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

Posts tagged ‘pier’

A Couple of Days on the West.

The routine is slowly kicking in although the fishing has not happened yet. Wednesday, although a decent day, with a nice ending,


was spent mostly on paper work and was finished off with a shift up the road. Quiet, but not dead. Getting instructions about closing up as that may be more of the theme this year with the Boss taking a little more time out,

Down at the pier most of the day. Took the boat alongside and put ashore the fleet of creels still on board and put some of the new ones on board, fuelled up and hopefully stemmed a bit of a leak on the hydraulic system.


On the way out the companions were off to the east always watching, drifted a little too close for their comfort,


but they stayed around long enough for a couple of snaps.


Put some of the new fleet together and it was back to the mooring. In between all this I took the plunge, not literally, and opened the lid of a disused bait bin that had some herring and some water had got in. If anyone knows what is worse than putrid herring/mackerel I would like to know. Quite literally retching for the first five minutes, but the thin red line kicks and an hour later all done.


It is a never again job, going through quite a few of them just now. Year going well despite the lack of fishing. All proceeding as planned until the glasses get knocked over the side of the pier, luckily close to the top end and the tide going out, unluckily in amongst all the herring gunk. Had the dogs down with me but had to lock them up. They are really weird in that they go for the grottiest muck around, in this case, the putrid herring. Dogs back home and then down the shore after four to rake around amongst the seaweed and the herring. Dead easy when they went over the side as the bubble wrack was floating, different matter guddling about on the ebb tide. £200 is a nice wee driving force and duly recovered them was back up the road to do a shift at the Inn.

Yesterday I made it out at last, making the most of all yesterday’s prep work. Although I did not notice it at the time it was hard work with lots of ups and downs. First fleet I hauled I tagged one of the lost fleets and just buoyed it off and carried on meaning to lift it at the end of the day. The downside hauling another fleet it broke with no buoy on the north end so that is back to two down. Last fleet was a mess and stayed on board to sort out ashore, there must have been lots of pulling and tugging as there is a fair bit of pain today, remnants of the bug as well, I suppose. Still it was enjoyable being out and watching the traffic,






and scenery.


It is the place.

Wiped last night and did not do much other than doze on the couch, heading off to the pub is a distant memory and will become even more so. Left the camera on board so went off down on the bike with the dog family and they loved the run although always get a little anxious when I go out on the dingy.


Nice to see their concerned loyalty waiting on the shore.




On the way back was taken aback by a telling off from a crofter about the dogs not being in control and chasing sheep. Was a little put out as I had made sure they were on the road when the sheep decided to take off, that is when I have to watch Dougal as he sees fun. Sheep run, noticed they are more prone to do this when on the bike and Dougal had nothing to do with it. Ok he was there but what can you do if when he does what he was told and gets knocked for it. Made me think about not jumping to conclusions. I was annoyed with myself when I had the last word, unnecessary but irresistible. When told “It is never the dogs” I could not resist with “Aye, and it’s never the sheep.” True but did not feel clever saying it. Minor and a good game of rugby, before seeing the first half of the more nervous one and off to the Inn. Looking back on the conversations this week have realised that they have been so varied, photography, eastern practices brought by the boat name, Varuna, followed up by a wide-ranging chat about meditation and the like, follow-up from the post about the Saighdear with another story in the chest, land reform thoughts. All this without leaving town, fascinating place to live.

Some more Applecross Firsts.

The last couple of days has seen Simon from Eigg and Ian from Rhum come over and install the first stage of our Community broadband network. Alison had successfully applied for a grant to run a pilot scheme to set up our own community broadband as all we seem to get from government and big business are sound bites and programs promising us new and faster networks and then nothing happens. As we are learning it up to the community to go ahead and do it ourselves. So it was Hebnet we turned to and Broadford village hall who offered to be our “host’. Simon and Ian stopped off there at the beginning of the week to set up the dish and broadband at Broadford before coming over here yesterday. On Tuesday Sean and I headed up Tor Mor to roll the power cable down which was not as easy as first thought . Off course the rims of the cable reel are bigger than the inner resulting in the cable coming off slower than our pace. Solution from Sean meant we had to turn back up hill every now and again to keep the cable slack. so an hour and a half later in the wind and rain job done. So without many hitches the dish has been installed on the Tor Mor, then it was off to the Heritage Centre and the evening in the Inn saw Simon and Ian showing off our new 5/6 meg network. Today saw us down at the Pier with Ian installing a unit to beam the signal received from Tor Mor back to Camusterrach.

