Life at the end of the road

November 28, 2017

Let the real work commence :-)

Filed under: daily doings, New hybrid ferry, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:03 pm

Well, that has to be the quickest fortnight ever Smile The old ‘two weeks on’ just rocketed by this shift, sure a coupe of the days where a bit of a drag but on the whole it whizzed by. I guess the few hiccups thrown up by the annual dry docking helped, work always passes quicker when you’re up to your neck in ‘muck and spanners’ not that the Hallaig is by any means mucky but we have had our share of ‘spannering’ this shift. Of course working with different ‘shipmates’ always helps too, a change is as good as a rest as they say. The ‘Rocket Man’s’ excellent bread and poached eggs also assisting to ease the passage of two weeks at work.

P1120888 P1120892

And no, I’m not talking about Kim Jong-Un or even Elton John

but our very own VR pilot.

P1120881 P1120882 P1120883 P1120884

He’s been practising for the ski slopes

P1120878 Ski goggles

as well as giving me a first class haircut Smile


Aint that a ‘beezer’ for November Smile must remember to pick up a bottle of red tomorrow as payment Smile

So, that’s it, I’m home, it’s 19:30, the first glass of ‘19 Crimes’ red wine has just slid nicely down my throat and I’m getting ready for some serious work around the croft.


Since I last posted we’ve had a bit of a cold spell, and a spell of west and north  wind,

P1120874 P1120876 P1120877

Hardly the freezing temperatures experienced by many, the Gulf Stream sees to that, but it’s been cold enough for snow and the ‘wind chill’ makes it feel much cooler. I also abandoned the wee Terios in favour of the Land Rover for a couple of days. The Land Rover can get me into work even  when the snow plough and a JCB cannot get to Arnish Smile


The rear view of the amazing Suisnish boat shed

whilst out walking  Bonzo.


Ben Tianavaig with a dusting of snow and


a confused rhoddy. I guess flowering rhododendron aint unusual further sowf at this time of year but it  is here.

P1120887  P1120886

Different ends of the same rainbow.


You wouldn’t believe it was the same day hey!


Just another ‘hiccup’ from the docking but we got it sorted.

290315 020

Well sorted in fact, the ‘drencher’ is aptly named Smile

November 23, 2017

Under a cloud :-(

First snow on Raasay today and whilst it was indeed forecast, it still came as a shock,

P1120856 P1120857

not so much its actual appearance but the suddenness by which it arrived. I left the house in pishing rain just before 6:30 and just above the Bealach Ruadh (the Reddish Brown pass) some 4 miles from home it suddenly went white and slippy, so much so that I had to lock the diff on the wee Daihatsu. Not that that means a lot, the 17” wide and low profile tyres are just pure pish in the snow, sure they look great though Sad smile Fat lot of good that is hey.

P1120860 P1120861

Still it wasn’t a bad day once the sun ‘came up’ not that we actually saw much of that right enough and not that it did much in the way of lifting peoples spirits.

The sea is a harsh mistress

It was just after the 14:30 sailing from Raasay on Monday that we heard the Coastguard reporting a local fishing boat ashore on the Applecross Peninsula with the engine running and no one aboard. This did not bode well for I knew the owner, indeed he’d been up at Sonas during the summer and he’d been instrumental in our Internet connection via the Applecross Community Broadband Trust.

P1120837 P1120839

The Kyle inshore lifeboat ‘Spirit of Fred Olsen’ was already on the scene and the Portree Arun class ‘Stanley Watson Barker’ wasn’t far behind. That’s her by the Jackal Rock Buoy doing 23 knots as she sped to join the flotilla already searching for the missing fisherman.

The search for Alasdair Macleod was resumed on Tuesday morning at first light and again yesterday but as yet there has been no news that I know of. There was no sign of any activity today on the AIS sites so we all fear the worst.

