Life at the end of the road

July 15, 2017

Seven weeks ‘offline’ :-(

It’s been a while hey, well things have been a little ‘topsy turvy’ here and ‘your truly’ has been severely distracted of late. Not only that but we lost our normally fast and reliable Internet connection at 23:00 on the 23rd of May and I’m not ‘holding my breath’ until the next promised date for a fix. To be fair it’s not entirely my ISP’s fault, I do believe they are doing their best to restore it, sadly I think the main issue is beyond their control.

Apart from that my laptop died, me Mammy aint well and I’m trying to get to grips with Windoze friggin 10 on this Dell Latitude Rugged 5404 that I just bought. The solid, functional and ‘idiot proof’ ‘puter I love, the operating system I hate. I don’t want all these messages it keeps sending me, I despise all that mince appears when you press the Windoze key and who on earth is Cortana. Worst of all the new OS is no longer compatible with ‘Windows Live Writer’ the software I use to do my blog. Of course they don’t tell you that and I spent hours trying to install it!!!! Of all the carp that Bill Gates tries to force on you Windows Live Writer was the one thing that I really liked and used a lot, surely I can’t be the only blogger that misses it?

Off on a real holiday

Having been under pressure for several years now to go on a ‘proper holiday’ involving an aeroplane and sun I reluctantly booked an apartment in Malta for a week and some flights from Prestwick via Ryanair. The £39 deal quickly became nearer £600 for the four of us once you had added all the ‘bells and whistles’ like baggage and an 8 Euro sandwich for the 4 hour flight though.

The last time I was in Malta was 1981, this I know cos I found my diving permit for then in my old log book which I had to dig out to present to the Watercolours Dive Centre in Sliema http://www.maltadiving.com/en/home.htm . The plan being to put my son through a 3 day PADI course then do some diving with him.  I’d spoken with Jason Fabri the owner prior to booking the course and he was fine with my 1977 BSAC logbook as I couldn’t find my commercial ones, they seem to have gone AWOL in our house moves. The young Belgian instructor Veronique who examined them on my arrival was somewhat amused at what she called vintage documentation right enough.

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Sliema turned out to be a great choice, we were just five minutes walk from the bus station, ferry terminals, shops, restaurants and night life. Every morning a ten minute walk to Tigne had us swimming in the warm clear sea and it was just an extra five minutes jaunt to the dive centre.

The apartment in Sliema was amazing, just a couple of minutes walk from everything https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/1519582?location=Sliema%2C%20Malta&s=NSf2rlfy . Ok, there was the odd cockroach in the morning but they were invariably dead and it is after all an old house in the Southern Mediterranean, not a 5 star hotel. Vanessa was the perfect hostess and arranged our airport transfers which all went smoothly.

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A week there only gave us chance to ‘scratch the surface’ of Malta’s many attractions but it was long enough for me and will give us a good excuse to go back. We did a few of the touristy type things, ate out every meal bar breakfast and really enjoyed it. Took a day trip to Gozo and Comino and moored up in the Blue Lagoon right next to an old CalMac ferry, the MV Kepple https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Keppel

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The old Kepple was on the Largs Cumbrae route for years until she was replaced by the MV Loch Striven on which I served for years until we got the Hallaig.

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Other stuff

The beauty of working ‘two weeks on two weeks off’ meant that we arrived home on Saturday and I still had a few days of my ‘off shift’ on the croft before going back to work.

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Not that I got that much done right enough, I was hoping to get on with more concreting but that never happened.

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I did however get some posts in position for the new deer proof fence though.

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I wouldn’t want this chap getting in and munching all our herbs, hedge and plants again.

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The fine looking chap still covered in velvet is ‘out of season’ and the freezer is full of Django and Ozzie, well not quite, Raasay House https://www.raasay-house.co.uk/ took over 50kg. So if you fancy some proper Raasay free range ‘Black Pig’ then now is the time to ask, 01478 660 300 Smile

Boats

Here’s the trusty old MV Lyrawa Bay steaming through the Raasay Narrows, built in the 1970’s I spent many a happy trip on her commuting between fish farm sites to haul out dead salmon, happy days. For years I worked as a diver hauling out ‘morts’ from the fish cages and I never ever got used to it. I would spend much of my time throwing up after a spell in the water doing that job. Luckily I worked with two heroes who had stomachs stronger than I and they would often ‘pull me out of the brown stuff’ Smile 

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The Portree Lifeboat, Stanley Watson Barker passing by one fine evening.

