Life at the end of the road

October 17, 2019

Back under the Arnish sky :-) :-)

Home at last, how many times have you heard that hey Smile It matters not where I go or what I see, ‘there’s no place like home’ and here I am at last with my ‘wee dug’.

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Molly has not let me out of her sight the whole day, insisting on ‘helping’ me drive whatever bit of machinery I’ve been on or in and sticking to me like glue with a mistrustful look in her eye. Well, I did arrive home late last night after a rather slow but uneventful journey north. The good weather seeming to bring out a swarm of poorly driven hire cars and campervans, still, I got home in one piece to a spotless house and fine supper. My MiL not only made a fine job of looking after Molly but she (as always) gave Sonas a full spring clean and made me a fine pasta bake.

Back to ‘normal’

Thursday morning now, 5:00am and things are ‘back to normal’. I gave up trying to blog around eight o clock last night and went to bed with a good book. Phil Durham’s ‘The Fuhrer led but we overtook him’ caught my eye cos the author had spent time aboard HMS Graph, the captured U-570 that was used by the Royal Navy. Phil Durham was just 18 years old and serving aboard the battleship HMS Barham in the Mediterranean when war was declared in 1939. I left him last night in 1940 on the cruiser HMS Norfolk in Narvik, what an exciting life I lead hey Smile 

After several patrols HMS Graph ended up wrecked off the island of Islay where I first dived on her almost 40 years ago after reading the (even then) long out of print ‘HM U boat’ by John D Drummond.

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So, that’s it, I’m back home with a wee dug sneaking under the covers once I fall asleep, getting up at ‘stupid o clock’ and listening to the BBC World Service despairing at what that clown in the White House has been up to Smile I rarely watch TV and only listen to the radio if in my workshop or travelling to and from work. Consequently my news is generally like my work ‘two weeks on, two weeks off’ Smile Having been chauffeured to and from the dry dock in Richard’s comfortable Jeep the last fortnight and not having fresh ‘titty papers’ delivered to Hallaig everyday I’ve been somewhat incommunicado with global events. Not that I read the newspapers either but it is difficult not to notice life changing news on the front page of the ‘red tops’ when they sit on the mess room table. You know the kind of thing, some third rate celebrity has been ‘romping’ in the jungle, or Beckingham palace has been burgled and David’s favourite pair of boxers stolen Smile

Anyway (as usual) I digress, the last week I was down at Dale’s dry dock in Troon, the former site of Ailsa Troon shipbuilders with our very own Hallaig.

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After a spell of anchor painting and ‘touching up’ with my shipmate Richard I managed to sneak away early on Sunday to go and see my Boy at University Smile

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Sure, it was work related, we went to the National Museum to study the 500ton anchor chain and a model of Hallaig Smile


An interactive Morse code display making me more homesick than usual when it spelt out my wee dugs name Sad smile


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Well, it was a peach of a day but with a far more autumnal hue than when I left a fortnight ago.

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My first serious task of the day being a puncture repair for Adam the Polish builder working next door. Unbelievably, it took me the best part of two hours to remove the tyre and repair the two holes in the tube.


The ‘wee dug’ and I delivered the repaired wheel to Torran and I was pure flabbergasted by the work Adam and his two builders had done in just seven days. A beautiful block extension with a slate roof

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sat in the place where my Mate and I had laid a concrete pad in July.

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By now, even though it was only early afternoon with the Torran aspen turning golden yellow, a stag had started bellowing from his high vantage point miles away at Arnish. Once home, ‘I put the glass on him’ and he had the look of one of Bill’s stags from Rona, with antlers as thick as a babies arm.

