Winter World

People ask the question: ‘What do you actually do?’, often a summer question from visitors, when answered about Summer work,  the question is asked again: ‘But in the winter?’ and it always amuses me. Winter is probably a busier time than the rest of the year. It is maintenance time, planning time, web work time, holiday time, there is so much to get done in the long winter especially trying to fit in outside work when battling against weather. Or with the added problem of the weather adding to the workload. It would be nice to sort photos out,  tidy the computer, read a book or just chill. But for me there is always something to do that takes me away from messing about! There is always  a project. This year a project we have talked about for many years and that is turning the two semi detached cottages into one. Or at least connecting them so that they can be used as one. To that end I stripped out the kitchen/living room in Seascape as an exploratory exercise and found an old press or possibly in the first place a passageway?

Seascape Living room Hidden press

It was possibly an original passageway as it had been blocked up rather than built as a press. Anyway it will make our job easier and by the look of the original wooden lintels not a moment too soon, they are starting to rot and one is pretty bent. But not bad for over a hundred years in place.

Skyescape Living room

Onwards with the project, a call to Ian our builder he was free for a week and I was happy to prepare for him coming.

Lots of prep’ as usual, behind the scenes work that maximises Ian’s time on Rona, he is used to it jumping from job to job, don’t know if he likes it, But!

Rotten Windows

Needs must when there is quite a bit of catch up to deal with.

Rotten Beads

The windows and beads have suffered at Dry Harbour with all the attention on the New House. But even although we were fully tied up building these past three years it was as much down to the weather rather than time which created the situation we have now, much painting and repairs to carry out.

Leaking Gables

The Gable on the Escape cottage developed a leak all those years ago, but it has been shoved to the back of the cue, not any more. We are going to pick some of it out seal it with plaster and paint on a waterseal.

Torrential Rain

With the weather this January past it is no wonder the gable at Escape is leaking, plus 90+mph winds don’t help. The field here is like a sponge, so wet.

More Gales coming

With more gales coming and no good days to strip the roof it was damage limitation time and best to tie down the debris, all now stripped and ready for putting back on. Soon.

Research and Development

In the middle of it all I remembered we had picked up some pie casings from my old friend Alastair at Kyle Bakery in Bonar Bridge, the idea is to try out making some venison pies for sale. We tried various recipes and they turned out really good but many lessons learned. The venison curry was probably the best although the mince pie was close.

Storm Damage

During Storm Brendan the tide was exceptionally high and the waterpipe at the bothy which has never had a problem before was exposed, a delicate job to replace the stone lies ahead.

1878 Lintels

Back to the cottage and the prep’ work goes on on really wet days quite a thing to consider that these lintels were most likely put into this passage in 1878 when the house was built. When we took them out they were not that rotten in fact I’m going to slice one to see how old the timber was and to make a plaque I think.

Out of the Water

With more gales coming it is not wise to have the boat out on the mooring, there is a problem with the hull to so the less it is in the water at this time the better.

Calm Evening For a Change

It is not all doom and gloom, there have been some calm days and clear (few) but when they come you really appreciate them. Bit of work to keep putting the boat in and out of the water but it saves sleepless nights.

Calm days mean trips to Portree and none more urgent than the sheep off to Portree.

It was a calm crossing and we made good speed

No glorious sunrise in the foggy morning but no less stunning.

It was good to get in early and find it even calmer in Portree, it was calm all day so no rush for once and I even managed a check up at the very good Portree Dentist.

Back to Rona late, all the bits and pieces for repairs packed into the new workshop, the Blue Container. It has turned out a good wood workshop so the window frame and beads will be sorted out here

Although a wee calm spell it was not long before another gale appeared and with the tide highest in the dark at 6am there was no other option but pull the boat ashore then.

Happy days.

Don’t know if the scaffold would pass muster but it was effective and very soon after Ian arrived we were through the wall, tonnes of stone removed and re-building.

For me (and my back) a few heart stopping moments but Ian took it in his stride. More pictures in the next blog. I am still playing catch up.

Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather | 2 Comments

Storm Brendan

Well it is the first big one of this year, all the more scary because we did not have one last year in the New House. Yes, certainly very strong winds and gales but nothing like this. So it was a new experience all day Tuesday and night.  Sitting ‘trying’ to watch Tv the entertainment really was watching the windows bending in and out with each gust that hit us. The house was relatively quiet, the wind was howling. Around 8.30pm I heard ‘something’. In the past that would say to me, you will need to go and look around tomorrow because ‘something’ has happened. That ‘something’ was the wood store and sheep shed down at the shore. A low lying almost flat roofed ruin we had renovated over years and roofed in 2016. So it had already stood up to some serious wind so it was a surprise on Wednesday morning to see the roof gone, at first I could not see the debris but then it appeared about 60 to 80 yards away in line with the new house in the hollows. Thankfully it did not get here but it is a sobering thought to think that it could have hit the house.


As I write the wind is hammering the house yet again and the forecast is not too bright but it will pass for sure and we can then get to the job of repairing it.

The Last Day Of The Year

Back to the day job though and this was Hogmany, a perfect day to be out on the hill looking for hinds to reach our cull target but the hinds won that day, it was just good to be out though. No need to shoot anything and a pleasant way to spend the last few hours of 2019.

Lovely Sunrises

We had a few real colourful sunrises up until the weather broke and we were just thinking how good a winter we are having, when………………..

Here it Comes

We started to see the signs that we were in for some rough days ahead.Our New Year visitors got off thankfully the Saturday, they had had an interesting trip over with a pretty stormy crossing the previous Saturday but Hogmany up at the top of the hill was as usual a windy cool one, well lubricated though. So when Saturday 4th arrived it was a bit of a relief to see that they would get off and on a relatively calm crossing, always sad to see our regulars leaving but back to work it is.

Coming Down

Christmas decorations down, a new year ahead, I’m sure many challenges and the weather just one of them.

