Life at the end of the road

April 7, 2018

I forgot my toothbrush :-(

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:51 pm

So that’s it, I ended up in Lochaline on the good ship Hallaig after all Smile it was a 5 hour steam and not drive in the ‘Old Girl’ right enough, but here I am with the ‘wee dug’. Sure, I did join the MV Lochinvar our ‘twin hybrid’ on Raasay but she got a ‘slot’ in Dale’s dry dock at Troon, and so word came through that we were to head off there today.

Still, we had a few days left on Raasay before the MV Lochinvar’s departure, and being just after Easter it was quite busy.

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It was also pretty nice, cold, but nice, with the first visit of the year from the Hebridean Princess one of CalMac’s ex car ferries now converted to a luxury cruise ship.

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The RMS Columba as she was then was one of the last car ferries built by Hall Russell in Aberdeen and had the unusual capability of being NBC proof (nuclear, chemical and biological) RMS Columba was the last of three car ferries built in 1964 by Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen for the Secretary of State for Scotland.[7] The Secretary of State for Scotland ordered a trio of near-identical car ferries for the Western Isles. They were chartered to David MacBrayne Ltd and were all equipped to serve as floating nuclear shelters, in the event of national emergency.[8] This included vertical sliding watertight doors that could seal off the car deck, immediately aft of the hoist.[9] Columba was the last of the three to enter service.[10]

I guess it was just a way of squeezing money out of the government, it was common practice between the wars for the government to subsidise new build ships, if they had strengthened decks fore and aft capable of taking gun mountings in the event of war. In practice this was flawed for many such ships were indeed converted during wartime to ‘AMC’s’ (Armed Merchant Cruisers) and paid heavily for it. Some, like the HMS Jervis Bay with great distinction. However, it was folly indeed to pitch unarmoured vessels with relatively small calibre weapons against well protected adversaries with bigger guns and well trained crews. Despite all the this HMS Jervis Bay did indeed prevent the German ‘surface raider’ Admiral Scheer doing a whole lot more damage to convoy HX-84 . The Jervis Bay paid the ultimate price and is remembered to this day for her gallant effort.

The ‘Screen Machine’

Having got notification of our intended trip to dock we started on the required preparations and life on Raasay went on as usual.

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MV Loch Linnhe was already in position to ‘pick up’ the service and one of our last jobs was to bring over the ‘Screen Machine’ which was showing,_Missouri

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I just wish I’d have seen it as performance in Blood Simple and Fargo  was awesome. Me, I never made it down to the cinema but ‘wife and child’ did, both agreeing it was the best film they’d seen in a long while. Me, I was busy ‘packing my bags’ for the trip to Lochaline, where I would be swapping places with the local ‘motorman’ who’d be taking Lochinvar into dock.

A pleasant trip

We all departed Raasay at 7:40 leaving the tiny MV Loch Linnhe to service ‘the route’.

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It wasn’t the best of days for a sail but it was dry and both wind and tide were kind to us.

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The Glenelg ferry didn’t seem to be running and we’d the tide with us through the Kyle rhea narrows, always a bonus as you can end up going backwards here Sad smile

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The ‘extra crew’ wasn’t too impressed so got confined to the caravan Smile


Mallaig passed by and on we went to Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point on the British mainland.

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Then it was by ‘Balamory’, sorry Tobermory and into the Sound of Mull.


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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