Life at the end of the road

October 31, 2013

We’re both in shock :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, harbour, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:53 pm

Nay posting this last couple of days, quite simply because I’ve been spending some time with the stranger that is my wife. Fourteen months of living out of bags has finally come to an end and on Wednesday morning I set off for work on Raasay for the first time since the middle of September 2012. Twenty two unbroken days of sleeping in my own bed followed by a commute down ‘Calum’s road’, I think we’re both in shock and keep waiting for the phone call that will once more drag me away, well I’m not going Smile

It was such a pleasure to get up on Wednesday morning, don my working clothes and tootle down the road in the ‘Old Girl’ to join the Hallaig. I wouldn’t have cared if I’d been joining a Chinese junk, it was just so good to be returning to some kind of normality.  The weather was fine the wind fresh and it wasn’t even too dark when I arrived at a very busy harbour. As well as the two Raasay ferries shuttling in and out there was much activity from Ferguson Transport’s ex tank landing craft ‘Harvest Anne,


who was on hire to the council.


The busy workhorse was running backwards and forwards constantly with tar lorries for the ‘youth hostel road’ which was getting some 600 tons of new road surface deposited on it.

The good ship Hallaig however was due to carry out anchor trails under the watchful eye of Lloyds and the captain had decided to conduct them just to the north of Sgeir Cnapach off Oscaig.



Choosing a patch of ground that I knew very well, too well in fact for it was here that I suffered a bend whilst clam diving some eighteen years or so ago. An incident that ended up in a helicopter ride, ten hour decompression on oxygen and a night under observation in hospital. It also gave me a new insight into my own mortality and changed forever the way I view life. Today however I’d bee keeping dry whilst the 750kg gave a few scallops a headache as the 499GRT Hallaig dragged its anchor over them in the 45knot wind. The day was in fact turning in to pure minger


luckily south wind is probably the best direction for Sconser, where we went to pick up the BBC. Of course as soon as the press were on board the day really ‘went to 5h1t’ and the total silence of a Hallaig propelled purely on batteries was lost in the force nine gusting ten southerly ‘severe gale’. The planned filming of her arriving on the Raasay slip abandoned in favour of returning to the berth and putting out four stern lines, two head lines and two springs . One of those parting like a gunshot and leaving me with sore hands, not to mention boots full of water. Still it was a great ‘shakedown’ for the new vessel and her crew.




Wi Fi too Smile

Today was probably less windy but colder and with less of the wet stuff, though some of it did fall very noisily as hail. Many of the yard workers departed, as did the ‘passage crew’ leaving us to do some cleaning up, paperwork and recover from an unexpected blackout. For at some point during the early hours both power and internet had gone off on Raasay. Well it had at parts connected to the national grid anyway Smile  we at the north end DO NOT suffer from power cuts, and if we do they’re for minutes only. Our internet is also faster and more reliable too now, the joys of ‘self sufficiency’ in energy Smile

Anyway it proved an interesting exercise in resetting the various trips and rebooting systems on our hi tech hybrid ship Smile 



Doesn’t she look lovely now with all her fresh paint and signage.



002 005 004

The latest addition to the CalMac fleet has also been having a WiFi network fitted on board  for the customers.


This chap was only supposed to be sorting out the software so turned up without a ladder, luckily I have one on the back of the Land rover Smile



Of course I carried out a ‘risk assessment’ first, obtained a ‘permit to work’ cordoned off the area, wore a safety harness and made the installer sign a disclaimer  Smile Well it was either that or send him away without fitting the stuff Smile

October 13, 2013

She’s here!!!! :-)

Eight PM exactly here on Raasay and I’m just digesting one of Munro’s excellent steak pies purchased from our very own shop. The pie, as with all the Raasay stores meat comes from Munro’s of Dingwall and like all their products is the best of quality. Normally we’d be eating something local our from the croft out of the freezer, but my lack of ‘home time’ this last year has meant that, apart from the odd pig we’ve not butchered anything since before last Christmas. Sure that is going to change very shortly, we’ve still got one Soay sheep roaming the hill and a Tamworth pig with our name on it Smile

