Life at the end of the road

December 31, 2016

The turkey is finished :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, pigs, stonework, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:56 am

Well, that’s it, Santa has been, Christmas is over and the turkey is finished Sad smile Our turkey usually lasts until Hogmanay or there abouts but not this year. Of course the fact that we got a crown and not a full bird for the first time ever didn’t help, but neither does having a permanently warm house and small fridge. The house internal temperature has never dropped below 20 degrees and the outside temp has been between 9.1 and 12.7 degrees since the turkey went in the oven!!! I kid you not, even at night it’s never been less than 9 degrees, we struggle to achieve temps like this in May!!!  In the past we’ve stored stuff outside at this time of year to keep it cool but not this Christmas.

The crown was OK but only managed a Christmas dinner, stew and curry, one of Brian Green’s home reared birds is usually good for numerous sandwiches, turkey ham and mushroom pie, turkey and chips and several frozen pots of stock. Sadly Brian stopped doing them last year so we tried a crown instead, methinks we’ll have wild boar next Crimbo Smile Apparently it’s more traditional and where did this turkey nonsense come from in the first place? Methinks the same place as ‘Black Friday’, ‘Trick or Treat’, The Golden Arches ‘Grandparents Day’ and DJ Trump Smile Well, next year, despite ‘Brexit’ I’m gonna be more European in my outlook at Christmas Smile

The ‘run up’

The week up to Christmas was fraught with uncertainty for many travellers and I’m guessing a few just didn’t bother with all that talk of storms Barbara and Conner. Indeed the ferry was off all day on Friday and we didn’t sail until 9:55 on Saturday the 24th.

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Having said that, the day got much better as it wore on and everyone managed to get to Raasay before 18:30, even those that had booked the 21:00 ferry. The net result of that was that I got home for 20:00 and not the usual 22:30,


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so it was ‘Dirty black Russians’ all round 5 x Vodka, 2 x Tia Maria, ice and Pepsi, hic.

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It was a very busy and civilized Christmas day with six adults and three dogs to feed, it also ensured we had a very warm house.

We only actually have the heating on in the living room and bathroom but it’s hardly come on at all, perhaps a couple of times during the night when there’s been little movement and no cooking. Of course it’s rarely been below 10 degrees outside but even so it’s pretty impressive. Every one else at the North End has been stoking their fires all day to try and warm up their draughts Smile It has been exceptionally windy of late,


though you wouldn’t think so from the data on my new weather station.

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This can be seen live here . As with all the weather stations I’ve had it’s not capable of catching Scottish West Coast rain which travels sideways and doesn’t go into the collector. The wind figures too are, at the moment grossly understated but that’s cos I just screwed the sensor to a fence post near the house on Christmas day. It’ll be going somewhere higher and clear of obstacles as soon as I can stand up outside. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the Watson W8681- Pro II for it’s not capable of storing data and transferring it to your laptop ‘out of the box’. You have to connect the friggin thing to the Internet, which is handy if that is what you want to do, but you have no other option. Of course the Chinese instructions didn’t help and when I finally did set up my own ‘personal weather station’ the site crashed for two days!!!! Then it got repaired then I lost my Internet for  for 5 hours yesterday!!!


Why can’t people get it through their heads that the Internet does not always work!!! More and more systems rely on it and it alone, the world has gone mad!!

The other thing I don’t like about it are the graphs on the station screen, for some reason they don’t include wind, which is the one I’m most interested in. The unit does take a micro SD card which I fitted yesterday and it has a USB port but there’s nothing in the Chinese translation that mentions these or the drivers required. Connecting it to my laptop just has it spending yonks looking for one without success Sad smile

Having said all that, I’m sure I’ll get it sorted eventually and for most people who don’t live out in the sticks it would be just fine.

Boxing day was a nice short one at work with just the one sailing at 12:30 to Sconser and 13:00 back. Why this was moved from its original 10:30 and 11:00 is a bit of a mystery but all the travellers I spoke to about it thought it was a bad idea. Driving at this time of year is bad enough, driving with two hours less daylight is even worse. Anyone travelling further than Fort William or Inverness is faced with the prospect of closed fuel stations and darkness Sad smile


Sorry got distracted there, it’s NYE now, 7:34 and I’m not long out of bed, so far facing another miserable black morning.


However, that’s supposed to changing later on with a shift in the wind lowering the temperature, clearing the skies a little and abating the incessant gales. This is all ‘damn fine splendid’ for tonight it’s party time at the boat shed Smile

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Methinks the entire population of the ‘North End’ will be heading down there tonight for what promises to be a great night out. Been a while since we went to a good ‘sesh’ and we’re all ready for it, specially after the last couple of days which have been pretty grim on the weather and achievement front.

