Life at the end of the road

January 24, 2018

Two weeks ‘on’ and a proper January gale today!

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 12:06 pm

Well, that’s it, the ‘two weeks on’ is over and with a bit of luck I’ll get back into the ‘blogging’. Truth is, I’ve just not got the energy these days to do any whilst I’m working on the ferry. Sure, it’s not a particularly demanding job, far from it, I still wake up in the mornings and pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Many years of self employment constantly reminds me that I’ve got a boodly good job and best of all I only work some 22 or 23 weeks of every year. Much as I enjoy it and easy as it is, I’m still ‘pure feckered’ when I arrive home some 13 or so hours after leaving it.

Now, I appreciate that this is no great hardship for many but I’m the wrong side of sixty now and like my sleep Smile Not only that but it’s actually been a pretty busy week on the work front, not by any means on the traffic front but certainly in the ‘Motorman’s’ department.

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I’ve spent much of the shift down in the bowls of the ship monitoring the performance of the ship’s inverters that drive the 375kW water-cooled PMG motors. It’s pretty similar to monitoring my own 6kW inverter that ‘drives’ the house Smile Just 50 times more powerful!!!


The Vacon inverters and VFD’s (variable frequency drives) that propel the good ship Hallaig are very similar to the SMA inverters that ‘propel’ our house so to speak and the diagnostic and monitoring software is similar enough to give me ‘half a clue’ as to what to do Smile Consequently, whilst most people would find monitoring temperatures, frequency, current, power and voltage extremely boring, I kinda enjoy it.


Of course painting the ‘Forward Propulsion Room’ at the same time helped, especially as I was as ‘high as a kite’ at the time on the paint fumes Smile OK, not really as the space was well ventilated at the time (that’ll be the 375kW motor on the left) and I’d ‘risk assed it’ done a ‘permit to work’ and was taking regular breaks Smile

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With all the cables, pipes, boxes and trunking it’s a pretty tricky area to paint but I pottered away quite happily, usually when the weather was bad. It’s been a pretty ‘mixed bag’ on the weather front this last fortnight.

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A few nice sunny days, the first picture being taken on the way to Inverness as my son and I headed to the railway station, that’ll be him back at university now. That’ll be three of the ‘Five sisters of Kintail’, the Red Cuilin, Raasay harbour and lastly looking north from the Raasay Narrows with the Storr shrouded in cloud.


A couple of early morning ones of Scalpay and the Moll on the left and Sconser quarry on the right.

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The 6kW wind turbine at home and the Storr at sunset and sunrise.


The Five Sisters again but this time from Tarbert near home looking across the Inner Sound.

That was the best bits since I last posted,

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these were taken on the first Sunday when we sailed in the morning but cancelled the afternoon due to 60 knot winds.

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Then there was the snow and ice, a lot of it Sad smile but the Land Rover got me to work and back safely, if not slowly. Still, it did make for a couple of photogenic sights once it stopped and the sun came out.

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The Raasay war memorial, Ben Tianavaig and Church


The fortnight has seen a few ships passing by too,


the NLB Pole Star on a scabby day passing by Eyre light, no doubt off to service some navigation buoys or unmanned lights.


The trawler Dunan Star II BRD123 passing through the Raasay Narrows.


The cargo ship Vestland berthed on the end of Raasay pier, methinks she’s been servicing fish farms whilst the MV Fame was being repaired. Fame was the subject of a dramatic rescue last year when she lost power west of Lewis in a northerly Force 10. The fame was towed in to Stornoway and was berthed there for a few weeks being fixed.

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So, that was the ‘fortnight on’ and I’m glad I’m not at sea today. The severe gale that’s hammering Raasay just now was well forecast and it seems to have put our Internet off. Things are flying about outside and there are three ‘wheelie bins’ up against the front door so methinks I’d better go and sort it now daylight is breaking. The first and most important task of the day was gonna be a quarterly VAT return and my annual tax return but that’s gone west with the Internet so I’d better get on with something else in my shed and go and check out the schoolhouse. Hopefully I’ll get online there and post this.

