Life at the end of the road

December 31, 2018

Scallop sushi :-)

A real scabby start here to Hogmanay with me staying in my bed until almost 9:00am !!!! Well it was far too wild for messing about in boats, mixing concrete, working on my new shelter or pretty much anything else outside. Perfect weather for doing the VAT return in fact and surprising HMRC by getting it in on time. Never went as far as to fill in my self assessment tax return right enough but that’s not due for a whole month and the VAT return was quite enough paperwork for one day.

Once I had actually extricated myself from bed I turned my thoughts to the bucket of scallops we’d caught yesterday and then ate some for breakfast, raw. They are actually very tasty and the roe isn’t half as fishy tasting when uncooked. In the past I’ve just eaten them this way when desperate for protein and out on the boat. When I was clam diving professionally I was pretty much vegetarian cos I wouldn’t eat anything that was processed. Sure I ate stuff I’d killed myself  stuff caught whilst fishing, even roadkill but I’d no eat anything I hadn’t known personally if you get my drift. The upshot of this being that I could go for a week or two without eating any meat. However, once or twice after particularly physical dives I’d start to feel week. Eating a few raw scallops soon sorted me out, a bit like giving a hypoglycaemic diabetic Pepsi,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoglycemia and I’ve had to do that more than once to a friend at Arnish.

Richard the ‘Beetleman’ (long gone now) was always doing it and it’s really boodly scary the first time you see it. I’ve lost count of the times I found him convulsing and blubbering on the floor but just get something sweet into him and he’d recover in seconds, be ‘right as rain’ and ask why you were all looking at him. He used to do it so frequently the nurse gave me a syringe full of adrenaline and instruction on how to use it. Imagine doing that in today’s ‘risk averse’ society Smile Of course that was in the days when Raasay actually had a nurse out of hours and at weekends. Methinks ole Richard would have died here up at Arnish years ago under the current regime. To be honest I always thought it was boodly irresponsible of him choosing to holiday for weeks on end in such a remote place with no phone. However, dear old Richard had been living alone for years in York, managing his diabetes quite well and never actually seen himself having a fit.

Anyway, back to the scallops, I tried em with just a squeeze of lemon, then soy sauce, and finally Finlay’s magic sauce Smile I call Sriracha hoy chili sauce after me mate Finlay who introduced this fiery red number to me and I gotta say it goes really well with a raw scallop. The lemon was good too but I wasn’t so keen on the soy sauce, methinks a little tabasco might have been nice but we haven’t got any. 

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Creeping round to the north

Well I never actually submitted the VAT return, kinda got distracted and went for a drive down the sowf end to get a few supplies, walk Bonzo and take some scallops down for Willie Eyre and Tekela. My old skipper Willie aint in the best of health these days, dementia dulling a once razor sharp mind and making him quite frail.

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The picture was taken just shy of a year ago, probably the last time I gave him some clams when Tekela and himself came to visit.

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I told him the wee boy he used to look after whilst I was lifting clams had picked them specially. I dunno if he remembered Ross or that he used to change his nappies whilst I was diving but they were priceless days with the three of us aboard MFV Conqueror. Indeed the boat was built for one of Willies cousins in the 80’s named after his grandfathers fishing boat and another cousin helped me out after I’d salvaged her. Willie himself put many hours of work into her during the couple of years it took me to restore her and the many years we fished from her. Happy, happy days Smile

After seeing my old pal I went to see Peter and Bonzo,

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taking all four of them out for a shortened walk. We did try to walk along the shore but the tide was too high and the weather too wild so Bonzo, Leah, Molly, Charlie and I did an ‘about turn’ towards the village on the road.

The mooring at the old fish farm slip is quite sheltered from the the NE right through to the west and whilst it’s been howling all day it’s been from the SW and now west, but I see the anemometer veering clockwise (as was forecast). Hopefully (as was forecast) it will now moderate as it veers.

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Methinks a few stiff drinks are in order tonight to help me sleep Smile 

Battery care

So after stopping to check the Searider on the way back we unloaded our New Year treat from the car,

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some fine Dexter beef form Donnie and Anne’s croft opposite the Raasay Distillery. Available from the Raasay Stores https://www.facebook.com/RaasayCommunityStores/ along with local venison and lamb.

