Life at the end of the road

August 27, 2017

The wandering anchor :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, How I — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 6:28 am

After ‘shepherds delight’ of last night,

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which saw Loch Arnish with three different pods of porpoises within its confines. Today was no a bad day at all and my commute to work was nothing short of amazing. Yesterday I’d seen a pair of golden eagles, a pair of sea eagles and the porpoises.



This morning it was red deer hinds at Brochel and the cruise ship Rotterdam all 61,000 tons of her heading for Portree.

P1110998 P1110997 Rotterdam

Her starboard (whoops, port Smile ) anchor already walked out to the waterline, cheers Ed Smile


Portree just waking up a few hours earlier.

It moved

Today’s plan was to set the anchor we’d roughly positioned the other day, due to the necessity of lifting the anchor at a very high tide we’d dropped it in a rough position only. The anchor had been floated out using half a dozen 25lt drums which just lifted it nicely. Air was let out when we thought it was in about the right place and it sank gently to the sea bed some 7m below. However, 6 hours later when the tide was some 3.2m lower it rose off the sea bed and floated off!!! I guess as the tide ebbed the air inside the drums expanded and the buoyancy increased. Net result being that the anchor made a bid for freedom, luckily it caught on a reef a few meters away and didn’t sail off into the sunset.


So, first job was to send my son down with a spare air cylinder to reflate the drums, adding another for good measure as one had become detached. This we did at half tide so as to get a better idea of the position. The apprentice did this without a hitch and shortly afterwards the anchor arose from the sea bed in a plume of bubbles. After towing the anchor into position air was let out of two drums and it gently submerged once more. This time it was my turn to go in armed with tools for shackling up the ground chain and a spare air cylinder to dig it in. The task was soon accomplished and a very solid mooring was fit for duty.

Another one!!!

Next dive was further out into 32m of water to investigate an old overgrown buoy that we’d partially explored a few days ago. We suspected it may lead us to something interesting but when we last checked it out we were towing a marker and it got wrapped around the riser preventing us from going any further. It was over 30m and we’d not much air left for messing about so we called it a day. Today we went down without a marker to follow the rope down only to find it just snaked along the sea bed around a few rocks and was just tied to a stone Sad smile Abandoning that we set off into shallower water looking for scallops and guess what, we found another anchor. This time it was the Nicolson’s of Torran mooring which had been lost a few years ago, luckily there was a large heavy rope attached to the tripping eye. The rope carried no buoy but it was long enough to reach the surface and we did manage to get a buoy onto it Smile

 Yamaha YFM 350 Bruin starter repair

That done I headed back on the Honda and my son the Yamaha which was in need of repair as the starter motor had failed. Funny thing about these quad starters is that most of them are the same, at least internally anyway. The Honda TRX 350 that I had for about 10 years required a new set of brushes every year and they were extortionate, around £35 for genuine Honda ones. The Yamaha which uses the same brushes in virtually the same starter has only had one set up until now, that was a couple of years ago when it was ten years old!! A ‘couple of years ago’ my foot, I see that post is four years old so not bad. I also see that last time I removed the fuel tank, this time I just loosened it and lifted it up at the rear.

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Sadly, this time I had no spares so had to improvise.

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As usual the brushes had worn out and were no longer touching the commutator. As it’s a bank holiday and the quad is in daily use the chances are that one will not arrive until my mate actually leaves, so I did some bodgeneeing on it. I use a small die grinder and cut a few mm into the brush holders which allowed them to drop a little deeper and touch the commutator. It worked a treat and I’ve now ordered some replacements which should do both the Honda and Yamaha.


At low tide, around 18:00 Molly and I went to check on the mooring position and help my mate shackle on the riser. With all ‘fine and dandy’ in that department we returned home and shucked the days catch.


Fine quality scallops indeed these and just look at the size of this one. Here’s a video taken on Christmas eve some 7 years ago of how to do it, complete with dinner table banter from the family and Jan Turell’s unique laugh. How we all miss that here on Raasay and at Arnish in particular.

I guess that was about it so I’ll leave you with the MS Rotterdam heading north under the Storr after a day’s visit to Portree.


