people see it as a cheap or different way to get to or from Arran, quite often using the ‘Island Hopscotch’ tickets that enable you to tour the islands at a discount .



My first ‘port of call’ after depositing the Dude was my parents on the mainland, though I did make an unscheduled stop at the ‘red shed’ to let traffic by me. Phoebe and I were only doing 40mph on account of having no fuel in the petrol tank, so I thought I’d have a gander at where I spent four years catching the boat to Scalpay. 


Once the cars had passed me by I continued my preamble to Sutherland’s garage on petrol fumes whereupon I gave Phoebe a well earned drink.


Then it was off to the mainland and my parents house, past the most photographed castle in the highlands and a young buzzard in a tree along the shores of Loch Duich.


A few wee jobs for mum and dad, a ‘spoiling’ of breakfast and baking and I was on my way back to Skye armed with the aforementioned Barbera and some homemade lasagne.



Must get a sprit level!

Well impressed

Now I will not go into the ‘ins and outs’ of trying to purchase a car for darling wife, save as to say that it wasn’t easy. It had to be 4WD for sure but small outside and big inside!!! it wasn’t a car she needed but a Tardis, however along came Phoebe via eBay and saved the day. A nifty 1.3 petrol engine, good ground clearance, four doors and a reasonable boot was all she required, but could it carry half a ton of pig and hen food.


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Well, much to my surprise, the answer was yes, no problem and without the rear end sagging onto the bump stops.



Wee Phoebe’s gearing and suspension is just perfect for the daily commute, even loaded to the gunwhales with feed, bedding and shopping.



On the way home I spotted the Briggs Marine workboat Cameron leaving Portree no idea what she was up to right enough.


The twelve hours sleep had me up and bouncing about the house early in an annoyingly good mood. Consequently, the first thing I did was light a huge bonfire that had been growing for the past few months. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s against the law these days or at least you need to have a ‘Fire lighting certificate’ but ‘ignorance is bliss’ and it was a great opportunity to get rid of some of my carp and clean the stove ‘burner pot’.




That will be it in the middle of the embers and it is by far the best way ever of cleaning an oil stove ‘burner pot’. I’ve tried everything from soaking in acid, caustic soda, chipping and using a blow torch but dropping the carbon encrusted ‘burner pot’ into the dying embers of a hot fire cleans all the carbon off a treat.


I started to have clutch problems with the ‘Old Girl’ a couple of weeks ago and this was undoubtedly as a result of fitting the 200TDi. Not because anything was incompatible, worn out, badly fitted or even wrong but quite simply because the stroke of the slave cylinder had changed. As the cylinder had been operating for years over a certain length of its bore it had most likely worn a groove. Changing the engine had slightly changed the stroke of the piston and this had damaged the seals, manifesting itself initially as fluid loss. However, last week when I went to collect my drum of cable the clutch failed completely and ‘yours truly’ was left clutchless.

Yesterday a genuine Lockheed slave cylinder arrived from Paddock’s and today I fitted it. To be honest I should also have bought a master cylinder as they are not expensive and quite often fail at the same time. DO NOT BUY A BRITPART master or slave cylinder ever, they are Chinese cloned 5h1te and you will be lucky to get a year out of them, I speak from experience.

‘Shitpart’ slave cylinder £7.35, Lockheed slave cylinder £11.50, are you really that ‘strapped for cash’.



  1. An impressive cavalcade of cars now calling Arnish home! So you now have 4 and they all work! And when does the Dude get his learner’s permit?

    Comment by Drgeo — November 11, 2014 @ 11:23 pm

  2. Morning, Paul

    What brilliant views, sun and blue sky! As good as my screen saver of the view from last July across to Skye (near to where you took the photo at Broadford) from Eyre. good also to see a very familiar Loch class boat on the slipway, though I bet the Hallaig is much missed.



    Comment by Sue Styles — November 12, 2014 @ 9:03 am

  3. Hi , you are smpllifying the vessel relief moves. What happened was Loch Bhrusda went to Barra (via Mallaig) to relieve Loch Alainn , which then went to the Kyles of Bute to relieve Loch Dunvegan , which then went to the drydock at Troon which had been vacated the day before by Hallaig.
    By the way , the Victoria Hotel at Rothesay has gone insolvent , and is up for sale.

    Comment by Nigel Macleod — November 12, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

    • Very complexicated indeed Nigel, shame about the ‘Vic’.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 12, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

  4. Is Hallaig now on its way back to Raasay?

    Comment by Rosemary Bungard — November 12, 2014 @ 8:06 pm

    • I believe she’s in Craignure tonight, so could be here tomorrow evening.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 12, 2014 @ 9:22 pm

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