Life at the end of the road

December 29, 2018

Eleven years on!!!!

Filed under: Avon Searider, boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:42 pm

I kid you not, WordPress  just informed me that I’ve been at this blogging carry on for 11 years!!! I’d just turned 51 when I started and now I’m counting the weeks to retirement, where did it go hey, Some 2090 posts, 3.2 million visitors and 1830 comments. Sure, it’s been hard work rustling up the energy at times but it is an awfully handy way of keeping a track of things. Since the 1970’s I’ve kept logs of all my dives both professional and pleasure, thousands in all, and since the eighties I kept diaries (all of which I still have) but this has been great for being able to refer back to stuff. I guess the whole world can refer back to it if they want, which might no be such a good thing and I’m sure there’s many an alcohol fuelled rant I regret but ‘what you see is what you get’ Smile 

No heating for three days!

Having got my son home for a couple of weeks it was inevitable we did a spot of diving together. The forecast was reasonable, the Searider had a new prop that needed testing and of course, Calum had a tow hitch on his blade. Trouble was, it was quite a bit windier during the night than expected, not only that, it came from the worst possible direction. How do I know this, well, I made the mistake of turning on the heating last night for a few hours. Not that it was actually cold, five people, three dogs and the cooker provide enough heat, the insulation keeps it in the house and the MVHR keeps the air fresh. However, it didn’t seem natural to have no heating whatsoever on in December for three days so I switched it on in the evening for a couple of hours. Big mistake, both wife and son flung open the bedroom windows to cool down and I couldn’t sleep for wind noise and ratting doors Sad smile 

Once daylight arrived I went down to survey the slip and it didn’t look good.

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Sure, I could and have launched boats in much worse conditions but that was when I younger and not quite so philosophical. The forecast was for the wind to fall away and the tide was rising, so I got on with other tasks and walked back down a few hours later with the dogs. By midday all was peachy so my son and I got kitted up and we headed down to the shore.

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It was quite slow going using Calum cos there is no suspension on a digger, so if you try to go to fast it starts to bounce. Still even tracking at slow speed is a gazillion times quicker than driving down to the sowf end and launching there. The control you have with the digger is far far superior to using a regular wheeled vehicle and you don’t after worry about the handbrake not holding or rolling into the sea. There was one minor hiccup right enough, the angle of the slip is quite steep, I had the blade lifted quite high and the boat was very ‘stern heavy’ on account of all the diving cylinder and weight belts at the back. So, when we slid the Searider off the trailer it got ‘pooped’ with a wave and filled with water Sad smile I got Ross to haul the trailer out with Calum, the Searider levelled up, Ross jumped in the boat and we set off at high speed to clear the deck via the ‘elephant’s trunk’. All was well and ‘another lesson learned’.


We found a nice sheltered spot to dive, got a few clams, checked a mooring and found a nice big stockless anchor. Typically on this dive we didn’t take a marker buoy but I reckon I could find it again cos I surfaced and took some photos of the area. I also took some pictures of the anchor but stupidly left the flash switched on so all you can see is bubbles, ‘another lesson learned’ Smile

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Off to see the neighbours

After that productive wee dip we set off north to visit Bill and Lorraine on Rona though he seems busier here these days Smile

I gotta say that when we headed north to Rona and saw Stanley Watson Barker ahead of us

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I was a little concerned, today is Saturday and Lifeboat practice is on Monday Sad smile

However, upon following Hamish and the crew in it became clear that they had just moved ‘practice’ from Monday to Saturday cos of Hogmanay Smile

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Bill and Lorraine were just fine and we came away with two fine Italian reds in exchange for some chops and rolled shoulder of pork Smile


So, we bade them all farewell and headed back to Loch Arnish.

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The Searider got left on the mooring and we deposited a few scallops for the other neighbours before going home to shuck scallops, fill diving cylinders, read new book and drink Bill’s red wine Smile 

Donitz’s Last Gamble may not seem like riveting reading but some of the best shipwrecks I have visited have been because of it. By 1944 the Battle of the Atlantic was won and the allies had by far the upper hand, pretty much entire ‘air cover’ from New York to London and a huge superiority in radar, radio DF and ‘anti submarine’ measures. The hard pressed U Boat commanders were reduced to seeking out coastal targets round Britain by staying submerged using their new snorkel or schnorchel as they called it. Whilst allowing the submarine to stay submerged and use it’s diesel engines to recharge batteries, the schnorchel  emitted a vastly reduced ‘radar signature’. The downside being it made the unbearable life of a submariner even worse and in rough weather could lead to severe depressurization of the submarine hull and the build up of noxious gases for the crews.

