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

Posts tagged ‘Rona’

Stag Trip with a Difference.

Stag trip began this morning, after a landing of langoustines and watching a dog otter quietly make his way into the water about ten metres away from me. You would not expect anything normal from No3 and No4 when they get together to organise a Stag Do prior to No4’s wedding later this month. No3’s competence in looking after No4 was apparent in the organising

and although they did not have the short wave radio up and running, flares and rescue training were in place along with provisions for a two night trip around Raasay and Rona.  Not too sure about the shades though.

The house is a lot quieter tonight without the discussions revolving around world politics, philosophy and psychology among many other subjects. It was a little fresher in the afternoon than forecast but by that time they should have made landfall on Rona. Prepping, carrying down the heavily laden kayaks,

and setting off all took place at half-tide

and they were heading out of Applecross Bay before twelve.

I had already decided that the weekend had caught up with me and took the day off which involved mending creels and an evening of wood gathering before having a fine meal at Mya’s PopUp Thai Restaurant. The boys may have caught sight of the odd gannet on the way across,

maybe a dolphin or two. There does seem to be a lot in the waters off the west this year. Sightings of Orcas in Loch Broom over the weekend no less.

Away Day to Rona.

An away day to Rona was planned and today, after forgetting my fuel key, then fuelling up we set off just after eight. Bill had reported problems with his own connection and I picked a day to get over after catching some langoustine yesterday to keep the Inn going.We were followed half way across by a solitary bonxie which I fed with some pout from yesterday.


There were only three to keep him/her interested as they do not like the salted herring. Beautiful day


and even the anticipated north-easterly for the trip home did not arise. Went up to the mast with Sean and Owen and an enthusiastic Bill overtaking us with the tools on the quad,



staying to help out on a bit of the health and safety side. And we had our usual chat on land, land usage and land reform.


The views up there are spectacular on a day like today both to the west


and south.


The Varuna looking very peaceful alongside the pontoon.


While the boys were working on the net I managed an oil change and a bit of a scrub down on parts of the boat the everyday hose down does not reach. The nano and tough switches changed we all headed down with Owen getting a picture of how the setup works as he is planning joining one or even two of the Boards. I don’t think things went so well at the receiving end of the system and another visit is required.

Back to the Inn with a box of bigger langoustine to keep them going. There is always variety here in Applecross, asked to check fuses, unsuccessfully, as the Shed electricity went down and then to take a photo of one of the best beer gardens in somewhere.


Something to do with the Telegraph. All quiet now and a bit of strimming and sowing after tea. Last night’s strimming led to the disappearance of the Dougal who went on an all-nighter not coming home till eleven this morning. Seems pretty tired and remarkably unrepentant.


Castaway Clare

Monday morning saw us on an unusual mission, another trip to Rona, not broadband this time but to drop off a castaway. Clare has long wanted to raise money for the Scottish Burned Children’s Club. http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=Calderclaire1. Her daughter suffered a camping accident at eight years of age which involved long and expert treatment in the burns unit in Glasgow, I think, also the Club helped her and many others in their rehabilitation and to give them confidence in living normal lives again after their mishaps. Clare is going to stay on Eilean Garbh as a castaway for a month, this is the small uninhabited island to the north of the entrance to the Rona harbour. To catch the tide at the Rona end we had an early start and had the van unloaded and other little jobs done by the time Clare turned up with the second car load. Quick load up and Clare with dogs on board away north on a beautiful day.


Familiar trip to Rona now and still spectacular country. As we were slightly later in getting away it was no surprise seeing Bill lying off the west of the island, possibly doing a little fishing while waiting for us to come through the Rona Gap. Came along side his flat-bottomed aluminium boat and unloaded all the gear,




and Clare.


Bill went in to the shore and unloaded.


Everything went without a hitch, I stayed just in case Bill missed the tide and I had to give him a gentle pull off the shore, but not needed.


After a wee ceilidh, which is always the case with Bill, we headed off in different directions to do our days work,



leaving Clare to her solitude and fund-raising.


