Unique alarm clock
I went to bed in the wee hours today only to be woken by the repetitive deep thumping of helicopter blades. Thinking it was Stornoway Coastguard's Sikorsky S92 out on some urgent search & rescue, I waited for it to pass and settled back down to drift off once more. But a minute later it flew back over in the opposite direction. "Must be on a training run or something," I thought.
However, five minutes later it was back again flying along what I could only guess by sound, the same route. This was repeated. And again. I counted the identical back-and-forth passes 15 times before a mixture of frustration and curiosity got the better of me and I got out of bed to investigate.
It turned out to be the fish farming company transporting young salmon (I presume) from one side of Lewis down to Loch Leurbost. It must be cheaper, and much quicker, to use a helicopter and pilot for a day rather than using boats, a crane and loading a tank of fish onto the back of a lorry.
The helicopter hauls a special drum contraption which, I speculate, is dropped into the water scooping up sea and fish. When the pilot reaches the destination he probably has some way of releasing the bottom of the drum (perhaps by a float release mechanism) to dump the fish into their new loch home. This way the helicopter never needs to land between pickup and drop-off.
I wonder if the fish enjoy the strange swinging movement of the drum as they fly through the air?
On a related note, why do I keep spelling helicopter helicoptor? Why isn't it spelt with an 'o' like raptor?
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Edit 12/04/08: Fellow Flickr user cmcrossbost (Christine) has uploaded some pictures of the helicoptor dropping off it's load at Loch Leurbost. It looks like my speculation that the drums are lowered into the water was not correct, and in fact they are dropped onto the Ronja Commander (a Norwegian live fish carrying ship), and then an empty container on a barge beside the ship is attached to the line for the helicopter to take away.
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