Life at the end of the road

January 5, 2018

It’s all over now :-)

Well that’s it, a ‘dry’ January ahead and ‘the party is over’ so to speak. Just as well really cos me liver couldn’t cope with any more drink and we’ve all had waaay too much in  the way of rich food and treats. The last side of hot smoked salmon is just about to go into a creamy pasta and we officially stopped drinking yesterday, though me thinks that’ll just be a temporary thing once my figure returns Smile Smile Gonna take more than stopping drinking to get rid of my belly right enough.

A proper rest

After all the excess and activity on the diving front I’ve been taking easy this last couple of days which really is not like me. The weather has been good with light winds and hardly any rain but I’ve been staying in my bed until after 8:00 and just pottering about outside for an hour or two before coming inside and doing a little reading or net surfing.

On Thursday I managed a couple of wee jobs outside, dumping the old scallop shells on the shore for the crabs to clean them and collecting the cleaned ones for spreading around the house.

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Trust me, in few years time it will look lovely, it’s amazing how quickly they mount up, there’s only so many ashtrays you can have so this will be a good way of using them.

Also tried out my new cordless grinder that me mum bought me for Christmas.

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The exhaust had broken on the Benford PST3000 dumper (again) so I hacked it in bits and re routed it a different way, hoping it would be less prone to breaking.

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Also replaced the fuel return pipe which was looking decidedly dodgy, just about every injector ‘leak off’ pipe has split over a few weeks so I’ve replaced those previously. This pipe is made of the same stuff and is the same age so I figured it can’t be far behind.

Apart from taking ‘wee dug’ out for a gentle walk and making a beef curry I didn’t do a lot else as my ‘right hand man’ boat driver, dive partner and son wasn’t feeling great.


Even before I’d gone to bed on Thursday completely sober for the first time in ten days I’d decided to do a repeat performance today. It would be my son’s last day before going back to uni and I’d rather enjoyed Thursday, so at 8:30 I got up having had the best sleep since the full moon. I let out the hens then took ‘wee dug’ for her wee walk on a short leash. Now it’s really not uncommon to see golden or sea eagles daily pretty much anywhere on Raasay and the North End is probably better than anywhere. What is unusual though is to hear them, I cannot ever recall hearing one in all the years I’ve lived here. Well this morning (perhaps cos I had my hearing aids in) I heard a pair. They were right over head but very difficult to follow with the camera


Much less vocal than the buzzard, the golden eagle can sometimes be heard making a ‘yelping’ call. The male and female may also perform aerial displays, where the male will make mock attacks at the female and the two will cartwheel downwards uttering their call.

And that just about sums up what they were doing, which struck me as a little early for mating. Pretty impressive I’ll tell you Smile

I also solved a mystery from last night and on previous dark nights.

P1130249 We’ve been seeing a large vessel off Manish Point from the living room windows late at night. The lights suggested a vessel over 50m with an aft wheelhouse but that row down the side made it look like windows lit up. Well it headed back north this morning having spent the night in Portree, the 63,3m long fish farm vessel Vestland. Strange how we’ve never seen it in daylight before.

Topping up the thermal store

It was whilst removing my boots in the ‘Bunker’ that I heard a noise from ‘Immersion 1’ we have 5 in the store and this one is connected right into the house grid rather than dump load circuits. It’s at the top of the 1500lt store for the DHW (domestic hot water) and I switch on most mornings till the store top reaches 80 degrees C. I used to leave it on 24/7 as the store is extremely well insulated. However this was causing my inverter to loose track of the battery SOC (state of charge) over a couple of weeks. The noise sounded just like a kettle starting to boil and had me puzzled for a while, then I figured it must need the pressure topping up in the store. The Akvaterm thermal store is designed to run at 3Bar.


Trouble is, what I thought was the store pressure gauge for two years turns out to be the heat pump one!! The store does not appear to have one!! Nay problem methinks, I know my water pressure from the well above the house is 2Bar so I just topped it up with that.


We have a pump at work with a gauge on so I can take it up the final 1Bar with that and add some more corrosion inhibitor at the same time. I shouldn’t have been surprised but it was interesting to hear the noise get quieter as the pressure rose. Funnily enough the addition of the cold water didn’t alter the temperature of the store so I guess it couldn’t have been much water.


Wee dug loves the smell in there Smile so do I right enough, nothing quite like the smell of curing salamis and ham.

More dumper work

The starter switch packed up on the dumper about a month ago, mainly cos it lives outside and gets power washed regularly. So rather than spend £40 on another I got a couple of waterproof ‘button types’ from China.

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The magnetic drill proved more than a match for the 8mm steel bulkhead where I mounted it. A magnetic drill is one of those things that you don’t realize just how useful it is until you’ve had one.

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Next it was a few air cleaner mods, rather than spend £50 on a Benford air filter element I fitted a £9 Land Rover one which is actually better cos it’s longer. However, it does mean that the element sticks out of the housing making the dumper even noisier than it already is, well one of my wife’s modified plant pots sorted that Smile

Out for the winter

It would have been nice to ‘bash a few clams’ before my son went back to uni tomorrow but he’d much to do and still wasn’t feeling 100% so I went to collect the Searider from the sowf end.

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Nice big ebb round the Sgeir Chnapach, had many a productive day around there with my good mate Willy Eyre Smile


Lashed the Searider to the trailer, put all the cylinders, weight belts and fuel tanks in the Landy and tootled home.