January 26, 2014

Almost daylight :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, New hybrid ferry, Trucks and plant — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:12 pm

That’ll be a full week since I put down some ‘doings’ on what was once my daily blog, I guess postings will become more frequent as the days stretch but as it is just now I’ve not seen proper daylight at home for almost two weeks. That’s a strange one I can tell you, even in the depths of winter I managed to leave home after sunrise on a working Sunday, but not now, well not until today that is, though it was hardly light, the pishing rain, thick cloud and storm force southerly put paid to that. In fact it would have been daylight had not the threat of another ‘blackout’ at Raasay’s south end made me set off for work at 8:00am.

A lightning strike had put the power off yesterday and as well as taking out a router and fax machine ashore it had caused pandemonium on the Hallaig. Nothing serious but it had left me with with one blank screen and another with five red pages of alarms to clear prior to sailing. Consequently I missed out on my morning cuppa and Fionnlagh’s porridge until well after day break Sad smile Well I didn’t want a repeat performance of that so we all mustered on the pier well before 9:00am. I say ‘mustered’ but it was more a case of cowering behind the seawall and Land rover as we got the gangway ready. Not that we needed to rush, it was quite obvious we were going nowhere with the wind gusting to over 67knts, a ‘baw hair’ off 80mph.

Volvo D13 600h service

With the month drawing to a close it was a good opportunity to finish of some of the ‘PM’ (planned maintenance) and service one of the three main diesel generators. Normally these wouldn’t be used anyway on a Sunday as we normally sail in ‘Battery Only’ mode, but today I’d have the nice quite engine room to work in thanks to ‘Shore Power’. I struggle getting used to a quiet, warm and well lit ship engine room, there was no getting away from the noise in the Striven unless you were in near darkness on ‘emergency lighting’ and even the Finlaggan had to have at least one generator running within earshot.



So after doing much paperwork, reading the manual and making up the obligatory laminated ‘checklist’, that seems to go along with everything other than using the toilet Smile I had breakfast, or should I say, we all had breakfast, all six of us, then I serviced the Volvo, or should I say, I tried to, for I couldn’t get the oil out of it!!!!


The thirteen litre 330kW beast refused to part with its 45lts of old sump oil despite me checking and rechecking all the valves to the waste oil tank were open. I even lifted some of the floor plates to make sure the pipe was going to the right place but no joy, after less then half a stroke of the 500ml pump it went solid.


Nothing for it but to start pulling the valves apart to check them, and luckily the problem was at the first of the five in the line that I check, It was fitted the wrong way round!!!


And by the time time I’d sorted that out, the once hot and thin oil was now cold and thick so I fired up the generator, put it ‘back on the board’ to load it up and went for tea Smile


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A hundred strokes of the hand pump later the sump was empty the two main and one bypass filter changed, an oil sample taken and the sump refilled, though not by me alone. By this time most of the rest of the crew had turned up to lend a helping hand.

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Three hundred and twenty strokes of the filling pump tells me that Ferguson’s could have done with fitting a bigger one!! I won’t always have such an enthusiastic bunch of shipmates Smile

The rest of the service amounted to changing fuel filter, air filter, checking belts, pulleys and generally having a good look around the hoses and joints for leaks. That done, and with no sign of the weather improving we ‘knocked it on the head’ at 16:30 and I set off home in the twilight, by the time I start my next two week shift it should be daylight for all of Sunday Smile

The rest of the week

Probably a bit pointless me trying to remember really, and I didn’t take many pictures either, as it was on the whole pretty wet and miserable and I spent a good deal of the week in the office.



There was much activity at the fish farm with the ‘Coastal Hunter’ still on peroxide duty.



There was also much activity on the roof of the new house on Monday night with Orion watching over Lachie Gillies as he worked by lamplight late into the night. It’s not a great picture and I was resting the camera on the Land rover window but you can clearly see the distinctive red ‘super giant’ Betelgeuse of his right shoulder



Wednesday had three commercials looking lost on Hallaig’s huge car deck, the car that also turned up later would have normally been left behind and stuck until 14:30.



Northern Lighthouse Board’s Pole Star paid us a visit too and replaced the flashing light on the east cardinal just out from Braes, it having gone really dim of late.



Thursday had us bunkering 3000lts of MGO that will under normal conditions last the whole week and more.


Saturday saw a little brightness during the day




the trawler Dunan Star,


and some ‘monkey’s fists’ getting a soaking Smile



it also had a half decent sunset, the first I’ve seen in a while.




It was even better on the way back Smile




So, that’s it, I’ll just leave you with the bridge of the Hallaig as it’s 22:00 and time for bed.


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