Rain Again

We get the full picture up here in the new house and in the last year we have had some pretty strong gales, the windows flex at an alarming rate when the gusts hit them but we are assured that they will withstand a ‘serious’ wind speed. BUT it is the gusts that worry me!!

Hungry Mice

The regular jobs keep us busy, feeding the sheep and hens but we often at this time have other visitors to attend to, Mink for sure are a serious issue and the traps have been busy with them. But it seems they are not so busy that the mice are suffering, there have been quite a few helping themselves to the chicken feed. These two were given a reprieve!!!

Good Weather, Long Overdue Job.

A wee break in the weather allows some badly needed house maintenance. With the new house build our eye was off the ball with cottage maintenance . But, the weather was not helpful these past two years with no real good weeks of weather when the cottages were empty to catch up on the ongoing schedule, jobs like this were hard to get done.

Freezers Full

We have a certain amount of Hinds to cull and it is easy to get complacent after a long summer when the season opens so it is good to get ahead of the game. But three hinds means days of butchering, a good job listening to the radio, working away with  the wind and rain outside.

Broken Spring

I see that I have a half finished blog in the file, it was just before Hogmany when I noticed the power ‘flickering’ in the house. A quick check in the morning told me that the windmill had an issue.

No Brake

With no brake to stop it in high wind (since new) I had to resort to the dodgy tactic of throwing a rope into the blades, thankfully no damage with that but it was apparent that the windmill was out of balance and if left to its own devices it would shake itself apart.

Christmas New Year Fortnight

A spring bracket had broken throwing the balance off, I had spares but could not put the windmill up until it was calm. Thankfully next day in between the gusts I got it fixed and up to speed again.

Boxing Day Portree Trip

I see too that I went to Portree Boxing Day so the weather then was pretty settled. In fact we had a landing craft in December with fuel which is the latest we have ever had a fuel run. But a good chance to get the scrap off, interesting loading.

Interesting Loading

Winter Fuel

I also see that we ‘found’ a couple of bottles of Whisky in the boxes up in the loft, a good Christmas present.

Late Autumn Views

Finally matching luggage takes on a new meaning from Lee our good friend and regular visitor!!!!!


Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife | 1 Comment


2019 Has been as busy a year as the previous two. We moved into the New House now called  ‘Tigh na Creag’ on the 24th December 2018, but the work was far from finished. Even in the middle of summer we were plastering the lower part of the building, finally getting our completion certificate the second week in December this year, phew!!!! It just took so long to finish the wee jobs that had to be done to complete. But here we are fully ensconsed, almost up to date and ready to do more on the blog this coming year than the past.

Christmas Day 2019

Tigh na Creag

So here we are during the festive season enjoying the fruits of our labour and we love it, the house is so easy to heat, it is light, warm and comfortable. The outlook is the thing though, always changing.

Stunning Views even in the Rain

Summer views when the Bay is full of yachts make for a busy harbour, 4 new moorings installed and they were well supported.

The Main Window

It is always a pleasure just to sit and soak up the view. Not so good tonight when the full gale is blowing, making the windows bend unlike the calm evening back in the Summer above.  TV or The View? No competition.

The View From the South West Balcony

No dogs allowed though!!!

Ian’s Dog Smelling the Bones

So they are left in the jeep, sulking.

Our building control in Portree were very good advising when necessary even down to the size of the cat flap steps.We had struggled with finding a solution for the banister but on seeing our friend Andrew’s one in Gairlich we decided on the same.

New House Completion Work

It is a 17ft Ash oar from Collars at Henley on Thames, not the cheapest but very nice.

Portree Trip

The Rona boat had issues this year first with the new engines not driving the boat as expected but then we found that the hull had suffered some reaction and was badly pitted. Letting in a serious amount of water.

Rusted Windings

This extra work held us up with the repair to the old generator but we did get round to stripping it out it became obvious that it required a new alternator, the sea air is highly corrosive on the electrical parts here. This is our second corroded alternator in 18 years.

After a ‘temporary ‘ repair to the hull the Voe Boat was very busy back and fore to Portree this season, thankfully the repair held up.

We are always trying annually to upgrade the set up here and this year no exception, now we have the concrete batcher life has become easier for big concrete jobs. But it is ongoing with much still to do.

Now that the house is finished jobs hanging over us for the last two years are finally getting attention, this fence was started in 2017. This is another small fenced area, not too big where we plant local provenance Scots’ Pine, with a little help these areas in a few years will provide even more shelter belts.

Summer Work

Even the old outboards got a make over, they did a lot of work and they were in fact up for sale but now that they are running well and serviced maybe better to keep them as back up.

Summer Visitors

Been a busy year for visitors with good weather most of the season, quite a few motor boats and RIBs in but down on Yachts. With only just over 350 yacht night visits. But this drop has been a trend since we started the New House. We have been closed for business so I guess the numbers dropped because of that also I think that the internet and detailed forecast are keeping yachts in port rather than heading out in ‘weather’.

It is not only yacht and motorboat visitors, throughout the summer in the early morning late evening the deer are not bothered that a house has appeared. They regularly graze around and behind the house.

Out of the forest appeared ‘Torn Ear’ in the mid summer. He had disappeared as usual after last years rut. But showed up as stags do.

Torn Ear

He had been with us since a calf and was living around Dry Harbour but these last few years he was always been here mid summer. Then he disappears pre Rut. Unfortunately he has suffered quite a few injuries and he was definitely blind in one eye.

We could see him feeling his way around whilst feeding, maybe an antler in the eye whilst fighting during the rut or perhaps genetic, who knows.

Red Deer Visitors

But along comes every year new blood and this wee stag calf will maybe turn out a head like Torn Ear’s in the future.

The Royal Scotsman

High Light of the year.

Not your normal train.

We had a big surprise in September when we were invited to join our Danish friends in Edinburgh for a mystery tour, we had no idea until 1 hour before that we were going on the Royal Scotsman Train train for four days. All I can say is that it was a fantastic experience and maybe one of these days we’ll do it again. When funds allow to quote one of our 80 year old train companions!!

