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

Posts tagged ‘work boats’

From Busy Waters to Gentle Snow Scenes.

A couple of days of variety. Thursday evening was steady busy with plenty to do and the prawns just got bigger


and bigger.


Yesterday back to the Varuna to finish off the keel, some rust appearing so must be getting somewhere. Stopped off at our little Highland stream which produces the purest of water.


And then over the top with little snow on the road


but bonny to drive through.



Anodes and a coat of anti fouling on next week. Three hours of that is the limit so went over to the landing craft salvage.


It was low tide so the dive bags and pumping was going flat-out.


Impressive operation, looked daunting but everyone did appear to know what they were doing. Obviously succeeded as the craft is now in Kishorn waiting for the rehab work to start. Seems a wee bit late in catching the tide this morning so Ewen was late back tonight, putting her up the shore and moored off for the weeks coming gales. Photos next week, better taking them in her proper place as I find it quite upsetting seeing boats under the water. Have experience of that in the past and not recommended. The chap that owns the boat is Nigel who raised the Mary Rose in the eighties. Seems he had seafront property in Portsmouth or Plymouth and sold up for redevelopment. Now has a farm on Knoydart, hence the landing craft to bring in supplies for the farm, it being so remote.

From there it was away to Shieldaig for a massage and chat. Not too bad with only a couple of tender areas. Always leave Sarah’s in a gentle mood and driving up Shieldaig Glen this was mirrored.


Decided to go back over the Hill and fine again with the snow all gone but showers still coming in from the west.


Finished up with a couple of sirloin steaks.

Thinking no much happened today but just finishing a six-hour shift at the Inn. Good night, kept busy with all the tables in the bar full. Local birthday and some nice contacts made, transport family from the east coast who lived a couple of miles from the glass blowers from the same area. The couple from Paisley kept them company. Bit of hydro and land reform chat and the night is over. High praise for the pan-fried monk fish in a lemon and herb butter. The wolf fish, breaded and served with a couple of scallops was no bad either.

Snow and Boats.

Took a bit of effort getting to the boat today and as you can see the coast road was the second choice,


always is for us locals, whoops, residents. Was not sharp enough away this morning before the Hill was experiencing a white out, nothing for it but to turn back, fill up with diesel which I had forgotten to do first time round and then head for Lochcarron the long way round. Bank, shop and then the Yard to start cleaning the Varuna.


German Writing is hard work to remove so the plan was to start cleaning in three to four different places and by the end of the week she should sparkle, for another week anyway. Showers kept coming through but the hills, when the sun shone, glittered with the fresh snow.


Such a contrast, this bustling Yard and the back drop of the Applecross hills.


Managed a big bag of rubbish off the boat and two buckets of barnacles, writing and mussels of the rudder, keel and prop. These have not been copper painted and are difficult to clean up against the Pier so making good use of the slings. Stayed till five before going back over the reopened Bealach. Stopped at the top and stepped out to take a couple of snaps


before realising the wind chill and shower that had descended. Was not out long and would not survive in these conditions if not prepared.



A day to enjoy, with assembling another super for the hive and doing a bit of book work so could call into the bank in Lochcarron on the way over to the highlight of a massage from Sarah, or “mangle” as Andy called it as I went in. Brighter day and the light and views on the way there were bearable.


Have not been for over five weeks and it hurt, hurt badly. Did not help having a bit of a head but the benefits are worth it just now. It is a refuge from the frantic pace of life, even up here we get stressed. At the end of the “mangle” I was introduced to a new, to me, complimentary natural “medicine” for the want of a better description. Found it fascinating but a little far out to explain for the time being and ties in with previous experiences when meditating with many like-minded people. Receiving a complimentary description is always appreciated, not being told that you are “good” or “nice” but intuitive, receptive and open-minded, all important to me, and you can talk with a calmness about the local issues. Although there was a meeting about taking the wood out the north coast last night, it was far from my mind but seems it is being discussed in Shieldaig and not with approval. There is considerable disquiet there at the prospect. I served the constituents of the meeting last night at the Inn and did not go as I was working and speaking to other people who did not go who were of the same opinion as me that it is done and dusted. Although a little more closed in I could live in Shieldaig, has not quite got the expanse of Applecross, but it would do.


