My parents' floathouse once again needed another boost to get it floating properly so we could quit wading to reach their door. But none of us felt up to the huge project of turning the house to slide another log in place. Besides which, the tides and weather at this time of the year were hardly likely to cooperate.
So my dad, the ever-ingenious brains of any maintenance project out here, decided to build a log that we could manipulate without turning the house or needing the lifting assistance of the tide.
The first thing he did was rig up a pulley system under the house that would maximize our limited man-and-woman power. He put one pulley, threaded with a line, under the house and would put another pulley on the manmade log, allowing him to pull from on deck of the floathouse while I pushed the log from my position on the ground. We were hoping and praying that it would slide smoothly in its slot--but I have to admit, we both had our doubts. It's not often that anything goes smoothly when you're dealing with floathouse maintenance.
We set about compiling the ingredients for our manmade log.
This included hauling planks to the work site, grappling with and dragging the largest blocks of foam we could find from pieces we'd salvaged from old docks, beachcombed, or bought. We also cut up lengths of groundline, filled our pockets with nails, and were all set to start building.
I hauled the thick foam blocks to the slot in the float, lining them up per my dad's orders, making sure they overlapped, one on top of the other, for the greatest structural strength and to make sure the log would hold together no matter how many tides and storm surges it went through.
As I slogged through the mud and avoided rocks, weilding the unweildy blocks (some of them 9"x20" and nine feet long), I felt like I was in some weird analog game of Tetris. I feared I'd be fitting giant foam blocks into place in my sleep that night.
My dad chainsawed the blocks to fit, then we laid the planks on top of the foam. While he sawed crosspieces to nail the planks together, I tied groundline around the foam and planks, cinching it down as tight as possible before making a knot to make sure the foam couldn't move and shift.
As we worked, we kept an eye on the tide, which had an evil genius for always being in the wrong place at the wrong time whenever there was any floathouse maintenance to be done.
When we had the log built we faced the moment of truth. We were worried the log would get hung up on obstructions we couldn't see or get at under the house. We weren't even sure it would fit under the brow log, though the math said it would.
Floathouses were known disrespecters of math and logic.
Holding our breath and praying again, my dad took up his position on the deck with the pulley line in hand while I settled in a sprinter's crouch to push against my end of the log.
"Push!" my dad yelled as he hauled on the line.
To our unbounded glee and disbelief, the log slid forward, clearing the brow log easily, as if math was it's favorite subject in the world.
We were both tired, and by now the tide was becoming a worry. If we hit any snags and the log was stuck partway out, the unbalanced lifting power could damage the brow log.
But to our continued awe and astonishment--and occasional cowboy yells of exultation--our exertions were rewarded by the log slowly inching into place, exactly as my had had envisioned it working.
Once the log was where it was supposed to be we pounded spikes into a beam that would hold the log in place and help the log lift the float.
We beat the tide and were more than pleased when, after the house floated, that the float had risen several inches. We could now face the first snowfall with some peace of mind.
This project that had been hanging over us, that we'd been procrastinating on, and dreading putting to the test, was done! Celebrations were in order.
But of course, there is always the next floathouse project....
Tara Neilson (ADOW)