Sunday, July 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Back home after a weekend of R&R at the family camp compound in Sebago, Maine, where the mosquitoes blackened the sky and I barely managed to eke out a tie (3-3) with the Mrs. in our nightly cribbage sessions.

This weekend also marked the successful completion of my latest camp project - building a new swim float to replace the rotted-out, nearly 30-year-old float that had served us well over the decades.

I don't have a very good before picture, but here's a look at the underside. Trust me, it was in worse shape than this picture shows. Sorry for the crappy cell phone pics, but laziness prevailed and I never bothered to grab a real camera for any of these shots.

What we quickly learned as we were picking this beast up off the ground was that it's friggin' heavy. The next thing I had to contend with was transporting the new float up there, once it was built. I didn't feel like lifting an 8-by-8 float onto the back sides of my pickup truck, so I decided it was going to be built in two 4-by-8 sections, and connected with five carriage bolts along the center.

Not wanting to end up with something substantially heavier than the original, and knowing that instead of one 2x4 running down the center, there was going to be two 2x6's instead, I changed the 2x6's running in the other directions (the pieces the reused foam sponsons bolted onto) to 2x4's.

Exciting stuff, no?

Hey, if you read this far, you're not gonna quit now.

Here are the two sections prior to being bolted together. The plan was to bolt them together with the top surfaces flush, put the decking on, and then run a circular saw down the centerline, just cutting through the thickness of the decking.

And, the plan was executed flawlessly. The only problem was now I had this heavy sonofabitch sitting in my garage and I had to get underneath it to unbolt the two sections. The wife and I managed to get one end up onto a pair of sawhorses, and I put some blocking underneath just in case my sawhorses decided, while I was underneath, that their weight capacity had been egregiously surpassed.

Anyway, the unbolting went pretty smoothly, and we were able to wrestle the two sections into the back of the truck. All I could think of at this time was "Is this thing gonna float? Above the water anyway?".

Have I mentioned how friggin' heavy this thing was?

I thought for sure it was gonna outweigh to old one by a good measure, but the only way to find out was to get it in the water and see.

Friday afternoon we drove up to the camp, and I dragged the two sections out of the truck and cracked open a cold one to figure out how best to proceed. Turns out, the best way to proceed, as far I could discern at the time, was to crack open a couple more and put off the rest of the project 'til Saturday.

So, yesterday morning, I got back to work on it. The sponsons bolted on about as easily as I expected, the hardware was still viable, so we just reused what we had. Here's the two sections, ready to be dragged down to the lake (using a coupld 5/4x6 pressure treated boards as runners), where the next step was to float them upside-down and bolt 'em back together.

This plan was also executed in a flawless manner, but then left us with the task of dragging it out of the water enough so that we could upend this behemoth and flip it over. I swear, if a dragonfly had come by and landed on this thing while we were lifting it, the extra weight would have killed us.

To make a long story short(er), we got it flipped, attached the anchor (bucket o' concrete chained to a cinder block), put the anchor on a mat on the float to keep it from getting the crap scratched out of it, grabbed a canoe paddle, and I did my best Huck Finn impersonation and navigated it into position.

Anchor down!

Bottoms up!