On the way out I saw the Seaflower coming in and stopped to take a snap. Camera is starting to act up and they were alongside the new community pontoon before I managed a couple of photos. Still a very stiff breeze as you can see Kenny had jumped off and was pulling hard to get her bow in to the pontoon. Little surprised they were out although it would have been far more sheltered in the loch than on the Sound.


The bike race is coming up again and people are realising the absurdity of holding a race on a bank holiday involving a road closure. After trying to negotiate with the organisers early on with improvements to the running of their events on how they affect Applecross, we have taken a back seat having got nowhere. We have reasoned that these events are important to neighbouring villages and it was not worth the antagonism. But holding the event on a bank holiday has been a step too far and from conversations I have had it will not be happening again. I am always keen to observe how I deal with these issues and feel relatively calm about them. Will not support the timber going out by road as I believe it is the most detrimental way to solve the problem and that was confirmed last night by the professional who told me the pier was still the best option, but so be it. The cycle race will be changed and again so be it. Had a chat about the road between Camusterrach and Culduie last night and it was promised to be sorted, nice, simple and pleasant way to sort a problem. The shift last night was very pleasing mainly through meeting a lovely couple from Vancouver and connecting with some regulars from Glasgow. As usual this makes it and having a bit of banter with the lady who requested that the kitchen freeze some langoustine so she could have some, as she was pregnant, topped of the night.

So coming across this on the Senscot email today was perfect.http://www.senscot.net/view_bull.php?viewid=17418 . Sums up the patience you need living in a place like Applecross. Taking your time over what you write and/or say rather than jumping in with both feet pays dividends in the long run.

“This is a famous Zen parable which has many iterations; it speaks of the wisdom of equanimity.

Once upon a time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.”

Better leave the two big national issues of today for a couple of days so they sink in. The local council election results to the south and the report issued by the LRRG, both falling into the “maybe” category. Another local “maybe” is a gear conflict meeting next week on Skye, I personally have not suffered any damage but hearing stories of gear towed and threats issued. “Maybe” the reintroduction of three-mile limit is heading our way through necessity. Back to a bright welcoming Dougal and Co before cooking a couple of beautiful steaks supplied by the Inn and before you know it, time for a sleep.



Azalea steams into Poll Creadh

These connections just keep on coming. Today despite telling the customers that were staying another evening that they would be able to have langoustine it was not to be. Not a lazy day by any means though and was down the pier when the Azalea came in, little bit of the new and old here,


her being replacement boat for the Auk which is going up on the Kishorn yard, so the boys can carry on diving for scallops.


Seems she was a mini ring netter, LH 37,


a description I have not heard before and she is certainly smaller than the ringnetters I knew from Kyle.


Has been at the trawl and clams in recent years and showing her age.


She will probably need a fair bit of work on her to keep her going.

Alongside for lunch and taking on just short of a 1000 litres of fuel before heading out to change over Ewen’s mooring and then to stay around for the Spring diving for scallops.


An enjoyable Exhaustion.

Not often I say this but I was glad I was not out fishing today. Just home from the Inn after an extra shift as Jill and Chris were off tonight. Over 150 people were served mainly three course meals. So many people were saying “How do you do it?” and I do not really know. There are so many people working so hard to make it happen and the kitchen were spectacular and it is great passing on some of the comments to them so they become part of the spirit of the place. The only thing is, a tub of prawns left so it is back out tomorrow to keep them on the menu over the week-end. After coming home I walked down the road and along the shore with Jenny and Eilidh and it is so dark and peaceful and the mad house of an hour ago seems in another place. Love these contrasts in Applecross. Spent the day washing and mending creels and had a chat with Donald who had come down with a spade to scrape some of the heavier weed of the bottom part of the pier. Chatting about the pictures of the fish and he was suggesting that they may have been traille, gaelic for tusk.  Another possibility is red hake as they have an eel like tendency to them, similar to ling. Seems grow to a fair size and well liked by some of the previous inhabitants of Applecross. While putting the Varuna back on her moorings Mike passed by in the quiet with a black back totally unconcerned with all the activity.