The journey was from Edinburgh to the West Coast through Rannoch Moor, the scenery was stunning a great four days. It made me very proud to be Scottish and see what Scotland could offer at this level.

The last day we travelled to Wemyss Bay, then onto Bute to Castle Stuart an extraordinary place.On the back of this trip and after chatting with our guide on the train, Marilyn, we contacted the ‘Hebridean Princess’. We had had a text with a photo of  the Hebridean Princess cruising past Rona whilst on the train. It was cruising in the area on its last of the season cruise when we were on the train and we commented that we were always disappointed that it had never called in in the past. A week later when it was still in the area and we were home on the Island, we received a call from the Purser and they dropped anchor at the mouth of the harbour then unloaded 40 people by flit boat onto the Island. It was good to see them at last enjoying Rona in late Autumn sunshine helped along with the odd bottle of Tattinger. The passengers were happy to be the first ‘HP’ guests to set foot on Rona.

Highlight of the year

The food on board the train was exceptional and chatting with the HP guests it seems the same standard is served aboard the boat. It is on the bucket list!!!!!

Back to reality and it was the stalking season the following week. Our guests from Germany arrived and our new caretakers in the Lodge were having their first season of Deer Stalking guests. Matt and Nickie had arrived in June and were settled in the Lodge. All new to Island life but they took to it well. Sorting out the back log of work and the odd mishap such as this enthusiastic tow out of the shed!

Sighting The Rifles

The stalking went well despite the first week being very wet, the second week was good weather and we were successful with our cull numbers. More on the stalking page later.


Our second weeks guests were from Sweden, they had a great time, Lars and Hakan. Very enthusiastic outdoor guys and despite their age they stood up to the rough terrain and enjoyed a very fine week of weather and stalking.

Lars (with his Grandfathers hunting coat) and Hakan.

Cleaning Heads

There is a lot more to a stalking week than just wandering about with a rifle. The deer have to be managed and the correct number kept, old stags culled and any weak or with problems take care of. But after that there is the cleaning of the carcasses, the transportation and the preparation of the trophy. Some may not agree with traditional Deer Stalking but it is a welcome income when the summer season ends, we provide a good supply of quality venison and put quality carcasses off to the market. Certainly the way we do it here is much better than the slaughter taking place in the forests and hills of Scotland under the guise of conservation.

A Perfect Rut

It was a perfect rut this year, after many years of indecisive ruts it was good to see a normal one, the weather was fine and the timings were perfect. Even after the 20th of October when the season ends the rut continued and on this particular day I walked in glorious sunshine to the Base up North and saw many hinds with stags rutting. Good to see and good for the future.

Always a good walk up to the Base but this time by the secret Loch, quite near the Princess’ grave. A lot longer walk but better views.

Autumn Time

On the way back I stopped into see Ralph who had come for a week to Rona with his dog to get away from it all, we enjoyed a good dram which was a nice way to end a long walk.

Been a good year for sunsets from the new house, we have a better view of them now but more later in the summer.

Portree Trip

More trips to Portree as the year was coming to a close, it is becoming quite a regular thing and with the new engines it is much less worrying prospect. The loads vary regularly.Our tup had passed on so we managed to press gang a Skye tup to Rona.

The view from the top of the hill only gets better as the weather kept up right through the Autumn.

The Great Wave

In a Northerly it is quite exciting at the low tide to watch the big waves thrown up with the swell off Fladda.

Could Be Called The Red Cuillins!!!

Or the sunsets looking down to the Cuillins.


Been a good year for birds with many Sea Eagles flying about, Too many with lambs coming soon. Big flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares were here this year feasting on the heavy Rowan berry harvest. Late summer, late venings have been good this Autumn.

Late Autumn Find

Had an email from someone looking for a bottle of Rona Whisky, which I happened to find stashed away. None left now though.

London Visit

Late November we had to visit London, we went on the new sleeper which turned out to be less exciting than promoted. But the visit was exciting with our business sorted out and a look around the main streets in full Christmas mode, after that we made swift return for a weeks holiday  in Edinburgh.

Winter Fuel

Pressure was on to get winter fuel over and of course the weather broke but we did get a window and the stock of Kerosene and Derv filled our tanks. Our trusty Isuzu died last year and sadly it was put off for scrap, no one wanted it not even for spares.

Winter Fuel

We are hoping to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and are working on a new solar energy system for the holiday cottages. Our running costs are acceptable for a remote Island but the cost of getting fuel here adds almost double to the fuel cost.

Our regulars arrived just before Christmas, good to see Blue Beard is now Purple Beard!!Boxing Day saw me once again heading to Portree to pick up my son, he was over for three days and we enjoyed a good trip both ways. Flat calm at first light leaving Rona.

Back to Rona and the calm before the storm, that night the weather came in and it was the first real gale for a while, it continued Friday and on Saturday MV Seaflower had a tough time crossing to Rona and back, it lost one of its window wipers to a wave I was told!!!

We noticed on Saturday that the volts were not too high despite the wind, on Sunday morning I went to check and the Windmill head was wobbling pretty bad. Looked like a spring had broken, it was out of balance big time. The brake to stop it broke when it was nearly new and has never worked. So to stop it before it shook itself to bits I had to throw a rope into the blades.

Always a risky business but this time it was successful.  I sorted it to-day (Monday) and other issues which had obviously turned up since last service. It is now back up and working fine.If we had not noticed for sure more serious damage might have happened. So it was good to get it done and I am now planning changing all the brackets before they break.

Christmas New Year Fortnight

The Proven windmills are pretty basic but we have not had many problems with them and I can honestly say they have saved us thousands on fuel on unnecessary running of the generator. THey are much more efficient than the solar panels giving power all year round unlike the panels which drop off in winter times.

Well, that is me up to date and my New Year resolution is to get a more regular blog on the go. Now it is onto the Red Deer page to update that.

