A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘Kirsty Logan’

Dolphins, Good Weather and Hydro Progress.

The seas provide us with such a contrast. If possible I have grown more and more attached to the ocean and know so little about them. On a day like Friday, all you are thinking about on the way out is putting the final touches to the fleet on board, planning where you are going to shoot it and then which fleets you are going to haul before the weather breaks again. Then, and there is no doubt that I sensed it rather than saw them but, coming towards me was a pod of dolphins


and coupled with the grey calm waters I stopped work throttled back and enjoyed a blissful twenty minutes.


All thoughts of langoustine, work and creel repairs disappear. The best thing about it all is they come to you and makes you feel humble that these beautiful beings play around you, jump, dart and swim under the boat.


The best day of the year.


Possibly one of the reasons I enjoyed Kirsty Logan’s mysterious story about the Selkie fisherman so much is the fantastic depth and beauty, combined with the harsh and uncompromising realities when it goes wrong. Helping anyone anywhere is fulfilling but there that extra layer when it happens at sea. Photos were forgotten until they began to go off and speeds only adjusted to catch the last of them.


Reminded me that the day when the Succorfish was replaced, as I was leaving the Varuna and started the outboard on the dinghy about twenty seals and pups slid of the rocks and took to the water. Something I have never seen before they then followed me across the bay coming out of the water, breaching like dolphins and looking across to me as though  they were playing and racing along at the same time. They were not as close as the dolphins  but it was still great to see them swimming and diving alongside. The weather broke as promised and I had an uncomfortable time in the Bay hauling the last fleet and untangling it from a neighbours. Some new eggs came up on a section of rope. nature does beauty well.


Blowing half a gale by the time I came back from Shieldaig, a massage, badly needed, and a bait and salt pickup.


(Now Monday evening) It’s not slowing down, Saturday was full with mending and roping up a fleet getting it ready for the fine weather forecast for Monday and then onto the Inn for an evening shift. If I do not write on the night things become a bit of a blur and I don’t think anything of great import happened. A normal busy evening with locals adding a bit of colour early on before disappearing to watch Scotland come close to France in the rugby. Better than the dismal performance in Georgia. Listening to Blackhouse, switching over to Twitter for the football and doing the CC minutes. Seeing how this multi tasking lark goes. Sunday with Linda on the Boss was able to do some catch up work and make an occasional appearance. It was pleasantly quieter and had a few folk for the Highland locale out ranging from Marybank, Dornoch, Dingwall, The Black Isle, Inverness and Kintail. Was able to take a break in the afternoon to finish Saturdays creel work before making my way back for the evening shift. Started off slowly but by 8.30pm was full on with lots of table juggling. Made it through to 10.30pm after a nicely cooked half steak, Janet having the other half earlier in the evening. Left the Boss sitting amongst the guests and surrounded by several almost empty bottles of malt. I think the object was to finish them. I was asleep before closing time.

Early start and a fine day it turned out to be.




Another fine defeat, or maybe not so fine going by some of the comments. Now live scores of Andy Murray, he was asked if he could lift the nation’s depression after the Georgia game and he replied that he always tries to win so nothing new so nothing new there. Joy to be on the water today. Another clean fleet shot away and extended another one to its right length. Gear starting to be in the shape it should be.


A couple of buoys missing, a couple of foul ups, and a slight breeze from the north. Couple of strange creels came up in one fleet. Managed to catch around half box of the extra-large and just two creels provided ten of them five in each creel. The rest of the fleet showed no sign that this was going to happen. Another creels had seven octopi in it.


Only caught about a dozen in the whole day. It is never a nine to five job. Landed a decent amount to the Inn and they had run out by the time I had come ashore. On the way in and during day there were signs it may start of on a misty footing in the morning… we’ll see.


Picked up Dougal and Eilidh on the way to the Inn and then went up to the hydro site and had a good chat with the boys, hoping for a dry spell as they were having difficulty getting up the track, machine was sliding back. Forecast for the week is perfect for them, dry and a south-easterly breeze to boot. Hard walk up to the Pen Stock site but in the sunshine,


bearable. Most of the plastic pipe laid out, and welded, across the field


and they headed up with more gravel and cement to block off the stream, the diversion already been pecked out.



