Here’s the story to-day, stormy night followed by a very windy day, the seagulls around the bay are grounded, it feels like a winters day and it is the first week in August. Highly unusual gales, that was the way that the Met Office forecast described the weather in the North West/Northern Scotland to-day!!
Been another hectic week, maybe I should pay a wee bit attention to the advert on the screen?
It was a calmer day on the 1st when I headed over to Portree to get a brand new mixer, why did I not get one the previous week? I guess the traffic and busy Portree got to me on the last visit and I took off a bit too soon, keen to get back to peaceful Rona. The weather was grey in the morning but it was promising a quieter, calmer and maybe clearer day.
Kevin and Mikey were busy painting up Aspire in the harbour, it had calmed down and was dry, so a good chance to get a final coat on. I was careful not to create too much wash which makes for a scary minute or two on the raft!
I had taken the opportunity to get some more material for the bothy when I was over, the bulky light stuff like insulation doesn’t slow the boat down, in fact it took me just over 35 minutes on the return leg. No wildlife to report, just the observation of how quiet the waters are around these parts this year. At least the Terns have made a bit of a comeback. There seems to be a lot of them about after being posted missing for several years.
I arrived back around 12, had lunch then started batching, what a difference with the new mixer but it still took us until 8pm to finish.
The original toilet was inside the bothy but never really worked, the septic tank I made and connected to it was not really a success for various reasons and the lean too outside was not suitable, it was too small, so we have made it bigger and more substantial which is a better bet especially to-day with 50 mph winds giving it a test.
Hugh arrived next day with yet more material. It was a good calm start with sun at last. Hugh had a tidy up to do then we had planned the landing craft for the end of the week, unfortunately a few hiccups put a spanner in that plan.
The tide was dropping so we loaded up our boat so that we could get the load ashore easier when the tide turned.
We had a booking for the mooring from a Dutch yacht, so we put the sign out, ‘Mooring Booked”. The yacht sailed into the harbour, round the yachts on the West side of the bay, looked at the ‘Reef’ marker buoy and then sailed out, no sign of picking up the mooring, no call to say why, ah well it did say ‘Round The World or Across the Atlantic Sail’ on the side of the yacht, so maybe they were in a hurry?
Hugh’s first job was to give me a hand with the pontoon repairs, nothing lasts forever out here and especially by the sea. Some of the grids on the pontoon were getting pretty dangerous, so a few replacements were found and fitted.
After the pontoon repair Hugh went up top to the quarry to win some material for when it eventually dries up a bit, then we can get some smaller stone on the ‘muddy’ road.
At the end of the day it is down to the shed for a beer and a chat about tomorrows plan, maybe a tidy up?!!!!
Thursday started good, sunny and breezy, not like the day before when it was midgie hell for a lot of the day. Most of the sheep were in so we decided to get the shearing out of the way. As Hugh is the expert he was ‘trying’ to give me some lessons, but of all the jobs on Rona this is the one to try my back, bending over for any length of time and I’ll seize up so it is good to get a hand with this job, I think I did one and a half sheep, Hugh did the rest. I’ll get the stragglers in the next few weeks, one by one. Which will be easier.
Thinking about it, Thursday was a very fine day but it absolutely blew from the North West, several boats that were in for a few days had decided to go North but when they looked round the corner we were not surprised to see them heading South through the Gap. It was a high sea with a massive swell, we thought about heading to Portree with Hugh that night but the wind continued until late. So an early start was planned.
I think I woke about three then could not get back to sleep, Hugh was the same, so around 6ish we left the harbour but it had calmed right down and was a beautiful morning for a sail. It had clouded up from the South but looking back the views were good.
We were in Portree before it had got going and were surprised to see parking spaces on the pier, there were a few tourists out taking photo’s, but quiet enough to get everything done I wanted too.
Another load of building material and a few stores later I was back on Rona and helping Ian with the bothy. At night we headed over to Dry Harbour to let our visitors know that MV Aspire had had a breakdown and that Dan’s MV Stardust was stepping in to do the run. The only problem was that they would have to get up early as Andy, Dan’s skipper had to be back by ten to fulfill their bookings. Our guests did not let us down, ready to go and the cottages left spick and span.
Our guests did very well and thankfully everything went to plan, even packing the odd guest into the jeep with the luggage, no complaints there then?
The forecast was all doom and gloom so it was a relief to get our changeover done quickly and Andy made it back to Portree, just in time for his bookings. The weather that was promised did not really materialise until late afternoon but when it came it was very heavy rain followed by gales and that is where we are to-day.
Late afternoon yesterday I spotted water coming up on the middle of the road, big time. Oh! Oh! problems. So I started digging. It was possible that we had a burst water pipe or when we were putting in the cables for the new house we had upset an old field drain. But once I started to hit stone I got the digger. Being aware of the new cables and water pipe, Lorraine acted as banksman and we were happy to see the warning tape we had put in come up with the JCB bucket. I got digging again with the pick and shovel and found a four inch soil pipe that we had obviously missed when putting in the cables. No harm just a big mess which will take a dry day to get tidied. I put in a new pipe, more warning tape and back filled quickly as the hole had turned to porridge, ah well just another Rona issue.
Looks like fun, after that I cut up foam/Kingspan for Ian another pleasant job. So to-day I’m taking it easy.
Remember the footprints in the concrete?
Last week, I was on the decking, I think it was Tuesday. Ian shouted that there was something below my feet running about. I could not see it then Ian pointed to a mink looking up at us, what it was doing in the middle of the day around the work I do not know but possible hunger? Anyway I had not checked the trap in front of the bothy that I had set up and wondered if it had a mate trapped inside it but no. The mink took off and surprisingly ran into the trap, turned around and looked out at us them turned back in, whereupon the two spring traps went off, killing the unfortunate animal quickly. Seems it had eaten the bait, been in and out without setting off the traps then unfortunately for it, it went back in and was not so lucky this time. But a surprise all the same to see these bold creatures in the middle of the day.
I think at the end of the season we will need to have a major effort on mink trapping around the Island, the seabirds are certainly in decline this year.