A much better picture of ‘Snoddy’ as he was known (and how I knew him for years before even knowing his real name) than the BBC one, and from his own popular blog

“My name is Ali Macleod and have lived in a really special place for the last 30 years, Applecross on the NW coast of Scotland. I first went fishing in 1978 and bought my first boat in 1984 and have fished for prawns since. During the 1990s I tried my hand at scallop farming and more recently have been working part-time in the Applecross Inn. 4 boys of which 3 are in further education and a partner Alison who is currently the local development officer.

We live in a vibrant but fragile community and are involved in a fair bit of community development, Pier, Hall,Filling Station and Community Company in general. Constantly trying to find ways of making the community more resilient against a backdrop of falling school role and declining services.”

In his own words, the boat he speaks of in 1984 ended up in my hands for many years and he was very much part of the vibrant but fragile community it will miss him sorely. As of course will his wife, family and friends, many of them here on Raasay, myself included.

Thirty three years I’ve made my living on, in and under the sea and in that time I’ve lost four friends to her, fishermen, fish farmers and a clam diver, she is a harsh mistress and takes no prisoners. I guess I’ve just been lucky, two bends, one helicopter trip and a lost wellie but I’m still here.

 More leaks

Apart from hanging over every word on the VHF for news of Alasdair and constantly watching the search patterns on the AIS there’s been quite a few jobs on the boat. Another of our electro hydraulic bilge valves was passing water back into the bilge. This time in one of the prop spaces and luckily, much easier to get at than the last one.

P1120826 P1120829

Where would we be without ‘ratchet straps’ Smile

 P1120824 P1120825

Cleaning the filters and lapping in the valve soon had it sorted though.

P1120828 P1120827

The next leak to be sorted was on the domestic fresh water plant. It had started to leak from ‘pump 1’ of the dual pump system whilst heading to dock. Consequently that pump was isolated and the pressure reduced then spare seals ordered as well as a complete pump and motor.

P1120841 P1120842

My first option being to repair it, pumps like this, the bilge pumps etc. are usually easier and cheaper to repair than replace. Firstly you don’t need to disturb the wiring or pipe work and secondly they are much lighter. Sadly our puller would not remove the rather delicate plastic impeller so I decided to use ‘plan B’, replace the entire pump and order up a new impeller to repair the old one.


It required a little ingenuity to remove the old fittings right enough but that I managed by making up a tool from some thick flat bar.

 Another leaky pump!

As if that wasn’t enough, the drencher pump pressure gauge sprung a leak and this really did perplex me as when I tried to remove it the brass union sheared off Sad smile


This left me with the remaining section firmly embedded in the manifold and the pump out of commission or at least spraying water everywhere. I gotta say that I was severely chuffed with how I removed the offending bit of union.

 P1120852 P1120851

I battered in an Allen socket then removed it with the impact wrench Smile It screwed out the broken bit a treat and I was very loud in my self praise Smile

The broken bit in the actual gauge came out easy enough as that still had the hexagon end on it. I just refitted the gauge without the 90 degree elbow and all was ‘peachy’.

Not leaking, just not working very well Sad smile

This morning’s pump was the ‘oily bilge’ Rotoflo, cavity screw pump


methinks I’ve been working it too hard recently and its output had dropped to a mere trickle.


These pumps are quite ingenious, that ‘worm’ spins around inside a rubber stator creating a vacuum which draws up the oil, water or both. They don’t like being run dry for very long though and methinks I may have left this one switched on too long whilst emptying the bilge after the leaky valve Sad smile Anyway, it’s easy enough to replace the stator so that was this morning’s task.

Other stuff

Well, we’ve been eating well,


Ali’s chili focaccia for one, almost as good as my mum’s Smile


The poached eggs (better than my mum’s) Smile and a whole host of other treats that I’ve only sampled the ‘left overs’ of.

P1120833 P1120845

Me being consigned to ‘Bonzo walking’ whilst the rest of the crew feasts Smile Bonzo doesn’t like the rain and as soon as he gets in he wraps himself up in the chair throw Smile

Still, it’s not been all rain at lunchtime,

P1120834 P1120835 P1120836

I love the way this old boat house uses the natural contours and rock for itself and the slipway of sorts.


The more modern slipway at Suisnish is far more practical but just does not have the character Smile

Older Posts »

Blog at