One down, eight to go. It’s Saturday October 1st today and since all the excitement happened between Monday and Thursday, I didn’t get a chance to do any writing during the first half of the week. Then I had to finish the previous week so I’m posting this week now to put September behind us.
Communication from Jordan started to come in on Sunday. Around lunch time I received an email telling me that the barge was sitting in Naden Harbour waiting for a weather window to make the trip down to Port Louis and should be in tomorrow (the 26th) to unload. I checked the weather report and it wasn’t looking too good. Another Southeaster was forecast with winds up to fifty-five knots for Sunday night and easing up by Noon on Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were also forecast to have near gale force winds so it all seemed a little up in the air.
I called him on the sat phone on Sunday afternoon for some specific instruction on where to secure the barge’s mooring line on shore and at that time was given an ETA for the barge of 14:00 hours and to expect the float plane around Noon.
Foolishly, Wendi and I decided to have a few drinks on Sunday night; our last night alone for the better part of the coming week.
I set an alarm for 08:00 the next morning thinking that would give me plenty of time to have my coffee and then take a line out to the mooring tree and prepare for the barge. I know, I know, “No alarms!” Oh well.
At 10:00 o’clock I wandered out and just as I got to the tangled mess of rope to begin untangling enough to pack out to the mooring tree, I heard a noise and looked out toward sea and there they were; tug and barge, four hours early.
I picked up the entire mess of rope and made for the trail, through the bush along the shoreline. I got to what I thought was the mooring tree, the one with all the bright orange spray paint markings on the rocks below, and untangled the mess of half inch, three strand, nylon rope. I flaked out most of it at the base of the tree and then coiled enough to throw to reach the water below. Just as I was ready to throw I heard someone on the barge yell to me, “don’t throw that there, you have to take it out further along and down onto the beach.”. I knew exactly where he meant so I grabbed the rest of the rope and took it down to the beach and tied one end to the real mooring tree.
I quickly made my way back to dockside and grabbed a kayak from the rack, pulled it to the water’s edge and slipped in. I paddled my way out to the beach where I’d left the rope. Just after paddling underneath the bow of the barge I heard someone yelling to get my attention. I ignored him; First of all, twisting around in a kayak is a great way to tip it; secondly, I was on a mission so, screw it; I paddled on. I reached the beach where I had left the rope but by the time I got ready to get out of the kayak, a couple of guys from the barge arrived in an aluminum skiff. I guess I should have stopped when they hollered at me. Oh well, I left it to them, turned around and paddled back to dockside.
As soon as the barge was secured, the crew disappeared for lunch. It was around 12:30 when Jordan and a couple of guys arrived by float plane and by then fuel was flowing into the diesel tanks. We took on 55,000 litres of diesel and I don’t even know how much gasoline.
By 14:00 a boat arrived with the rest of the work crew and an operator for the hiab truck that was on board the barge. That’s when the off-loading got serious.
There was a SeaCan with groceries and more of our personal belongings and our beer. There were 10 lifts of lumber, including 3 lifts of plywood and the worst of all… 15 lifts of concrete premix. There were three four by eight sheets of half inch steel. I know there was more but five days after the fact, as I write this, I cannot honestly remember everything that was there.
The barge was off-loaded and gone by 16:00 and the floating helipad was now crowded with freight and sitting markedly lower in the water. It was also no longer level but had quite a lean on.
Jordan had told me we could expect about a dozen guys for four to six days for this job. When the barge left, the work continued. The guys hadn’t had lunch so they just grabbed some chocolate bars for energy and started carting all this stuff up to the lodge. I joined in.
We broke for dinner at around 6:00 pm and then they headed back out to put in a couple more hours before dark.
Tuesday morning, we all headed down to the helipad to get started at around 8:00 am. There was only lumber, steel and concrete left. Only!
We had intermittent rain all day and Wednesday would be the same. The lumber took all day and the back deck of the lodge is now covered with it. All day long I kept thinking that we should be moving the concrete between the periods of rain. We kept packing lumber.
Wednesday morning came along and it was raining; really raining. I thought they might have to take a day off, as Thursday’s forecast was sunshine. Nope! I went down and helped as much as I could but by lunch time I’d had enough and just started cleaning up after them.
There were split bags, wet bags, broken wagons and plenty of garbage to pick up and take for incineration.
The guys were a determined bunch and they were done by supper time. We estimated between forty-two and forty-five thousand pounds of concrete went up the gangway and to the lodge, a distance of about 150 yards; 50 of which are up hill. We loaded them four at a time into these wagons, two guys per wagon. They were coming up the boardwalk at a rate of 24 bags every twelve minutes, or two bags a minute. It took about ten hours.
When it was all said and done we sat down for dinner and Jordan put out a couple of bottles and a couple of cases of beer for the guys and we celebrated proper.
Of course that was the main focus of this week but there was a lot going on behind the scenes as well. Jordan was busy with some other projects that had to be done, I was cleaning up behind the guys and fixing things as they broke and of course Wendi spent the whole three days in the kitchen. You’d never know she had little or no experience cooking for so many guys; she did a great job.
Wendi and I had been dreading this week. We had no idea what to expect, really. We had visions of a dozen ignorant pigs invading our space and taking advantage of us in any way they could for the better part of a week. What really happened though is that we were pleasantly surprised by a dozen guys who were very mindful and respectful of us and the lodge and were there only to work. We made some new friends and had some good laughs and even learned a couple of words in Haida. The estimated four to six days turned out to be seventy-two hours. Not bad, not bad at all.
That said, it is nice and quiet here now and definitely nice to have the lodge back to ourselves.
We’ve been alone for a couple of days now and are taking it pretty easy. We have started to clean up and put things back in order but there’s lots of time for that so no reason to break our backs over it. Today is Saturday and sunny. Maybe we can get out for a hike. I’m thinking it might be a good idea to find a path to high ground; you know, for when the tsunami comes.