Life at the end of the road

December 25, 2018

Santa’s coming :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, wind turbine — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:31 pm

Woo Hoo, that’s it I’ve finished for Crimbo Smile I’ve no been this excited since I was a wee wain but I’ve not been drinking since before Groove Armada and I’ve got me breakfast for tomorrow planned already, half a large cup of strong black coffee topped up to the brim with Bailey’s Irish cream Smile Well, it is Christmas after all hey and I have just finished a fortnight’s ‘hard graft’ aboard the good ship Hallaig, OK, perhaps not hard but long.

Aye, it’s been a long shift right enough with more than it’s fair share of cancelled sailings due to inclement weather, nothing worse than missed sailings to make the days drag. It’s one thing finishing early cos we’ve been ‘blown off’ for the last crossing or two but this ‘will we or won’t we’ in borderline conditions is the worst of all. I wouldnae have a skippers job for ‘all the tea in China’ or even ‘all the salamis in a herd of pigs’ Smile


Speaking of which, mine are looking just lovely, as is my 10kg ham marinating in HFW’s cider, orange, sugar, pineapple, cinnamon, salt, cloves and star anise brine.


The ham has been sat outside in a dustbin for two weeks now, weighted down with some diving weights in a plastic bucket. I gave it a turn then submerged it once more for another week at least.

Santa’s been

So ‘that’s it’, Christmas day now, the fresh coffee and Bailey’s was delicious, as was the fresh coffee and Tia Maria Smile It’s 12:25 now and I’m on the third cup of strong black coffee but this one is around 15% Whyte and Mackay Smile Well the Bailey’s has to last till New Year and we need the Tia Maria for all the Black Russian’s I’ll be making Smile

It may be the first Christmas in 62 years without me dear ole Mam but it’s been a cracker nonetheless and on the upside, it’s the first time in 62 years that I’ve not fallen out with her Smile That’ll be the Whyte and Mackay’s speaking Smile Seriously though some things just aren’t the same Sad smile Still the four of us and four dugs are having a great time, have not come to blows yet and I’ve been given some of the best presents I have ever had. A DeWalt multi tool, diver’s torch, socks, cammo waistcoat and smelly stuff being ‘damn fine splendid’ but my all time favourite being an ornament. I feckin hate ornaments, clutter, carp you hang on the walls or stick on window sills, pish you stick on the fridge and novelty mugs. However the old trawl float given me by my son and made by his girlfriend’s mum almost has me in tears. A painting of FV Conqueror BRD257 adorned with puffins on an injection moulded trawl float almost had me blubbering, I kid you not.

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I salvaged this boat from 20m of water, spent two years repairing it then made my living from it for many years clam diving and lobster fishing. It was an integral part of my life for years, I put my heart and soul into it and my son spent some of his formative years aboard her.

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Clam diving 2001 1 001 Clam Diving 2001 2 001

He learned how to count and Willie Eyre taught us both so much, Willie now has dementia and the two year old is at uni but they were priceless days we’ll never forget.

Nay friggin turkey!!!!!!!

Almost 20:00 now, the Christmas songs were long ago axed and replaced by the likes of Faithless, Morcheeba and Groove Armada. The vegetarian Christmas dinner has gone and we are on the second jug of Black Russian.

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Must be the first time in 62 years that we’ve no had something dead for Christmas dinner and I gotta say the stuffed roast peppers followed by nut roast was awesome. Indeed it was every bit as good as if not better than the traditional American import we’ve been brainwashed into eating this last century. However, I am a great fan of eating something that requires toothpicks and goes well with red wine Smile somehow cheese and veg don’t cut it in that department. Don’t get me wrong, I think we and the planet would be a whole lot better off if we ate less meat, especially the factory farmed carp we’re all so used to devouring. However, in my book Christmas dinner is about killing and eating something at the Winter Solstice and not importing out of season veg from halfway round the planet. I dunno when the turkey came into it right enough but the Christians and Romans seem to have hijacked the festival for their own ends, Christ seems to have been born in March or April, of that there is no doubt. I guess it was just easier to keep the dates the same and substitute many Gods for one hey. Whatever the reason, days are getting longer and that really is something worth celebrating for sure.

A Christmas day walk


So, apart from getting wrecked, opening presents and eating dinner we all had a wander down ‘Calum’s road’ with half a dozen dugs and the neighbours Smile As for the rest of the fortnight since I last posted, well here’s some pictures.


A mountain of mail for the poor postie Sad smile

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Finlay and ‘Admiral Woods’ out for the weekly boat drill around the FV Speedwell.


