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 1, 2018

Turned the corner :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Land Rover, life off grid, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:02 am

Well that’s January by with at last and without too much drama. Sure there has been the usual gales and the odd storm but nothing really exceptional, though one of them would have wrought a lot more damage had it occurred during a spring tide like the ones we are now. That big blue, super, red one outside last night will be heralding a large tide in a day or so. Being Internetless I can’t check anything without driving down the road a mile or so or quading.

Just after 7:00am now at the beginning of a new month and just like sixty five years ago today the wind is howling from the north, north west. Not with the ferocity of the storms that wreaked havoc across Europe in 1953 but a good force 7 on the Beaufort scale and boodly cold with it. Locally (or at least by my good mate Willy Eyre) this would become know as the ‘Princess Victoria Gale’. Everywhere else it would become known as the ‘great storm’ or ‘great flood’ of 1953. This in itself says something about Highland stoicism, most of Europe called it a storm whilst here it was just a gale Smile

I guess the reason Willy recalled it was because mountainous seas threw up scallops and shellfish onto the beach at Eyre, something never seen before or since. It sticks in my mind due to an unusual rock formation on the Raasay shore of the North Fladda anchorage. A huge square rock was detached from the Lewisian Gneiss rock and fell into the sea, the rock is half out of and directly below its original home like a jigsaw piece awaiting placement. It must weigh many tons and is known locally as ‘The Heater’ (though most likely its Gaelic version) after the old type of flat iron that would be left atop a stove. Many is the time I’ve fished and dived around The Heater but it was the late Alasdair Gillies of Fladda that told how and when it got its name, must get a photo of it Smile

Princess Victoria


Once again I started off by quading along to my mates to sit down at his table and use my dongle but it’ll be the last time. Methinks this morning I’ll be driving to Brochel and doing it in the car with the heater on, there’s still no word from Applenet of our Internet coming back on. Sure, it’s a right PITA but for most of the time it’s excellent and I do get unlimited data free so I’ll let others do the whining. It’s a community run project with just part time engineer who does his best with the resources available and doesn’t need folk breathing down his neck. Having said that I’ve just ordered a satellite based system like my mates as back up. I had a satellite system at the old house for years and it was pants, better than nothing but expensive and full of little tricks to fool you into thinking it was proper broadband. It used compression on the pictures, wouldn’t automatically reload pages and often didn’t work for Internet banking. Still, as I’ve discovered, you really can’t manage without it these days Sad smile

I was so cold after returning from the Schoolhouse that I set about an overdue indoor job,

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two of the thermal store thermometers needed replacing. This is the hot water ‘dashboard’ I guess you could call it, the top three red LED’s monitor the temperature in the 1500lt thermal store, top for DHW middle for the heat pump and solar hot water. the middle unit is the control for the sixty evacuated tubes on the ‘bunker’ roof.

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And, much to my delight, around midday it started working for what I thought was the first time this year Smile However, upon interrogating the unit I saw it also generated almost 4kWh on Monday Smile


The bottom unit is the control for the heat pump,


This lives in the ‘bunker’ and for an input of just over 800W (the same as the output of the Powerspout hydro turbine) it produces around 3kW of low grade heat at around 40 degrees. Whilst not much use for DHW or radiators this is absolutely perfect for UFH and with help from the Solar HW and heat dumps the store can soon reach over 70 degrees even down near the bottom. I dunno how much energy is in 1500lts of water at 70 degrees but it takes a fair load off my battery bank.

The Eberspacher

Once warmed up and finished inside I turned my attention to building a path to one of our bird feeders, we have loads on the lawn in front of the house but they are plagued with pigeons. So we now have one on a tree outside the kitchen window, trouble is it’s outside the garden wall and a bit of a bog to get to it.


I started by scraping off the mud into the barrow and dumping that into a raised bed I’m making, then I laid 6m of Terram matting and started piling stones on it. During the frequent showers I retired to the shed and pulled out the Eberspacher diesel heater form the Land Rover.

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It had to be cut out with the grinder and was in a bit of a state but hopefully I can sort it. I have all the spares for a service, glow plug, screen and gaskets but these things are controlled by a ‘chip’ that is very expensive so I hope that’s OK. I gotta say though, this is one of the best things that I ever fitted to the ‘Old Girl’ and I’ve really missed it not working.

The month energy wise

Jan energy

Here’s the monthly ‘Energy Generated’ totals in kWh with hydro the clear leader at 829kWh, wind at 543kWh, solar PV 34 and solar HW at 6kWh. A generator run time of 23 hours which is quite high for this time of year but the year got off to a great start with very little wind and a lot of sun. Trouble is our solar arrays are in shade at this time of year. I really must put one up on top of the hill behind the house.

Right, that’s it then, 8:30, the coffee pot is finished, it’s full daylight on the 1st of February and I’ve got things to do, so it’s off to Brochel in the car to post this effort.


Nice and warm at Brochel Smile

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