Some warmed up soup from yesterday inside me (made even warmer with Finlay’s sauce) I went outside to potter around with my batteries. Outside being in the generator shed and not the great outdoors, it was like being power washed in the real outside.

I’m a bit of an ‘anorak’ when it comes to my various battery banks, I’ll also be the first person to scream from the rooftops that you only need one of them and having two or more makes absolutely no economic sense. However, aside from the new 800Ah 48v bank of Rolls batteries that ‘drive’ my house I also have an 800Ah 24v bank of forklift cells connected to my Lister generator and a 950Ah 48v bank connected to an Outback GVFX 3048 inverter charger in the ‘bunker’. These last two banks are old and tired ones that I’ve acquired over the years and are pure eccentricities that I don’t need. However they would give me a completely independent source of power in the unlikelihood of something like a lightning strike. It did happen to my good mate Bill Cowie on Rona so it’s not impossible, it just does not warrant the expense of all the spare kit needed and of course it’s upkeep. Still, I have never really been driven by money or even common sense for that matter so I keep all this stuff well maintained or at least better than most people who live ‘off grid’. People that mix up different types of cells, top up with rain water, top up only when the batteries are dry, deplete their banks to below 40% and blah, blah, blah.

I’d already done the main house bank yesterday,

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The main Rolls batteries are really treated well, with regular monthly checks and logs, having said that, the last time I logged them was September Sad smile Must try harder hey,

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The ‘forklifts’ in the bunker were given a good charging yesterday as I mentioned but today I did the final set on the generator.

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This bank really only supplies the generator and is normally charged from it, though at one time it did have a Chinese wind turbine supplying too. Sadly the Chinese turnip died after less than two weeks and I always meant to fit some solar PV on the roof of the shed to keep them topped up. That never happened and as a consequence these cells are never really fully charged as the hydrometer indicates. I did leave a 25A charger on them all day but they really need a good blast at 100A to get em fizzing and equalized for a few hours.

Hogmanay

So that’s it, another year is almost over and the island is getting ready to celebrate, my son, along with others will be heading to the Raasay Village Hall for what promises to be an excellent evening. Darling wife and I will probably veg in front of the TV with a bottle of wine, the dugs and MiL. Sure, we really should make the effort but it’s friggin ‘orrible outside and 23 degrees in here Smile Perhaps the neighbours will pop round or I’ll get ‘tanked up’ enough to put me oilskins on and quad over to Torran. Who knows what the night will bring, one thing for sure I’ll be thinking of the Iolaire tragedy  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMY_Iolaire of 100 years ago today. Not enough has been written or said of this tragedy in which 201 perished, mostly brave men of Harris and Lewis who had survived the  gassing, trench foot, dysentery and horrors of the Western front. Many of them in sight of their own homes and all of them conned into believing they had ‘fought to end the war of all wars’  on a promise of land at a fair rent in return for their sacrifice, aye right.

Well, we’ve all heard that before hey, ‘the mother of all wars’, ‘the war to protect us all from imaginary WMD’s’ ‘the war against fascism, communism or to protect some sheep in the South Atlantic’. Truth is, as Axel Rose says ‘it buries the poor to feed the rich’ Sad smile

Can’t say as I’m a great fan of Gun’s n Roses but right from the opening lines (taken from Cool Hand Luke https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool_Hand_Luke) this is an awesome song.

December 30, 2018

The ‘lucky lobster’ :-)

Filed under: Avon Searider, boats, daily doings, food — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:48 pm

19:00 now, black as pitch outside and that’ll be just in and demolished dinner, a nice home grown pork roast washed down with the last of Bill’s Villa Bucci rosso’s. Luckily for me Darling wife doesnae like it so I’ve her glass to finish too Smile How we have managed almost seventeen years of blissful marriage together is beyond me for we have little in common Smile 