In the meantime Happy New Year when it comes from all on Rona.


Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife, Yachties | 5 Comments

Two Posts In A Week!!!!! Now, Mostly about the The Bore Hole!

Let’s start with a dog!! This is (I think or seem to remember, or I’ll stand corrected!) A Bernese Mountain dog called Rona, very friendly and gets very excited here where she knows she is going to get a venison bone. She is also very relaxed!!

So relaxed.


Rona Leaving Rona

Here’s the story to-day, after being kept awake most of the night by the howling gale and worrying about the boat it was kind of disappointing to waken up to torrential rain and flat calm. The boat quite safe on our one of our new moorings.From the balcony this morning, the sheep have taken up shelter below the house. In between trying to get the blog up to date we are carrying on with getting the Island back up to speed. Yesterday it was a job I’d wanted to do for so long and putting my foot through the ceiling of Seascape spurred me on.I gathered up the old flooring from the house build and headed over to Dry Harbour before yesterdays gale and rain started.A good mornings work dodging in and out between the rain got 99% of the floor done, three sheets short. The only problem was we found yet another problem.After 18 years the hot water cylinder has developed a leak, fortunately or not putting my foot through the ceiling has meant it was spotted before coming through the ceiling. New tank is ordered in fact two new tanks because it is for sure leaking in the other house that was renovated at the same time.


Back to the Catch Up Blog:

This spring early summer we sorted out the water supply once and for all.

The Spanish John arrived with Hi Water from Nairn and all their equipment.

The boys developing their training on ‘Playstations’

It was a bit of a mission dropping the gear especially after the driller threw a track right after this picture was taken.  Below the high water mark but it was soon on its way.

We got the fuel delivery at the same time and after that was done and dusted we got back to cooking a meal for 20 served in the bothy. Just a normal day!!!!

The London Corinthian Yacht club had booked a dinner and we were very pleased to do cater for them. A great crowd who were very appreciative of our efforts.

All easy to do for us but it does not make the clearing up (next day) any easier.

Meanwhile the driller continued its journey to the sire and threw another track, after much cursing the rig was in place and after drilling 18 metres we found water but then drilled to 60metres plus. Very exciting stuff.

It was an interesting job welding the first three pipes together and then sinking plastic tubes to 60m.

Water was found and now we have a clear supply and good water to drink. This year was the worst I have seen for peaty water, the filters struggled to cope and I am very happy to have this supply after all these years

The Rig was ‘walked’ back to the shore for pick up later in the week and after three days the job was done.

Our Izusu died, the turbo seals blew. We tried to sell it for spares but no takers not even the ‘Scrappies’. So the jeep was towed back up to the garage and is now a shed/greenhouse!

All loaded and the landing craft was away, we wont see him back until December I think when we will be looking for fuel.

Meanwhile ‘George’ had found a new hiding place!!

Spring time and time for a clean out of the polytunnel, the kale had gone to seed so before it re-seeded the whole of the ‘tunnel I ripped it out and the sheep enjoyed a wee bonus, they made short work of it.

The weather earlier on this year has not been all bad and up until August we could go to Portree more or less whenever we wanted.

Even with the boat developing hull problems our repair is holding and it is good to be able to get the stores over again.

The skies in the middle of the Sound of Raasay are always worth a photo’, not to-day though.

Catching up and looking through the list, this job has been hanging over us for years. The room behind the gable has always been damp and once we started digging it became apparent why. We have now drained it all and fingers crossed another tick in the box.

Clive and Ali were over for a longer period this year and very much appreciated their help and support. Because we were looking for new residents/workers for Rona Lodge they had offered to step in on three week periods and in these times we really caught up on Spring work, the house had not been painted outside for some time and was in real need.

Their friends from the South were up on holiday and enjoyed the wonderful weather at that time.

Well, almost!!!!

Talking more about the weather, here’s a Yachtie thing. This was one of the few gales at that time, a real blow. This yacht tried to anchor a few times then eventually held. When I got up in the middle of the night I spotted the crew sitting at the helm, I guess watching in case the boat dragged, a long night. Now what I always wonder is why would you not pick up one of the 4 clearly visible brand new moorings (at that time) and just go to sleep and forget it, only £10, I guess the yacht here would be a few Zeros onto that £10!!!!! Maybe they had no money left, maybe someone could enlighten me?

We had been concreting the path at the pier, another long wished for job. But ran out of cement, this was a while ago and no progress yet. Awaiting material then some more.Back to the boat and although we repaired it we had to take it back out of the water to check the repair and lift the engines as they were not just quite performing right. More on that later but that is all for to-day.

Here’s a picture from better weather times!! And on the Yachtie forum I’m following one commentator said that we had ruined the harbour by putting in 4 moorings!!!  They said there was no room now!

More catch up coming soon.


Posted in The Views and of course the weather | 1 Comment

Surprise, Surprise A Second Post of the Year!

Well it has been extremely busy, we are in the new house, enjoying it very much and here we are almost in September. There’s been a lot happening this year, catching up mainly and we are back catching up with the blog. Here are a selection of pictures of what has been going on this summer.

Early on we had a very good spring but lately it has been very strange weather, all of August has been a bit of a trial, but it is good to remember the sunny days.

And there were quite a few.

With lovely sunsets and a promise of a good year ahead.

This is the boat going into the water way back in March only for us to find out that the hull was porous. New engines on as well which was a bit of a disaster.

But it was good to be in the new house and bring it together.

Windmill woes this year but not bad after 17 years service, we had strengthened it before but this was a major issue and thankfully Calum and Irene had chanced to look up at the windmill and found this.

Our visitors arrived early this year and it has been a busy year especially for day trippers. Never a dull moment and this ewe got bogged, happens every year despite fences put around the deep bogs, they are short of grass and searching for a bite.

The woes kept coming I repaired the JCB exhaust only for the side to blow out of it, another few hundred pounds.