Bill was quite wistful in thinking he could do with a bit of that as the run of yachts have started to appear in the harbour. He gets more than his fair share of demanding visitors and he got a few things of his chest, entertaining as ever. Still managed to haul 200 pots on the way home before making my way up to the Inn for an extra shift, keeping the Boss on her gentle recovery. This seems to be going well so although tired it is worth it to see an improvement.

Good to be Back

Back home and immediately busy, but good busy. The closer we got to Applecross the more beautiful it became,


but then I may be biased. The snow scenes were quite spectacular coming through Torridon glen




and around the North coast.


Straight into the land reform submission and also the One for MPAs and only the Gear Conflict to do. With the forecast good till the end of the week and fishing and Inn it probably will not happen till Friday. The weather was really poor yesterday, after a good day on Monday it was back to the north wind and there was a good run coming down the Sound. The day was bright so the bike was out and Dougal and Eilidh back on the road.


Lovely and clear with the snow on the hills.




with Beinne Claddach behind was looking clean and sharp,


not sure about a dip in Milton Loch though.


Probably one of the bigger successes of the CCF was raising people’s awareness of local wood fuel supply and Ian getting his wood cutting up and running. I am sure some would have switched over to wood anyway but bringing it to the forefront has resulted in several wood stoves being installed and tens of tons more wood being consumed on the peninsula.


So with a last look around the Bay it was back to more paperwork and out to a Board meeting in the evening. Because we have increased the frequency they are not quite so long, still two hours is long enough. Rona is getting there with lots of effort from Bill and Calum who are setting up a new cable which should stabilise the supply from round the coast. Updates can be had from https://isleofronalog.wordpress.com .Which is good as the gossip from one of the hamlets is hotting up. Good source with the usual participant. All our wee communities are blessed with just a few miscreants in each one, keeps you on your toes, especially when they get bored in their own patch. Celebrity visit of the week was Marti Pellow of WetWetWet. Caused a wee stir especially with the prep room. Crazy world of social media is when he puts up a video on fb with some complimentary comments about the Inn, staff and food, two days later there are 35,000 likes. Privileged to see the back scenes of how it works, took picture of cheffie flashing up the staff lunch, taking a break from his painting the cellar, not allowed to publish, something to do with image it seems. The cycle back home after the meeting in the moonlight was sublime. With half an eye on the road for a bit of ice just looked around at the snow covered hills glowing in the moon shine. The Milton Loch and the Sound were shimmering and glinting with the silver light. Good to be back.


Two Days at Sea, finishing with a Rant.

After waiting a little while for the tide so I could launch my dingy, I went fishing for the first time this month. It is easy to see why there is little incentive to go out at the moment when you tally up such a small catch after hauling 250 creels. Still it was good to go out on such a fine morning


with the snow caps surrounding the Sound.





The sunlit morning did not last much into the afternoon and with a breeze and clouding over it became bitterly cold.


Must change a fuel filter before going fishing again, few revs up on the way out. Settled down or the rest of the day so job for the bad weather.You always know what season you are in seeing what is coming up in the creels and with me not being out much the squid have been laying on the ropes and creels.


When I finally made it home cold, very cold there was a message suggesting a trip back out to Rona to fix the turbine again. This time it had seized solid and coupled with lightning damage on Arnish the North Coast Broadband is down again. Parts to be ordered for Arnish and Sean will be heading out there once they come through. Complicated and still regarded as teething problems I suppose. Not good for the North coast people but we will get there.

So it was an earlyish start and after loading up and not changing the filter we were alongside the pontoon on Rona by 10.30am. As Bill was not around it was a gird one’s loins, load up and off up the hill to the station. Time was a factor as the Portree ferry was due at 11.30am and needed the pontoon so when we were up at the mast


an eye was kept out for the boat coming across the Sound. Having spotted it and timed the ascent we quickly lowered the mast, disconnected the seized turbine


with which I headed off down the Hill to the Varuna,leaving Sean to do the technicals to replace and reconnect. I made it down in time, moved off and came back on the outside of the Aspire.


She was a scallop dredger working from Islay for twenty years before heading down to Whitby for a refurbishment and is now the ferry to Rona from Portree. Beautiful ship and was very delicate in coming alongside her.


