1 In Shorebase

An Taigh-Bàta – The Boat House 2

The Boat House Part 2. All part of the fun and good for the soul!

Well that is what I told the boys as we worked away on the old boat house during the latest downpour of what has been a dreadfully wet Scottish summer so far. I am not sure they believed me but there must be a grain of truth in there somewhere.

And so the works on the land base have progressed well and we are most definitely getting there.

We have successfully cleared the bulk of the rocks and boulders from the old quayside and inlet. That was the most physical part of the job and we must have moved several tonnes of stone over the last few weeks. Even with the help of a tirfor winch it was hard, very hard, physical graft. Another couple of hours on a spring tide should be enough to finish it.

There was also a lot of work to be done on the surface of the quay as well. The quay must be over a hundred years old and, although the structure is basically sound, many years of neglect have meant that we had to spend quite a lot of time resetting many of the large blocks that make up the working surface.

In addition, as the quay is built from stone, as opposed to concrete as would be done today, it resembles ‘crazy paving’, in that the gaps between the stones are tied together with mortar. The mortar used originally was a lime based and much of this has disappeared, again a symptom of age and neglect, and so we are having to re-grout the joints to make the surface usable. We have done approximately 50% of the surface and so there shall be at least one more day in it.

With all that work the old quay (seann chidhe) is now in much better health and shall prove to be an invaluable asset going forward. As touched on above there is still a wee bit to do but the end is in sight.

The only downside with the quay is that it shall not be possible to launch a boat from a trailer at this point but in the future, and if things are going to plan, there is scope to upgrade to allow this to happen.

We have also being doing a bit of work on the old boathouse itself. This is in poor condition and at this point the goal was just to stablise what was there. We got busy repairing one of the side walls of the building, which had partially collapsed and was looking rather unstable. This involved some ad-hoc dry stone walling and although we shall not be winning any prizes at the Crofters show we did a fine job and stablised the wall. At this point we also worked in a stone staircase to allow access down to the quay, which has made a huge difference, and in addition to that we also reset the first part of the floor of the building. Next year we plan to take down the old roof and replace it so that we can make full use of the space on offer.

The final job was to reopen access from the boat house to the main road. This one was a bit of a head scratcher in regard to how to get it organised, as it was definitely going to need a man and a machine to do it. So after going down a few dead ends we had the good fortune to be introduced to Dave and Wilma Orr who live just down the road in Camusnagaul, and Dave and his son reopened the road and did a great job. We are really grateful to them for the kindness they have shown us.

So, all in all, a busy time and we are now getting ready to install a shipping container on site and get the boat down so we can start planning the work to be done on the shore. Unfortunately with one thing and another we have run out of time in regard to getting seed in the water this year, so we plan to use the back end to get everything prepared for an early start in spring time.

A full set of images which document the development can be seen on Flickr, here.

I should add that we definitely owe the ‘helpers’ a couple of beers each for all the free labour they have provided and by good fortune we now happen to know exactly the place to get them, An Teallach Ale Company owned by our new friends Dave and Wilma Orr. How about that for fate!

I myself have always been partial to a pint of An Teallach and Claire is really keen to try Crofters’ Pale Ale. When the oysters are fully grown we are also keen to pair them up with the stout, The Hector, and see if the Irish are right, great potential right there for all of us.

An update on the season’s growth to follow shortly.

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