Anyway, it turned into quite an interesting and exciting day really, something of a surprise cos it was actually quite a scabby day with a good hash of wind from the WSW. Great wind for generating power but not so nice for boating, at least not out of the relative shelter of Loch Arnish. I had however mooted such a proposition to my mate and son yesterday so when my mate turned up around 11:00 we managed to talk ourselves into going out. The dogs had been walked, breakfast had and the next best proposition would have been staying inside reading a book, watching TV or surfing the net. No contest, we formulated a plan to go looking for missing lobster pots, filled a flask with sweet, milky fresh coffee and ‘went for it’. Normally I take my coffee strong and black minus the sweet stuff but out in a cold wet boat there’s nowt like sweet sticky coffee for reviving a cold diver. Worst case scenario, if you cannae drink it you can tip it into your gloves to warm your hands Smile

Having the Searider on the mooring made it all so simple, I swam out brought her into the shore, the boys loaded up fresh diving cylinders and we made the short journey round to Tarbert in ‘jig time’ to search for the missing creels.

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After half an hour he surfaced with nothing found bar a few scallops and a Lada pickup!!!!!

And I’m not talking of a trendy one either but one of these minus the fibre glass hardtop, I still have that Smile And no, it was not me that dumped the thing in the sea or condoned it, at that time (over 20 years ago) the council would uplift scrap vehicles off Raasay for £22. You gotta laugh really cos I’d just been relating the story to my son, telling him that I thought a Lada pickup had been dumped here some 25 or so years ago and how the actual effort of getting it over the cliff would have far exceeded the £22 demanded by HRC for its legal removal. I also gave him some background info on Lada’s and a Russian deal with the Chinese to supply carp steel for building them. The Lada being a copy of the Fiat124 and they rusted faster than their 0-60 time, the Lada took rusting to an Olympic sport level.

When we eventually picked up my mate (on the other side of the bay) I asked him if he’d seen the creels, no he said but I did find a car Smile Smile 

Anyway’s Ross and I went in at the second site a little nearer the head of the bay

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and found 1 creel complete with a nice lobster!!!! The creel was lying at the base of a steep rocky slope with a rather overgrown but short marker buoy attached to it. So we dragged it up the rocky slope until I could feel the marker buoy break surface. We then continued with our dive finding a stack of old prawn creels an aluminium oar and of course a few clams down a steep slope to 30m. Returning to the surface after half an hour or so having had a thoroughly enjoyable dip.

My mate picked us up and once back in the Searider we went to retrieve the lobster pot, only half way up the rope snapped Sad smile I quickly got kitted back up and grabbed a rope to recover it.

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Found him OK (more by good luck than judgement) but then decided to let him go. He was over 90mm carapace length but we figured he deserved a second chance after ‘solitary confinement’ for all these months. He had probably been in there since July!!!!

Still, we had the creel, an oar, some clams and a crab,

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at least we did until my wife talked me into putting the crab back Sad smile Sure, he was well above the legal size and perfect in every way with not a blemish on him and a good heavy shell. Indeed he was so perfect that I conceded, hopefully he’ll go onto reproducing more of the same Smile

The heating is back on Sad smile

After our wee jaunt out into the loch I got on with refilling the cylinders

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but to do that I have to run the generator. Not that that’s usually a problem but the compressor only draws a couple of kW once it’s running. That’s normally too much for my inverter/battery bank for the couple of hours it takes to fill three bottles so I use the genny. However the Lister is 12kW and running a 12kW genny at a 18% is not good for it so I usually load it up with something else.

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So today I charged up my spare battery bank just to load up the genny but even that only takes it to around 50% load. A diesel generator really needs run at 75% loading to prevent bore glazing, oil leaks and oil consumption issues. Again that’s not usually a problem cos I can turn on the immersion in the house or some other large load.

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This will draw current from the battery bank and increase the load on the generator. The meters on the left show the bottom of the thermal store is at 72/75 degrees whilst the top is at 68. So, to reduce the temperature and pressure in the store I turned the heating on. We are now at 23 degrees in the house  and the pressure it the store is a more sensible 2bar.

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Top of the store is a respectable 74 degrees now with the bottom at 54 so that’s it, I’m off for a shower. Les Misérables is on shortly and I’d like to see it, I watched an old BW version years ago and couldn’t stop blubbering. Nothing like a good blubber, I’m no into all this testosterone and macho pish Smile

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