Life at the end of the road

September 20, 2019

‘Such a perfect day’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:24 pm

I can’t believe it’s only just after 18:00 and I’m ready for bed,

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not even ‘hitting’ the San Pellegrino is stopping me yawning and I don’t think it’ll be long before I can’t keep my eyes open. Sure it has been a busy old day right enough with me awake at ‘stupid o clock’ gazing on the waning moon above.

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It was the sunrise around 5:30 that finally prised me out from my bed and caravan to face the beach at Firemore on the shore of Loch Ewe. A couple of coffees later wee dug and I headed up to Rubh nan Sasan and the Cove Point gun batteries.

In search of the Iron Duke’s guns

Just ‘on the off chance’ and with the Disco having such a cavernous boot, I’d thrown my diving gear in the back and me being so enthusiastic of a morning, I decided to go for a dip.

At the end of WWII the two 6” guns that looked out over the Minch and protected Loch Ewe from enemy warships were just unbolted and rolled into the sea. I know this for a fact cos I dived on them in the 1970’s. What I didn’t know then was that the guns had been removed from HMS Iron Duke  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Iron_Duke_(1912) were they served as her secondary armament https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BL_6-inch_Mk_VII_naval_gun . Casement mounted there were 10 of them capable of firing a 45kg projectile the best part of 9 miles. Two of them found their way to Loch Ewe and the rest became shore defences around Scapa Flow where Iron Duke served as a floating AA gun battery, her main armament having been removed post WWI as part of the Washington Treaty https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Naval_Treaty on trying to reduce the ‘arms race’.

Well, the treaty didn’t work but it did spawn some interesting and novel designs, Nelson, Rodney and Graph Spee to name a few.

So after hauling me diving gear down the cliff as I did in 1978 I went for a very interesting dive in the gullies where a 7ton gun might be resting.

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Found two lobsters trapped in a creel, saw lots of fish and generally had a jolly time, however, so no sign of said ordnance and managed to loose my camera on the way out Sad smile 

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Still, it was a great way to start the day before breakfast Smile

Island hopping

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Three cans and Lord knows how much sugar later I’m still awake, probably more so once I finish off the tiramisu and let Molly lick the carton Smile Anyways after my morning dip, explore and a quick shopping trip to Gairloch I managed to catch up with my pal Willie from the Isle of Ewe. We’ve helped each other out with various renewable energy project over the years and I’ve usually managed to catch up with him whenever I was in the area. Sadly since me Pop died, that’s not been very often. Willie lives and farms on Ewe with his family and like me is ‘off grid’ unlike Raasay though the whole of Ewe is without power.

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Willie came over to collect Molly and I from Aultbea pier in one of his Pioner boats and gave us a ‘grand tour’.

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We landed at the south end at what would have been the traditional old pier near where the majority of people used to live. Willie called it ‘The Square’, which I guess is what it was a square of houses, farm buildings and somewhat startlingly a mill!!!

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I was aghast that such a low lying island could produce enough water for it’s occupants, let alone a mill. Ewe is hardly high either but he explained how all the dykes and ditches were channelled to a storage loch with a sluice that acted as a kind of large battery I guess. It really was quite amazing with the architecture of wide stone arches looking strangely out of place here on the draughty West Coast.

Willies family were just as ingenious as the generations afore him as he showed me the remains of a landing craft they’d built after the war (not sure which one Smile )

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And that, if I’m very much not mistaken is a Ford Pilot V8 petrol engine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Pilot Smile

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After our ‘grand tour’ Willie ran us back to Aultbea where Molly was seriously unimpressed with the steel grating steps Smile We then drove past the lovely Aultbea village hall, still retaining its wartime appeal Smile I went to see South Pacific  there with me wife a few years ago.

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Also went to a wartime dance there in uniform, my dancing was pure 5h1te

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Then it was the Convoy Museum at Aultbea which was brill but me battery is about to die and I canna charge it so I’m gonna go finish me Juice and tiramisu Smile

I will finish it tomorrow, good night.

