Life at the end of the road

February 3, 2018

All lit up :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 12:53 pm

Whilst not planned for, and with great weather, it’s hardly been a chore at work, the ‘craic’ has been good and my shipmates have looked after me. It makes a change to be working on the car deck with a different crew, though perhaps ‘work’ is too strong a word for it. I’ve not actually been doing a great deal really, it’s been exceptionally quiet this last couple of days, especially considering how good the weather has been, though there was five cars at Sconser yesterday with kayaks on the roof. It’s gonna be pure chaos at Sconser this summer, with only 28 car parking spaces, a café opening up next door and Raasay Distillery doing an excellent whisky tour.

Book a whisky tour at Raasay Distillery


As you can see, the tour guides are very enthusiastic, as well as being knowledgeable about the product  Smile

It’s been very strange arriving at work to a well illuminated ship, normally it’s me that ‘turns the lights on’ Smile

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And whilst I’ve not actually been straining myself, the rest of the crew have been rather busy.

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That big moon has meant big tides and yesterday it was pretty close to ‘chart datum’ . When Balfour Beatty built the harbour that’s where they started, which really was a mistake as ‘Lowest Astronomical Tide’ is often below this, especially with high pressure a swell from the north.

Lowest astronomical tide

Many national charting agencies, including the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and the Australian Hydrographic Service, use the Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) – the height of the water at the lowest possible theoretical tide – to define chart datums. LAT is the lowest levels which can be predicted to occur under average meteorological conditions.[3]

One advantage of using LAT is that all predicted tidal heights must then be positive (or zero) avoiding possible ambiguity and the need to explicitly state sign. Calculation of the LAT only allows for gravitational effects so lower tides may occur in practice due to other factors (e.g. meteorological effects such as high pressure systems)

The contractor that built the Sconser slip foresaw this (or at least the architect did) and that slip is always below the water, whereas the Raasay one can sometimes have quite a step.

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This means that sometimes the ferry needs guided onto the slip so the ramp stool can land on the concrete and not in the sea. It also means that on occasions like yesterday the ramp is ‘uphill’ Smile


The fish farmers speeding off to the Moll site around the corner in their ‘Polarcirkel’ boat. Over the thirty odd years I’ve lived and worked in and around fish farms they’ve tried many types of small workboat.

The sturdy and stable Taskforce 550 or Q18 was popular for a while when cages were wood and in sheltered locations.


Like the boat above but with heavy D shaped rubber fendering they were great boats but even the extra protection couldn’t stop them getting trashed when working about the new steel cages. Marine harvest had loads of these for sale in the eighties and if you didn’t mind doing a bit of fibre glassing they could be turned into a cheap stable fishing or diving platform. My first registered fishing boat ‘Annie V’ BRD10 was the 17’ version with a 70HP Johnson outboard. That wee boat paid my wages handsomely for a couple of years at the lobsters and scallops.

Next, in the hope of lasting a little longer came the 18’ Regent steel workboat, but I can’t even find a picture of one of those, I guess they went bust as they were pretty useless, unstable and the pointed steel bow was great for puncturing things.


Enter the ‘Voe’ boat, a sturdy open aluminium workboat originally made by Malakoff and Moore in Shetland but often copied by inferior builders. This would be the type of craft most favoured when I was diving around fish farms, with it’s large open deck and huge payload it was the ‘weapon of choice’ for many years and is still quite popular.

However as fish cages increasingly become plastic and are placed further off shore the MDPE boat has become more popular with it’s better seakeeping qualities and the fact that it’s virtually unsinkable. Being made out of the same material as the fish cages (large diameter MDPE sealed pipe) it’s inherently buoyant and exceedingly strong. Performing much like a RIB in rough seas but far more forgiving, it’s main disadvantage being the weight, these are far from lightweight, hence the twin 60HP outboards on that one. Still, with excise duty and VAT reclaimable on fishing/fish farm boats it’s not a major issue I guess.

The rest of the day

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Raasay’s resident fishing boat MV Lustre land her catch of crabs and prawns at Sconser then departing by the MV Sarah.


Lustre returning to her berth on Raasay.


Flat calm at sea but a good tide at Goat Island and still a ‘pull’ on the shore at Braes.


Ben Tianavaig and Goat Island.


Dun Caan.


The Black Cuilin, you would not believe it was the same day hey!


  1. Hi Paul

    Did I miss the reason ? Why are you being a sailor rather than an engine man?



    Comment by Sue — February 3, 2018 @ 12:59 pm

    • Covering for a shipmate Sue.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 3, 2018 @ 2:39 pm

  2. You write one helluva blog Paul, great photos too. I must admit I think they cocked up here too with LAT and HAT calcs and air pressures as the prom always seems to flood at Springs.

    Comment by John Rushworth — February 3, 2018 @ 1:00 pm

    • Aye John, methinks it was Balfour Beatty’s first harbour and I am not kidding when I say that one of the ‘head honchos’ in charge of bringing supplies in by barge from Kishorn did not know that the tide went in and out twice a day!!!!!

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 3, 2018 @ 2:44 pm

  3. Yet again yoh immerse me in my past. Those voe boats were the dogs danglies back in the day. You could load 2 tonne of bagged feed or two tubs of fish in them, very stable boats and coukd easily be powered by a 30 horse yamaha engine. We use to run them up a pebble beach no bother and push them back out with a telehandler if the tide dropped to much. Just remembered we use to drive them sat on the outboard steering with your ar@se. I bet elf and safety wouldnt allow that.

    Comment by artimaginguk — February 3, 2018 @ 2:13 pm

    • Yup, a telehandler, that’s what I need next 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 3, 2018 @ 2:45 pm

      • Yup i think that would compliment the rest of your plant.

        Comment by artimaginguk — February 4, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

  4. I’ll have to step here. The contractor only constructs what has been detailed by Designer (not architect) and shown on the Design drawings to within allowed tolerances. If there is an issue with the layout then it is not the fault of the contractor unless it is a design and build contract, which it wasn’t in this case.

    The issue you talk about might even have been raised prior to construction but for whatever reason the design stayed as it was.😉

    Sorry for the rant but not all contractors are as thick as they look.

    Comment by Iain MacPherson — February 4, 2018 @ 10:29 am

    • Aye Iain you’re right, I think we raised it with HRC, along with infilling at the Arduish to prevent that northerly swell making it worse 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2018 @ 10:35 am

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