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Noisy beggar Smile

Discovery II clutch master cylinder

The clutch master cylinder having arrived just before I headed off with Hallaig was the next job ‘on the list’. The ‘Wife’ my Disco WFE had developed an annoying clutch problem whereby if the clutch was held down for any length of time whilst manoeuvring it would gradually start to engage. Although a classic symptom of failing master or slave cylinder this is usually accompanied by a leak on the offending cylinder. On this occasion there was no ‘tell tale’ weep of fluid so I changed the slave first last month as it as only £20 for a genuine one and an easy job. Unfortunately it didn’t cure the problem, in fact it made it worse on account of these Discoveries can be a ‘pig to bleed’. Well, I sussed that out shortly afterwards when I realized (in typical ‘Green Oval’ fashion) that the slave cylinder bleed nipple actually points slightly downwards!!!!!! So, lesson learned there, whenever you want to bleed a Disco clutch, jack up the front end Smile


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I also learned something else, the new master cylinder came with a plug in it which needed to be removed fit the ‘Traction Control’ sensor. This plug is an Allen type grub screw and is a bizarre size, it seems to be 4.5mm. Now, I have a gazillion Allen keys, Allen sockets and wrenches of every shape or form but no 4.5mm one and I doubt anyone else has either Sad smile Luckily a 30 Torx key is ever so slightly bigger and can be tapped gently into the offending grub screw allowing it to be eased out. Apart from that the job was a ‘piece of cake’ just remove some trim inside, take off the clip and remove the clevis pin from the pushrod. One 13mm nut, one 10mm bolt and the hydraulic pipe and ‘Bob’s your uncle’. Make sure the front end is high enough and bleed as normal.

October 12, 2019

Thinking of home :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:18 pm

17:30 now at the Premier Inn somewhere near Troon and that’ll be me just showered and ready for the 18:00 muster in the dining room with my shipmate. Probably the best part of a week since I was last on here but truth is I’ve had little time for blogging or anything else for that matter, it’s been pretty ‘full on’ since we left Largs a week ago and whilst we’re only in the dock 8:00 until 17:00 it’s been pretty hectic. Sure I’m ‘home’ showered and fed for around 19:30 but I’ve been in my bed around 20:00 most nights!!!! I kid you not, under the covers with a good book until ‘lights out’ around 21:00 Smile Having said that I really ‘pushed the boat out’ last night, took a bottle to my room. It was Friday after all, the bottle was sparkling water and I did manage to stay up until midnight watching TV Smile The first time I’ve actually managed to watch it since I arrived, I did switch it on for the first time on Thursday in an attempt to watch two hours of Vera at 20:00 but gave up at 21:00 and fell asleep. I am not a fan of the TV Smile

It’ll be 10 days since I left home and ‘wee dug’ in the care of MiL and I guess I’ve thought of little else. Molly is probably a little heavier than when I last saw right enough. Ten days of stealing Charlie’s dinner will have seen to that but she’ll be going on a diet as soon as I get home Smile Which, with a little luck will be early next week, after almost two weeks of hotel rooms I’m ready for my own bed and the total silence of home.

A very big raft

Before we went into Dale’s dry dock at Troon we had an appointment in the busy little harbour with Survitec the life raft company and a representative of the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) who would be overseeing the deployment of two of our 100 man life rafts and evacuation slides.

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Well, that was good fun Smile

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The local residents kept a close eye on us,

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a pair of rather fat seals that seem to live in Troon harbour Smile

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Not a regular visitor

Also, due to problems with the Ardrossan Linkspan, MV Caledonian Isles had been diverted to Troon.

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So, along with what seemed like half of Troon, we had the pleasure of watching her berth on the Troon linkspan.

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Then, during the late afternoon under a cloudless sky we went into the dock, the gate was lifted up and with Hallaig precisely positioned above the ‘blocks’ the dock was slowly pumped out.

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I say slowly cos it had been a long day, with an early departure from Largs and then the raft deployment, in reality I guess it was only a coupe of hours before we were sat on the blocks. Power was passed over and switched on once the dock was low and Hallaig was ‘high and dry’. The pumps for the dock draw a couple of hundred amps so we couldn’t get powered up until at least one of them was switched off.

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On Tuesday work started in earnest and over the next few days contractors fitted some new hydraulic cylinders for the bow ramp and line bored the ‘fingers’.

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Our Voith Schneider propellers got their annual check and new anodes.

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Anchors and chains flaked out.

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The aft windless needed more heat than our little blow lamp could muster,

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but eventually I managed to give him a pair of new shoes Smile

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Gregor and Damien sorted out our 5h1t pipe and nav lights Smile

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