The windmill was easily repaired once we cleared the cracked concrete away and stregtheners were fitted, fingers crossed now

Chasing sheep in the forest by the house one of our regulars succumbed to the long winter, she was not in bad condition and not that old.

A Department visit loomed so tags had to be checked and the single lamb dealt with.

With able assistance from Clive who was not impressed with my castration technique!!! Needless to say the lamb escaped that indignity!!! He’s now heading to be a Ram.

Julie never gives up she has taken to stealing the hens food.

The weather continued early in the year with some dramatic skies and sooooo blue.

With the new Mariners fitted to the boat and the boat ‘eventually’  temporarily repaired it was now time to reconsider the three old Yamahas for sale. As it happens the new Mariners are maybe going onto something else and the old Yams MAY go back onto the Voe boat just for local work, watch this space.

We started the path from the pontoon, there is no end to maintenance, improving the facilities, paths and general infrastruce before the tourists arrive. We ask for £1 pp when they land and less than half bother to pay but they are quite happy to use the facilities. To-day on PBO forums I had the pleasure of reading a few posts posted by Yachties (it is a yachtie forum) slagging me/the pontoon and the charges of £1, more of that later. But I was heartened to hear the positive comments on said forum, thanks for that.

We had our own cliff rescue this spring our second lamb and one of only two this year who was stuck on a ledge. The Tup had disappeared the week before he was due to visit the ladies in November but he did manage to catch two ewes. Sadly shortly after this photo was taken and we put the lamb back with the Mother, in her panic she knocked the lamb off the cliffs, well, not a good year for lambs on Rona.

Sterling work from the Spanish John from Mallaig, The Milligans laid our 4 new moorings and lifted the pontoon chains for replacement. We could have shortened the chains and refitted but we decided on newer shorter heavier chain, not bad for 18 years in the water in fact I’m tempted to use the old chain for some more moorings being as they proved so popular this year. That should please the grumpy old yachties on the PBO forum.

This was a good day, after much persuasion Calum sold us his RIB, I wish I had bought one years ago, so quick to Portree, and I am now looking for a bigger one without engines so that we can put the Mariners on it.

A chance conversation with my agent in Portree Mr Corrigal and the old bar/restaurant furniture made its way over to Rona, one of the Pier Hotels regular customers came with the deal!!!! We had a booking for 20 for dinner in may and were short of seats, so they turned up just in time.

With new folk coming, we were in the house and spent most of the first part of the spring moving fixtures and fittings and getting the house presentable for the new residents.

You have to ask where did it all come from!!!

OMG, major problem with not even half the cupboard space in the new house.

The new RIB arrives, brakes removed, we’ll not need them here.

The new Aprons arrived at the same time, good Christmas gift only £22!!

And that is where I got to all these months ago trying to get a blog done. Hopefully with the nights drawing in I’ll get a chance to catch up and bring the Rona story up to date.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather, Yachties | 6 Comments

Happy New year

At last normal service has resumed. The last blog was 22nd July 2018, which is quite scary how a year can pass so quick. Building a house, working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for the last couple of years has certainly been trying but we are now ensconsed in the new house (no name yet) and to-day we received our ‘Temporary Occupation ‘ certificate, although we have been temporarily here since the 24th of December.

Hoovering on Christmas Eve

The winter weather has been kind although to-day Friday 1st Feb’ it is like the rest of Scotland, cold and snowing.

Christmas Day

It was good to have Christmas in the new house despite the rush until 8.30pm on Christmas Eve plus the smell of fresh paint.

George Likes it

George our cat is very happy with the warm house.

July 2018

Looking back over the year past to-day I am reminded at how wet the weather has been and as we drew to a close on the job, the Autumn went out with a bang.

Stormy Days

Stormy Days 2

Stormy Days 3

The skies have certainly been dramatic with some stunning light, not much time to mess about with cameras so mostly pictures are taken on the hoof.

Funny Light

This one on a trip to Portree. The light that day was very reminiscent of some of the late Tommy MacKenzie’s etchings of Rona and Raasay

Late Yacht arrival after the storm.

Here’s a Wet One

When it rained it certainly dumped it down.

It is not all doom and gloom

But even on poor days the view can be stunning.

Flooded out

The hot tub that arrived in July was well used even during the wet days but it flooded out more than once!!

Dry Harbour

Even with the housebuild going on the normal work continued alongside it, sometimes a bit of an overlap especially in a year of multiple machine failures. The cottages were quite busy and maintenance a little neglected so now it is catch up.

Big Issue

One of the major breakdowns was a burst boiler, water was flowing out of one of the seams, not an old boiler and I think our second in 16 years which may be good? This was on top of the generator which broke down, terminally in May.

New Boiler Delivered

Amongst the breakdowns and housebuild we were keen to utilise the shutters and left over mix to make mooring blocks and with advice from John MacInnes of Tayvalich and Calum taking up the design we applied for more moorings in the harbour, demand has been high.

Project for 2019

My job was to make them and with the new mixer only 127 shovel fills to make a batch I had a day making mooring blocks, what fun.

Mooring blocks getting ready for 2019

Calum’s RIB

Calum was back and fore on Kestrel his motor sailor but after it was laid up his RIB came in handy.

IKEA delivery guys, with 700Kilo of kitchens/beds etc

Until one of my engines on the boat expired I was back and fore to Portree 22 times since June for material and stores, since then the boat has seldom been out of the harbour but we fitted the new engines last week and will be back in business soon on MV Rona.

Portree Visit

Always worth a visit into the Pier Hotel, very good lager and ‘crack’. It is surely in a class of its own!!!

A Special find

There was some (only some) down time and I went over to the West side of the harbour/forest and came across this glass tube, 2metres long.

Wood Hole Institute

It was quite heavy and awkward to carry but we got it home, it is a tide recorder and I’ll post the story of it later. It was in the Labrador Sea in 2015, it landed on Rona 2018 after it came to the surface in 2015 to send data to the WHI in Massachussetts. It is glass!!!!!!