September 19, 2019

A different sunset :-)

Not even 20:00 and I’m ready for my bed, a different one right enough in another place but it’ll be the same wee dug that’s keeping me warm.

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With a good forecast and me making a determined effort to practice for retirement I decided to have a day or two away, out west. Well north west actually up at Firemore on the shore of Loch Ewe. First though, I’d have to fix the clutch on the WiFE, me 2001 Disco II. In retrospect I’d have been better off leaving it alone cos it’s worse now than it was before Sad smile

Discovery II slave cylinder

The clutch pedal has kinda gone a little spongy of late and when depressed for a while it gradually starts to bite. Normally this is a sign of a poorly bled system or seals failing in the slave or master cylinder. Normally when the seals fail (as they often do on Land Rovers) there’s a tell tale leak. Usually in the cab if it’s the master cylinder or bell housing if it’s the slave, WFE was showing neither of these symptoms but I went for the slave cylinder anyway. Well a genuine TRW one was only £20 so I figured it was a good place to start.

Now, by all accounts these Disco II’s can be a right PITA to bleed so I started by making it as easy as possible.

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Before I even started removing the slave cylinder I filled the reservoir to the brim, dried all around it carefully and stuck some really, really sticky tape over the top. This wouldn’t stop the fluid running out when I removed the cylinder but it would slow it down a lot, hopefully giving me time to get the new one in place before air got into the upper system.

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It’s actually pretty easy to remove with on 10mm headed bolt accessible from above and one below. Before removing the bolts I loosened the 13mm hydraulic pipe then gently nipped it up again. This was to reduce fluid loss and all went quite well, the hardest job being to remove the slave cylinder boot which stayed on the pushrod when I extricated the cylinder. I was reluctant to just pull it off as I didn’t want to pull the pushrod off the release arm as that could well turn into a gearbox out job Sad smile Anyways, with a pair of Mole grips holding the rod and pliers holding the boot I got it off and all back together ‘damn fine splendid’. This is where it started to develop into a bit of an epic, I just couldn’t get a good pedal Sad smile

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Even pressurising the reservoir with a latex glove and sucking the fluid out the cylinder with a pump failed to remove all the air. I had read lots on the Internet about folk struggling and I think I know why now. The pipe that goes from the reservoir to the master cylinder rises slightly and traps air as this is on the ‘gravity side’ of the cylinder. So, I got me a cable tie and just strapped the feed pipe to another pipe so there were no high spots in it, result, clutch bled and no air in system. The pedal still creeps right enough but I guess a new master cylinder will sort that Smile

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So, that was it, off on the 12:15 ferry with wee dug and my soggy clutch, the clam diving boat Donna Marie INS17 picking away as Hallaig passed by.

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Sure it’s a bonny drive to Poolewe, I did it many, many times when me Pop was in the care home at Aultbea and never really found the 100 mile journey a chore. Sure it can be full of eejits in the summer but today it was a pure joy, perhaps cos it was me that was doing 40mph Smile

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Methinks that’s Benn Eigh at the other side of Loch Maree,

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and that’ll be Molly checking out the ‘shrooms.

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There were plenty of them but most were either inedible, poisonous or just plain ‘trippy’ Smile

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We arrived at Poolewe at the head of Loch Ewe around 16:30 and took the single track Cove road up its western shore to Firemore.

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No doubt it acquired its Anglicised name on account of the large AA battery that once kept watch over the anchorage there, a major marshalling area for the convoys to Murmansk and Archangel in WWII.

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The site there has absolutely no facilities bar a bin, is £5 per night or £20 a week and worth every penny.

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The money going towards stabilizing and reinstating the beautiful dunes there.

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The old AA battery and ‘wee dug’ having a great bounce on the sands.

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The ‘Convoy Stone’ and observation post just up the road past Cove.

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The roof of one of the 6” gun emplacements and on the horizon, well in range of the huge cannons that resided there is the MV Loch Seaforth just out from Ullapool Smile

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And just a half mile or so to the south, the lovely sheltered Cove Harbour,

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just the place for launching a Searider Smile

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Not as good as a Raasay sunset but no bad hey Smile

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