The ‘red screen of death’ during the monthly ‘black out’ drill.

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A 500h service on a Volvo D13.


Admiral Woods and Phonely Byrne ‘hard at it’ Smile

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The Raasay Distillery Christmas party. A most civilized affair involving much good food and wine.


FV Eilidh heading south through the Raasay Narrows.

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John Macbeth’s memorial bash, a well attended affair at the Raasay Boatshed involving fire, drink, photo’s and no brimstone. Nope, none of the preaching and ‘your turn next’ at this affair, John was fondly remembered and celebrated by all who had come from far and wide. 2-017-small.jpg

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Aye, John Noel Macbeth, a true friend and thoroughly decent human being. Douglas Adams once said that the Babel fish proved the none existence of God. Me, I think that John’s premature departure from this world at the age of 33 confirms it. Fer fecks sake, you have Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Vladimir Putin alive and kicking in their sixties and John is whisked away at 33!!!!!! There really cannot be a ‘higher power’ hey Smile

July 8, 2018

A day of ‘many hats’ :-)

Almost 21:00 and that’s me just finished the third plate of herring pasta which was basically that recipe but with spaghetti.


Can’t say that I’ve ever made it but I certainly enjoy eating it, this is one of ‘darling wife’s’ specialities and was the perfect end to a perfect day. A busy day right enough and one with a good variety of tasks, the first of which was to finish off servicing the neighbours wind turbine.

Once upon a time I’d have done this job in half a day but I’ve slowed down a lot these last couple of years and these days I spend half my time looking for things I’ve just put down! Then there are all the times I have to go back to my workshop to collect stuff I’ve forgot. Still, I got there in the end. Even though I’d done all the ‘donkey work’ on Thursday and only had to clean up the slip rings, fit a new brake rope, replace two sheared bolts and raise the turbine, it still took me all morning. And that was with one of my neighbours helping!!

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The turbine has been running without a brake now for well over a year and has safely seen off several storms with 100mph plus winds. The brake is only really used when lowering the turbine or if it shed a blade or spring or something that made it become unbalanced. The brake could then be applied to prevent further damage. Having said that the Proven/Kingspan turbines are one of the very few that actually have a mechanical brake that can actually stop a turbine in a storm and keep it stopped. Most others have an electrical brake that sorts out the alternator phases, less than ideal and not guaranteed to work. You cannot stop a fast spinning turbine with an electrical brake and if the turbine is stopped and the wind strong enough it will overcome the brake, overheat and melt the core or windings. I speak from experience Sad smile

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This will be what was left of my Cheap and cheerful Chinese jobby when it was braked in a storm Sad smile


7:00am now, got distracted last night by a bottle of Dalwhinnie ‘Winters Gold’

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold Bottling Note

Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold is a 2015 addition to the Highland distillery’s range inspired by the chilly climate up in the remote part of Scotland where their single malt Scotch whisky is distilled – as the label remarks, it was "Crafted by the Cold". It’s made only with spirit that has been distilled between October and March, and interestingly enough, they suggest that you try serving this expression frozen!

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Oak spice, pear skins, golden syrup and gristy malt. A touch of peach polish and chewy, sticky toffee. From the freezer it’s fruitier, more green apple, apple sauce, toffee apple, sultana, even redcurrant.

Palate: Very honeyed with warming peppery spices, Big Red cinnamon. From the freezer the honey is kept in check much more, as are the spices. Plenty of apple flesh and orange peel.

Finish: Allspice, nutmeg and smoky malt. From the freezer the finish is more about the spicy cinnamon and peppercorn heat that’s found on the palate at room temperature.

Overall: An assertive, spicy, honeyed Dalwhinnie with enough sweetness and character to be served straight from the freezer (as intended).

I dunno about all that but it was smooth and nice with just a couple of drops of Arnish water in it. I just don’t get all this guff they talk about whisky, wine and football. There seems to be a whole industry that specialize in carp. I’m sure the Dalwhinnie does all of the above but there’s never any mention by the Scotch aficionados about the chlorine taste of tap water Smile I guess you just get used to it, me I think it ruins a good cup of tea or malt.

