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

December 28, 2018

Newton’s third law of motion :-)

Filed under: Avon Searider, boats, daily doings — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:54 pm

Well, it’s been a fine enough day here at the ‘North End’ and I swear they ‘are’ getting longer or perhaps I’m just getting up later on account of all the alcohol in my system Smile It was 8:40 before I ‘crawled out my pit’ this morning and almost daylight Smile Of course the first thing I did was make a pot of black coffee and add Baileys to the fist cup in approximately 2:1 ratio. Methinks that was a subliminal way of stopping me going to Skye to fill the car with petrol, get a new tyre for MiL’s car and of course buy more Baileys Smile Sure it was far too nice a day for wasting it on Skye, not that there is anything wrong with Skye, just the days are so short that it would have been dark afore I got back and I’d stuff to do.

The fuel run

First on today’s ‘to do’ list was take 400lts of kero along to my mates house at Torran. In ‘your’ world you just phone up the oil depot and they just magically fill up your heating oil tank. In mine I phone em up, try and synchronise my requirements with one of their visits to Raasay. If I’m lucky they’ll be coming over and I can get my bowser filled at the sowf end then transfer it to barrels and take it one barrel at a time over to Torran on the quad. If I’m not lucky I’ll have to get barrels filled on Skye then get a ‘DG note’ for the ferry crossing then take them over to Torran on the quad. It was of course the latter today so I prepped the quad and trailer to take them over to Torran 1 at a time. I have taken two barrels at a time in the past but once or twice that has ‘ended in tears’. The large Bailey’s I’d had for breakfast told me to be sensible Smile

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So, I added a couple of tyres to the trailer and went to collect ‘barrel 1’.

Now normally the trailer with the filled barrels on would be attached to my Land Rover (remember her) Smile Consequently the trailer would neither tip nor move when I transferred a barrel from one to the other. Now, this I know, not cos I’m clever but cos I’ve experienced and seen it so many times, it’s called ‘Newton’s third law of motion’

Third law:
When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.’s_3rd_Law

So, I chocked all the wheels and managed to get barrel number one onto the quad trailer without incident. These barrels weigh around 400kg apiece but I’ve been moving barrels full of oil, diesel, petrol and kerosene now for over thirty years and it’s not hard when you ‘have the knack’. Having said that I have a bad back, sciatica, bow legs and every joint in my body aches so perhaps nothing to ‘brag’ about Smile

Anyways, I got barrel number 1 over to Torran no problem.


Number two went a little ‘tits up’ on me Sad smile You just cannae overcome the laws of physics, as soon as I started trying to push the barrel over into the quad trailer the large trailer shot forward despite me chocking the wheels and jacking the back of the trailer onto wooden blocks Smile Still, despite almost loosing the barrel I managed to get it onto the wee trailer. Truth be known it was probably a ‘Baileys related’ incident cos I’ve lost count of the times I have seen some rather hilarious and even disastrous ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’ incidents. The funniest ones usually involving boats and piers with ‘spread-eagled’ dogs and or people. The most disastrous one involving an eight wheeled articulated  forestry harvester a pier, pontoon and the sea Sad smile

A new boat launcher

Being somewhat pi55ed off at not having a suitable vehicle for launching the Searider locally I decided to adapt one. Sure, I could use the dumper but the tow hitch is quite high and the dumper a little on the wide side for manoeuvring down the slip. I have used the Subaru but it’s heavy on the clutch despite the low ratio and the quads just do not have the traction for the steep slip. So, with plans afoot to get some diving in before the year is out I set about bolting a tow ball to Calum’s blade.


It would have been a pure ‘piece of cake’ to weld one on but I was wanting to make it removeable so decided to bolt it.

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However, due to the curve of the bladed the magnetic drill would not hold. I over came this hurdle by clamping a flat steel plate to the blade and then boring through that as well as the blade.


It worked a treat and is easily removeable.

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With the blade being moveable it’s really easy to hitch up and very manoeuvrable, so in preparation for tomorrow I ran the Tohatsu up for twenty minutes using the garden hose and ‘ear muffs’.

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