Life at the end of the road

July 3, 2018

Barbecued mink for breakfast :-)

Been far too nice for blogging I’m afraid, indeed I’m struggling to remember a of spell of weather so good for so long. Mind you, that’s probably more to do with my failing memory than well kept records from my weather station, according to that piece of Chinese junk it was over 30 degrees when it was about 10 degrees, still methinks the wind and sun bit works just fine.

Last time I managed to ‘put pen to paper’ so to speak I’d been living off White Russians and festival food for four days at Eden and boy was it great fun Smile Took me the best part of a week to recover right enough and the nail varnish still hasn’t worn off or grown out. Eden is most definitely going on the annual festival calendar from now on Smile We didn’t get home until the Tuesday night prior to me starting work

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but what a welcome we got. There’s nothing quite like an Arnish sunset and there’s been a few ‘to die for’ recently.

A spell of PCB’s

The weather wasn’t actually that good aboard Hallaig, I know I’ve been banging on about how boodly marvellous it’s been but I never really count the ‘working weather’. Well, I leave home at 6:15 and do not get back home until 20:00, so even if I did feel like doing anything I couldn’t anyway. Still it worked out quite well really after the festival, it was too wet for painting so I got on with long and repetitive task of interrogating the ships BMS system (battery management system) and it’s 216 individual modules.

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Sad I know but I really like doing this as it’s very similar to the SMA software that I use for monitoring my own system at home, so it’s good practice for me. I am of that age now where, if I don’t keep doing something I forget how too.

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Good module charging profile on left ‘noisy’ one on right.

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The ‘spikes’ generally indicate a poor connection to the BMS cards that balance the voltages on the individual cells in this case four in series, six parallel, giving 24 3.6Vcells in all. Basically a 14.4V LiFePO4 battery of 3.5kWh. These Lithium Ion batteries are not the most ‘energy dense’ but they are the safest and not prone to ‘thermal runaway’ . Unlike the Lithium Ion batteries fitted to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner . Though you have to ask why Boeing fitted a battery with known issues into a space on an aircraft with no fire suppression!! The short answer of course is money, Lithium Cobalt Oxide batteries are more ‘energy dense’ than Lithium Iron Phosphate so lighter, not much right enough but enough to convince the accountants Smile

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Then of course there was all the regular stuff like testing the anchors

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and replacing £2K worth of PCB’s in the navigation light panel, why fit a simple switch or two when you can overcomplicate something and charge thousands of pounds for the spares Sad smile The wipers are the same all chips, modules and PCB’s when simple switches would do the job much more reliably. And don’t even get me started on the engine room watertight door, I spent much of the first week trying to repair that after some ‘storm damage’ caused by the ‘damp squib’ that was Storm Hector. The much publicised event was little more than your average Hebridean summer gale but t was accompanied by power wash like rain which managed to find it’s way into some sensitive electrics.


Several days with a fan heater and heat gun failed to sort it so another £2K on a PCB Sad smile

More sunsets


It seems that every evening is blessing us with amazing vistas as the sun goes down, can’t say I’ve seen one like this before, looks like lava rolling down a volcano.


The pigs are doing well and fattening nicely, so much so that they keep missing the odd feed, here they are waiting for me to come home along with a hind that’s been hanging around the croft.

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The Portree fishing boat Serene at Raasay pier and at the other end of the scale a large cruise ship heading for Portree.


A hind with last year’s calf still at her heals, these two on the road just near Tarbert whilst driving to work one fine morning.

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A few hinds sizing up the fences and looking for an opportunity to get in the garden.

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A sunset without the sun Smile and probably the FV Dunan Star towing for some late evening prawns.

Evening paddles

The long, light, calm evenings have had my son out exploring the environs of Loch Arnish

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in his kayak, at least I think that’s what it’s called. A good friend gave it to us recently cos he wasn’t using it, well it’s certainly seeing plenty of action now.

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One of the many sea caves around the north end of Raasay

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and an infestation of jellyfish, the one on the left being a ‘Lions Mane’ or ‘scalder’ (cos that’s what it does, scald you) which is the bane of any clam diver. The long and often invisible tentacles often ending up around your tender lips, they being the only part of the body not covered in neoprene or gloves. They’re also bad for getting caught up in nets and creel ropes making a fisherman’s life misery too. Even when dried out in the sun on a fishing net or rope the powdered remains can give you a nasty sting in the eyes or start a sneezing fit if you breath them in through your nose.

Seaflower of Skye


The latest addition to the Portree fleet, the ‘Wildcat 40’ catamaran Seaflower of Skye. Offering what are more like mini cruises than day trips Ewan and Janice do not serve soup and sandwiches Smile

Passengers and crew in the sun fresh langoustines

Locally caught seafood being the ‘order of the day’ whilst you watch the sea eagles or seals.

Off to Greenock

The first three days of my ‘fortnight off’ were taken up by a trip to ‘Stream Marine Training’ at James Watt dock in Greenock. I was due to refresh my lifeboat certificate, not that we actually have any lifeboats aboard Hallaig (or any of the other small vessels for that matter). Can’t say I was looking forward to it but the weather was great, the roads quiet and the hotel fine, well apart from the breakfast.