The ‘Liberty ships’ James Egan Layne and John R Park were both casualties of this last ditch campaign and I have dived on them both. Bizarrely my dear departed neighbours father, Jan of Birchwood cottage served on HMS Watchman which sank U1195 . Whenever I visited Jan I would admire the wooden carving from HMS Watchman that was proudly displayed on her chalet wall. Sadly it was consumed in the fire which engulfed it in 2015

In the grand scale of things this is ‘no big deal’. I just think that if people realized how intimately we are all connected they’d be a little less inclined to start wars. I’ve been less affected by conflict than most yet I have visited the final resting place of thousands, HMS Otranto, 470 dead, HMS Vanguard 843 dead to name but a few. I have dived on hundreds of wrecks, the majority of which were the the result of war, why the feck do we do it? Of course the media will give you all this bollox about democracy, saving Europe and blah, blah, blah, truth is it’s usually about colonialism, communism, capitalism or some other ism, me, I feckin hate ism’s Smile


  1. Congratulations! Only been following your blog for around half that time – can’t remember if it was an interest in Rasaay or a certain ferry company that led me to you but I’ve enjoyed every post. Here’s to eleven more!!

    Comment by Nosdrahcir — December 29, 2018 @ 9:13 pm

    • Thanks Nosdrachir, I’ll do my best 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — December 29, 2018 @ 9:23 pm

  2. 11 years? Wow. I’ve just looked back at my emails and it seems I’ve been with you for over nine. You’re still my favourite blog to read when it pops into my email box. Well done, thanks and keep up the good work.

    Regards Ian (the dentist)

    Comment by fangfarrier — December 29, 2018 @ 10:03 pm

  3. Hi Paul. Congratulations on 11 years and huge thanks for all your efforts. I love your blog, always amazed by your knowledge, be it engineering, seafaring, building projects, crofting, or just life! An awesome blog and great photographs to celebrate. All the best to you and the family, for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. Keep going !!
    All the best. Sally

    Comment by Sally — December 29, 2018 @ 10:15 pm

  4. Hi.. Congrats on this milestone!.. And best wishes for your retirement. I started following your blog a few years ago.. Sadly life stuff got in the way. Ive been on Skye and Raasay and both are idyllic!… I have a copy of Calums Road as a memory too. Ill try n keep up from now on.

    Comment by Gordon Smith — December 30, 2018 @ 2:01 am

  5. Morning Paul.
    11 years of highly readable scribbles and photos., well done. I’ll say it again I’m sure you’ve a plethora of content to make a very interesting and captive reading book.
    Best wishes for Hogmanay.
    From Liverpool.

    Comment by Polite Scouser — December 30, 2018 @ 11:11 am

  6. Hi Paul, Congratulations on your blog which I’ve been following for most of the time you’ve been posting. At least ten years, anyway. I’ve been visiting Raasay for about 30 years, so have witnessed all the changes the years have brought. It’s a great diary of life on a croft in the 21st century and we are all delighted that modern technology gives us wee peek into your lifestyle and your infectious enthusiasm for it. Long may it continue! Cheers, Carolyn Scott

    On Sat, 29 Dec 2018 20:43 Life at the end of the road, wrote:

    > lifeattheendoftheroad posted: “I kid you not, WordPress > just informed me that I’ve been at this blogging > carry on for 11 years!!! I’d just turned 51 when I started and now I’m > counting the weeks to retirement, where did it go hey, Some 2090 posts, 3.2 > milli” >

    Comment by Carolyn — December 30, 2018 @ 11:13 am

  7. That’s a lot of blogs… I missed your first few years since I didn’t pick up a blog until Raasay House went up – best source of information and a gripping read of your journey on Calum’s icy road on the way to the ferry as part of the fire-fighting mission.

    Good health for the next xK blogs!


    Comment by Sue — December 30, 2018 @ 11:24 am

  8. I came to your blog only a little more than a year ago, via Ed Davies blog.

    I don’t suppose I’m alone in finding your blog not just interesting, educational, and entertaining, but also rather inspirational. Your positive attitude to life and “get on with it” attitude is a model I try to aspire to!

    Comment by dangrey — December 30, 2018 @ 7:47 pm

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