Unloaded and gave a wee hand shifting tanks strainers and the odd box about while Sean was up doing his connecting thing. The staining on the wheelhouse reminded me of my Dad who stained many a fishing boat when they came up for their annual at the Yard in Kyle.


The Aspire made off back to Portree and the Varuna to Applecross, not before talking possible solutions to our Broadband Systems for the North. Coming out of the Blind Sound we were treated to a light show over Raasay. Do not often see Dun Can from this angle and not in this lighting.


Seeing we are on the Community today the dreaded de minimus is rearing its head again. Firstly as I get ready for a rant against one and all there is no personal getting at anyone but this situation we are in is crazy and people who have far more positive things to do are trying to work out ways for us to proceed. All the founders, agencies and consultancies are in place to help people and communities who are prepared to help themselves but need a bit of seed corn to set up services that either big business decide it is not worth their coin to help or through public funding cuts. So why and who makes it so difficult for us to comply with all the rules and regulations. I understand the need for the above to prevent the abuse the some organisations carry out to get their hands on public money, usual those that are already rich enough not to need grant funding but do not move without it. In our case at the moment we are battling to get money released to progress the Hydro Private Wire, again only as a result of being sold a “package” which was not as it seemed. 90kw seems is not 90kw when it is sold as a connection to the Grid. This latest grant/loan wil take us over our 200,000 euros limit, and just for three months at that. Of course most of that is our broadband grant which we were only told was de minimus when we were awarded it and the rule has changed on this but not for us as there is no retrospective ruling. So communities who apply for the same grant as we got do not have this ruling imposed on them but we do……no wonder we are cheesed off, language modified. And how on earth are we distorting completion by providing a service where no one else will. Where is the competition? Now we have the best of people trying to give us advice on how to proceed, quite frankly I would argue that if any one came for their grant back I would first of all say that it wasn’t in breach of any rule and if they insisted then close us down and then see what happens. Surely we should be encouraged in what we are trying to achieve not have these daft obstructions put in our way to make our lives even harder. Bearing in mind that Sean and I were over on Rona earlier today getting the first stage of the broadband up and running again we really do not need this unnecessary stuff to deal with. Local Developement Officers should be spending their time on more constructive matters rather than trying to work out ways are these man made obstacles. One solution offered is to set up yet another community company and when the time period expires hand it over to the original Company. Again low numbers of population and even lower numbers for directors so why make it harder? Rant over and no one even spotted I was ranting as I between rants I be been serving customers for the last 2 1/2 hours.

Nae Plans.

Packed three days although does not feel like it. Tired and keeping going as I know when I stop that will be it. Tuesday evenings birthday did go down well


but the story starts up again on Thursday when there was a bit of wood work and starting the wall stack, although going by how it never stayed in place a rethink in construction to take place.


Always things of interest and when doing the stack stopped for a natter about working offshore in Mauritius and out and about ending up in Peterhead, not so glamorous I suppose. Then in the afternoon I made it up the road to meet up with a lady first met on the SEA course a couple of years ago. Down in Applecross meeting up with her tutor  for her PhD on music and Bergman. Spent a fine afternoon in Germany and the USA discussing and sorting all the problems across the world. So much so that I was kicked out so they could get to finish their work. Then things went a little pear-shaped. The plan had been to come up on the bike with Dougal and Eilidh alongside, Alison to follow in van and Pups to go in van. Late so Dougal and Co went into Jill’s car, which was fine until they decided to lock themselves in with the keys in the ignition. 3/4 of an hour later with the help of a screwdriver, two rubber bands and a coat hanger we were in but it was  cold. Dougal was well relaxed if somewhat curious on the back shelf.


A gentle shift and then Friday. Started with a call off to Rona as weather poor. Did not fancy a trip to the island with a force 9 south easterly blowing and no one else out. Another day without broadband for the North Coast but a calculated risk was not taken. The stack was worked between much-needed book sorting. At last that is under way and that is interspersed with a little Wallander now. Do need the distraction when books are involved. The accountant was up from The Fort and following the signage ended up going the long way round even as he did not need to. We have complained about the signage not just the once but it is still giving out the wrong messages. Have to say thet people are making their way here okay as the Inn is still busy. The late evening light on the Sound was unusual and ever changing while working on the stack.



