Life at the end of the road

February 1, 2018

Turned the corner :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Land Rover, life off grid, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:02 am

Well that’s January by with at last and without too much drama. Sure there has been the usual gales and the odd storm but nothing really exceptional, though one of them would have wrought a lot more damage had it occurred during a spring tide like the ones we are now. That big blue, super, red one outside last night will be heralding a large tide in a day or so. Being Internetless I can’t check anything without driving down the road a mile or so or quading.

Just after 7:00am now at the beginning of a new month and just like sixty five years ago today the wind is howling from the north, north west. Not with the ferocity of the storms that wreaked havoc across Europe in 1953 but a good force 7 on the Beaufort scale and boodly cold with it. Locally (or at least by my good mate Willy Eyre) this would become know as the ‘Princess Victoria Gale’. Everywhere else it would become known as the ‘great storm’ or ‘great flood’ of 1953. This in itself says something about Highland stoicism, most of Europe called it a storm whilst here it was just a gale Smile

I guess the reason Willy recalled it was because mountainous seas threw up scallops and shellfish onto the beach at Eyre, something never seen before or since. It sticks in my mind due to an unusual rock formation on the Raasay shore of the North Fladda anchorage. A huge square rock was detached from the Lewisian Gneiss rock and fell into the sea, the rock is half out of and directly below its original home like a jigsaw piece awaiting placement. It must weigh many tons and is known locally as ‘The Heater’ (though most likely its Gaelic version) after the old type of flat iron that would be left atop a stove. Many is the time I’ve fished and dived around The Heater but it was the late Alasdair Gillies of Fladda that told how and when it got its name, must get a photo of it Smile

Princess Victoria


Once again I started off by quading along to my mates to sit down at his table and use my dongle but it’ll be the last time. Methinks this morning I’ll be driving to Brochel and doing it in the car with the heater on, there’s still no word from Applenet of our Internet coming back on. Sure, it’s a right PITA but for most of the time it’s excellent and I do get unlimited data free so I’ll let others do the whining. It’s a community run project with just part time engineer who does his best with the resources available and doesn’t need folk breathing down his neck. Having said that I’ve just ordered a satellite based system like my mates as back up. I had a satellite system at the old house for years and it was pants, better than nothing but expensive and full of little tricks to fool you into thinking it was proper broadband. It used compression on the pictures, wouldn’t automatically reload pages and often didn’t work for Internet banking. Still, as I’ve discovered, you really can’t manage without it these days Sad smile

I was so cold after returning from the Schoolhouse that I set about an overdue indoor job,

DSCN0388 DSCN0389 DSCN0391

two of the thermal store thermometers needed replacing. This is the hot water ‘dashboard’ I guess you could call it, the top three red LED’s monitor the temperature in the 1500lt thermal store, top for DHW middle for the heat pump and solar hot water. the middle unit is the control for the sixty evacuated tubes on the ‘bunker’ roof.

DSCN0396 DSCN0397

And, much to my delight, around midday it started working for what I thought was the first time this year Smile However, upon interrogating the unit I saw it also generated almost 4kWh on Monday Smile


The bottom unit is the control for the heat pump,


This lives in the ‘bunker’ and for an input of just over 800W (the same as the output of the Powerspout hydro turbine) it produces around 3kW of low grade heat at around 40 degrees. Whilst not much use for DHW or radiators this is absolutely perfect for UFH and with help from the Solar HW and heat dumps the store can soon reach over 70 degrees even down near the bottom. I dunno how much energy is in 1500lts of water at 70 degrees but it takes a fair load off my battery bank.

The Eberspacher

Once warmed up and finished inside I turned my attention to building a path to one of our bird feeders, we have loads on the lawn in front of the house but they are plagued with pigeons. So we now have one on a tree outside the kitchen window, trouble is it’s outside the garden wall and a bit of a bog to get to it.


I started by scraping off the mud into the barrow and dumping that into a raised bed I’m making, then I laid 6m of Terram matting and started piling stones on it. During the frequent showers I retired to the shed and pulled out the Eberspacher diesel heater form the Land Rover.

DSCN0402 DSCN0403 DSCN0405

It had to be cut out with the grinder and was in a bit of a state but hopefully I can sort it. I have all the spares for a service, glow plug, screen and gaskets but these things are controlled by a ‘chip’ that is very expensive so I hope that’s OK. I gotta say though, this is one of the best things that I ever fitted to the ‘Old Girl’ and I’ve really missed it not working.

The month energy wise

Jan energy

Here’s the monthly ‘Energy Generated’ totals in kWh with hydro the clear leader at 829kWh, wind at 543kWh, solar PV 34 and solar HW at 6kWh. A generator run time of 23 hours which is quite high for this time of year but the year got off to a great start with very little wind and a lot of sun. Trouble is our solar arrays are in shade at this time of year. I really must put one up on top of the hill behind the house.

Right, that’s it then, 8:30, the coffee pot is finished, it’s full daylight on the 1st of February and I’ve got things to do, so it’s off to Brochel in the car to post this effort.


Nice and warm at Brochel Smile


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.

P1130317 P1130318

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

P1130337 P1130338 P1130341P1130306

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.

  P1130270 P1130345 P1130344P1130331

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.

P1130287 P1130285 P1130274

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,

P1130313 P1130314 P1130315

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

P1130325 DSCN0308 (1)

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.

 DSCN0311 DSCN0312 (1) DSCN0314

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.

P1130297 P1130298

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.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at