It was a miserable day and a lot of the work was outdoor but by the end of the day a couple of cables and a switch installed meant that by tomorrow there will be 9 installations completed and we hope to iron out any glitches over the winter, if there is any, and roll out the network to the rest of the community next spring. In the afternoon I took Dougal and co up the Tor Mor only to meet Sean and Simon up there tweeking the equipment.

 Looking forward to getting our 6 meg tomorrow. Jill will be down with our last connection and we are off. For some 6 meg is nothing to write home about but for here it a huge step into this century and will allow some people to move here with their work in tow.

Another first is the proposed solution to our medical cover. dan has applied and been offered the job with the support of a team from Raigmore. More of this later. when Dan was on Eigg doing some locum work he met Simon and expressed a wish for Applecross. Imagine his surprise when he opened the door to Simon this afternoon who installed the last of the units in the Nurses house, leaving a very happy Doc in his wake. An example of win, win,win, all the way for the community. Managed a couple of shifts at the Inn, not so busy last night but good to chat to everyone and an extraordinary coincidence of introducing the dentist lecturer to the good friends of a dentist he had taught in Birmingham who now lives in Kintail. Small world with Applecross Inn at the centre. A good days fishing yesterday meant that prawns and squats are back on the menu although squats already sold out tonight. Tonight Aussies on table D, All Blacks on A and South Africans on table 6. The New zealanders were from Waipu which has a strong connection to Wester Ross and a lot of antipodeans come back this way tracing their routes. Chris told me when he went to Waipu museum the first thing he saw was a picture of his own house. Supper tomorrow is a couple of codling caught yesterday, pan-fried in lemon and garlic with new pots from the garden.
The final first of this post was after over 30 years of fishing I got smacked right on the nose by a creel on Wednesday. Bit stunned and lots of blood and there wasn’t even a prawn in it. And some people think fishing is easy.

Two very special days

Yesterday I went out a bit earlier than usual to catch the quiet morning before the afternoon northerly breeze got up. Even after 30 years of fishing from Applecross some days are beyond any description I am capable of. The sun was well up and there were a scattered array of clouds creating a moving tapestry of shadows across the land. To the south-east you could see the Five Sisters of Kintail like an etching, to the south-west is the Red Cuillin and I cannot resist taking yet another photo.The dusting of snow still on her with the remains of the morning cloud above the clearing shadows are wonderful to watch. Then to the west you have the Island of Raaasay stretching up the Sound with its distinctive table top of Dun Caan in its middle. You can see the Harris hills through the Blind Sound. Off to the east its home dominated by the slightly foreboding or maybe protective Applecross hills. Perfection and a privilege to be here. Work is not the right word for what I do on days like this.

It was a long day and 500 creels were hauled and although the fishing was poor it did not seem to be important. We take each fleet of creels ashore once a year to wash and do some repair work on them as well as sorting out some splicing that builds up over the year. There is an interesting small crab that we seem to be catching more of recently. It never grows more than 2.5 centimetres. This is it beside a squat lobster and it looks as though it could handle itself.

The evening shift at the Inn was a bit more relaxed with everyone enjoying the fantastic food. Judith took the evening off which is a good sign we are doing something right. A beautiful sunset had people leaving their meals to take in yet another wonderful Applecross scene.

After a day working on the pier sorting out my creels and trying to sort Dougal out it was back off to the Inn for another shift. These evenings are special to the people eating and staying at the Inn. There was a family from East Lothian who could not say enough about their evening’ experience and to be quite honest I was probably enjoying it as much as they were . They tucked into some large prawns I had taken ashore two hours before they ate them. It gives me so much pleasure seeing people enjoying themselves so much and it reminds me of being told once that if we honour and respect our food then it means so much more to us.

The evening finished with another spectacular light show. I dislike intensely that corruption of the english language, “shock and awe” and awesome is over used so much these days but this scene looking across the Sound from the Inn does instil in me a real sense of awe.

On the way home the local network alerted me to the possibility that there was a delivery of worms waiting at the shop. Dai the Post is too wary of Dougal and family’s intentions when he has tried to deliver mail in the past so we pick ours up and sure enough the worms were there so that is tomorrow’s job along with another 500 creels. What a life.

Applecross Fishing Fleet

The Hauler back on board

Getting through my list and that is the hauler fitted up and ready to go. Of course with two pipes to fit I fit them the wrong way round. I do not do engineering.