Ruins at the North End

The first day of the ‘rest period’ got off to a cracking start right enough with me dragging my son out for a wander around the hills looking for one of the hinds that’s causing chaos around here.

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We were on a mission to nowhere really cos it was so windy you could barely stand in some places but we did have a great walk from Arnish, over Rainey’s wall and then back along the coast. Also found a few old ruins that I’d never seen before. The one top left being high above the wall facing west in what looks a most unlikely spot for the usual hen house that you see around here.

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Could be some kind of small enclosure I guess using the cliff as its back wall, who knows what these folk did in days gone by. I guess future generations will think the same when the come across my pipes, cables and concrete foundations Smile


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That’ll be the bin lorry heading off with their cases of beer and this will be a hen house at Tarbert. I believe it was built by Calum Macleod’s grandfather for the usual practice of moving the hens away from crops in the summer.

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These next three are all just to the west of our house between the road and the sea, dunno about the two on the left but the right hand one is most definitely a hen house.

Moving house

Once back home we set about moving the pigs out onto the hill.

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Whilst their current residence in one of the hen fields has had the gate wedged open for months they’ve seldom bothered to wander out of late. I guess that’s cos the weather has been pretty grim and their field was pretty boggy, methinks they just couldn’t be bothered. So I reckoned it was about time to find them a better spot and then lock them out of the croft. This would also save the post lady and I navigating the boggy field to feed them in the dark. With their house moved to a more sheltered and drier spot and their trough just over the fence near the feed store it would make all our lives pleasanter.

The two Tamworth certainly agreed and have been noticeably happier of late, even in the grim grim wind and rain of yesterday they were out for most of the daylight hours exploring. Quite strange really cos their shelter is only a few yards from where it was and they have always been able to walk out of that field they were in.

More breakages

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With the missing sheet of 3mm steel for my tipping trailer finally arriving last week my son and I got on with fitting it over the 22mm phenolic ply base. First off we bonded it with silicon and SikaFlex and then a few countersunk stainless Allen bolts for good measure.

During this operation I was ‘called out’ on a breakdown Smile my mate was going out in his boat to lift his lobster pots when he lost forward gear on his Yamaha 15HP outboard.

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I was convinced it was a very simple adjustment to the cables or gear linkage but it turned out to be rather serious.


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The gearbox drain plug was missing, the box had filled with water and everything was seized Sad smile

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Does anyone know where there’s a Yamaha 9.9/15HP gearbox? This one is pure wrecked!!

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Just thought I’d throw those two of Glamaig and the FV Lustre in for good measure, I’ve gotta go now and fix a digger!!

December 23, 2016

Three forward four aft!

Gosh, it’s exactly 36 hours since the winter solstice, so officially the days are getting longer. Not that we’ll actually see any difference for a while but it’s another of the year’s milestones by with. Almost 23:00 now on Thursday night and that’s the ferry cancelled for Friday so I’ll not be rushing off to work tomorrow. The Hallaig is firmly attached to Scotland with ‘Three forward, four aft, two springs and two breasts’ so she’ll not be moving anywhere until Saturday at the earliest. This may make my life a little easier but it’s not so great for those wanting to travel, or the poor ‘post lady’ who’s gonna have double mail on Saturday.

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This is the mountain of mail we had locked in the store on Wednesday Sad smile Fine by me but it does make the post lady crabbit Smile

Severely ‘pear-shaped’ from day one

With the shortest day behind me I was gripped with great enthusiasm so thought I’d tackle this job that I’d not been particularly looking forward to. Changing a stainless steel one way flap valve on one of the ships sprinkler systems. The Hallaig has three of them and more fire fighting and prevention systems than you can ‘shake a stick at’. This is a ‘wee job’ that ‘reared its head’ in September, the valve was passing a very small amount of water, which after time was building up pressure and setting off an alarm. Now the worst thing you can have on any alarm system is spurious alarms, cos pretty soon you get used to them and human nature being what it is. Well you get the picture, so at the time I tried to remove it, couldn’t and then managed to repair it in situ with a large hammer. Don’t ask but it did work, however, with the dry dock coming up in November my ‘back to back’ ordered another from the usually very efficient manufacturer of the system. Tyco Integrated Fire and Security are normally first class in both the service and replacement parts department but the failed sadly on this occasion.