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The Premier Inn managing to serve up the most anaemic egg I’ve ever seen, the most tasteless tomato and the stodgiest sausage I’ve ever eaten. Still, the rest of it was good, the staff marvellous, the room spotless and views spectacular.

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Hellensburgh at the opposite shore of the Clyde, Garvel Clyde dry dock entrance in the foreground, the the James Watt dock and Titan crane in front of the old warehouses.

After a good night’s sleep it was off to SMT just down the road and into their Chinese lifeboat.

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I could do with that concrete batching plant up here Smile

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Well, what can I say, it was a perfect day for it in the ‘Great Harbour’

Great Harbour

The Glen Sannox

Then, with my certificate ‘in the post’ it was off northwards toward home,

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passing by Ferguson Marine Engineering and a rather late Glen Sannox on the way. FMEL may have made a fine job of upgrading their offices,


and building a new shed but this ship should have been delivered by now Sad smile

Home at last


It really was ‘touch and go’ with visibility down to 25m at times but Alastair Iain Gillies expertly got Hallaig to Skye and back throughout Friday.


As you can see, the fog was very localized!

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Just had to call in at Raasay Distillery to see ‘darling wife’, she’s also got a nice view from her office window Smile

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The first couple of days home saw us also shrouded in mist, at least during the morning, by Sunday it was fine though and my son and I managed a trip out in the boat for a spot of diving.

Scallop pasta with capers and a white wine sauce

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The catch was quickly turned into a crab salad starter on toast and a rather ambitious pasta. I’d  seen a recipe on Facecloth recently and it gave me an idea. First off I never did any of that messing around with water, water, ice and salt. Fresh scallops contain plenty of their own salty juices so why wash them off and cover them in tap water? I also used the roes, putting them in first and cooking them longer. I used a chicken stock cube cos I’d no broth and lime instead of the traditional lemon but, if I say so myself it was boodly amazing Smile

The next project

So, with the ‘Old Girl’ still at the doctors and only 4 tons of aggregate left I turned my attention to some road building on the croft. That was after I barbecued the mink that my son shot on Sunday night. I’d gone to bed and Daring wife’ had gone to shut the hens in sometime after 22:00 but they were all still outside, huddled together and looking nervous. She went inside the henhouse to be confronted by an angry hissing mink. The wee devil must have been too stuffed to run cos he’s eaten six eggs at least, so he must have been in there for a while. Anyway, she locked him in the shed and went to get my son who managed to shoot it.


First thing yesterday I burnt him in the incinerator along with all the paperwork that normal people shred, he smelt quite tasty, well once the fur had burnt away Smile

Then, when my son returned from his work at the distillery (nothing like keeping it in the family Smile ) we got on with some road building.

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A new track through the hen field so we can access the hill behind and get a quad and trailer up to the pig ark.

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November 15, 2016

Back to work :-)

Filed under: daily doings — Tags: — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 7:08 am

Tuesday morning 6:30, black as ‘the fire back’ outside with no sign of the ‘supermoon’. One thing there was though, as a direct result of the full moon at least was woodcock. Yesterday as my son chauffeured me down the road at 7:00 there was hunners of woodcock to be seen. They always appear at the first full moon in November apparently and I certainly cannot argue with that.

So that’s it, the ‘fortnight off’ is over and this afternoon I relieve my ‘back to back’ for my two weeks aboard Hallaig. I have to say I’m quite looking forward to it. There’s much to be done after the annual overhaul and it’ll be good to not have to make any decisions about what task on the ‘to do’ list I have to tackle next Smile

It’s been a pretty exciting spell off for sure but that’s it now,

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I gave ‘Calum’ a good greasing and put him to bed yesterday. Having spent much of the day moving more than 1 mile of PVC ducting from ‘A to B’ !!!


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I have 300 x 6M lengths of this Upnor cable ducting and one day I’ll find a use for it, meanwhile I’ve moved it half a dozen times in the last 7 years. It was left over from when they were blasting for the founds of the new pier and I have successfully used it for hydro turbines in the past. It’s not actually rated for any kind of pressure but I’ve tested it to 10 or 11bar so I’m sure it’ll be just fine so long as it’s buried to protect it from UV degradation. The reason for moving it yet again was so I could get the digger in position to clear a drain and bury the last bit of our water supply. Moving four or five lengths at a time it took me most of the morning.

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Also spent a few hours working on my 2 ton tipping trailer, the bed is pretty ‘goosed’ on it but I plan to repair that so I can use it for hauling rock and sub base until I get a dumper Smile It was of those simple jobs that ended up taking me all afternoon. Gave the chassis and springs a good brushing with old engine oil, fitted a new isolator switch to electric motor, made some new cables up and painted the battery box.

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Most of it under the supervision of the ‘Tamworth Two’ who are now spending most of their day ‘on the hill’.


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Spotted this fine chap whilst driving back from the ferry, of course I only had my pocket camera but he was only around 25M away and quite unperturbed by my presence.

So that’s it really, almost 7:00am now and I’d better be getting ready for my visit to Aultbea to see me Pop. It’s also gonna be my last call at the ‘Whistle Stop Cafe’ until next March Sad smile Gonna really miss my cappuccino there next time I drive to Aultbea that’s for sure.

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