What’s doing in Food on Rona

No time for Crew Pots for Yachties this year or Supper Clubs for guests but hopefully this year coming. We have posted a job on Rona on Gumtree and on this blog. We are looking for a couple of helpers to stay initially in the Lodge for the season but if they like it and we like them then it could be permanent with me reaching the big 65 very shortly people tell me I should retire, don’t think so some how. So if anyone is interested : Rona Opportunity

Venison Slow Roast Shoulder

We’ll be doing Crew Pots this year for sure, been filling the freezers and we have plenty rolled shoulders for this dish, wont be long till the season.

Eagle 1

Eagle 2

Been quite a winter for eagles here, Golden and Sea. We saw 5 at the mouth of the harbour on one trip to Portree, since then there has been continued activity with a Golden Eagle hanging about the place where I dump the cuttings from the venison production. It is good that they clean that up for us.

Mink 1

Mink 2

The trail camera picked up the mink at the site where the deer bits are left, he was a regular visitor, at least he has stayed away from the hens this last year. We have caught over ten on the Island this back end but I guess there are many more.


Here’s a wee calf in late summer tied up on a loose bit of fencing, the poor thing had been there for a while and quite by chance I saw it. It was none too pleased to be handled but I was as quick as I could be and it lived to tell the tale. it was limping for a few days but since then I reckon it is none the worse, a lucky escape.


Breakdowns continued with a rush of problems in November, the drawbar of the trailer parted company (not unknown) so a Rona repair was applied.

More Problems

Stalking ground to a halt when the ATV stopped dead, a faulty fuel pump.


Which became a seized fuel pump.


But eventually replaced at great cost.

Complete Pump £150!!

Nothing goes forever but it all seemed to come at once, the brake pipes on the vehicles get a particularly hard life with the bumpy road, since then the brakes have been iffy to say the least.

Brake Failure

The last landing craft of the year was in September, there is a plan to overhaul the pontoon and to that aim we started by replacing the anchor chains, once lifted it became apparent the chains were on their last legs and given the few storms this year we would have been lucky to get away with them. So it was fortunate we fitted new lengths all round, checked the mooring and anchors. They are all 100% now so should last my time here.

Mooring work

A good job, but dirty on a cold September day.October stalking was a wet affair but since then the winter has been fair with many dry days and sunny.

Crisp Days

Lots of nice skies.

From the New House

From inside the new house.

Sunrise from Meal Acarseid

View from the bedroom, New House

Torn ear rocked up as usual, where does he hide the rest of the year, he was bigger and looked meaner than previous years, still young but there seems to be a problem with one of his eyes. But he manged to keep out of the stalkers way come October. He’ll be back.

Torn Ear

Hard to believe it is a year ago to-day that we  were at this stage below.

A year ago to-day

Ian the builder who did most of the work on the New House on his last day, he’ll be back though.

Ian’s Last Day

Here we are on the second of January with Dan arriving on MV Stardust first footing, with his gang.

Looking forward to many more New Years on Rona.

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June to July And The House is Getting There.

Still Eating

June now, Arne still here and still cooking, the gastronomy excellent.

Grand Finale

Simple but delicious.


This is my Fathers home made ladder which I’m sure he would not be too happy that I left it out but it must be 40 years old now so it did not too bad. It is resting on the roofed ruin we call the museum (work in progress)


June continued and the jetstream was kind giving us most of the month with glorious sunshine.


Loved the clouds when the higher winds are creating lovely patterns.

Early Morning Prowl

The month continues with yet more trips to Portree.

Skye Express Loading

This time shifting half a tonne of flooring.

Looks Like My Kind of School

A wee stop into the school in Portree, this is definitely the type of state school that should be supported.

Getting Difficult To Find a Way In.

It doesn’t end with the van, then the boat, then off the boat, then onto the JCB then into the house. Phew.

Yogi Supervising

Back to Portree can’t remember why but The Green Isle our regular fishing boat around Rona is up on the beach the engine kaput. So it is the time to clean up, paint it and get ready for the season ahead with the new engine.

Wedding Party

A wee surprise to hear and then see Ewen and Janice out with a wedding party in Big Harbour Rona, a lovely day with Meg Gillies conducting the ceremony.

Wedding Day

Young Stag

Our deer started to loose their winter coats in late May and the stags were growing their new antlers, now they are all very red and looking sleek.

Daisy Days

The view from Sea/Skyescape in June, the daisies taking over with the deer mowing the grass for us.


The geese doing the same at Big Harbour but stealing the sheep’s grass in the field which is not so good.

De Brief

And at the end of the day there is always the de-brief where we have a dram and discuss the days building progress, the best part of the day my two companions would say.

Barrel Of Laughs

Say an old whisky barrel in ‘Harbro Portree’, now I’m thinking Rona was famous for its home brew, maybe it is a good time to try some distilling (again: work in progress)

Barbecue Time

Now here’s a thing, we have signs out, asking folk not to light fires. These jokers passed me on the pontoon with various bags, took up their station in front of the house and when the smoke started to rise we panicked. Fire is our worst nightmare and here were a boat load of yachties having their barbecue with no thought to what next! Having fought forest fires I dread to think what might happen if a fire did catch in the arid conditions which was the case on this day. Oh! And they did not even ask can we……..but therein lies the ‘Right To Roam’.

George and His Feather

George our cat, is a typical cat, unfortunately for the birdlife around here, so it was a bit better to see him playing with a feather rather than taking in his next prize.


We are pretty much up to and over capacity with our power generation. So much so that the generator had not run for two months. That was good saving fuel BUT the problem was that 16 years of damp conditions got the better of the windings on the alternator. When I did switch it on, disaster, the generator alternator had burnt out. So we now have a space where the generator should be. One on order, same again, can’t beat the Lister TS2.

Strim Time

After the de-brief Ian the joiner is away so it is time to catch up on Rona work. Strimming waits for no one and it was a bit late before I started, after a few mechanical issues I managed to get it done at Dry Harbour.

