Life at the end of the road

May 8, 2017

A bale from the Buitenzorg :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 1:05 pm

Well, it’s pure Mediterranean here in Poolewe right now amidst the cluster of Russian, American, British and Free French encampments that this little corner of the Poolewe caravan site has turned into. And you’ll have to forgive my lack of links and make allowances for any inaccuracies in this effort for there’s no Internet here, so anything I spout is from memory. No Mr Google tonight to confirm anything at all, so if the SS Buitenzorg ran aground on the 21st of January 1941  and not the 12th I’m sorry, but more of her later.

The Sound of Mull

I’m on me jollies at the mo with darling wife and me Mam on the shores of Loch Ewe but I’ve just returned from a short stint on our sister ship Lochinvar who’s plying the Sound of Mull. The route from Lochaline in Morven to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull is one I used regularly during the 70’s and 80’s but I can’t remember the last time I was there. Aside from a one way trip some years ago returning from the Clyde with my young son it must be thirty years.

What a pleasant couple of days it was too with my caravan just parked up right next door to work Smile


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It is an area that I have a real ‘soft spot’ for with many happy memories attached to it, of a former life where I spent too much time shackled to a ‘normal job’. Not that I miss that or anything associated with it but those trips to Mull set me on a course for the insecurity of clam diving, salvage, fishing, crofting and of course, eventually Cal Mac Smile Tis funny where life takes you Smile

Bales of this and that

It was whilst out for an evenings wander in Lochaline that I came across this

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and recognized it instantly. Of course I just happened to have a pair of pliers with me at the time Smile Anyway, this is a bale of pure latex rubber from the SS Buitenzorg a Dutch steamship  which ran aground on 15th? January 1941 on Eilean Glas (Grey Island) in the sound of Mull. Loaded with pig iron, tea and allegedly zinc or copper ingots. After running aground the Buitenzorg slipped back into deeper water and now resides in around 90m of water, well beyond yer average divers range.  However in the late 1970’s a salvage company tried recovering the zinc/copper ingots with remotely operated grabs from a vessel moored above her.

As I said earlier, I cannae check my facts and I’ve no Internet but it was a couple of dudes who successfully salvaged the RMS Oceanic off Foula. The Oceanic, a luxury liner converted to AMC (armed merchant cruiser) in WWI had run aground off Foula near Shetland. These two guys lifted tons and tons of scrap off the ship over a period of a few years whilst living on what was probably one of the remotest parts of the UK. Whilst there one of them married a local lass who wrote a book called ‘Deep Water’ about their exploits. Methinks she’s called Moia Crawford and the book is a cracking read. 

Anyway, these bales of latex started to turn up on the shores of Mull and the mainland not long after the Buitenzorg sank but once the salvage company got ‘stuck in’ they really started appearing and this is one of them. Thing is, it is not the only type of bale that turned up on these shores Smile

During the late 70’s there was a serious ‘drugs bust’ in the area involving a yacht, a property on the island of Kerrera off Oban, several tons of cannabis and the late Howard Marks (Mr Nice). I’ll say no more but many years ago I saw one of these cannabis bales on Mull but was too green to know what it was at the time. Rumour has it that several folk are still smoking this stuff and some of it was fed to cows on Mull Smile Well, that’s probably an ‘urban myth’ but by a bizarre coincidence over twenty years ago I had a girlfriend who’s ex husband had served time for the very bust Smile Said husband having done seven years then run off to Brazil or some such place with his secretary. My ex girlfriend was suitably stoical about the incident Smile It really is strange where life takes you if you let it.

Happy birthday to me

You couldn’t make it up really and by the time you’re reading this I’ll be a year older. Bit of a relief actually been telling everyone I was 61 for ages now, but discovered today that I must have been 60, I was 61 on Sunday!! Well, it’s actually Sunday right now and I’ve just driven the 6 miles from Aultbea to Poolewe following a Spitfire and Messerschmitt BF 109e down the road having just watched the movie South Pacific, I kid you not!!

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Actually just spent the whole weekend in a bit of a time warp, you wouldnae believe how seriously some people take this 1940’s carry on. I kept bumping into Winston Churchill today, not to mention any amount of allied and axis soldiers, sailors and airmen over the weekend.