And then it was 5 o’clock and in the van heading north with a couple of companions to The Naeplans Concert at The Ceilidh Place. Arrived in plenty of time and for me to catch up with the Achiltibuie contingent over a sparkling water or two before going over to the Clubhouse. The music,








and atmosphere was top drawer and it was make you smile music. Hard to sit down although there were slow airs and plaintive songs in there as well. Adam and Hamish are a couple of stunning musicians and “the well planned” spontaneous music was brilliant. I honestly thought they had played a couple of half hour sets but it was half eleven when I looked at the clock again. Back to the Ceilidh Place for a last water, buy a couple of books, not many pubs you can buy books at 11.30pm, before heading back down the road. Jean was out the front when we were leaving and she disappeared to reappear again with a bag of cakes for us to have on the way home. Highland hospitality at its best. Had a great chat earlier with Jean and also with Ian and Lesley, always good to get out and find like-minded people especially when you catch up with the snippy section of your own community. Last hour of the journey home was quite hard as the eyelids were drooping a bit but Treacherous and the Sutherland/Napier cd kept me going along with the chat. Interesting conversation about how people’s attitude changes when one works for different organisations within the community. If the organisation does not meet with their approval then the person gets the disapproval as well. There could be a study done on the psychology of how personalities are transferred on to groups and committees and vice versa. So home about 1.30am after passing numerous stags and hinds, the occasional owl and my first Applecross badger sighting, all in good company who were pleasantly surprised at how sweet the van smelt, not remotely of prawns.

On the go again at six, in at the pier to unload rope and creels and to load up the replacement turbine and with Sean and Isabelle on board it was off to Rona. Moon high in the sky over Ardhu.


There was a little apprehension involved in the trip as we were trying not to get in the way of Rona day-to-day operations. A new “ferry” was being tried out and they wanted the pontoon clear and the change over was timed around the same time as our arrival. As a result I stayed down


as the ATV went off up to the mast with all people and equipment on board. The help we have received from Rona has been second to none. Knowing there is an island to run Bill and Calum have been really helpful with our efforts to get and keep every one on-line.


No sign of health and safety but as usual in these cases experience and knowledge supersedes a rule book.


The Varuna received a well earned scrub down both on the way over and at the pontoon so no time is ever wasted. Kept an eye on the hill and in no time at all saw the defunct turbine coming down and the new one spinning in the light breeze.


Noticed some else watching too.


Turned out there was a delay in the new boat arriving and our job was completed in plenty of time, burnt out turbine and people returning


and us leaving and steaming in a southerly direction before we spotted the 55 footer making for Rona harbour. Seals here as at home, lazy and watchful.


Beautiful day


and even the sinister visitor to the Sound was sheathed in dazzling sunshine.


Stopped on the way home to pick up another fleet to put ashore. Turbine ashore as well


and it up the road with the rest of the prawns, family of otters and a field mouse were of interest, otters swam off but field mouse keeled over as Dougal sowed too much interest. And the evening shift passed without incident, still busy enough to use the dining room where the comment ” you do not mind the journey when you know what you get at the end of it”. Proud to work in such a place. News of the Boss starting her holiday not very well as she put petrol in her diesel motor in Newcastle. Not a good combination. A release of stress getting away from here plus maybe thinking of the holiday and not living in the present. It is a stressful place to live at times and what we say about each other can has a negative effect bringing on a bit of disillusionment  at times and one wonders why we get so involved. I always hear the compliments to the Company second-hand and really do not do it for that but they are nice when you hear people appreciating the broadband, Filling Station and work Alison does. And the north coast, with a breeze blowing on the turbine will be back on-line very shortly if not already. Most people do care and one just has to bat away the rubbish thrown around, as one elderly sage told me last week if you are not been criticised it means you are not doing anything. Sounds good at times. Nice time to finish off with Aron’s fresh ginger and golden syrup ice cream. Ever onwards.