To cut a very long story short, first the wrong one arrived and was promptly returned after much explanation of the problem. The right one was listed on the delivery note but the wrong one was sent, much apology followed with the promise of correct valve to be sent as soon as wrong one received. Many phone calls, emails, threats and months later the valve arrived on Tuesday so I set about fitting it on Wednesday.

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Not the easiest thing to access but with some minor surgery I managed to remove it only to discover the new one was a bit longer.

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Not a major issue methinks that a few alterations to the pipe work and I’d get it so I removed the fittings off the old one to transfer them to the new one.

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Bit of a problem though, the 1 3/4” BSP threads on the new one were not tapped deep enough causing the fitting to ‘gall’ . Galling is when the threads weld themselves together, usually due to poor machining but not always. The roughness caused by poor thread cutting can exasperate the issue but stainless is prone to it anyway. This being even more common in Indian and Chinese bolts, we had some Indian stainless M12 x 50 bolts and more than half of them locked up solid and had to be cut off!!!

Galling can often occur in screws and bolts, causing the threads to seize and tear free from either the fastener or the hole. In extreme cases, the bolt may lock up to the point where all turning force is used by the friction, which can lead to breakage of the fastener or the tool turning it. Threaded inserts of hardened steel are often used in metals like aluminium or stainless steel that can gall easily.

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This fitting was well and truly galled into the new valve and took some serious effort to remove. When I’d finally removed it

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both the valve and fitting were in poor shape so I decided to have a go at cleaning up the threads on the new fitting and then refit the old valve. It had after all been working OK since September and now it was out I could lap the flapper so it would seal even better.

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Sadly my efforts with a hacksaw blade and small triangular file proved fruitless so as a last resort I cut the top two threads off with a 1mm cutting disc and all was peachy. Had I one of these on the ferry,

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a ‘thread file’ I could have sorted it but mine were at home Sad smile I bought two of them over twenty years ago in a sale at Jansvans in Portree, they were £9.50 each and at the time it was money I could ill afford but they’ve ‘saved my ass’ many a time. Why only the other week I was using them on the threaded bar for the ‘ole Smile

Ten minutes lapping with some coarse and then fine grinding paste had the valve nicely lapped in.

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Then it was just a matter of putting it all back together, then topping up the water and nitrogen.

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Our own little carol service Smile

The weather may have been pretty grim on Thursday, at least in the frequent hail showers but that didn’t stop Raasay Primary School from spreading good cheer throughout the island. They had already been to the shop and sung in there for the staff and postie. Now when I went carol singing in the dim and distant past it was for money. The Raasay Primary School children dished out little presents after their recital Smile

After the shop they came down to the ferry and gave us all treat too, first up in the wheelhouse for the rest of the crew and then in the lounge for some customers and myself.


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Poor Santa was at the other end of the lounge and missed out Sad smile 

The rest of Thursday was taken up with trying to replace some hydraulic hoses and bunkering.

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I say ‘trying cos I’d planned to change four at lunchtime and only managed 1!!! The first one went easy enough but the one on the left was seriously tight and given my ‘track record’ with the sprinkler system I left it alone. Methinks that this is gonna be a Sunday job next year Smile

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3000lts of marine gasoil will normally do us the whole week and we’ve capacity for going on 10,800lts but best to keep her ‘topped up’. If for any reason we loose our ‘hybrid mode’ and the weather is bad, that 3000lts can easily be 5000.


Having cancelled the ferry yesterday for the whole of Friday we secured Hallaig with extra ropes had today off. The way the forecast was boarding the vessel would have been dangerous and pointless. All the planned maintenance and paperwork was up to date and the chances are we’d be working late on Christmas eve as Saturday would still be seeing Barbara’s tail end.

With the family all here yesterday and me not working I treated myself to a few glasses of vin rouge and had a lie in until 6:00am Smile It was pretty boodly wild then, probably what woke me, so I went out to check for damage. A rattling from the barn had me worried but that turned out to be just the doors and all was well.

There wasn’t any damage but there was certainly a lot of water so when it was light I went back out to clear the drains and feed the pigs.

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That done and with some breakfast inside me I accompanied the postie to work, not that she’d be doing anything but it would give me a chance to have a look at Hallaig.

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It was pretty scabby but she was sitting nicely on those four huge stern ropes, the power was on and no alarms sounding Smile Just as well really cos there was little chance of getting safely aboard

After the postie had finished work we headed up to the Orchard for some ivy to go with the rest of the locally sourced and made decorations.

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It’s never going to be a classic, dunno how old this remnant of the Soviet Union is but Lada’s quite often looked this bad after three or four years Smile 

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An atmospheric tree and a fine set of horns on the way home Smile

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