Paul Bunyan came to our aid, after Sterling had to leave, in refloating the Man Cave.
Paul Bunyan, otherwise known as my 6'4", 300+ pound oldest brother, Jamie (also Sterling's and Ethan's father), has a soft spot for floating Man Caves.
He's always had one around, including one when he was in his late teens, early twenties. It was in this floating Man Cave that he spent a lot of not-so-quality time with our cousin Shawn: playing poker, subsisting on a liquid diet, periodically blasting off a gun, and hanging upside down from the rafters. Good times, I'm sure. Good times....
The truth is, there aren't too many places in the bush geared toward young people, for them to hang out. I remember that when we first moved up here, the few teens in the area had staked out abandoned cabins rotting into the undergrowth, or they built tree forts that few were given directions to and there was a secret password for entry.
The innovation of having a floating hangout was, actually, Jamie's invention, and it was an inspired one. When the tide was in the youths carousing inside, with raucous music blasting at ear drum piercing decibels, were kings in their castle, with a seawater moat to keep the dreaded responsible adults away.
So Jamie understood the importance of preserving a floating Man Cave.
On the appointed hour, ahead of the ever encroaching tide, Jamie arrived in sweats and a commercial fisherman's sweatshirts, it's pockets bulging with scorned gloves. My dad and I were bundled up against the low temperatures, but Jamie rarely, if ever, bothered to layer up. He was known for wearing shorts all year around as the whim struck him.
At first glance at the job that needed to be done, my dad and I were stumped. The poles that we needed to put under the cabin and across the top of the new float log that Sterling had towed back there, had gotten shifted around by the tide. some had gotten completely in the way, on top of the log and wedged into the sheer rock shoreline.
There was no way my dad and I could move them and there was no way to work around them. We were ready to call off the job for the day. We'd have to wait for the next high tide to move them and then do the work on the next low tide after that, that coincided with our short daylight hours.
Jamie took one look and casually picked up the twenty-two foot long poles and set them aside for when they would be needed. I'm sure he could have marched at the head of a logger's parade, twirling them above his head.
They looked tiny in his hands.
I laid down the boards to work on so we wouldn't sink in the mud. My dad then notched the log where the big center pole would need to sit level.
First he chainsawed the top of the log in narrow strips several inches deep into the log, making each cut the same depth by feel. Next he chipped them out with the axe, twisting the handle as he chopped to break the strips free. This takes considerable experience with the saw and axe to get the notch remarkably flat and level. I've seen my dad do this a hundred times.
A past master with chainsaw and axe, he was done in no time at all.
Jamie then exercised some more of his mad Paul Bunyan skillz and slid the poles into place. Every now and then an obstruction under the cabin got in the way and I'd get on the other side of the cabin and guide the poles around protruding knots by tying a rope around the end of the pole and pulling as Jamie pushed.
At one point I fetched the smaller chainsaw and he sawed off the obstruction while I pounded on the opposite end of the pole with the back of the axe head. This didn't work too well so I went and got the big sledgehammer.
Nothing withstands the 12-pounder.
(Here it is appropriate to make the Tim "Home Improvement" Allen grunting noise--which Jamie duly did.)
Before long we had all the poles under the cabin.
While my dad was busy chopping up a badly deteriorated chunk of foam that had gotten wedged between the float and the new log, forcing it away from the side of the cabin on one end, Jamie and I moved to the other side of the cabin.
We laid (and by "we" I mean I stood and watched, cheering as needed) another of the poles lengthways down the butt ends of the old float logs the cabin sat on. We then tied the ends of the poles we'd just slid under the cabin to this cross-pole, which would provide the resistance the new log needed to push against and re-float the severely listing side of the Man Cave.
I held the poles up, resting them on my knee to keep them pressed up tight while Jamie tied them in place, one after the other.
And that was it.
With Jamie there to do almost all the labor, in the casualest manner possible, we accomplished in little over an hour what it would have taken my dad and me days--weather and tide permitting--to get done.
Jamie could rest assured that he'd saved at least one Man Cave from sinking. Or had he...?
When the tide came in we found that the new log was working all too well and it was the other side which now had a severe list, with the water coming within an inch of flooding in through the door.
Tara Neilson (ADOW)