Life at the end of the road

November 23, 2017

Under a cloud :-(

First snow on Raasay today and whilst it was indeed forecast, it still came as a shock,

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not so much its actual appearance but the suddenness by which it arrived. I left the house in pishing rain just before 6:30 and just above the Bealach Ruadh (the Reddish Brown pass) some 4 miles from home it suddenly went white and slippy, so much so that I had to lock the diff on the wee Daihatsu. Not that that means a lot, the 17” wide and low profile tyres are just pure pish in the snow, sure they look great though Sad smile Fat lot of good that is hey.

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Still it wasn’t a bad day once the sun ‘came up’ not that we actually saw much of that right enough and not that it did much in the way of lifting peoples spirits.

The sea is a harsh mistress

It was just after the 14:30 sailing from Raasay on Monday that we heard the Coastguard reporting a local fishing boat ashore on the Applecross Peninsula with the engine running and no one aboard. This did not bode well for I knew the owner, indeed he’d been up at Sonas during the summer and he’d been instrumental in our Internet connection via the Applecross Community Broadband Trust.

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The Kyle inshore lifeboat ‘Spirit of Fred Olsen’ was already on the scene and the Portree Arun class ‘Stanley Watson Barker’ wasn’t far behind. That’s her by the Jackal Rock Buoy doing 23 knots as she sped to join the flotilla already searching for the missing fisherman.

The search for Alasdair Macleod was resumed on Tuesday morning at first light and again yesterday but as yet there has been no news that I know of. There was no sign of any activity today on the AIS sites so we all fear the worst.

A much better picture of ‘Snoddy’ as he was known (and how I knew him for years before even knowing his real name) than the BBC one, and from his own popular blog

“My name is Ali Macleod and have lived in a really special place for the last 30 years, Applecross on the NW coast of Scotland. I first went fishing in 1978 and bought my first boat in 1984 and have fished for prawns since. During the 1990s I tried my hand at scallop farming and more recently have been working part-time in the Applecross Inn. 4 boys of which 3 are in further education and a partner Alison who is currently the local development officer.

We live in a vibrant but fragile community and are involved in a fair bit of community development, Pier, Hall,Filling Station and Community Company in general. Constantly trying to find ways of making the community more resilient against a backdrop of falling school role and declining services.”

In his own words, the boat he speaks of in 1984 ended up in my hands for many years and he was very much part of the vibrant but fragile community it will miss him sorely. As of course will his wife, family and friends, many of them here on Raasay, myself included.

Thirty three years I’ve made my living on, in and under the sea and in that time I’ve lost four friends to her, fishermen, fish farmers and a clam diver, she is a harsh mistress and takes no prisoners. I guess I’ve just been lucky, two bends, one helicopter trip and a lost wellie but I’m still here.

 More leaks

Apart from hanging over every word on the VHF for news of Alasdair and constantly watching the search patterns on the AIS there’s been quite a few jobs on the boat. Another of our electro hydraulic bilge valves was passing water back into the bilge. This time in one of the prop spaces and luckily, much easier to get at than the last one.

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Where would we be without ‘ratchet straps’ Smile

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Cleaning the filters and lapping in the valve soon had it sorted though.

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The next leak to be sorted was on the domestic fresh water plant. It had started to leak from ‘pump 1’ of the dual pump system whilst heading to dock. Consequently that pump was isolated and the pressure reduced then spare seals ordered as well as a complete pump and motor.

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My first option being to repair it, pumps like this, the bilge pumps etc. are usually easier and cheaper to repair than replace. Firstly you don’t need to disturb the wiring or pipe work and secondly they are much lighter. Sadly our puller would not remove the rather delicate plastic impeller so I decided to use ‘plan B’, replace the entire pump and order up a new impeller to repair the old one.


It required a little ingenuity to remove the old fittings right enough but that I managed by making up a tool from some thick flat bar.

 Another leaky pump!

As if that wasn’t enough, the drencher pump pressure gauge sprung a leak and this really did perplex me as when I tried to remove it the brass union sheared off Sad smile


This left me with the remaining section firmly embedded in the manifold and the pump out of commission or at least spraying water everywhere. I gotta say that I was severely chuffed with how I removed the offending bit of union.

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I battered in an Allen socket then removed it with the impact wrench Smile It screwed out the broken bit a treat and I was very loud in my self praise Smile

The broken bit in the actual gauge came out easy enough as that still had the hexagon end on it. I just refitted the gauge without the 90 degree elbow and all was ‘peachy’.

Not leaking, just not working very well Sad smile

This morning’s pump was the ‘oily bilge’ Rotoflo, cavity screw pump


methinks I’ve been working it too hard recently and its output had dropped to a mere trickle.


These pumps are quite ingenious, that ‘worm’ spins around inside a rubber stator creating a vacuum which draws up the oil, water or both. They don’t like being run dry for very long though and methinks I may have left this one switched on too long whilst emptying the bilge after the leaky valve Sad smile Anyway, it’s easy enough to replace the stator so that was this morning’s task.

