Life at the end of the road

October 31, 2017

Double dumpin’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 4:02 am

Pretty early even for me, ten past three in the morning and I’ve been up for a while, couldn’t keep my eyes open at 20:00 so went to bed. Now I can’t sleep so am up at ‘stupid o clock itching to get back out. Tis a bit dark and early for continuing with yesterdays work just yet so who knows, I may even start on my VAT return.

Yesterday was a pure peach, despite the ‘sailors warning’ sky and perfect for what I was doing, which was sat on a dumper for most of the day, two dumpers in fact for my first task was to go and collect one from Sconser at 9:30. Sure I’ve got my own 3 ton swivel tip Benford which is a pure cracker but my mate and co owner of Calum the Kubota is coming up for a few days and we’re gonna be doing some work on the Torran path, which is just a bit too narrow for the 3ton machine. Consequently I hired a 1ton Hi Lift JCB from Jewson’s in Broadford for a week, it’s actually as cheap for a week as three days so I got it early to make a start before he arrives.


Being as I was going over anyway I set off early with the Old Girl and trailer to get a couple of tons of concrete mix from Sconser quarry too. Then it was back to a rather busy Sconser to await Kevin and Caleb and the JCB.

The Bhrusda was pretty stretched with all the traffic but the crew somehow kept managing to squeeze everyone on.

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I was waiting there for a couple of sailings and by a miracle the only thing that got ‘short shipped’ was our own cargo van for the shop at 9:25.

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What no brakes!!!

The dinky little machine arrived just as the 9:25 was leaving, which was just fine by me as there was no room on it. The boys unloaded it and the pickup as I also had cement, drainage coils and wooden boards arriving. Kevin donned his hard hat and safety harness to climb on the back of his pickup to unload it, I kid you not, I wasn’t allowed to help, talk about HSE gone mad, it’s a friggin’ van not three storeys of scaffolding!!! Caleb showed me the controls on the machine, which strangely enough did not include a foot or handbrake!! Methinks this little dumper also has an identity crisis, the woman at Jewsons told me to insure it as a Thwaites, it says JCB on the side and Neuson Lifton on the back of the bucket. Whatever it is it’s a little cracker, if not a little slow up the hills Sad smile


Still, I had the wind behind me and it was a lovely day for ‘open top’ motoring Smile

Once home and with a couple of fresh fried Arnish eggs inside me I got straight to work taking loads of bottoming down the track and leaving little piles at strategic places.

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After depleting the mound at the end of the track I started on the stuff left on the car park last week, though this was of two distinct varieties so required two dumpers.


There was finer stuff that was eminently suitable for patching holes, this went into the 1 ton machine. Then there were large rocks and chunks of tarmac for rod cuttings that went into the 3ton machine. The fine stuff got trucked down the Torran track and the boulders up to the croft and into a bog in the hen enclosure.

She’s back

Looks like our very own Hallaig is back from her annual refit and judging by that the harbour is quite busy. That’s Ferguson’s Harvest Caroline, the Loch Bhrusda and Hallaig all alongside the pier. Anyway’s that’s it now 4:00AM ‘on the nose’. Methinks it’s time to bash the VAT return Sad smile

October 30, 2017

Five o clock and all’s well :-)

Well, actually it’s 4:20 and I’ve already showered and put on the first pot of coffee thanks to this clock nonsense Sad smile Did I mention the fact that I’m not too keen on it Smile The only good thing I can see about it is moving them back in March, having said that, I don’t really care what time they pick, GMT, UTC or BST, just leave the friggin’ things be! So that will be my rant over for the day though you’ve probably not heard the last of my displeasure on the subject.

Seariding at last

Just for a change the ‘day of rest’ was just that yesterday, the Post Lady and I took it easy and went out for a jaunt in our new, well new to us, Avon Searider.


The forecast for the day was ‘bang on’, kinda grey in the morning with few specs of rain then clearing away to blue skies and sunshine around 15:00. All served up with light northerly winds and a gentle swell. So we hitched up the boat to the Old Girl and dragged it down to the ferry for just after its 10:00AM departure.

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Sure I could have reversed into the water but the front tow hitch just makes life so much easier than craning your neck round in a dry suit. It’s also slightly higher off the ground so helps with sliding the boat into the water. The northerly swell didn’t help matters but with plenty of water and no rocks to worry about it all went just fine and the 90HP Tohatsu TLDI flashed up straight away and never missed a beat even when stone cold.