Applenet Live on Rona.

In from the garden with the footie on in the background. Watch the goals if there are any but interest in football slowly waning. Today was a recovery day and probably would not have gone out fishing any way as the mist came in pretty early and it was twelve before it burnt off. By that time the head was recovering, enough anyway to reconnect the laptop at the Filling Station for Proteus and Gilbarco to try to sort out the local card data and we can issue the long over due invoices. After this we will be clear from them and the Tolkiem order ready to go. Seems ridiculous to have to refurbish a new Filling Station but there it is. Had a chat with our new local sweep/window cleaner while I was there https://www.facebook.com/windiesweep and doing a tank dip. Nice to see a fill before going over the Hill as I am sure he would have saved a pound if filling up on the other side. Broadband connection is imminent for him as well. Sean is getting help this week so the rate of connections will increase a bit as well. Garden has gone well this afternoon as the energy returned and the last of the tattoos are in along with the first of the beetroot, swedes, carrots and peas. Garlic is well under way. The pear trees


and the cherries are blooming nicely and as long as we do not have a south-easterly like last year we should have a good crop of fruit with the apples still to blossom. It would be nice to get apple and bramble and pear into the ice cream at the end of the summer.

The recovery was from a long day yesterday, not hard graft, but an early start for a second trip to Rona to continue the establishment of the Applenet network. I always find it fulfilling working for the Company. I have got my broadband sorted out but want everyone who wants or needs it to get it and to be part of that process is a privilege. Also being in the company of like-minded people keeps the nay sayers at a distance. You cannot but feel positive being in their circle. Left around half seven after loading up and fuelling with the Lula, the RNB boys on board coming astern


across the Sound.


Made it across the Range before the trials started but in deep fog and the GPS and compass were useful in getting to the Blind Sound and eventually Rona Harbour. There was a bit of Jack Sparrow on the way looking back at Simon’s ketch in the mist.


Tied up and with all the kit safely unloaded on the pontoon, Bill,http://isleofronalog.wordpress.com turned up on the quad with Hugh having been at the sheep and lambs earlier.


Trailer and quad loaded and me on the back and chatting all the way sorting all the land and countries problems out we were soon at the bottom of the hill. Trailer unloaded, Bill headed up with a load on the quad as I walked up the slope. Managed three loads with Bill and the others taking the rest of the gear.


Sean headed back down with Bill to his place to fit the nanos on his house and chalet and Simon and Ian after a fair bit of discussion in the mist working out where Bill’s house was. Luckily it cleared and the site chosen was confirmed. Stunning office to work in


and it was brilliant sunshine from then on in.


With not too much for me to do I dozed in the sun and Dougal who had come along. He recovered from the boat trip having shook all the way across, not a sea dog.


In the afternoon I chipped in a wee bit, always conscious not to get in the way, doing little requested jobs to cut down on the time. Great to see it taking shape,


Three dishes and a spreader pointing at Diabeg,


Lonbain and Toscaig with two batteries and a panel


wind turbine to be attached today.


The boys had decided that there was too much to do all in one day and I headed off down the hill at the back of five as they started on the wiring. I took some of the tools that were no longer needed so they make it down on the one trip. Bill timed his look to see what was happening well so the tools went into the trailer and Sean and I headed home. Good breeze on the way back from the north and we got an extra half knot to hurry us along. Although half an hour late I stopped in at the Hall to join in with a meeting to discuss the potential of setting up a housing partnership. Energy efficient architect, Niel from Makar,http://makar.co.uk/?/site/practice/makar/ two Norwegian designer/architects, Kate and Tomas along with Chris Cook. Hoping to gain from their experience and may help provide suitable and affordable housing in an Applecross context. This is the name incidentally of the Norwegian Company, Context. Still working on what Chris is saying but reckon I will get there. Reminds me of higher maths when Johnny Nick was teaching us simultaneous equations. Was blank for quite a few periods and then the penny dropped and they were easy and routine to solve. I am hoping this will happen after another few sessions. I suspect it is simple although there is the funding and land to be found as well but it does appear with a lot of trust there can be one of these win/win results. The community getting housing, badly needed, and everyone involved gaining some value from it. It will only happen with out side “convenership”. Another short chat with the participants who were staying the night, hearing what they got up to back in Norway. So it was a plate of soup from the Inn, after landing some prawns, and a long deep sleep.