Anyway, it’s been another pure peach of a day, though I still managed to stay in bed unusually late, 8:30 this morning before I stirred so I missed what must have been a magnificent sunrise. Once I was out right enough I wasted no time and got on with leading the five ‘wee boys’ back onto the hill, then rushing back in to see if the Hallaig had left Oban. Sure enough she had and for the rest of the day I was checking on her progress via Marine Traffic . com which for some reason plotted her progress much better than Ship AIS . With her dieseling up the Sound of Mull in excess of 9knts I went off to Torran School to ferry some gear in and out for a friend. The starter solenoid had finally died on the Yamaha and the Honda was still pishing out fuel from the carburettor if not switched off. The Yamaha, and the Honda in fact both have ‘pull cords’ but they’re not for the feint of heart.


Nice bit of path work there from my mate Donnie at DDK, must have been laid on that hill there for almost ten years now and still looking great. This path, road and dyke building must be in the Macleod blood Smile



With the dirty linen lifted I returned home to continue ‘tinkering’ with the 200w Yangzhou Shenzhou that I’d bought in the Navitron sale some time ago. These wind turbines really are carp but this one was so cheap that I thought I’d give it ago. I’ve already replaced all the bearings and balanced the blades but the next thing I want to do is replace their notoriously rubbish charge controller with a simple ‘bridge rectifier’ and ‘diversion load controller’.

007  008

The rectifier, which converts the three phase AC produced by the turbine into DC is simple enough to make from three diodes like these.

Finding the Parts for a Multi-Phase Bridge Rectifier

35A Bridge Rectifier for Wind Turbine Generator

Pictured above is a 35A rated Bridge Rectifier (28.5 x 28.5 x 11.5mm) (available from the REUK shop) with legs (terminations) of 6.3 x 0.8mm dimension. Wires (10 AWG for these 35 Amp rectifiers) can be soldered on directly, or more easily crimp connectors can be used which are pushed onto the legs of the bridge rectifier and then squeezed with a crimping tool to hold them firm. Bridge rectifiers such as the one illustrated are available from a couple of pounds each, and suitable crimp connectors for just 20 pence each.

Three phase 35A bridge rectifier kit

Wiring diagram

These little diodes can produce a lot of heat so the secret is a good ‘heat sink’ and guess where I found one Smile

Next job was an unscheduled one, cleaning out the oil stove, something that has taken me almost twenty years to get right. The ‘burner pot’ of our stove gets carbon deposits on it which used to take me hours to remove. Now I just build a bonfire and throw the pot in the middle.


009 010

It works really, really well, removing all the hard baked carbon without effort or the damage caused by files, screwdrivers, scrapers and hammering that I used to use.


011 012

More work on the Chinese wind turbine followed including extra paint on the tail and converting a rusty 2.5” pipe into an adaptor so the turbine could be mounted on a scaffolding pole.


The Hallaig arrives

All the while I was in and out of the house checking Hallaig’s progress from Oban, then around 16:00 when she passed under the Skye Bridge I reckoned it was time to finish off. So after fitting the stove bowl, giving the turbine mount a lick of paint and gathering the family we headed south. We caught sight of her passing to the north of ‘the Red Rocks’ east of Scalpay as we got to the end of ‘Calum’s road’ but that was it until we arrived at the old pier.


I guess it was around 17:30 when she silently cleared our old berth



and just fifteen minutes later when she arrived at our new one.



There was a great turnout to meet her as she quietly berthed at the end of the pier.





Young and old, two legs and four Smile

024  026



Familiar faces from the yard, for once not telling me to ‘mind the paint’ Smile

028 029

Ferguson’s flag flying, just as a reminder that she still belongs to them and the bell in position by the wheelhouse door, that probably went on as she left Port Glasgow Smile





Sadly, we still had animals to feed before dark, and darker it was getting as we headed home


passing at least four stags during the eleven mile drive. This one at Glame appears to have a notch out of his ear and was all on his own, a smaller chap half a mile to the north having collected four or five hinds.


By the time we reached Loch Arnish the sun had long since sunk behind the Storr, I fed the pigs, the wife made dinner and that was that Smile

More great pictures here on Davey’s photostream

Older Posts »

Blog at