Life at the end of the road

March 22, 2018

The Sound of Mull

Having spent much of yesterday catching up after my spell away at Lochaline on the mainland side of the Sound of Mull it was a pleasure to get back into some worthwhile projects again. Not that yesterday wasn’t productive in it’s own way but quite a lot of it was spent sorting out the caravan, giving it a clean inside and out then catching up on house maintenance. The most important of which was the monthly battery checks, here and around at my mate’s house along the track. Ninety six battery cells in all, using around 24lt of deionized water between the three battery banks. The main one supplying our house being the thirstiest, the 16 x Rolls S400 batteries taking around a litre each since their last filling in January, these Rolls sure do like to drink. In true ‘anorak’ or is it OCD style I log each cell specific gravity and individual battery voltages, SOC, SOH (state of charge, state of health) temperatures and the number of cycles of the main bank. This currently stands at 171, though quite how it works that out I’m not sure. On something like an EV (electric vehicle) or the Hallaig it’s quite easy, the batteries are discharged during the day and charged overnight. On a house with multiple charging sources often supplying loads directly I fail to see how it’s even possible to arrive at a figure but the SMA Sunny Island inverter seems to do it, or at least pretend it does Smile

Then of course there were the mice, both here and at the schoolhouse,


six yesterday, three here and three at my mates house. Bizarrely two mice had managed to get caught in two traps each!!!! 

Fresh water on site

Today’s project was to get a supply of fresh water down to the old fish farm slip, primarily for doing more concrete mixing but it will also be very handy for flushing outboard motors and cleaning diving gear. I’ve already poured several cubic meters using water collected in tubs and a ‘wheelie bin’ but this just isn’t half as handy as having a hose pipe on site for cleaning the mixer etc. as you’re ‘going along’ so to speak.

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Luckily, I’ve no shortage of 2” Polypipe ducting that would be ideal for taking a supply from the wee burn behind the house. Used for filling with explosives during the construction of the new harbour I managed to acquire well over a mile of it in 6m lengths that slot into each other. Whilst the manufacturer insist that it’s absolutely NOT suitable for use under pressure I’ve tested it to well over 10bar with glued joints 

Armed with this knowledge I commenced to join them together and drag them down the hill to the slip.


I seem to recall that we’re about 70m above sea level and just 250m or there about from the shore so it didn’t take too long to slot the pipes together and drag them down the hill.


It’s all downhill after all Smile

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Anyway’s, by lunchtime the pipe was under the road and gushing out water, all that was required was to set up the IBC and attach a hose.


Needs a little ‘tweaking’ right enough but the IBC is now full and feeds a 1/2” hose (care of me dear old Mam) Smile right down to the shore.

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Whilst the IBC was filling I set about preparing the shuttering for my next batch of concreting, the generator and electric chainsaw being used to trim a suitable piece of timber to attach to the slipway.

Back to Lochaline Smile

So, in an effort to use some of the ‘all too few’ images I took from Hallaig in The Sound of Mull, here goes.


MV Fri Ocean now somewhere off ‘Lands End’ heading south in the Sound of Mull last week.


The MV Hebridean Isles on her way back from Colonsay, Coll, Tiree, Barra or some other exotic location Smile OK, I appreciate that’s a little vague but I’m well into a bottle of spiced rum at the moment Smile


The Norwegian ‘well boat’ Ronja Skye.

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Some serious towing of a concrete pontoon by two vessels heading to Kyleakin, at least that’s what said at the time. Made me speculate that it was something to do with the new Marine Harvest fishmeal plant there.

Happy Days

I gotta say that this ‘wee jaunt’ to Lochaline was the ‘perfect tonic’ to recent events. The weather was great, if not a little fresh in the wind department and the ‘wee dug’ and I did lots of gentle little walks.

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The nearby ‘sand mine’ providing much in the way of interest.

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It’s disused narrow gauge railway at one time extending all the way to the ‘West Pier’.

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The ‘West Pier’ being somewhat unique in that it is actually ‘cantilevered’ on a cliff face out into the Sound of Mull. The pictures showing the MV Loch Alainn who was tied up there for just one night last week. Loch Alainn was actually especially built for this route some twenty odd years ago but never really served here. She now serves the Barra/Eriskay route, which is where she was heading when these pictures were taken.


The MV Liva Greta taking on silica sand in Lochaline, just a few hundred yards west of our very own MV Hallaig.


And ‘tied up’ snugly ‘round the corner’ MV’s Peregrine and Brendan of


two of the best dive charter vessels on the West Coast of Scotland.