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The locally built trawler Sea Ranger heading south.

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Coastworks http://coastworks.co.uk/ tug Coastworker and a ‘spud leg’ barge laying an outfall for the new Raasay Distillery.

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The fish farm landing craft Emma C at Sconser.

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MV Hebridean Princess and MV Hallaig at Raasay pier.

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An unusual visitor to Churchton Bay, the tri-maran Kanga Roo Too.

Back in the water

It’s not just the laptop and Internet that died during the last few weeks, so did my pocket camera, yet another reason for lack of blogging and enthusiasm. Whilst the lack of Internet has prevented me from doing lots of things and made life very difficult in some aspects like moving pigs, transferring money and paying bills it has brought with it some very welcome benefits. For one thing I’m speaking to my family more and I’ve started reading again, something I’ve not done for around twenty years. Sure it has been entirely non-fiction and related mainly to ships, salvage, wrecks and the sea but this, allied to my son’s new diving qualification has got me all fired up again to go diving.

As soon as we returned from Malta and completed my next ‘on shift’ we tried on the newly acquired eBay dry suits and went for a dip. In fact it was usually several ‘dips’ cos stuff kept breaking and or leaking. It says a lot for my son’s character that none of this phased him in the slightest, not even a few blown O rings and duff demand valves seemed to damp his enthusiasm. Anyway, by the end off the fortnight off he’d at least another 10 dives under his belt, mainly looking for lost anchors and clams.

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It’s a bit like ‘riding a bike’, you never forget it and boy did we feast on scallops last week Smile

We also spent quite a lot of time looking for my old mooring in Loch Arnish for the MV Conqueror,

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my trusty old fishing boat from years gone by.

Whilst we never actually found that one, we did find and lift two more that had been lost and this beauty

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that I came across in over 20m of water some 200m off the shore. Weighing in at 200kg it was great experience for the boy, especially as we had to remove the chain from it. We put around 175kg of bags and containers on it, took down a spare bottle and filled them on the bottom using an old regulator 1st stage. The ground around the anchor began to ripple and shudder then it lifted off the sea bed in a cloud of silt. slowly at first and only a couple of meters due to the huge ‘stud link’ chain attached to it. We were not sure how much chain was on the end but it was plainly obvious that it was far too much for the lifting capacity we had so we slowly returned to the surface. Once there we hatched a plan for the second dive of the day and returned home to fill the diving cylinders.

On the next dive we took down tools as well as the spare bottle, once on the bottom we emptied the three bags and gently lowered the anchor to the sea bed again. Ten minutes hammering and some work with a pair of large stillsons managed to undo the shackle and we once more filled the lifting bags.

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Our man in the boat some 21m above us said it was very spectacular as it broke surface and we shouldn’t lift the chain until he had a video camera with him. This was just fine by us as we had worked hard enough for one day and with the chain marked by a buoy it was going nowhere. Having said that the first marker we put on the anchor snapped but luckily the bags an containers attached to it on the seabed made it quite easy to find in the good visibility underwater.

That’s about it really, well apart from doing loads of concreting, erecting a fence, fixing a quad, refitting a digger track and a gazillion other things. 

July 23, 2016

Everything but the mink :-(

Thursday already and the shift is flying by but not just quickly enough for the poor hens that are being steadily picked off by the mink. They’re well cheeky now and are taking them throughout the day, though I’ve never actually seen one I’ve seen various chicken carcasses appear in the fence where they’ve tried dragging them through. Wifey also found the cosiest little mink house you’ve ever seen.

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Looks like at least one of them has been living under this large plastic tub, complete with a tunnel through into the hen run!! The hen lady found it by the smell and buzzing from inside, she lifted it up to find a rather putrid dead hen, or at least hen parts full of maggots. I reckon it had got even too smelly under there for the mink. I moved the trap from under the hen house and set it there with a nice big piece of ham, the morning after most of the ham was away bar one small crumb at the back. I left that there in case he came back and went to work, a couple of hours later Wifey phones me up to tell me there was a crow inside!!!. Dunno how it had even seen the bait, let alone got in the trap. The trap was covered with bracken and the door facing the mink’s tunnel. You just gotta admire the crow’s resourcefulness.

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Of course, much of the problem is that there’s so much cover in there for the predators but my son has started cutting that back.