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Sad to say I couldn’t resist entering into the spirit a little myself too Smile Well, it was only £30 off eBlag and probably cheaper than a T shirt these days. I couldn’t fasten the jacket and the hat didn’t fit right enough but ‘hey ho’ it was great fun.

April 30, 2017

The cuckoo and the cruise liner :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:13 pm

Well, they were certainly correct about the forecast last week the snow arrived bang on time around Monday afternoon just after a few lambs were born near North Bay. They don’t call it ‘the lambing snow’ for nothing Sad smile 

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A blizzard around 17:00 0n Monday the 24th us heading ‘dead slow’ to Sconser with two extra lookouts and wishing we’d ‘stayed put’ on Raasay pier!! Sure it didn’t last, the relatively warm ground saw to that but pretty much the whole week was pure ‘Baltic’ with a frigid north wind ensuring temperatures never even got close to double figures.


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Right enough, it didn’t stop the first rhododendrons showing there flowers on Tuesday 25th but it did seem to slow the cuckoo down. The North African visitor didn’t put in an appearance until the 27th when the wind changed. I guess he’d the sense to steer well clear, no point fighting a bitter northerly when a warm southerly will carry you along to the breeding grounds much much less effort. I’ve not actually heard it yet but the Post Lady and others assure me it’s here

Spring like at last

By Wednesday the northerly wind was a dim and distant memory,

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The Penfold and Macmillan buoys were at rest and the swell had stopped breaking on the rocks.

Here’s Ferguson Transport’s MV Harvest Caroline taking some comfort from it on the end of Raasay pier.

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The weather improved dramatically and both lambs and crofters were happy.

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The Lustre took and advantage of the good weather and big tide to get her bottom scraped and painted Smile

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Raasay House also had their sgoth Oigh Niseach for the fist time this year, or at least the first time I’ve noticed it Smile

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Hallaig at Raasay on Thursday morning

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and the NLV Pole Star

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passing by on Friday night. She anchored of the Moll until Saturday morning when she took advantage of a rising tide to service the buoys at the entrance to Loch Sligachan.

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A pleasant change

I dunno when it it happened but at some point during the first ‘week on’ I was asked to join the MV Lochinvar at Lochaline for a few days familiarization and I ‘jumped at the chance’. Hallaig’s sister ship, yard number 726  has been ‘billeted’ there for the summer at least.

I spent many years in the late 70’s and early 80’s diving in this area for clams and scrap. Tis a part of the world I love and have visited little in the last 30 years. The Sound of Mull abounds in wrecks and in the 80’s at least was still a ‘scallop mine’ before the dredgers laid it to waste. 10lb lobsters and crayfish could be picked up here with ease when I was a ‘spotty yoof’ in my early twenties and in the early 80’s half a dozen of us bought a 2500t cargo ship nearby. Sure the SS Meldon was on the sea bed and had been since 1917 but I do have the deeds for her at home somewhere Smile Indeed the steam whistle resides in my garden along with one of her ‘sounding leads’ still clearly embossed SS Meldon 28lb Smile

SS Meldon

Of course she don’t look anything like that anymore,

Meldon, SS Meldon, S.S Meldon, Wreck, Loch Buie, Mull

but by all accounts her large cast iron propeller still looks impressive according to Smile

Me, I wouldnae know, I’ve not seen it in thirty years Smile

Seventy years of service

So, I managed to get away early last night to prepare for my trip sowf but arose, as usual at ‘stupid O clock’ to set off for Lochaline with the ‘Old Girl’ and caravan.

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This is what greeted me from the living room window at 6:30AM, the MV Astoria she did look familiar but the last time I saw this elegant septuagenarian who was launched in 1946!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! she was called the Azores. Originally ordered in 1944 when Hitler was still in power and the world at at war this Swedish beauty was called the Stockholm and went on  to collide with the Italian ship Andrea Doria in 1956 . Boodly amazing to see that out me living room window I can tell you Smile


Anyways, I left home this morning with the old caravan in tow and here I am.

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Though I first had to cross the Corran Narrows on this

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the rather unusual looking MV Corran that plies the fierce tides of Loch Linnhe between Corran and Ardgour.


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It’s hardy ‘work’ is it Smile

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And, I’m so close to my  ship I can have a ‘lie in’ despite having to start at 6:00AM Smile

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