Life at the end of the road

February 5, 2020

Back at the coalface :-)

4:00am now and I’d much rather I was tucked up in bed than plonking away on here but it’s better than ‘working out’ Smile That’s what the rest of the ‘team’ will be doing shortly Smile I kid you not 50% of Hallaig’s crew will be charging around the car deck with dumbbells and skipping ropes shortly, or at least by the time I’ve finished typing this. The last thing that I heard as I departed ship last night was “see you down here at 6:00am”!!!!! Aye right Smile Methinks Sandy and Finlay been watching too much of ‘SAS who cares who wins’ https://www.channel4.com/programmes/sas-who-dares-wins   Smile Such is the ‘joy of youth’, me, I’ve got a good excuse for being up at ‘stupid o clock’, I can’t sleep! or at least I can’t stay in bed.

Not that I had that problem last night, my fist day back on shift ended with me curled up in bed whilst most people were watching the early evening soaps. It had been a busier day than usual. Sure, the first day back is always a mad rush trying to get all the stuff done that I’ve had a fortnight to finish but not actually done so yet.

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The trailer project being the first one, but that was after my neighbour banged on the door before daylight asking if I could look at their wind turbine. The already busy schedule just got a whole lot busier!

Proven wind turbine springs

After Monday night’s storm the neighbour had awoken to a ‘clicking’ from the wind turbine that had been working overtime through the night. I call it a Proven WT2500 cos that’s what it was called when I installed it 14 years ago. Since then the company has passed through several hands and names whilst still retaining the core workforce. SD Wind Energy being the latest incarnation https://sd-windenergy.com/ , before that it was Kingspan Environmental. The names may have changed but the turbines, at least the smaller ones have changed little. They are still the rugged well built piece of kit they were twenty years ago and their service and parts supply has improved no end since the Proven days.

Lowering the neighbour’s turbine had most certainly not been on the ‘to do list’ but it was Tuesday and had we not done it, it would have been a fortnight at least before it even got looked at. So, with it still being dark and breezy I got on with the trailer project until daylight and the wind abated. Unusually the forecast was right, by 9:00am the remnants of the previous day’s gale had passed us by and I ‘tracked’ Calum the Kubota round to ‘Number 3’ https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/8188794?s=3LQkEta2&source_impression_id=p3_1580878562_gdw9LTyYqfftvHxV my ‘happy wee home’ of 25 years.

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It was a lot easier than when I took the turbine there in 2005 Smile

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My good friend Willie Eyre ‘back in the day’ God rest his soul Smile it’s hard to think of Willie without smiling.

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Just as promised the wind ‘fell away’ to nothing revealing the broken spring and reluctantly I loaded up the Mule. I say reluctantly cos it’s not mine and the last thing I did on Monday was wash and clean it Smile

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It’s a lovely spot up there overlooking the sea and ruins of the houses in the right hand photo that was taken circa 1885.

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My ‘apprentice’ soon had it lowered and I just happened to have a spare set of springs in my shed, by 11:00am the turbine was back up and I had time to tidy up before heading for the 12:15 ferry. The ‘to do’ list unfinished Sad smile

I had planned to do some more work on one of the Brochel generators, I say one cos I’ve four to choose from and there’s generally only one working Smile

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Still, at least the SDMO 6kW was working when I left it on Monday Smile

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Wee dug and I even found time for a walk on the beach by the castle that was once ‘seat’ of the Raasay Macleods.

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That’ll be the house not the castle Smile

Sunshine on Sconser

So, I got myself to Portree and filled up with essential breakfast kit. The two ‘young fellas’ will be needing a good breakfast after their 6:00am workout Smile

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The avocado, egg, and chorizo on toast should do the trick after they’ve done that lot hey.

After trawling around the Co-op I arrived back on Hallaig at 15:00 in time to let my ‘back to back’ away for a well earned rest. The first thing I noticed was SUNSHINE!!!

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Sconser doesn’t ‘do’ sunshine in the winter, spring must be here Smile OK, it wasn’t actually on the village yet but it was bathing Hallaig at the pier so it cannot be far away.

March 2, 2019

Spring hey :-)

Can’t say as it feels much like spring today right enough but yesterday, the first day of it, was a cracker despite the forecast. XC said it was gonna be OK in the morning but gradually deteriorating in the afternoon with rain arriving and staying by 20:00. As it turned out, it was a great day and the rain arrived at 19:50 Smile Not only was it a good day but it was manic even by the yardstick of when I was in my thirties and not sixties. By my standards of the last ten years it was probably record breaking Smile 

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First off I managed to finish the gable end of ‘Callum’s shed’ and get the flashing on the roof. Then I wasted the best part of half an hour trying to get the Subaru onto the vehicle lift. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t cos me workshop was full of quads, a lighting tower and of course the Range Rover. However, having purchased a 2T single post vehicle lift last year for the sole purpose of stopping me crawling under jacked up cars I was gonna have a darn good try.

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I even went as far as jacking up the Subaru to try and move it onto the lift before giving up. I could have done it right enough by moving the lift sideways with tyre levers or something but ‘time was marching on’, it was 10:00am and I had to be down at the ferry terminal for around 11:00. Common sense got the better of me and I did what I should have done in the first place and just jacked her up at the front and placed axle stands under her. All I wanted to do was look at the CV joint and possibly order one up before the weekend.