Rona Trip.

Full on couple of days starting yesterday with a day fishing on the beautiful Sound of Raasay. It was a day when I thought many times that people pay me to do this job. The sun hat and shades were on all day. As per usual it began a little chaotically with me putting another clean fleet together, okay but doing it on the way out does not leave much time to get set up for the day’s fishing.


Always being watched on the way out and in these days with the next generation of seals well under way.


There must be a healthy population of fish for them as they all seem to look in good nick except red eye here. Out last night no doubt.


Mr Eider is still looking though. It is quite rare to see one on his own.


It was a fairly uneventful day with a boat of media tarts not far off at one stage


and one or two boats of passing traffic.



Always like the variety out here and the comparison to the fat seals on the way out to the delicate spider crab could not be more in evidence.


Late in so a fish and chips take away from the Inn, onto the bike, and up the road to an ALPS meeting. I am sure we will get there sometime but it is not happening just now. One Group member expressed his disappointment in decisions being taken that affect some parts of the community adversely and with no offers to ameliorate the situation. Still it was an open meeting with many views expressed, not all of them complimentary to aspects of ALPS. I have never thought it a meaningful partnership but a small step in the right direction. These meetings are tiring and sometimes you say something that is jumped on but these days I just cannot be bothered to be offended. LAS keeps being brought up and discussed as though it has relevance to ALPS, always keep quiet as people say what they have to say and then we go back to talking about something relevant. Drained but not in any way surprised a nice bike ride home via the Inn cleared the head.

Today was Rona day. Sean was on board for a look at the site on Rona above Bill’s place over the Harbour. Often have a wee look at Bill’s blog http://isleofronalog.wordpress.com/2014/03/11/24-hours-without-rain/ I thought today would have been good as it was fresh for fishing but not too bad for travelling.The Flensburg guys were offered a day trip and it was fully booked. It was well fresh and speaking to Angus crossing the Range, he was checking I was not fishing, he said it was blowing 24 knots. After passing the Auk in the Blind Sound we turned the corner and made for the pontoon.


Only minor casualty on the way across was Michelle not quite getting her sea legs, but had recovered by the time we made ashore. There was a lot of jollity coming into the Harbour, possibly a bit of relief. Straight onto the back of Bill’s ATV and up the track at speed. Stopped off at the Church Cave turnoff and settled down behind a rock and put the world to rights, well Scotland, at least Rona and Applecross were sorted. The others turned up a little later due to photography stops and Bill headed off only to turn up with our straggler Christine.


We headed down to the Church Cave,


my first visit,


where during the Clearances people gathered together and used the cave as a church.


Different world but some of the consequences we still live with. Not to wallow in the past but never to forget it. And the sad thing is that it happens the world over whether it be Scotland or Bolivia, people living on the land have no control of it. Back down to the Varuna


where we had a final sorting out of the things we missed out and then back home. As we were preparing to leave bill spotted a white tailed sea eagle above us.



A lot quieter despite losing an ariel of the shaky mast, but bright and cheerful on the way home. Mission a success with Sean seeing the targets in Diabeg so the broadband network stretching round the north coast is a little closer. Put the party ashore and then got the prawns ready for landing to the Shed. On the way up the road picked up a hiker, Caroline on the way back to the Inn to try to find some jump leads for the bus, flat battery. Got help from the Inn, guess who?


Busy sorting shift at the Shed but still managed a good chat and saw some great photos of the Clan Macrae and some ones from the ground net fishing at the back-end of the seventies. Stunning light both on the way round


and also not too bad on the return journey.


You just have to stop despite the time and the knowledge there is another meeting.




Five minutes late for the Community Council one but at least I was not smelly. Long meeting with Bealach Beag showing its head again, a proposed Biosphere and Service Point closures but enough for now and off to bed, knackered.

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