Building confidence first


Back to history: As stated, we didn’t know much about building before moving to the island, but we knew that we had to do some.  So, before anything significant was undertaken but after many materials had been purchased, it seemed like we should get at least a level surface built.  Ya gotta start somewhere.  We planned a deck at just above the high water level.

A level surface is a wonderful thing...

To do a deck on the island meant – at that time – purchasing all the materials from the local supply store, hiring a barge to bring it all over and then for us to be there to schlep all the stuff up onto the beach – the 30 degree beach without a level spot anywhere.  Ideally, all the tools I would need would have been delivered in advance (by me, of course).  And, of course, all the tools delivered needed a safe, weather-secure enclosure to be in place before even that.  Step one: tool storage on site.

I bought a large steel locking box from BC Hydro Salvage (Surrey) and delivered it to the nearest loading ramp on the next island with my car and trailer and then put it in the 11 foot inflatable dinghy we were using as our commuter boat.  An 11 foot dinghy has about 7 or so linear feet of floor space.  The box took five feet of it.  It also loomed four feet out of the boat and was two feet wide.  It weighed 400 pounds.  And it literally filled the boat completely.

When in place, the box looked like the conning tower of a just-submerged submarine.  My steering position was one of stretching out one leg along a pontoon and scrunching the other into the same space as the outboard engine steering tiller and the gas tank.  And, of course, I couldn’t see directly ahead nor to port which was completely blocked by the steel box.

When it was loaded the boat floated a smidge low in the water and I was positioned like a trailing fender on the starboard side.  “I think there is room for you, sweetie”, I said to Sal.  “Just climb on and stand with your feet apart at the bow like Leonardo on the Titanic (poor choice of analogies) and hold onto the box.”

Sal just looked at me.  She didn’t move.  “David, it is starting to blow up out there.  I don’t think you’ll make it.  And I sure as hell am not going with you!  We’ll die.  You can’t go.  And, if you go, you can’t take that box.  You can’t see where you’re going and the whole load is way too top heavy.  Don’t be insane!”

She had a good point.  But men, eh?  I mean I had struggled like hell to get the thing this far.  I needed it.  And delivering unwieldy stuff to our property was supposed to be part of the plan.  I couldn’t wuss out just because of an impending storm and the need to be a contortionist.  This was a test!  “No, I can make it.  You comin’?”

“No.  I’m sure you’re going to die.  I’ll drive up to the closest point I can get to and hike to the beach. If you get that far, I’ll climb on for the last few hundred yards.”

“OK.  Help me tie this thing down.”

“Are you mad!?  If you tie it in, it will flip you over.  When the seas fling it  overboard, let the damn thing go!  At least you’ll be alive and I’ll have somewhere to sit!”

“Good thinking.”  And I headed out.

The seas were two foot swells until I got out of the harbour.  And it was pouring.  Just about then the wind got up, too.  And it felt like all hell was breaking loose.  The boat was definitely top heavy and I was describing arcs with the top of the box that had to be eight to ten feet in distance from one side to the other — maybe more.  It seems like I got to the tipping point at every wave.  I slowly headed up coast with my body straining to keep the huge box in the rolling and rocking dinky boat into which I had squeezed myself like a pair of socks in a drawer.  This was not turning out to be a good day.

Of course I got soaked.  Immediately.  But that wasn’t the real problem.  The real problem was that I couldn’t turn back.  Turning the boat sideways into the seas to effect a reversal of direction would have definitely sent the box over the side and, since I was into it this far, I wanted to make every effort to keep the damn thing.  But Sal was right: tying it in would have been suicide.

Even though the wind got up to the low twenties and the seas were high enough that I disappeared deep within each trough, I seemed to be keeping it all together as I slowly motored up channel to the pick-up point.  It took about three hours to get there, maybe more.  When I got to Sal, she was standing on the shore looking amazed.  I was shaking like a leaf I was so cold.

“Wow!  I never thought I’d ever see you again.  Which didn’t feel as bad as I thought it might, you idiot!  I really thought this cabin madness would be over, settled by your early demise at sea.  I’m shocked.  Can you get us over?”

“S-s-s-s-ure.  P-p-p-p-ice of c-c-c-ake.  J-j-j-ump in!”

An hour or so later we arrived at our beach.  The waves were breaking on the unwelcoming rocks.  Somehow I had to get on to the shore and lift a 400 pound steel box out of the boat and up the beach.

“So, what’s the plan?”

Time to get a plan.  A bit late in the day, perhaps.  But I needed a plan and I needed one quick.  Otherwise I might look like a fool!  “It’s high tide.  I’m going to get as close to the beach as I can and then we just tip the sucker over the side – into the drink!  It will sink a few feet and catch up on the rocks below.  Tomorrow we’ll come back at low tide and it will be high and dry.  Then we’ll drag it up the shore.”

Tool Locker as it stands today

We shoved it over and it rolled out of the boat amazingly easily.  Our inflatable dropped down on the starboard side as it tipped and, as the box left the boat, we shot to port like a watermelon seed.  There we sat – looking at the beach.  No box in sight.  It was underwater.  Davey Jones’ locker – literally.

And Sal had doubts!  Can you believe that!?



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