Thursday, October 27, 2005

Homeward bound! mission completed

I have just this minute arrived back from the Isle of Wight, where I have been assisting a friend repair and refurbish an ancient jetty in an ideallic creek on the north north east of the Island. He, at present, lives aboard his steel cruiser in the Medina river and is soon to move to this refurbished jetty.

One problem with working on a job like this is the time of high water and in this case it was
12-00 and so we had to start early at 06-00, which the torrential rain did too! By the time we had got ourselves kitted up in waterproofs and rubber boots, we were ready for anything! so off we went into the mud. We took bets as to who would be the first person to fall over when our feet got stuck in the mud and who would be the first to loose a boot ! well as you can guess it wore pretty thin as we all did one or the other most days.

We started the works by demolishing most of the collapsing structure and dragging it up the embankment and into a large heap for the owner to cut up for fire wood (Phew!!! that was lucky as we don`t have to "cart it away")

The jetty was at least a hundred years old ( probably more) and had been repaired so often that there was "stumps" of what looked like stone sticking out of the creek bed where the origional jetty had been built and the truncated wooden supports had now all calcified into a sort of fossil. The timber for the refurbishment was duly delivered from a real old time agricultural joinery works housed in a succession of Oak barns way out in the country, down a mile or so of rural lanes. The owner of which was a real gentleman and helped us to decide upon what sort of timber and the sizes that we neeed.

We had to "pile drive" new vertical stakes into the creek bed, which were four metres long, so you can imagine what had to happen for this to take place, we set up a pair of step ladders on the creek bed with some of the old boarding to prevent them from sinking into the mud and we perched ourselves at the very top and manhandled the "post rammer"( which weighed at least twenty kilos). The steps were virtually "alive" and every time the rammer impacted with the post the steps nearly fell over, casting those perched on the very top, head first into the mud. We had eight such posts to "Ram" and had finished them by mid morning, this gave us time to install some of the cross members and the diagonal braces and start to build the longitudinal structure that was to eventually take the decking. The high tide came and went and we waded in about two feet of water before we had to stop work and take to the high ground and start to construct the main longitidinal supports.

As we lined up each pair of supports we traversed along them to access the next set and so on until the tide had gone out fully and we could access the underneath. There were several large holes beneath the mud so that as you slurped your way along underneath the jetty you would suddenly disappear down another foot or so into these holes, as this happened a plaintif cry would be heard saying "I`ve found another hole" everybody did this more than once. By the end of the first day 21-00 we were soaked to the skin, covered in mud and stinking or creosote (Orodichloro-benzine) but satiated with the thought that we had done a really good job so far.

On the second day we continued working our way along the platform, having re-visited the workshop for the rest of the material we finished the first stage of the platform( up to the end of the narrowest piece) The rain didnt stop and the severe wind (about force eight) really drained us of energy, we however seemed to regain our strength when it came to going out on the "Raz" in the evening. As we went back to the boats we reflected that we must be absolubtely mad! We finished the platform and all its fixings and had fitted the water supply and electricity by last night (wednesday) and so we celebrated our success by going to the Bistro and my friend getting slightly inebriated. He is really looking forward to moving around to his new mooring in December where I sincerely hope he will be very happy.

Whilst working on the jetty I noted many species of water birds along with voles, water rats, Egrets, Dippers and so may other species that my memory can`t allow me to name, it truly is a wonderful spot, so bleak and lovely and little more than a quarter of a mile from the open sea. My friend who is single and quite a self sufficient sort of character will fit right in with the solitude and rugged demeaner of the creek.

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