Life at the end of the road

February 8, 2020

A snowstorm in the engine room :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:27 pm

Saturday here aboard the good ship Hallaig and for a while there it looked like storm Ciara had arrived early. Last night, via SMS whilst I was in me bed I got a couple of texts telling me the power was off in the village. Of course I wouldn’t know that cos I’ve not had any power cuts in over 30 years Smile Such is the satisfaction of a ‘life off grid’, that and the lack of utility bills Smile 

Grid outages cause havoc, not only for the ferry but also the distillery, with many things needing reset before operations can recommence. We’re so used to them here that they seldom interfere with the timetable, however, I had a ‘wee job on the backburner’ that required a ‘dead ship’. I was hoping to tackle this on Sunday but figured last night’s power outage would have made Hallaig ‘deadship’ for me Smile This would save me the chore of isolation and any risk of ‘backfeeding’ from the numerous UPS systems that would be well and truly drained by the morning, the first outage being around 20:00 according to Facecloth, so it must be true Smile

Sure enough ‘wee dug’ and I turned up at a very black and dead ferry just after 6:00am and I started on replacing a contactor in the main switchboard.

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A relatively simple job, especially on an entirely dead ship Smile After that it was the usual ‘carry on’ of rebooting systems, cancelling alarms and resetting breakers in time for the 7:55 sailing.

We were tied up again by 11:00am right enough with wind so strong it turned the rain drops into stones!! at least that’s what it felt like with storm force winds gusting to 60knots.

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As for the rest of the week, well yesterday was very much ‘the calm before the storm’ with some fine spells of sunshine thrown in.

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The MV Lyrawa Bay heading north by Dun Caan and Inverarish.

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The Storr, Ben Tianavaig and Braes from the Sconser Narrows.

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The Portree boat Marie Bhan lifting velvet crab creels in the Sconser Narrows and Raasay’s own Mary M heading to land her catch.

Bit of a mess Sad smile

My little project at work has been making up new nylon scupper gratings for Hallaig’s car deck from 15mm nylon sheet. ‘Back in the day’ these would have been made of brass or gunmetal, more recently galvanized steel or even cast iron. Nowadays they’re made from plastic of course, which in many ways is much better, it’s certainly cheaper and doesn’t rust. Sadly, like most plastics it goes brittle with age and some of ours had started to crack.

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Fortunately it’s very easy to work with, if not a little messy Smile

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Rainbows galore

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And that’s it really, the weather moderated enough to get a couple of runs in before the ‘big one’ passes through tomorrow and the next day.

January 13, 2020

Eighteen ropes !!!!!

Well, that was a short day Smile Home during the hours of daylight in January? unheard of. Sure ‘Storm Brendan’ was pretty well forecast but we were at least hoping to get a couple of runs in prior to ‘knocking it on the head’. Alas that wasn’t to be and the furthest we moved today was up and down the berth to lash more ropes onto Scotland.

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That in itself being ‘no mean feat’, between the wind that was strong enough to knock you off your feet and loud enough to drown both radio and speech it was a miracle we got any extra ropes on at all. Still we did, just about every strand we had aboard went out, eighteen in total, all ‘bar tight’ and singing like ‘piano wires’ once we’d finished.

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Speedwell ahead of us at the berth, the Mary M having moved round to the ‘wee pier’ a few days ago Smile

Having secured the ship, finished the paperwork and shut down the vessel we called it a day. Miraculously we were all still dry, tis a rare thing indeed to have a storm like this unaccompanied by pishing rain. Sure it wouldn’t be far away, but for the morning at least it was just the waves we had to dodge Smile

Me, I headed off to see Peter and share his 92nd birthday cake,


prior to taking Bonzo and Molly for a walk, and, it was still dry!!!!!

Home in daylight

It was still dry when I drove home and stopped at Brochel castle for a wee walk there with Molly.


Was pretty boodly wild there too considering this was Raasay’s sheltered side!!! It wasn’t much better at home, in fact, I could barely stand up and Molly refused to get out of the car until it was parked safely in the shed. Normally she tries to leap out when I get out to open the gate onto the croft. Once out she made a ‘B line’ for the front door and then once inside went straight to bed. Me, I toured the ‘estate’ making sure all was lashed down securely, the drains were free from debris and picking up a few stray buckets, plant pots and scallop shells (don’t ask) Smile Then it was indoors to think about dinner or should I say wade through the fridge and freezer looking for something suitable. Being short on inspiration I boiled a few Roosters for a couple of minutes then threw in some chopped asparagus, leaving that to boil for a further five or ten mins. Then with the asparagus nicely tender and the spuds cooked I drained the pan contents into a large sieve, leaving it to dry whilst I added chopped garlic, olive oil, sea salt and balsamic vinegar to the now warm dry pan. I put contents of sieve back in pan, drizzled a little more olive oil on it then refitted the pan lid and shook it enough to bash and mix the contents. Serving said concoction with a few slices of nduja and home made black pudding Smile Hardly ‘haute cuisine’ but quick, easy, very filling and just as good without the dead animal on the side. OK, perhaps not quite so good without the charcuterie but a really good vegetarian option


The rest of the week

Truth be known I’m only on here cos I finished work early, normally by the time I get home and make dinner I’m too knackered to blog. We did finish early the other day and I managed home for 19:00 but by 19:30 I was in me bed too tired even to read a few pages of my current riveting publication, ‘The Darkest Dawn’ 

At 1.55am on 1st January 1919, a naval yacht carrying sailors home on leave ran aground on rocks near the village of Holm, a mere 20 yards from the shore of the Isle of Lewis and less than half a mile from the safe harbour of Stornoway. HMY Iolaire was crowded with 280 men, mostly naval reservists returning to the safety and comfort of their homes after the horror of the Great War.

by Malcolm Macdonald and Donald John Macleod. An examination of the loss of HMY Iolaire on Hogmanay 1919


Anyway, it’s ‘pitch black’ outside now, not even 7:00pm and the rain is well and truly lashing the windows, so where was I?

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Well, today wasn’t my first daylight commute of the year, that ‘milestone’ fell to Sunday morning and was blessed with a full moon over the sycamore at the bottom of Glame Brae.

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Was pretty nice when I got to work too with a dusting of snow on the Black Cuilin.

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I even managed a spot of painting whilst the boys prepared for Brendan by splicing a new spring and extra head ropes for the aft quarter.


Another day Smile


A mountain hare in its winter coat, OK, I know the picture is pish but I only ever see this chap in the winter and always here at Glame. Probably only actually see him cos he’s brilliant white in the winter and sticks out like a sore thumb in his ‘camouflage’. I guess this another sign of global warming, probably there was much more snow back then when evolution gave him suitable winter attire Smile


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The Portree creel boat Mharie Bhan II off to catch an early prawn or velvet crab.

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Wrong way from Sconser? Smile sailing this way to execute the famous ‘Henderson turn’ at Raasay, awesome seamanship Smile

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The most important job of the week, Raasay’s new ambulance and the magnificent Storr from an unusual angle.

With ‘SAS who cares who wins’ topping the Raasay TV viewing charts the Hallaig’s crew have drawn up a daily exercise regime.


Brimming with testosterone the ‘young bloods’ have been aboard at 6:00am every morning working out!!!!! I kid you not Smile

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