After seeing the guys off this morning, stopped off for a cup of tea at The Inn, before going to the creels. On the way up the road Crawford mentioned that Cameron had been out Alaska fishing for Halibut and Black Cod. I had never heard of Black Cod but Robert, in the kitchen, put me right and seemingly a very tightly regulated fishery and almost impossible to get into as quota is handed down from generation to generation. So many interesting guys doing interesting stuff, come to Applecross. Made me say to the guys how competitive fishermen are and how they have to be regulated, as this seems to be their downfall if left unchecked. If a fishermen catches 10 stone his neighbour needs to catch 11 stone to be better, but the weird thing is they can live off catching 5 stone. So regulation it is and stop moaning about it.

A day and a half after starting this post and finally able to see the key board, being too exhausted to do anything other than eat my Golden Syrup and Raspberry ice cream last night and head of to my comatose slumber. There are two types of exhaustion, a hopeless, down beat and low one which is the opposite of what you feel after a Saturday of hauling 300 creels and working a manic shift at The Inn. That one is mixed with a sense of achievement, pleasure and well being especially after seeing so many people eating such good food and having a very pleasant time. The kitchen only just survived and there were one or two kids whose “tummies were rumbling” as the chefs slowly sunk to their knees in front of the stoves. But not before they put out the last order of 12 to table D at 9.45pm. You run out of adjectives to describe The Inn so I just settle for unique and that covers it all. Yesterday at sea was fairly uneventful, with a really strong current running north just now is putting pressure on the Range. Every one’s creels are about 150 metres west of where they should be and there going to an almighty foul up soon, the range being west and nowhere to go. Caught one of these anemone type beasties, a red version of the green one last month.


Little other activity on the Sound and only the occasional passing traffic.


Back to the contrasts of the place. After landing the langoustines and squats I took Jenny and Eilidh down to the shop on a peaceful quiet walk seeing the mini hay fields at the side of the road. Whether I am noticing them more or it is a good year for the flowers (Costello’s Roses come to mind). Jenny and Eilidh are enjoying the peace and quiet of not having Dougal around while he has discovered the excitement of rabbits. he expends too much energy in his frantic yipping to get close to them but is in 7th Heaven.


And on the way back Sandy’s hay is drying well. In all the busyness, hustle and bustle there a timeless and evocative feel to scenes like these. I hope they never cease.

Could look at this all day listening to tunes from Blair Douglas or The Waterboys. Back to the house, put on the Athletics and slept through Mo’s 10,000. A good half hour’s kip and now ready for the above.


Glass Calm

These are the perfect days for fishing. Not too sunny or hot and glass calm. The glass calm bit being the most important as you routinely go from fleet to fleet. Weather is crucial to living and working here. I am often pulled up when asked if the forecast is good and if it is not windy then it is “good’. But seems other people need more than this for their happiness like sun and warmth. I am going to instigate several phrases like “a good fishing day” is simply calm although if you are ashore there will be midges. “Good day ashore” means lovely sunny day but breezy if not windy. “Aron weather” warm and sunny, just right for ice cream.


There is so much to the job that is automatic that you are usually somewhere else. Radio4 had a poor day with only the Book of the week, “The Cooked Seed” and the Paul Temple mystery catching the ear. Still waiting for my first dolphins of the year although there have been sightings from the shore and both north in Torridon and south in the Sound of Sleat. One thing that has been missing this year are the jelly fish, both the scalders and the more common ones. this is the third year there are very few about. That is bucking the predictions as we fish out everything else there is supposed to be an increase in jelly fish and algal blooms. The blooms are about as mussels and oysters have been periodically coming off the menu at the Inn. Only sightings today were the other boats trying to catch a few prawns. I was led out by DJ on the Grace Anne


and the Boy John B from Plockton


along with the Mairead M from Kyle passed south in the afternoon.


All went well until the last fleet,my 9th, which was foul on someone’s gear and not retied properly. that means you have to go to the other end and with a couple of cuts and splices you rejoin the two halves and shoot it back. Did not haul the last one…always another day, as it was a shift at the Inn in the evening. On the way in before the wash down the line of hopefuls gather for the last titbits of the day.