No one is hanging about. Exciting to see it taking shape against so many odds. That over rides the feeling of despair in our Government who decide to give subsidy to the oil, nuclear and tracking industries while regressing solar, wind and hydro. Wonder if they could organise a drinks party in a brewery.

Mixing with the Literati,briefly, and Hydro.

I inhabit a strange world, (to me anyway) just now and am sitting in the middle of Charlotte Sq in Edinburgh going to go in to a private gathering of Kirsty Logan’s book of short stories, “A Portable Shelter”. She came out on the Varuna for background and sent one of the tales up by email for me to keep the technical bits in order, which I duly did and then received an invite. I have got to the stage in life where I now say why not? More often and cannot find reasons not to experience new ventures. Never been to a book launch so here I am. Off in now.

Seeing I was in plenty time and I was sitting with free wi-fi I thought I would write a little just in keeping with the surrounds. My star spotting was complete in seeing Bill Paterson coming out of a marquee, forgot his name but knew him as the father in Ian Bank’s Crow Road. Had planned to go fishing on Monday morning but the east wind was still blowing and decided that I would give it a miss especially as the weather was for a quiet spell on Tuesday/Wednesday so thought that would be soon enough to get round the gear. Took my time in setting off


down the A9, stopping at Inverness for the Highland Wholefoods shop and again at Ralia Cafe before making it to Edinburgh without incident and took a stroll round the Square before going back for the iPad and relaxing outside the Writers Retreat where the event was to take place. As I was not on west coast time I was on time and only a couple of ladies there. It is another world and mixing with the Scottish literati I thought would be a bit stiff for me. A little chit-chat with a retired lecturer from the OU, also a poet, and then Kirsty came along and the place filled up. Kirsty won an award from the Dr Gavin Wallace Fellowship, funded by Creative Scotland, allowing her to spend a year on creative writing rather spending time setting up creative writing workshops or tutoring, basically giving a writer space to write. Judging by the signed copy I was given it is money well spent.


Kirsty came out on the Varuna on a breezy Saturday to do a little research on a short story about a Selkie Fisherman and sent me a couple of emails to check out some of the technical terms. I duly did and she then invited me down to the private gathering where she did mention Applecross and her “queasy day at sea”. Result was after the wee speeches and reading several people came up to me and of course everyone knew about Applecross. Ended up chatting with Tom Pow, a poet, who recently wrote a book called “In Another World” among Europe’s dying villages. And as it is a current concern of mine we chatted about Applecross and its future, dipping into a conversation about Bengali prawns, before back in the van and up the A9. Home by 1.30am and in time for a comatose sleep and into a couple of days fishing before the weather breaking today. This all happened with Alison answering a tweet by Kirsty asking anyone in the Applecross area who fished and would they take her out on the boat. Always take interested people out. Small world syndrome appeared when I mentioned to Alison about Tom Pow and she casually replied that he taught her English at school and had just bought the book.

Just enough time to keep nipping up to the Hydro progress and they are cracking on.


Graham is down on the Gateway breaking rock while Steve and Ali have been spreading building up the road and the hard standing area.


They are not hanging about and deliveries are coming thick and fast. The pipe is already here


and welding and dragging is programmed in for next week when the forecast is for drier weather.


Weather is not an issue but breezy dry conditions would help.


Would also keep Dougal cleaner.


Sad to hear that his grandfather, Patch, is no more, dying of old age last week. Lots of work continuing regarding the share launch with plenty of people waiting for the opportunity to invest and help the scheme. On a quick trip up the road to see Kenny and Jill’s visitors, taking in another fine sunset on the way,


noticed that it was a cracking year for ragwort, not the best for the farm animals and eradicating it has been going on for some years now but it has taken hold this year.


A bit of progress regarding the Community Council pleas on road repairs. The work has started on the road between Camusterrach and Culduie.