So much for the heat wave

Well, that never happened did it, Saturday now and the good intention of posting on Thursday evening a dim and distant memory, along with the summer.

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Sure, we did have some sunshine one day but whilst other parts of the UK have been cooking, we’re still wearing jumpers. OK, not me personally but other members of the crew who have to spend time on deck. Me I’ve a nice warm engine room or two to scuttle down.

To be honest I’m not that fussed, the heaviest rain has been overnight and there has been enough sun on the solar panels to keep us ‘powered up’ and full of hot water. The worst days being Friday, Saturday and Sunday of last week with only 6kWh per day from a 4.75kW array Sad smile Still on those three days we’d and extra 20kWh of hydro power Smile 

The wildlife

Sadly I’m without a decent camera at the moment, the old Panasonic DMC FZ48 has died again and whilst the Olympus Tough Stylus is just that, extremely tough, it’s severely lacking in zoom. Shame really cos it’s been an awesome spell for wildlife, sea eagles and golden eagles over Glame.

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Unfortunately methinks the eagles had been picking off the young grouse chicks I’d been seeing there almost daily. I know they’re extremely well camouflaged but every day there seemed to be one less.

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Deer too have been very visible most days with some lovely hinds and a young velvet covered stag here at some place who’s name I can’t pronounce.

The none stop ‘Barbie’

The old mink is still at large, the wee devil now managing to liberate the trap of bait without springing it. Last night my son set it with fresh haddock from Bruchie the fish man, I had told him to use the hot smoked salmon but Wifey wouldn’t let him. Anyway, this time he fastened it it with a cable tie so hopefully his struggling with that will spring the trap. As usual I checked it this morning prior to leaving home but no luck, the little barstewards are supposed to be nocturnal but ours isn’t. Pretty sure he’s as fat as a pig and sleeping at night.

A few nights I’ve arrived home to the pleasant smell of barbequed chicken only to discover it’s the hen incinerator Sad smile They’re pretty stinky right enough until the feathers burn off but after that almost nice. I have a suspicion that my wifey has gone right off barbecues.

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This wee newt, I thought it was a lizard first, scuttled out from under the incinerator last time it was in operation. That’s why I thought it was a lizard, closer inspection seems to suggest a newt. I’ve never seen a newt at South Arnish, other than the ones jammed in the water pipe from North Arnish. The well at North Arnish being ‘newt heaven’, there seems to be loads of them there.

The nice days

 

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As you can see, there has been at least one Smile

 

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Brochel bay one fine day in July,

 

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The Hallaig and Glamaig with the clam diving boat Creachan Mor, which I guess means Big Rock or perhaps somebodies nickname as in Creachan who is a large man?

 

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Anyway, she’s been hard at it this last week in the Raasay Narrows, spending a night or two here and in Portree.

Well done chaps

Not only did Henry https://lifeattheendoftheroad.wordpress.com/tag/storm-henry/  wreck my turbine stator he also put the lights out on Raasay and the ferry off, luckily the Portree lifeboat ‘Stanley Watson Barker’ and her crew came to the rescue.

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Scottish Hydro Electric https://www.ssepd.co.uk/Home/ generously donating £5000 to the RLNI after the lifeboat took the linesmen over to Raasay when the ferry could not. Many thanks to the ‘Broadford Beano’ for the picture http://www.whfp.com/  Smile

Here we have the luxury ‘mini cruise ship’ MV Glen Etive belonging to Majestic Lines http://www.themajesticline.co.uk/vessels/

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and ‘majestic’ they are indeed. They started off with two converted fishing vessels,

 

Our cruise ship, Glen Massan, for Argyll and the Inner Hebrides Our cruise ship, Glen Tarsan, for Argyll and the inner Hebrides

The ‘Glen Massan’ and ‘Glen Tarsan’, business must be good because they had the Glen Etive specially built on the Clyde at Ardmaleish Boatyard  http://www.ardmaleishboatbuilding.co.uk/ We used to visit Ardmaleish boat yard every year with the old Loch Striven and I’ve seen first hand some of the boats Euan and his men have built so I’m sure the Glen Etive will be well put together. Some pictures of the build here http://www.ardmaleishboatbuilding.co.uk/glen-etive-2/

Well, that’s it for now,

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another 5h1tty day in paradise as they say, view from the ‘office’ 20:00 23/07/2016 Smile

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