Early Morning Hind

Thought I’d take advantage of Ian being away and took an early morning trip South, nice to see plenty deer enjoying the morning sun.

Early Morning Big Harbour

And the yachties enjoying breakfast.


Plenty hinds about but not too many calves which surprised me.

Flattening Bracken

Back to Dry Harbour and I rigged up a bracken basher, but after much bashing it kind of fell apart.

Another Successful Trip

The sun certainly helped make the Seafood lunch trips from Portree a lovely experience but only yesterday we had some on Seaflower who were from Mexico, they were loving the misty day we had!!! So it is not all about the sunshine for sure.


Back to Portree to dump yet another wash machine, no ten or more I guess in 16 years, although they work hard you would think they would last a bit longer. I always blamed Rona Power but looking round the recycling yard at Portree I don’t think so……I guess it does not make for a good business if you make them to last.


We had a visit from my son and his family in glorious  July sunshine yet again and they gave us a present, a hot tub. It was something we had toyed with for years but power was always our problem. But this one a blow up, draws only 800watts and in sunshine with only the solar we dump so much power, it was heated water all the way, what a great present.


It is the time of year and our yachting friends from Ireland arrived, always good to see them and a sociable time.

That’s The Life

Sometimes too sociable!!!

Yachtie Woes

Not all the yachties are good guys, after much to-ing and fro-ing by yachts trying to anchor one night, I woke to see a German flagged yacht wrapped around our mooring, on closer inspection he had his chain wrapped around the mooring chain. You do wonder how these guys get away with it. The result was that I had to go out and check the chain, but no issues, I had suspected that the cable ties may have been knocked off but not so. But not forgiven.

Fuel Delivery

With so many landing crafts last year we had an endless supply of fuel but with no landing crafts since I’ve had to fetch the fuel from Portree, no problem just another trip to add to the fifteen in the last four weeks to Portree. But good to have a system that works.

You Tube Moment

Another job under the belt,. shearing the sheep. Hugh our digger driver usually does it but not this year after a half hour on You Tube I set to. Not quite ‘Should Have gone to Specsavers’. In fact I was quite pleased to have got through it without the very stiff back, electric shears are definitely the way forward.

Anne and Her Daughter

Another day another Seaflower trip, this time with a mixed boat but good to see Anne Gracie on Rona whose Mother was born here, a quick hello to the holiday cottage then after a bit of discussion it tuned out that I knew where the house her Mother had lived in was.

Visiting the family home

A wee walk up the back and there we were, just four walls left and overgrown but a nostalgic visit for sure.

Yoga Man

Yet another day trip to Portree, Calum on the fuel and a yogic yachtie doing his stuff first thing at 6.30am in the morning.

Whatever Turns You On

Not for me, after a day on the strimmer/digger/labouring/Rona work yoga would not do it for me.

Creel Recovery

On the way home Calum remarked there was a fleet of creels clear of the water with the low spring tides North side of Fladda, we discussed the possibility of a recovery and the plan was hatched. Many of them were damaged and the ones that were not were still fishing. Which is not good for the wildlife I guess. So Calum retrieved them, spent an age sorting them out and untangling them, then we went down to pick them up. We only managed half but will be back.

Catching The Wind

Yet another trip to Portree and the old yachts look the best.

Talking About Creels

Portree was awash with creels, out of the water, drying out. I wonder how many are actually in the water from Cape Wrath to Campbeltown?

No Entry

Well that’s us up to date, been a funny year with no interaction with the yachting fraternity, but next year we will be back up and running. Hopefully the sun will return, the welcome rain can go away now we’ve had quite enough this week!!!!!

A year ago this week

This was us this time last year on Rona building a house.


And here we are to-day!!

Painting 2


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Catching up on May Days

Thrushes Egg

May is nesting time and as we fly about the Island the birds just get on with it all. The usual suspects are here, the geese, the Oyster catchers and the Sandpipers plus many more. The hawks, Black Backs and crows/Ravens give them a hard time but many escape and come back next year. This Thrush left the nest in such a rush she nearly took the egg with her, it was sitting precariously on the edge.

Little Rain

The weather continued with many dry sunny days in May but we did have odd showers, welcome with the risk of fire ever there.


Stardust was still filling in between ferry operators, MV Aspire sold but Seaflower waiting in the wings.

Another Bumpy Ride

The sea has been very kind this year with many calm days, a welcome change.

The Bothy View

But work goes on with the bothy in full occupancy due to the house build.

Sorting Fat Lambs

In between shifts at the new house the lambs had to be dressed and sorted, always a lively task.

Seaflower Sea Trials

On my many trips to Portree it is good to see the comings and goings. Here is Seaflower after arriving in Portree a few days earlier getting out for some trials.

Portree Trip

No trial here though going to Portree for the bathroom fittings this time.

Early Morning Trouble

And although I get there early there is always something happening in a harbour. This time Marie Bhan caught a mooring rope. Not a good start.

Leaving Portree

Same day a few hours later and it was Skye Yachts’ turn, with a prop missing on one of its charter yachts it was alongside the slip waiting for the tide to put on a new one.

Yet Another Portree Trip

A pleasure not to be bouncing back to Rona.

Kestrel At Rona

Back to Rona to find Kestrel alongside MV Seaflower who was out with a charter.

Air Test

The job up at the house carries on with the air test due we had Ben Wear out to test it. A good result with a 1.18 (whatever that means) but it was good!

Ben Wear

Still trying to get my head round a ventilation system and open windows?

Rona Cottage Guests

The cottage’s are busy this year but this last few weeks have been quiet (June/July). Possibly with the world cup, who knows.

Dish of The Day

In among it all it is good to see some seafood, cooked coming our way with a Yogi speciality hand delivered, delicious.

Oh Oh, a Leaker

Although we had a good air test the first real rain proved our worst fears and one of our very expensive Nor Dan windows leaks. Not good and once we proved it to their technicians there is nothing for it but to replace. A job we don’t need.