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The CV joint boot had come off so I planned to clean it up, repack the joint with graphite grease and replace it with a new clip. However, as I rotated the wheel on ‘full lock’ so as to clean the joint I saw the ball cage was broken Sad smile Ah well ‘that’ll be that then’ and straight on the phone to buy another. Just as well really cos I had to get me finger out, gather me diving gear and go ‘see a man about a dog’ Smile

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OK, go and look for some lost moorings and check one for a Mate. Not that I’d been asked to do either of these tasks, just that I offered the next time I was in the area looking for dinner Smile Said lost mooring were close by where the MV Speedwell’s mooring was so we tied up to that and I went ‘a hunting’

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and landed right on top of a good sized scallop. It’s not until I see this picture that I realize how hard they are to spot to the ‘untrained eye’. It’s no wonder that when I do dive with other people that don’t fish scallops for a living, they swim over loads and miss them.

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Whilst I was using the mooring as a reference spot I did the decent thing and checked it, all the anchors were ‘dug in’ and shackles well wired so Speedwell would be quite safe.

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After a short swim I found the two missing risers, both of which had come undone at the surface, with one of them still having the pin in it!

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Then it was back to the surface a full 4m above me to collect two marker buoys to attach to the riser chains, that could be done by my companion in the RIB at his leisure on the surface. Me, I had a shed and car to fix Smile

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The MV Loch Bhrusda arrived on Thursday afternoon and had picked up the service from Hallaig on Friday morning. Hallaig having departed for Lochaline at first light or there about.

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Speedwell finally fishing and loaded with crab gear.

Feeling pretty chuffed with the morning’s effort I headed home for a rather unusual lunch. ‘The’ scallop fried with bacon, harissa and kidney beans, awesome, I kid you not Smile

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Not ‘in the plan’ Smile

After lunch it was back to the shed and the guttering,

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using my diving reel as a marker for the gutter brackets which need mounted with a slight fall in them so the water does not collect. Once I’d got the line really taught between two screws, (one at each end) I put in screws at each spot I’d be fitting a bracket.

Just as I was getting nicely ‘stuck in’ to this job my neighbour turned up with a wind turbine problem Sad smile Their Proven 2.5kW turbine had broken a spring!!! She was just after advice how to brake it but I reckoned we needed to sort it ASAP. The weather was going to break that night and the dry spell would come to a spectacular end. Better to get it lowered and fixed right away and back up in the air working during the gales rather than lying on the ground and using the Lister generator.

Proven/Kingspan spring repair

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I installed this WT2500 Proven in 2005 so it’s done 14 years service with just routine maintenance and a few springs, luckily I have plenty of spares Smile After taking the Tirfor and tools up there on the quad

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we set up the ‘gin pole’ and lowered to a working height using an oil drum and wooden block as a support.

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I then replaced the broken spring with one from my ‘stock’ using an old bolt to slide through the many bushes and washers as I drew the retaining bolt out. This greatly speeds up the task and ensures you do not loose anything. To be honest I should have removed all three spring sets, inspected all the bushes and washers and replaced as required but it was early evening and the weather was set to get wet and windy. I figured the sane thing to do was to get it back together and back up ASAP.

Sure enough, by 18:30 she was back up and generating, I called it a day, had a good hot shower and ‘binge watched’ three hours of Shetland https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shetland_(TV_series) . I love the islands having spent time diving there in the eighties and wifey went to the same school as Douglas Henshall Smile Not that those are particularly good reasons to watch anything but I enjoy it anyway Smile

Saturday

I gotta say I was severely surprised when I let the dugs out this morning and it was dry outside!!! sure it was windy but at least I could get on with the guttering on ‘Callum’s shed’, which is exactly what I did.

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I got all my ‘stand offs’ on, nicely lined up and screwed in just before the rain started, getting only slightly wet as I fitted the drain pipe. And that was despite a visit by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whom I invited in for tea on the condition they didn’t try and convert me Smile Seriously, Arnish would not be the same without the occasional Watchtower through the letterbox Smile I don’t have much time for the Abrahamic religions   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions who basically all think that their way of worshipping the same God is the right one and to Hell with everyone else. However I do admire these folk, who ‘come rain or shine’ visit this bastion of Presbyterianism with a smile on their face and not the slightest hint of ‘fire and brimstone’ knowing full well they’ll have little or no sympathy Smile As my own ‘Prophet’ of choice, Khalil Gibran https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kahlil_Gibran said “Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking” Smile

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Before long it was pure pishing down with a howling gale as accompaniment, perfect weather for testing out the shed and I was well impressed. The gaps in the boards break up the wind but allow it to pass through keeping the shed well aired but not too draughty even in the gale. It is perfectly dry apart from the floor but even that could be sorted if I wanted as the slab is on a slope. So, if I did something at the eastern end like a gutter at the base of the boards or a ridge in the floor to shed the water to the edge, then I could keep the floor dry. To be  honest though I don’t see this as a problem, it’s prime function is to keep the Searider in and hang diving gear and washing to dry. Such was the rain that the frogspawn I’d spotted yesterday,

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had been washed 25m from behind the barn to under the large wind turbine.

Even in the ‘teeth of a gale’ with all the rain it was still possible to get the neighbours tank half in and crawl underneath to work on the transmission brake and anti-roll bar.

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