The Proven Brake

Anyway, back to the wind turbine brake, first thing we had to do was feed the new rope down the tower and for the replacement I chose a heavy braided twine, like the stuff used in a trawl net. One of the problems with the brake rope is that it has a regular ‘lay’(twist) of three strands wound ‘with the sun’ clockwise or righthanded. Braided or multiplat rope has the strands wound and laid in both directions so is much less prone to kinks and twists. Feeding the new rope down the 7m long pole proved a bit of a challenge as it has to go through a 12mm hole in the top of the ‘slip ring’ mounting. This we managed to do using a length of wire rope, pushing it downwards through the slip rings then taping the green twine to it and pulling from the bottom. The twine is then attached to the brake lever at the top of the mast but it must be run through a length of bungee cord or even spring to keep it clear of the shaft when not in use. To operate the brake you wind the cord around the actuation lever at the bottom of the tower then pull the lever downwards. When the brake is released the cord must be removed from the lever and left to hang loose so as not to get twisted. Even so, it generally does Sad smile

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After refitting and sealing the cowlings and checking all the blade bolts (one had snapped and was replaced) the turbine was raised, bolted back down with new M20 bolts and the gin pole removed, job done Smile

They don’t make them like this anymore

The dry spell may just have ended last night with what must have been overnight rain judging by the puddles and wet grass but I doubt it will have done much to replenish the depleted water tanks next door. We were always a little conscious of being economical with water at times like this when we lived at ‘Number 3’ but now there are far more people staying there as Maya and Nikky have the house on Airbnb so need far more water than we ever did. Consequently they’ve been pumping ‘Scottish Water’s’ finest from IBC’s into their storage tanks.

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I had a dedicated pump just for doing this that has all the hall marks of something World War II. I can’t even remember where it came from or who gave me but the little 170W Stuart Turner pump just keeps on going. Having said that it required a little attention yesterday but I soon sorted that with some grease and WD40 Smile 

Panasonic NA-127VB5 washing machine

That sorted I donned my ‘domestic appliance’ engineers hat to try and sort out the washing machine. I gotta say this Panasonic machine has been trouble since day one and I’d never have another. It failed within a few days of getting it home and fair play to Panasonic they offered me a new one. Me being a fool said “ I don’t want a new one, I just want this one fixing”. It is such a PITA getting a washing machine up to Arnish that I couldn’t be bothered taking it back. Anyway an engineer came out and initially blamed it on our DIY electricity, this I told him in no uncertain terms was mince as our electricity is far more stable and reliable than the National Grid and that’s a fact. He then blamed it on my DIY plumbing. At this time the washing machine was in the shed as we were living in the caravan and to be fair to him, the drain was a bit high (or was it low). Anyway, he did some adjustments on the door catch and for the next few months it was fine. Once in the house it failed again and another engineer came out. Can’t remember what the problem was this time but it was OK for a year or two bar the odd error code relating to water pressure (despite us having almost 3bar). Recently it has started stopping mid cycle cos the machine thinks the door is open and the only cure is to restart the cycle and or sit there with your hand pressed on the door till it finishes Sad smile 

This was obviously a switch or adjustment fault so I pulled out the machine and had a look at the switch and catch.

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They both seemed fine so I carefully elongated the holes that retain the switch so it would allow the door catch to press the switch deeper so to speak. Well that seemed to work a treat as we have now done three full wash cycles without any problems.

If I didnae have a Landy it would be one of these


Next it was the mechanics hat again to have a look at the trusty Nissan Patrol of next door’s  that had a broken catalytic converter. I gotta say, if I didn’t have a Land Rover then I’d probably have one of these, the Nissan Patrol is truly ‘built like a tank’. The catalytic converter had broken off at the bottom weld.


It was a clean break and resting on the front anti roll bar so I reckoned that if I could remove the front track rod then I’d at least be able to get half of it welded.

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Typically on a 12 year old truck, the track rod end split pins were rusted in and had to be drilled out but that was soon done and the the track rod swung out of they way.


This enabled me to get a good few dollops of ‘pigeon sh1t’ welding on at least half of it. I could ‘blame my tools’ and tell you the rods were damp (which they were) but the truth is my welding is dubious at the best of times Sad smile


Once welded I made up a bracket to hold the pipe more rigidly then if it does snap then at least the pipe will stay in the cat and be perfectly serviceable until a new cat can be fitted (but not by me Smile)

Painters hat next

That done it was the time and weather to get on with painting an creosoting the hen shed. I had made a start on this on Friday night when I came back from Inverness. That was after I called in at the Raasay stores for some milk and caught up with my pal Peter

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who was also on small single seat transport Smile

It was a perfect evening for painting with just enough breeze to keep the midge away and reduce the temperature to comfortable levels as I had to swap the shorts and T shirt for dark blue overalls.

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The hens retiring to a ‘dangerous area’ whilst I got on with the job.

Well, I got most of it done


and should now go and finish off.

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