Life at the end of the road

May 8, 2017

A bale from the Buitenzorg :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 1:05 pm

Well, it’s pure Mediterranean here in Poolewe right now amidst the cluster of Russian, American, British and Free French encampments that this little corner of the Poolewe caravan site has turned into. And you’ll have to forgive my lack of links and make allowances for any inaccuracies in this effort for there’s no Internet here, so anything I spout is from memory. No Mr Google tonight to confirm anything at all, so if the SS Buitenzorg ran aground on the 21st of January 1941  and not the 12th I’m sorry, but more of her later.

The Sound of Mull

I’m on me jollies at the mo with darling wife and me Mam on the shores of Loch Ewe but I’ve just returned from a short stint on our sister ship Lochinvar who’s plying the Sound of Mull. The route from Lochaline in Morven to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull is one I used regularly during the 70’s and 80’s but I can’t remember the last time I was there. Aside from a one way trip some years ago returning from the Clyde with my young son it must be thirty years.

What a pleasant couple of days it was too with my caravan just parked up right next door to work Smile


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It is an area that I have a real ‘soft spot’ for with many happy memories attached to it, of a former life where I spent too much time shackled to a ‘normal job’. Not that I miss that or anything associated with it but those trips to Mull set me on a course for the insecurity of clam diving, salvage, fishing, crofting and of course, eventually Cal Mac Smile Tis funny where life takes you Smile

Bales of this and that

It was whilst out for an evenings wander in Lochaline that I came across this

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and recognized it instantly. Of course I just happened to have a pair of pliers with me at the time Smile Anyway, this is a bale of pure latex rubber from the SS Buitenzorg a Dutch steamship  which ran aground on 15th? January 1941 on Eilean Glas (Grey Island) in the sound of Mull. Loaded with pig iron, tea and allegedly zinc or copper ingots. After running aground the Buitenzorg slipped back into deeper water and now resides in around 90m of water, well beyond yer average divers range.  However in the late 1970’s a salvage company tried recovering the zinc/copper ingots with remotely operated grabs from a vessel moored above her.

As I said earlier, I cannae check my facts and I’ve no Internet but it was a couple of dudes who successfully salvaged the RMS Oceanic off Foula. The Oceanic, a luxury liner converted to AMC (armed merchant cruiser) in WWI had run aground off Foula near Shetland. These two guys lifted tons and tons of scrap off the ship over a period of a few years whilst living on what was probably one of the remotest parts of the UK. Whilst there one of them married a local lass who wrote a book called ‘Deep Water’ about their exploits. Methinks she’s called Moia Crawford and the book is a cracking read. 

Anyway, these bales of latex started to turn up on the shores of Mull and the mainland not long after the Buitenzorg sank but once the salvage company got ‘stuck in’ they really started appearing and this is one of them. Thing is, it is not the only type of bale that turned up on these shores Smile

During the late 70’s there was a serious ‘drugs bust’ in the area involving a yacht, a property on the island of Kerrera off Oban, several tons of cannabis and the late Howard Marks (Mr Nice). I’ll say no more but many years ago I saw one of these cannabis bales on Mull but was too green to know what it was at the time. Rumour has it that several folk are still smoking this stuff and some of it was fed to cows on Mull Smile Well, that’s probably an ‘urban myth’ but by a bizarre coincidence over twenty years ago I had a girlfriend who’s ex husband had served time for the very bust Smile Said husband having done seven years then run off to Brazil or some such place with his secretary. My ex girlfriend was suitably stoical about the incident Smile It really is strange where life takes you if you let it.

Happy birthday to me

You couldn’t make it up really and by the time you’re reading this I’ll be a year older. Bit of a relief actually been telling everyone I was 61 for ages now, but discovered today that I must have been 60, I was 61 on Sunday!! Well, it’s actually Sunday right now and I’ve just driven the 6 miles from Aultbea to Poolewe following a Spitfire and Messerschmitt BF 109e down the road having just watched the movie South Pacific, I kid you not!!

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Actually just spent the whole weekend in a bit of a time warp, you wouldnae believe how seriously some people take this 1940’s carry on. I kept bumping into Winston Churchill today, not to mention any amount of allied and axis soldiers, sailors and airmen over the weekend.

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Sad to say I couldn’t resist entering into the spirit a little myself too Smile Well, it was only £30 off eBlag and probably cheaper than a T shirt these days. I couldn’t fasten the jacket and the hat didn’t fit right enough but ‘hey ho’ it was great fun.

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