February 12, 2018

Engineerless :-(

Sunday already and chance to get of blogging in at last, just cannae manage work and posting, it’s just too much for an old fart like me. Truth is, that apart from last night we’ve both been in bed before 21:00 every evening. Darling wife is too feeling the strain of full time employment, mind you she smells lovely when she comes home from work Smile 

Work got off to a great start on Tuesday with me heading off to see me Mammy first.

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Gotta say I was a little surprised when I drove down ‘The Avenue’ on my way for the 8:55. Last time I was down there, only a few days previously there were considerably more trees standing. There was a John Deere harvester and forwarder working just by the Raasay Sawmill (convenient hey) and a truck coming off the ferry.


After a pleasant few hours with Mum and Leah the Labrador it was onto work to join the 15:00 ferry and start my ‘two weeks on’

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Looking towards Glomach from Ratagan over Loch Duich. The Storr, Raasay and the Moll fish farm. Ronja Commander at Caridh fish farm in Loch Ainort.


‘Work’ arriving to collect me Smile

Two dogs walking Smile

So, now we’re both out at work all day, at least when I’m ‘on shift’, we now have a ‘latch key’ wee dug, or at least we would have if I didn’t take her to work. Molly accompanied me on Wednesday morning and now lives in the car until lunchtime when she joins Bonzo and I for our afternoon stroll. I can’t say she was too impressed with sitting in the back of the car,


but she sure did enjoy the walk with Bonzo and they seemed to get on well enough.


I guess not needing to put Molly on a lead makes her ‘boss dog’ so she was just fine with that.

With the weather for the foreseeable future involving showers and a cold wind I decided the engine room was the place for me this week


so concentrated on some cleaning and painting of the aft engine room bilge.

Being buried in the engine rooms certainly beats the carp out of clam diving at this time of year but that didn’t stop these two in the Inverness registered, INS94, ANT IASGAIR, (The fisherman)


At least the Sarah has a cabin.


Don’t think Ant Iasgair will around for long after Sarah has already been here for a couple of months now and those boys really do know their stuff Smile

Me, when I was doing it, I surfaced to a nice warm boat with an insulated cabin, two heaters and a sleeping bag for a ‘wee rest’ between dives. These dudes are much, much hardier than I ever was!

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Yup, give me the bowels of a nice warm ship at this time of year any day. Having said that it was a great way to earn a living and it was only age, responsibilities and a few ‘near misses’ that stopped me doing it.

Battery operated cars and ferries Smile

Well, that went a little ‘pear-shaped’ I accidentally posted the above prematurely, pressed the publish instead of save! Anyways, the painting kept me occupied for most of the week, which was pretty quiet, I guess due to the weather. Not the weekend though, far from it, Raasay seemed to be overflowing with visitors this weekend. No doubt helped by some good deals at Raasay House, the great weather and the new Distillery’s ‘Whisky club’ which seems to be getting well used.

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And you don’t have to own a Tesla model S to be able to afford to join Smile The wife took me around a few weeks ago and the rooms are just lovely.


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The next best view on Raasay, after the one from Sonas of course Smile

Raasay Engineering is no more Sad smile

It will be great missed by both the inhabitants of Raasay and the ferry in particular, Simon was always at hand for the odd welding or fabrication job and often pulled us ‘out of the brown stuff’ with some of his ingenious repairs. However he’s relocating to France this week and we all wish him, Lynn and the dogs all the best. The ‘Macleod Hauler’ name and business lives on, though now at Kishorn Mechanical Services Ltd . The only ‘upside’ of this being that Simon kindly gave me a whole heap of steel and fastners that I now need to find room for in my shed!

Sunday was a lovely drive to work in daylight with the sun rising on fresh fallen snow.

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The extra weekend traffic made for the the busiest ferry of the year so far and the battery powered Tesla departed along with 17 other cars on a fully battery powered ship.

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The day wasn’t all ‘rosy’ right enough


though most of that is the ‘deck drencher’ system. A little while later the sun was out once more.

The Eberspacher

Having some time on my hands I ran some tests on my Eberspacher D1LCC, heating up the flame and temp sensors with a heat gun then checking the resistance using multimeters and an IR thermometer.

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They supposed to conform with the tables below.


and whilst my temp sender did, my flame sensor didn’t but in my experience with these type sensors. If the value alters smoothly as the heat rises then everything is usually peachy. I’m certainly not going to fork out £75 for a new one on the ‘off chance’. I’ll give it a good testing as soon as I can find the rheostat switch. The thing about old age is, you spend half your time looking for stuff you’ve put somewhere safe!!

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Clouds clinging to the north shore of Loch Sligachan and Ben Tianavaig.

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