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Snow covered Torridon mountains, the solid rock ‘North End’ and Brochel Loch from the top of Croc an Uan (Hill of the lamb)


That was it really, I flushed out the Tohatsu 90TLDI and my son did a couple of hours in the digger on the Torran track. Even when not firing on all cylinders you can do a lot of work with a Kubota 360 Smile


November 23, 2017

Under a cloud :-(

First snow on Raasay today and whilst it was indeed forecast, it still came as a shock,

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not so much its actual appearance but the suddenness by which it arrived. I left the house in pishing rain just before 6:30 and just above the Bealach Ruadh (the Reddish Brown pass) some 4 miles from home it suddenly went white and slippy, so much so that I had to lock the diff on the wee Daihatsu. Not that that means a lot, the 17” wide and low profile tyres are just pure pish in the snow, sure they look great though Sad smile Fat lot of good that is hey.

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Still it wasn’t a bad day once the sun ‘came up’ not that we actually saw much of that right enough and not that it did much in the way of lifting peoples spirits.

The sea is a harsh mistress

It was just after the 14:30 sailing from Raasay on Monday that we heard the Coastguard reporting a local fishing boat ashore on the Applecross Peninsula with the engine running and no one aboard. This did not bode well for I knew the owner, indeed he’d been up at Sonas during the summer and he’d been instrumental in our Internet connection via the Applecross Community Broadband Trust.

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The Kyle inshore lifeboat ‘Spirit of Fred Olsen’ was already on the scene and the Portree Arun class ‘Stanley Watson Barker’ wasn’t far behind. That’s her by the Jackal Rock Buoy doing 23 knots as she sped to join the flotilla already searching for the missing fisherman.

The search for Alasdair Macleod was resumed on Tuesday morning at first light and again yesterday but as yet there has been no news that I know of. There was no sign of any activity today on the AIS sites so we all fear the worst.

A much better picture of ‘Snoddy’ as he was known (and how I knew him for years before even knowing his real name) than the BBC one, and from his own popular blog

“My name is Ali Macleod and have lived in a really special place for the last 30 years, Applecross on the NW coast of Scotland. I first went fishing in 1978 and bought my first boat in 1984 and have fished for prawns since. During the 1990s I tried my hand at scallop farming and more recently have been working part-time in the Applecross Inn. 4 boys of which 3 are in further education and a partner Alison who is currently the local development officer.

We live in a vibrant but fragile community and are involved in a fair bit of community development, Pier, Hall,Filling Station and Community Company in general. Constantly trying to find ways of making the community more resilient against a backdrop of falling school role and declining services.”

In his own words, the boat he speaks of in 1984 ended up in my hands for many years and he was very much part of the vibrant but fragile community it will miss him sorely. As of course will his wife, family and friends, many of them here on Raasay, myself included.

Thirty three years I’ve made my living on, in and under the sea and in that time I’ve lost four friends to her, fishermen, fish farmers and a clam diver, she is a harsh mistress and takes no prisoners. I guess I’ve just been lucky, two bends, one helicopter trip and a lost wellie but I’m still here.

 More leaks

Apart from hanging over every word on the VHF for news of Alasdair and constantly watching the search patterns on the AIS there’s been quite a few jobs on the boat. Another of our electro hydraulic bilge valves was passing water back into the bilge. This time in one of the prop spaces and luckily, much easier to get at than the last one.

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Where would we be without ‘ratchet straps’ Smile

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Cleaning the filters and lapping in the valve soon had it sorted though.

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The next leak to be sorted was on the domestic fresh water plant. It had started to leak from ‘pump 1’ of the dual pump system whilst heading to dock. Consequently that pump was isolated and the pressure reduced then spare seals ordered as well as a complete pump and motor.

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My first option being to repair it, pumps like this, the bilge pumps etc. are usually easier and cheaper to repair than replace. Firstly you don’t need to disturb the wiring or pipe work and secondly they are much lighter. Sadly our puller would not remove the rather delicate plastic impeller so I decided to use ‘plan B’, replace the entire pump and order up a new impeller to repair the old one.


It required a little ingenuity to remove the old fittings right enough but that I managed by making up a tool from some thick flat bar.

 Another leaky pump!

As if that wasn’t enough, the drencher pump pressure gauge sprung a leak and this really did perplex me as when I tried to remove it the brass union sheared off Sad smile


This left me with the remaining section firmly embedded in the manifold and the pump out of commission or at least spraying water everywhere. I gotta say that I was severely chuffed with how I removed the offending bit of union.

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I battered in an Allen socket then removed it with the impact wrench Smile It screwed out the broken bit a treat and I was very loud in my self praise Smile

The broken bit in the actual gauge came out easy enough as that still had the hexagon end on it. I just refitted the gauge without the 90 degree elbow and all was ‘peachy’.

Not leaking, just not working very well Sad smile

This morning’s pump was the ‘oily bilge’ Rotoflo, cavity screw pump


methinks I’ve been working it too hard recently and its output had dropped to a mere trickle.


These pumps are quite ingenious, that ‘worm’ spins around inside a rubber stator creating a vacuum which draws up the oil, water or both. They don’t like being run dry for very long though and methinks I may have left this one switched on too long whilst emptying the bilge after the leaky valve Sad smile Anyway, it’s easy enough to replace the stator so that was this morning’s task.

Other stuff

Well, we’ve been eating well,


Ali’s chili focaccia for one, almost as good as my mum’s Smile


The poached eggs (better than my mum’s) Smile and a whole host of other treats that I’ve only sampled the ‘left overs’ of.

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Me being consigned to ‘Bonzo walking’ whilst the rest of the crew feasts Smile Bonzo doesn’t like the rain and as soon as he gets in he wraps himself up in the chair throw Smile

Still, it’s not been all rain at lunchtime,

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I love the way this old boat house uses the natural contours and rock for itself and the slipway of sorts.


The more modern slipway at Suisnish is far more practical but just does not have the character Smile

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