Community essentials

Weather has been pretty poor again and threatens to be all week. Plenty to do although can space it out over the week. If by the end of the week a fleet of creels are mended, my hauler is back on the boat and working, I have dived for prawns, written the Community Company minutes, caught up with the Pier invoices and VAT, I’ll get to watch some Six Nations rugby on saturday. Already building up a bit of Scottish optimism. The wet stock reconciliation at the Filling Station and a break down has already been done today so we are of to a flyer. Working a couple of shifts later this week at the Inn. It looks an impressive list but there are lots of people doing similar stuff in the community. Village Hall committee was on tonight. I got bored doing the Com Company minutes so stopped to do a post. Funny I look forward to posting now although my technical abilities are fairly limited. The Vancouver post took ages but was enjoyable. The more you post the more you realise there is.

The creels will be done on thursday along with the hauler and hopefully my dive. When we fish for the prawns I store the boxes hanging over the side of the boat and in the past a couple have come free. I have circumvented this,or so I thought, by putting up to four boxes in a cage tying this up and hanging them all together. This worked fine until last week-end when a combination of a strong north westerly and a weak rope meant prawns ended up on the seabed. Found most of them yesterday but ran out of air and getting a fill of Bob so will be back in the water for thursday.. It was a bit of a sight me leaving the Inn yesterday zipped up by Mark in my dry suit to go off for my dive. A few wise cracks followed me out the door.

Off to Inverness tomorrow to another Fisheries management meeting. These meetings have been the result of a government initiative to bring a bit of structure to the inshore fishing grounds around Scotland. They have been progressing slowly but have hit a wall recently as the local coordinators have just been told they are not getting their contracts renewed. Very disjointed politics. I am not really surprised as I have dealt with the civil service so many times in the past and have not been impressed. The long view is not part of the equation when politicians get involved. At least the creelmen are at the table. Before the mobile sector could say whatever they wanted and up till now it has not been challenged. A bit different now and if what they have been saying was correct where are the fish. Trawling inshore waters does not work longterm. I have read Calum Robert’s book The Unnatural History of the Sea. Although it has a positive message at the end saying we have the potential to sort it out it tells of the mess we have made of the oceans. Meeting up with Andrea Nightingale on friday from the Geography Department of Edinburgh University. She has been around several times and is very interested in the community side of coastal communities. She is coming with Ruth Brennan who works at SAMS at Dunstaffnage near Oban and is also working with coastal communities, local knowledge of sea conditions etc. Very fortunate to meet with these guys who give you a different perspective and give you a fresh impetus on how you go about things.

Oral History

It being the 28th of January the ever present tax man wants his books done for him. I’m not really sure why I am treasurer of the Pier, I know that I don’t want to so it is always by the skin of my teeth that I get them done. I was due in Inverness today so the plan was to get Donald to sign them and take them back through and put them through the letter box of the accountants. Means they are in with a whole day to spare. Turns out Donald was not the signature required but me. Only found out when I was at Donald’s but stayed for a wee ceilidh anyway.

Under the ALPS program he is collating all the information in the grave yard at Clachan church and mentioned that he was doing some of my family. The conversation came round to an old story I have heard before but it does not lose anything in the retelling and I actually did not realise that it involved a relative. Many years ago four men from Applecross including John Gollan, my grandfather’s brother, headed of to Plockton to buy a cask of whisky for one of the guy’s wedding. In those days they travelled by sea and the weather was not too clever but they went anyway. As they were buying the whisky the shopkeeper jokingly asked if it was for a funeral or a wedding and the groom, jesting, said it was for a funeral. Probably there were one or two drams taken before they decided to head back home to Applecross but the weather had worsened further. Three of the men decided to head back, including my great grand uncle and the groom. The other man, a Mackenzie, was taken back to the Applecross peninsula the next day.The other men never arrived and after a search their bodies were found on the shore at the back of Plockton and just along from the groom’s body was the cask of whisky. So although said in jest at the time the whisky was used for a funeral, the groom’s. the other man was a Livingstone and Donald did not know of any surviving relatives but the others all have descendants still living here. A very enjoyable hour as Donald is the nearest thing I know to a seannachie,a story teller from an oral tradition. I have to admit I am a bit lazy in my own family research but I only have to have a chat with Donald.

Inverness means racing round the town doing a month’s shop in an afternoon. Everything went well, dropped of prawns to The Loch Ness Inn, picked up boat gear from Gaelforce, HIS, Halfords,Highland Wholefoods and last but not least Dougal and family’s food for the next month. Back in time for a chicken taco tea and to settle down to watch the next instalment of Borgen on BBC 4, which was brilliant as usual.

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