August 25, 2017

Bit of a Jonah :-(

Golly gosh, that was a quick and exciting day at work, all the more so cos it was just a single one and nothing more than a ‘start up’ and return crossing to do tomorrow. Of course I’d rather have been scouring the bottom of Loch Arnish for anchors with my son and mate but they managed just fine without me. Whilst I was repaying my ‘back to back’ for one of the many days he’s covered for me, my son and co found another old fish farm farm anchor on the bottom of the loch. Though this only brings the total to three fresh large ones and four small, it feels like much more cos we’ve found some twice on account the marker buoys going AWOL.

The first barley for the Raasay Distillery Smile

As my shipmate would be doing the ‘start up’ this morning I wasn’t quite so early leaving home and braved a spell of the dreaded midge about the croft before heading south around 6:45.

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The day bearing no resemblance to the one promised by XC Weather  last night. The venerable old cruise ship MV Berlin  heading for a day’s shopping in Portree and Ben Tianavaig covered in cloud as I passed by. Indeed methinks it was pishing down on and off till lunchtime. Not that we actually get a lunchtime on Friday anymore, at least not during the school term anyway. The Highland Region Council saw it in their interest as a cost cutting measure to close the high school at lunchtime on a Friday. The amount of money that’s going to save is surely outweighed by the inconvenience caused to the parents and pupils alike. Of course they did this with very little consultation or thought for the Raasay schoolchildren who would be stuck at Sconser for the best part of two hours. Luckily Cal Mac agreed at very short notice to put on an extra sailing especially for them. The extra sailing departing Raasay at 13:30 and Sconser at 14:00, only during school term right enough but anyone can use it.

Anyway, without a dinner break and with a busy day of distillery traffic the day has just disappeared.

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The first sailing from Sconser being jammed to the gunwales with a large Scania belonging to WS Macarthur full of barley. There was also one of Patterson’s nice old Volvo’s nicknamed the ‘Road Devil’, I guess cos of the registration number   Capture Smile Quite apart from the artic and flatbed there was also a few vans cars too.


The imported barley being supplemented by some locally grown stuff, probably the last barley grown on Raasay would have been at the North End some thirty or more years ago. This neat little combine coming over specially to do it, though I dunno how it got on in the pishing rain which didn’t clear until the afternoon.

Not the easy day I was expecting Sad smile

Of course having already been off a few days and only coming in to cover so to speak, I wasn’t actually expecting a challenging day ahead. Indeed I was hoping for a relaxed day of directing traffic and light greasing. Well, that went a little ‘pear shaped’ mid afternoon with a whole load of alarms telling me my oil was hot.


Luckily we also have a proper thermometer in the oil,


which told a more realistic story, 40 degrees and not 119.9. So it was time to break out the wiring diagrams and 4 to 20mA test meter.

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The offending component was soon identified, one of the many I/O units on a ‘communication gateway’ that allows different systems to communicate with each other. Basically one bit of the ship is speaking Dutch and the other German and this ‘gateway’ makes sense of it all. With that ascertained I ordered another, a snip at around £1100!!!!! Everything to do with ships is extortionate, a few weeks ago I changed a bilge holding tank sensor, a part that on a car would have cost about £35, on a ship  the same bit, which performs the function of a glorified dipstick is £600!!!! You couldn’t make it up really. Methinks my ‘back to back’ is gonna be a little dischuffed with me, once more I’ve left him a broken ship, bit of a Jonah these days me Smile

The days I did get off

So, that was today, whilst I was actually off I used the first full day to get some diving in with my son. We did a couple of dives looking for an anchor whose marker had vanished and whilst we didn’t find that one we did find a large chain we’d lost. Again, this was one previously marked that had vanished and during the evening’s high tide we floated out an anchor to lay a mooring for a mate.

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All this under the watchful eye of the ‘Wee Dug’ Molly.


Very changeable

To say that you just do not know what the weather is going to do next would be a bit of an understatement.

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These pictures taken two minutes apart giving you some idea of just how changeable the weather can be here. Mist over the Storr, rainbow further north and blue sky at Brothers point, all before 7:10 in the morning.

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The previous day at 6:07 and 6:33 from the same window.


The ‘Big Head’ and Goat Island today at some point when I wasn’t buried down below with wiring diagrams and a multi meter Smile


I passed these ‘shrooms growing on a fallen birch tree on the way home and I really don’t have a clue what they are.

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