Other stuff

Well, we’ve been eating well,


Ali’s chili focaccia for one, almost as good as my mum’s Smile


The poached eggs (better than my mum’s) Smile and a whole host of other treats that I’ve only sampled the ‘left overs’ of.

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Me being consigned to ‘Bonzo walking’ whilst the rest of the crew feasts Smile Bonzo doesn’t like the rain and as soon as he gets in he wraps himself up in the chair throw Smile

Still, it’s not been all rain at lunchtime,

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I love the way this old boat house uses the natural contours and rock for itself and the slipway of sorts.


The more modern slipway at Suisnish is far more practical but just does not have the character Smile


August 28, 2017

A ‘shroom a day :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food, How I — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:42 pm

Monday night is practice night for ‘Stanley Watson Barker’ the Portree Lifeboat and that’s me just in having watched him, or is it her head into Loch Arnish and then back out.

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It was a long way off and well by Manish point when I finally found the camera but well spectacular nonetheless, not that you’d believe e from the carp pictures Smile

It’s been a busy coupe of days right enough with much achieved, if not a little seldom on the bloggin’ front. Trouble is that last night we got invited round to friends ‘along the track for dinner and that was a far better offer than a night inside with TV and laptop.

Mushroom magic

Sunday kinda started a bit grey and damp, in fact it must have pure ‘pished down’ during the night cos there was, once more, water everywhere. So first thing I did was finish off putting the Yamaha back together and then delver it to my mate at Torran Schoolhouse. He was going out fishing, invited us for dinner and promised us a mackerel meal. The once plentiful fish that was frowned upon by many and usually used as bait has become somewhat scarce of late at the ‘North End’. Sure they’re catching them a plenty in Churchton bay, off Raasay pier and Loch Duich but they’ve yet to show their face here. Well yesterday the loch had a pod of porpoises within it and a squadron of gannets diving into it, so they must have been eating something.

So I left ‘em to it and walked back through the woods with the ‘wee dug’ looking for ‘shrooms of which there were plenty but sadly mainly waterlogged.

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Hunners of chanterelles and a few yellow russula types though I’ve never seen one growing on a birch tree before.

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The ‘trippy’ fly agaric I gave a miss and I’ve no idea what the one on the right is, not actually unpacked my ‘mushroom bible’ from the container yet.

If you are into mushrooms then this is the only book you will ever need, of course you’ll need a rucksack to put it in if you take it out ‘into the field’ but forget all the pocket sized books, this is the biz.

Once back at Sonas I made breakfast then turned my attention to the Torran track. A spate of half wits getting stuck down there this year has prompted me into action so I tracked Calum the Kubota KX7-3 digger down there and sorted it.


Smile Smile Smile Though not before I’d repaired the damage the clowns had done to the ditches. Methinks you’ll struggle getting a hire car campervan by that rock yet you can still get a quad and trailer passed it with ease.

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Feeling quite smug in the knowledge that no longer would I be disturbed by morons needing a tow back out of here I set about getting ready for more concreting.

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Helped along by Molly, Lulu and Cilla,

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the latter pair insisting on trying to eat the tyres on me mates Volvo and my quad!!!

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Next job was an hour or so setting sandstone slabs into the ‘chuckies’ around the house. The wee dug and wife do not walking on the 20mm chips in bare feet so some ‘stepping stones’ are needed Smile 


That done, it was back to some fencing to try and keep the deer out, not that that is going to happen ‘overnight’ it’s a bit of a long term project with me tackling the easy bits first.

As soon as I’d screwed that last board onto the fence I had a shower, got changed and we headed to Torran on the quad with a bottle of red wine in me pocket.

The mackerel was conspicuous by it’s absence but the lobster, pollack, roast onions, roast potatoes, lentils, mayo and various sauces cooked to perfection were more than adequate compensation. And after spending most of the night slating Donald Trump and discussing moorings we ‘wobbled’ home on the Honda without hitting my BIG rock on the way Smile


A wee ‘lie in’ until 7:30 was the order of the day followed by a visit to my mum on the mainland and another car load of sandstone slabs. On the way back up Calum’s road I spotted two of these from the car.

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Now that is a seriously large horse mushroom and it would be going into dinner along with some Aultbea black pudding and Loch Arnish scallops. First though I had to do a spot of tamping on the area I was about to concrete.


That done, it was back to dinner,

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my son and wife making the mushroom sauce and myself doing the black pudding and scallops in butter and paprika.


I always chop the roe (gonad) off the scallop and fry it much longer than the meat. The meat needs very little cooking and so does the roe truth be known but many people find the roe to0 strong and well fishy. I find that if you put the roe in first then the black pudding (or bacon) and give it a right good doing it soaks up the flavours of the meat and butter. When the pudding is cooked, that’s when I put the scallops in and just do them lightly. Yum Yum 

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