Portree Invasion

More fun in Portree as another cruiser arrives, in fact two. Chaos as usual ensues down the pier and the best thing is to get in and out quick as upwards of five tour busses try to turn around down the pier.

Not For Me

Adding up the figures these boats must generate a huge amount of income, 280 went ashore from this one but the remainder stayed on board. I did hear that prices for this tour were in the thousands, amazing but not for me.

Two Ferries Ago

MV Aspire was tied up on this visit but the new owner was aboard and heading very shortly to the TT on the Isle of Man, it gets about.

Clear Days

Clear days and reflections are easy to find in the water, don’t know if this seagull was chasing itself or looking for something to eat?

Feeding Frenzy

Our hens are laying well but out in the forest presenting a challenge every day trying to track them down in the undergrowth.

Yet Another Load

Another load for the new house, doors, fireproof plasterboard and who knows whatelse?

Edinburgh Here We Come

Another sunny day and we head off to pick up Dorte and Arne in Edinburgh, a pleasant trip with our guests on MV Seaflower, the cruise ship is the old Cal Mac ferry converted for luxurious tours, now they are expensive.

Rona Return

A quick trip to Edinburgh, a stay at the highly recommended Ballathie House on the way home and then back to Rona for a sun blessed week.

Good Food Time

When our Danish guests come the food gets better and better, especially with a feast of seafood.

Cooking The Catch

Crabs, lobsters and langoustine, it does not get much better.

Sunny Days From the New House

The weather continued to everyone’s amazement and the yachts started to appear in numbers.

A Beauty

A good finish to the month, good food, good weather.

Dinners Up

And good progress with the house.

Return To Rona With Kayakers

It is taking a while to catch up but we are getting there. June next maybe not so long this time.

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April Catch up.

Here’s us looking back over the last months and cannot believe we have had the longest day the other day and it is all downhill from here. April pictures will give you an idea of the pace over  here this last while.

All About The Sheep

We were a little later this year with the lambs, Mr Tup was delivered in mid to late November last year and what a lucky break to miss the ‘Beast from the East.

Possibly M V Aspire’s Last trip

After many years of loyal service to Rona, Kevin and Pam retired having put MV Aspire up for sale and a buyer was found. I’m sure they are missing the sea but not the Saturday morning dash to Rona with huge amounts of luggage!!

Kenny’s Last trip.

Kenny was in too on MV Seaflower as it too was going on the market and despite buying lots of Lotto tickets we couldn’t get the cash together to make an offer.

Kenny on Seaflowers Last Trip

Again, I’m sure Kenny and Gemma are missing their Rona trips but they will be back.

Pontoon Repair

With all these boats on the move it reminded me it was time for a look at the mooring and pontoon.

Wear and Tear

After 15 years of weather and boats tying up it was plain to see that the chains should be replaced. New ones are on order but we are waiting until we make new mooring blocks, then we will do it all together.

Pontoon and Mooring Repair

Three new moorings applied for and coming soon.

First Yacht

I finished the annual check and within a few days our first yacht of the year came in, we are now at over 100 visiting yachts by the 26th of June.


Taking advantage of the calm weather and good tides I managed a few loads of firewood out of the forest. Looking forward to getting more cut later this year.

All about the firewood.

Stardust Standing In

In between ferries Dan was standing in as he does but with Sea Eagle season on the horizon it was looking like a difficult time to fit us in.

The Joys of Shepherding

Waiting for the lambs to come and not a lot of forage about is always a stressful time and it is always worth a look around each morning. If you get complacent then you get hit, here we have one of our gimmers stuck in the bog which had a fence round it but the deer flattened it. It was not much of a fence I have to say.

4 Yachts Leaving

Calum was out helping with the house and we thought we had an early season burst with 4 yachts in just after Easter but it went quiet as it normally does.

Surprise Lamb

The Gimmer that was stuck in the bog was rescued, dried, put in a space blanket and given the usual boosters. We put her in the shed overnight and were not hopeful of her surviving but in the morning she was still alive but very weak.

Cheeky Wee Thing

Day two she was on her feet and later that day she had her first lamb, a tiny we ewe lamb. Both doing well.

Portree Trips

Last year and this Spring we have been over to Portree a lot, the weather has been kind and we have had all sorts on board. Looking forward to the end of the house build and treating the boat to new engines.

Another Load From Portree

We have handled the building material so many times, I know it all personally.

Calm Spring

But it will all be worth it in the end, we are getting there and looking forward to moving in before the start of winter.

Back to the Spring and the lambs came thick and fast.


Always good to see the lambs coming on and being ‘Blackies’ they are pretty tough.

Storm Clouds

Although we have had a pretty good Spring we did have odd stormy days but compared to past years this years weather has been very good.

After the storm and flat calm days, good to see the sun this year.

Great Spring Weather

We’ve been lucky with the sailings too and as the month progressed the cottages were busy and Dan was kept going.

Office Day

With all the work that is going on it was good to take a seat in the garden and make calls, sort out the logistics of getting building material and finishings here. Oh, reading the paper and having the tea!!

MV Spindrift Passing Through

I treated myself to a new long lens and took a run down the South end one Sunday, here was our old ferry boat, MV Spindrift, passing through the ‘Blind Sound’.

Portree Days

Unloading Rona Style.

Back to reality,  Monday morning over to Portree to pick up the Heating and ventilation system.

Unloading Rona Style

When the tide is turning at low water it is either a wait for 4/6 hours to unload or get wet feet.

A Challenging Load

But we have a system, climbing over the front bucket. After many loads like this it usually works out. Plenty more to come.

And that was April!!

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We’re Back!!!!

Been a long time, I cannot believe it is almost 6 months since our last post. Where did it go!!!!!! Building a house I guess. Anyway here’s the news:

Almost There

Now what I’ve got to do is work out where all the photos are for the last six months. It has been busy for sure and we are almost there. lots have been happening and more, hopefully tomorrow.

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