The first thing every child and petrol head asks is ‘how fast can it go’, personally I’m not too fussed and am more interested in how good are it’s sea keeping properties, how quickly will it plane with three divers and all their kit and how much fuel will it consume. The fact that it accelerated very quickly to 35knots whilst burbling along at 5900RPM was very impressive but after ‘seeing what it could do’ we very quickly searched for it’s ‘sweet spot’ that economical place where you get the most miles per litre of fuel consumed. I reckoned it was around 3750RPM and 18knots which is where we sat for our hour or so at sea.

The old workplace

Me, I would have liked to make the whole day of it and cruise around Raasay or even go and visit me Mammy in Ratagan but it was quite cool and that north wind had made it quite lumpy ‘round the corner’ out of the shelter of Raasay and Skye. So we set off to go to Scalpay instead, first visiting the sandy bay at the north end and then skirting the western shore prior to negotiating the Scalpay Narrows.

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It was good to see that the fish farms still give up there treasures and I made a mental note to come back and collect that float above. Methinks it would make a fine water tank or pig house. It also has over a ton of displacement so could be used for lifting some big anchors or chain. The mast next to it must be for broadband access for the fish farm at the Moll. Apparently fish farms, like ferry boats cannot operate now without high speed internet. This appears to be for an ‘Akvasmart’ feed system

The CCS Feed Concept

I just love all that black pipe Smile perfect for hydro turbines Smile

Next we went to visit my old home of four years just at the head of Loch na Caridh that stretch of water opposite Ard Dorch and Strollamus on Skye.

You can even rent it now

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I cannae spell it I’m sure but a caridh is a stone fish trap and there are one or two of them on the Skye shore here. People often think we are remote here, well it’s nothing compared to living at the Narrows Cottage on Scalpay I can tell you. It’s had many upgrades since I left in 1989, the whole roof has been replaced for one and it now has reliable ‘off grid’ power, when I lived there it was all Tilley lamps and a gas fridge. Now I believe it’s supplied by a hydro turbine, there’s still no road, ferry or phone line right enough and I dunno if it has Internet but it looks a lot more habitable than when lived there.

I take that back, apparently it does now have a phone!

Next we gingerly navigated the tricky passage twixt Skye and Scalpay that has wrecked more than one vessel. When I lived there in the late 80’s we salvaged a 40’ ketch off the rocks, repaired the hole and then sailed it down to Loch Melfort south of Oban. The yacht was valued at £44K so the four of us walked away with £1100 each and that was over 30 years ago. After I left another yacht ran aground near the cottage but I wasn’t involved in that, than a large steel fishing boat ran aground in the same place as the ketch we salved, apparently the fishing boat thought it was on the east side of Scalpay.

I used to navigate this tricky gap daily, often in the dark when I lived there and worked four miles away but my memory aint what it used to be so we proceeded with caution and the help of the echo sounder and chart plotter. That done we proceeded around the corner over well fished scallop grounds to where I worked almost thirty years ago.


It really had not changed much Smile the ‘Quick Stage’ building we took from the Kishorn oil yard was rusting nicely, as were the two large ex Navy pontoons that we used for all manner of work and salvage.

quickstage 2

Here’s the 100’ x 50’ building with the tarpaulin sides removed on rails at Kishorn. The ‘Quickstage’ building was designed so large steel fabrications could be made within it then the whole building would be wheeled away, it broke down into 4 x 25’ x 50’ sections and we transported it on those pontoons.

pontoon and sea truck

Here is one of the pontoons being pushed by the Rotork SeaTruck, wonder where that is Smile Some more picture here on ‘Salvage Tales’. Like the Avon Searider, the Rotork Sea Truck is a bit of a classic and ahead of its time.

Never realized that James Dyson had a hand in it though

Next we went round to the east side to see if the old Series one 80” was still there


and sure it was, though it has been moved to make way for a deer fence.

First trip

So, that was it really, we returned to the pier at 12:05 so as not to interfere with the 12:00 ferry only to discover there wasn’t one, of course, not only have the clocks changed but so has the ferry timetable. No midday sailing on Sunday now, last ferry from Sconser at 18:30 and not 18:45 and of course, Saturday late sailing now a request. Anyway, our 18 mile trip burnt around 2.5 gallons of fuel so around 7MPG which is what I was expecting but a bit of that was at WOT (wide open throttle) which I won’t normally use. So, all in all I was pretty chuffed.

Recovered the boat and headed home just in time for the sunshine


washed down the boat and got on with creosoting some fences until dusk.


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