Life at the end of the road

March 17, 2019

Gettin’ smelly :-)

Another Sunday in LA and this one was a cracker. I gotta say that my spell down here as to date been marred somewhat by the weather. Sure there’s been some nice spells in between all the rain, sleet, hail and gales but there’s no been a day when you could manage the whole of it bout waterproofs. Well, today came close and just to make it better, it was a Sunday so only four runs and an early finish Smile 

The geriatrics

I really intended posting last night but ended up in my bed before 20:30 instead, it had been a long day with delays on one of the major vessels having us await a customer off Mull for half an hour or so. Not that we begrudged it, the poor lady must have had a helluva trip up from Glasgow and she promised to bring us a cake Smile However, by the time I got back to me caravan and walked the dugs I was pure wrecked, me being the wrong side of sixty and all that. Come to think of it our poor skipper must be at his ‘wits end’ with us.

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On Saturday the combined age of his three crew was 187!!! by today it was 188 Smile

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One of us was a year older today Smile Smile Happy Birthday General Smile Admiral Woods is a long way off thirty and he’s lumbered with three geriatrics, all in their sixties Smile Smile He’s very patient with us Smile

Saturday

Anyway, back to yesterday,

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the MV Eems Star https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:226870/mmsi:245072000/vessel:EEMS%20STAR arrived to load LQS https://www.lochalinequartzsand.co.uk/  fine silica sand. There’s not really a great deal of room at the mouth of Loch Alainn and the tide must make it tricky for skippers not familiar with the area but she got berthed safely enough.

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By the time I was walking the dugs she was busy loading the lovely fine Lochaline sand.

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Delta Marine’s serious workboat Voe Earl https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:198669/mmsi:235090599/imo:9639983/vessel:VOE_EARL heading up the Sound of Mull for Loch Leven and Glencoe. I’m sure I’ve seen her at Raasay.

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The venerable MV Isle of Arran and the MV Fluvius Tavy !!! sounds more like a Roman emperor than a ship !!! https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/details/ships/shipid:263049/mmsi:314426000/imo:9501710/vessel:FLUVIUS_TAVY OK, fluvius is Latin for river and their is a river Tavy, it runs through Tavistock no less, aint Google a wonderful thing hey Smile

Sunday

Well, today was a bonny day right enough, not as bonny as we’d have liked right enough cos there was some nasty showers but they’d passed us by by late afternoon so we’ll forgive that Smile

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There was snow on the roof of the ‘Egg chariot’ when I awoke right enough but XC https://www.xcweather.co.uk/ told us it was gonna be ‘peachy’ later.

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OK, there was the odd shower but on the whole it was pretty good and we sailed through the Sunday drills with great aplomb Smile We had a fire on the car deck

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and had to drop the anchor then ‘abandon ship’ but apart from that it was a lovely day Smile

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The General kept us right and we had a nice jaunt around Lochaline after abandoning the blazing MV Hallaig Smile

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Most of the boats seemed to be diving related, MV Gaelic Rose, MV Sound Diver,

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MV Brendan and MV Peregrine but seriously, if I was needing to charter a boat out of LA to go wreck diving it would be one of the latter two as me first choice. There’s nobody knows the waters and wrecks around here like http://www.lochaline-boats.co.uk/ .

Once all the maintenance and drills were out of the way I took the dugs for a walk, choosing to drive them up the Drimmin road then wander along the shore around Fiunary.

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There’s a lovely Forestry Commission car park at ‘Clach na Criche  https://www.wildlochaber.com/ardnamurchan/geology/clach-na-criche The ‘Wishing Stone’

Clach na Criche

The Wishing Stone in Morvern is formed from a dyke that intruded into surrounding rocks around 60 million years ago.  The surrounding rock has since eroded away leaving the dyke as boulder like outcrop.  The dyke has a large angular hole in the centre and has many joints within its structure.  The bare surface is covered with a stunning patchwork of white, grey and orange crustiose lichens, whilst numerous crevices support members of the Parmelion and Usneion communities.

The stone has been used as a boundary marker (hence its Gaelic name Clach na Criche), formerly between the lands of the Pict and Scots, and more recently between the medieval parishes of Kilcolmkill and Killintag.  It no longer serves this purpose as the parishes have since been amalgamated. 

The English name of the outcrop derives from local folklore.  Wishes were said to be granted at the Wishing Stone if you filled your mouth with water from the local spring and passed through the stone three times without touching the sides or swallowing the water.