These little things mean the Council does work if only at a low-level. Got to catch up on publishing minutes. Bad weather in the next couple of days will help. Was going to wash creels this afternoon but it has turned into a recovery day and only job to do before work tonight is to land more prawns for the Inn this evening. Yet another fish farm heads out west, wonder if the Chinese will be buying our salmon after their stock market crash.



Applecross Community Company Work.

Sitting in the recovery stage of a middle of the road migraine, nothing gets done and not too sick, manage to doze through about half of it, and with “Doodle” chewing on a bone he nicked from Sweep on Wednesday at my feet. Another of Wednesday photos of him. He normally is never still enough for a snap so getting two of him on the trot is good. A little breeze from the East has ruffled his immaculate look. Taken about ten ticks out of him in the last two days and this is November.


Weather still holding out and it has already been an amazing November. Ashore again on Wednesday but managed lots of little jobs with more wood chopped and stacked. Timing the last spell at the wood for the sun going down over the Cuillin.


Every one talking about Mondays sunset and really annoying anyone who missed it.



Still a few coming out to eat and kept busy till after food. Although not full there are guests still staying at the Inn. One such guest, Matthew from Fintry Dev Trust, was up to do a draught excluder workshop, participants finding it very useful. Again always interesting to listen to how other Trusts are doing. Fintry is in the fortunate position of having a steady income from one of the wind farms set up close by. They receive an income stream from one of the twelve turbines. As ever they have their own difficulties in communicating to residents who through either apathy or distrust do not get what the Trust is about. Generally they have made great strides in reducing their carbon footprint and that must mean lower fuel bills so it is a win win. On our front the good news is the Filling Station was down for a short time yesterday and it turned out to be a router problem, sorted by our IT man, Sean. And the North Coast residents patience has been rewarded with the Rona mast kicking in this morning. The weather is never perfect for every one. Another advance for the Company is we have joined a Consortium of other local groups, who are all on the same road as us regarding local power, and CES under the name of Dalavich Improvement Group(DIG) and have proceeded through Stage 1 of Funding from the Local Energy Challenge Fund. The aim is to try to ensure community benefit and securing the long-term viability of remote communities. Other communities involved include Eday, Barra and Vatersay, and Lochboisdale. There are others but that gives an indication of who we are working with. To quote from the application is the best way to describe the project’s aims. “In principle, the simplest way to make a local energy economy a reality is to directly connect a sustainable energy source with a nearby energy demand, using community owned infrastructure.” Our experience has informed the approach to phase one of the project, coming up against all the problems and looking to solve them through innovative ideas and technology. Alison has put a lot of work into the project so far and I do smile at times when I am occasionally asked what she does, usually the unseen work is the most important. The same goes for our other employees, Val, Zuzu and Sean….only visible when there is a problem but working away for the community and sometimes in their own time. If only we could get some affordable housing built to attract skilled technicians to take more projects forward that ensures our community’s future.

Forgot to mention the migraine was accompanied by a head clod and this made it harder to go fishing but as we sold our last portion of langoustines the previous evening…needs must. The day in this light throws up unusual angles, seeing houses that have always been there but look a little different in the low light of the morning


and afternoon.


Saint Island was the residence of large numbers of gulls in the afternoon. None around the boat but sightings of big numbers on the Bay and elsewhere.


Fishing is still very poor but the incentive to supply the local markets makes it easier for me when I know 100% of the catch landed is used and as I have said the day was a good one to be at sea.


Last night greatly enjoyed by a couple of film makers who are doing a 15 minute documentary on the Bealach, a German and a Lithuanian. Day was stunning and it cannot be classed as work. As well as the wonderful light, you look up on a quiet moment and catch a glimpse of a porpoise or see a cormorant arrowing past. These two looked satiated sitting on their perch as I passed them on the way home.


Lovely crisp autumnal weather but not cold as you are on the move all day. Advantage of being on your own although today I was not so sure. Yesterday read a draft of Kirsty Logan’s mystical short story and made you think.


Having the bike to take the prawns to the Inn makes the journey longer but for the right reasons.


The cycle to the Inn was perfect accompanied by the dogs.


Took a little time during the evening shift out to meet up with AEE and a couple of Directors to chat with Matthew about draft proofing and general green and community topics. All both stimulating and essential.


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