Mind you if not looking they would grab anything they could get their beaks on. Realised this morning that I may be getting too fond of Aron’s ice creams as, at 10am, I thought it was an ice cream day with working at the Inn. The strawberries and cream and hazelnut ice creams are top combo at the moment, a tricky choice when there can be up to eight different flavours on the go at the same time. Over heard a conversation at the Inn discussing the ice creams Aron donated to the Lunch Club and seems they met with universial acclaim. “Obviously made by a professional.”made me smile. Pretty knackered by the time I got home last night and it was almost straight to bed without a wind down but also safe in the knowledge the forecast was fairly poor and fishing was not anticipated. This broken weather suits my way of fishing where hauling a few extra creels is followed by day’s recovery which includes doing something completely different. “Gindependence Day” today which will mean there will be a few casualties tomorrow with the only thing affecting me will be a longer shift tonight.

Knoydart Part 3, Leaving.

The prawns were pretty good and one was left on each plate until the plates were gathered and both were snapped up. It is all very well being polite but there are limits. The prawns were picked up at Armadale the previous evening from Duncan’s boat and were a decent size. The prawns were followed by chicken in honey and hazelnut and then by a lime sorbet…top food. Evening then flashed by and before you knew it the power down time had come along with the frantic carry out being organised just in case. Some way through the evening I remembered it was my birthday and Julia volunteered it was her’s as well. The obligatory Happy Birthday was sung and reminded me why I generally keep quiet about it. This followed by a Hip,hip hooray chorus, which in turn was followed by this explanation. Seems “Hip, Hip” may be connected to a Latin phrase meaning “Jerusalem has fallen” and was taken up by the Nazis up to and including WWII, becoming an anti semitic call. The things you learn on a LDO gathering are many and various. And even better was Morvern from south end of Mull finding out that the french translation of her wee nickname was fairly uncomplimentary, although I am a bit suspicious that this was made up on the hoof. But good night was had although background headache kept the evening to its proper length for me. Woke up a couple of times in the night thinking I was going to be in trouble but for some reason it did not develop and leaving Doune was as enjoyable as arriving. I know that sounds a little strange but I have always Applecross to come home to and I now have an amazing memory of Knoydart and have met some new and good people. The previous day there was a brief chat about the future of CAM and some figures were produced for the HIE Board that show the cost of the scheme  and the money that it has brought into fragile areas to be a pretty startling use of public money. Most of the monies raised are directly spent on infrastructure projects and either maintain or increase the viability of the communities concerned. Not only that but small and sustainable cottage industries can be attracted to these areas as basic services are improved or just kept.


So after breakfast, it was off down to the jetty in wonderful sunshine and the Gripper II took us to Armadale across a flat calm Sound of Sleat with a couple of porpoise sighting on the way over. The views back to Doune in the sunshine were wonderful.





The Mary Doune took the rest over to Mallaig with Andy at the wheel.


There was still plenty to talk about on the way across and we went into the new pier to offload.



From there it was up the road with Avril and Kristine on board with a wee stop in to see Nicola in her new shop in Isle Oronsay. Nicola was on the SEA course last year and used to work at Sabhal Mor, has had a baby and gone self-employed buying a little tweed shop. Leadership courses do work it seems although not for the college!!

After dropping the girls off at Strathcarron it was down Shieldaig Glen in the hope of a massage. Messages were left so I was not sure but the note left on the door meant it was going to be ok. A wander down to the new pontoon and a coffee with Linda, Kenny and Gemma followed by a good but painful massage and it was home by mid afternoon. The Shieldaig pontoon is yet another example of a few people getting together, and they benefit, the whole community benefits even more.


It was noticeable that we were still chatting all the way through the treatment, just the aftermath of Knoydart still working its way around the senses.  And back to the usual run of the mill problems….Filling Station shut down again and not accepting local cards so had to manually delivery fuel to the postie, but after the last couple of days you just put the hassles of every day life into its proper slot and get on with a good life. Dougal and tattie planting is now on the agenda.

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