The Wishing Stone was also a stopping off point for funeral processions between Lochaline and Drimnin, for both refreshment and remembrance.  Cairns were built by the mourners in memory of the deceased.  For sources further information, please see links below.

Access Point

Park at the Forestry Commission Car Park.  The Wishing Stone is a short walk west from the car park.

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That done, it was back to Hallaig for the last two sailings to Mull and back

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and bid farewell to Eems Star with her load of sand for Runcorn Smile 

That just left me with an underwear dilemma, much as I love  working ‘two weeks on, two weeks off’ it does mean you need to have an awful lot of spare underpants, socks and T shirts. Well I only have ten pairs of ‘skids’ so it’s a case of 1, start using the ten day old ones. 2, wash em myself by hand then hang them in the engine room. 3, go to Lochaline Stores https://www.yell.com/biz/lochaline-stores-oban-660801/ and use their laundrette, methinks the latter Smile

April 15, 2018

It’s no wonder they need a lift :-)

Sorry, couldn’t manage a post last night, was pure wrecked, it’s not a hard day here on the Lochaline/Fishnish route but it’s a long one and ‘yours truly’ was pretty shattered last night. We’d had a busy enough day with commercial traffic right enough but I can’t use that as an excuse.

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My prep work on and around the aft fire shutter was hardly reason either, truth is, I’m just getting too old Smile Having said all that I don’t need a ‘lift’ to get back into the boat if I’ve been diving, despite being in my 60’s and having a ‘bad back’.

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It’s been a bit of an education working here this last few weeks, I’ve been a diver, both recreational and professional for over forty years now and have been much impressed with the advances in so called ‘technical diving’ in the leisure sector where gases are mixed to prevent narcosis   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_narcosis increase ‘bottom times’ and reduce decompression times thus making contraction of the ‘bends’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decompression_sickness far less likely. ‘Back in the day’ when I was a serious wreck diver we regularly dived to 55m on air alone and spent an hour decompressing on USN tables (United States Navy diving tables) http://www.scubish.com/diving-with-deep-six/27/decompression_sickness Nowadays the modern ‘technical diver’ carries with him huge air tanks and oxygen enriched mixtures for decompressing with. Not only that but he requires a lift to get him out of the water cos he’s carrying so much carp!!!! I kid you not, both of Lochaline boat charter http://www.lochaline-boats.co.uk/ vessels, Peregrine and Brendan have diver lifts fitted and when you see all the carp that the modern diver carries around it’s no wonder why Smile 

The O2 café and Lochaline dive centre

As I’ve said in the past, I spent many a memorable holiday in the Sound of Mull back in the seventies and eighties diving some of Britain’s most memorable wrecks. Lochaline must be unique in the British Isles in having such a wealth of spectacular wrecks that are accessible all year round and in all but the worst of weather/tide conditions. Relatively sheltered yet supplied by mild Gulf Stream water the Sound of Mull is a positive ‘Mecca’ for the true enthusiast and novice alike with everything from the historic HMS Dartmouth   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Dartmouth_(1655) in a few meters of water to SS Buitenzorg  

Remote sensing image of the SS Buitenzorg

in the heady depths of trimix https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimix_(breathing_gas) for the ambitious ‘technical diver’. Either way Bodie and Malcolm of Lochaline Boat Charters http://www.lochaline-boats.co.uk/ or Calum from http://www.lochalinedivecentre.co.uk/ could ‘drop’ you on them, along with the Hispania, Ballista, John Preston, Rondo, Meldon (my very own 2500 ton collier mined in 1917) and a whole host of other wrecks nearby, not to mention the multitude of scenic, cliff and drift dives in he area. Lochaline truly is a divers paradise Smile 

When I was out for a walk with ‘wee dug’ last night we wandered along through the community owned woodland towards the West Pier

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and its awesome views over the Sound of Mull before turning back towards home and the wee caravan

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passing by the O2 café  http://www.lochalinedivecentre.co.uk/ on the way way. It was whilst gazing through the shop windows that I noticed a sign that said they had diving cylinders for sale at around £45 each, needless to say Molly and I went up there today, spoke to Calum and came away with four 12lt Faber steel cylinders for less than the price of four bags of coal Smile

As Ships go by

Well, it’ll be after 22:30 now and time for bed so I guess I’d better wind this up.

 

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The latest batch of divers getting ready for some spectacular dives in the Sound of Mull, courtesy of http://www.lochaline-boats.co.uk/

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MV Hallaig at Lochaline slip

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