Life at the end of the road

October 17, 2018

Floating my boat :-)

Home at last, it’s been a great docking but there’s nothing like home and a whole month off ahead of me.


Storm Callum had left a broken whirligig in his wake but aside from that, a few less leaves on the trees and a scattering of misplaced buckets and plant pots, all seemed well.

Hallaig and Isle of Arran out Loch Dunvegan in

I would have got something ‘down on paper’ so to speak on Monday and Tuesday but Monday was a late one and yesterday I was driving through the night to get to Sconser. Like Sunday, Monday was a ‘pure peach’, just as well cos it was the day we ‘came out’ to let the Dunvegan in.


It was ‘all go’ from our start at 8:00am with the sludge tanker ready to empty our ‘bilge holding’ and ‘dirty oil’ tanks.

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We received the ultimate complement off the tanker driver and sucker man who both said that our bilges were the cleanest they had ever seen on a CalMac ship. Mind you, I had spent the best part of two days cleaning them it should have been no surprise.

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No wonder I was mightily miffed when the service engineers from Tyco dumped a couple more hundred litres of water in them testing the various sprinkler systems Smile Still, at least they did the mess room ones into a bin and they did ask if it was OK Smile

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The upholsterers finished covering the lounge seating in a much more practical material.

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By early afternoon the dock flooding began and I got on with preparing the ship to sail, shutting and opening valves to let fuel into the generators and keep the sea out of the ship.


As soon as we had water around the generator ‘box coolers’ I fired them up one at a time checking fuel pressures and temperatures constantly until I was happy all was rosy. Once we are floating and clear of the blocks we got the OK to start the drives.


Unlike a regular propeller, the Voith Schneider unit turns constantly, even when the vessel is stopped so it’s important there are no blocks or debris in the dock to foul them.

Those are on the Striven, there are only 4 and they are smaller than Hallaig’s.

Boodly amazing things hey.

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As Arran and Hallaig prepared to leave Dunvegan arrived just astern of the fisheries research ship Alba na Mara that was heading for her berth next door in the James Watt dock.

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We came out under our own steam but Arran had a tug either end.

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The Bruiser and Battler pulling and steering her through the narrow entrance to the wet dock ahead of us.

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There wasn’t a lot of room to play with and the masters of all three vessels did a fine job.

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As soon as we were out Dunvegan went in under her own steam

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The dock gates and their hydraulic power pack.

It was a ‘late one’ on Monday with not much time for taking pictures but here’s Loch Dunvegan looking mightily small in the 200m long dock Smile

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Here’s the Border Force ‘Big Rib’ heading for her berth too.

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Back to Rainbows

So, that was it, I finally got home this morning to a newly decorated hallway Smile It grows on you Smile To be honest, I was so glad to be home I’d have liked anything Smile

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October 7, 2018

Laid up in Largs :-)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:01 pm

That’ll be the good weather by with Sad smile the beautiful trip down Scotland’s West Coast came to an abrupt end this morning as we departed ‘The Toon’ for Largs. Sure it wasn’t so bad to start with, we had the wind ‘up our ar5e’ and it wasn’t too fresh at first. Just as well cos we managed to get the rolled shoulder of Raasay pork in the oven afore it got too ‘rolly polly’.

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The 2kg lump of one of our ‘Large Black’ boars got a few cloves of garlic inserted then vigorously rubbed with salt and olive oil. He was then sat on a bed of carrots before being surrounded by Rooster potatoes that had had the bashing about in a container of olive oil and salt treatment. More potatoes followed in a tray and got dowsed in rosemary for good measure before spending a wobbly couple of hours in the oven as the weather worsened.

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We got a bit of a lee behind Little Cumbrae, enough to clear up the multitude of cutlery, jars, pans, sauces and bathroom paraphernalia that had spread itself liberally across the galley and toilet.

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However, that didn’t last long and whilst we were cursing it, the RNLI were loving it Smile

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The Largs inshore Lifeboat was having a ‘whale of a time’ Smile at least that’s what it sounded like over the VHF.


An hour later we were off Largs pier awaiting MV Loch Shira

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who was busy plying to Cumbrae and back. Once she’d cleared Largs slipway we nipped in to discharge Finlay’s car then tied up for the night on the south (exposed) side of the pier, there being ‘no room at the inn’ so to speak Smile

Once securely fastened to Scotland we shutdown the drives and settled down to our rather civilized ‘Sunday roast’. After which we got on with more dry dock prep and the replacement of one of Hallaig’s motorised DC switches.


These motorised switches are the bane of my life, made by a very reputable company in Finland and not Chindia they are supposed to be good for some 5000 cycles but they’re not. They do around 1800 a year but are lucky to last two, this one was due to be changed at this years docking after around 3600 cycles but failed on Thursday night Sad smile Sure we’ve been in touch with ABB but they were not very sympathetic and the worst of it is, the parts that fail are usually small cast levers and cams that would be easily replaced if they’d supply them Sad smile 

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Still, there is an ‘upside’ to this, these 400A switches can be pulled apart and configured to operate manually. Not very good for Hallaig but perfect for switches on large ‘off grid’ battery banks Smile


The truth is, I actually like changing these switches as it’s quite a challenging task with the whole drive cabinet needing isolated on the 24vDC, 400vAC and 700vDC circuits. It is not a task to be undertaken lightly Smile

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Special tools are required and strict protocols must be observed.

For the want of a salad

So, after all that and having spent far too much time eating dead animals I fancied a salad for dinner. Sure we’ve been eating well aboard Hallaig but much of it has been of the bacon, sausage, mince and pork ilk. Nothing wrong with that but I’m a great fan of salad too, having managed to rustle one up last night from the Co op in ‘The Toon’ I thought I’d do the same tonight in Largs, ‘Aye Right’ Sad smile

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Acres and acres of booze, sugary drinks crisps and carp in the Largs Co op but only two small shelves of green stuff!!!!!


Still, I managed to come away with some tomatoes Smile

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