Friday, May 30, 2008

Settling in, getting started

My main reason to be here is to build a kayak. Last fall I talked to Mike about a partially built wood kayak he had and was willing to sell. I told him I would be back in the spring to build it. Mike has built kayaks in the past but doesn't anymore. I guess he quit in mid-kayak, so to speak. When I was in the Harbour on Sunday he gave me a set of instructions for completing the kayak and a shopping list of materials I would need. The main item was a gallon of epoxy.

After some searching on the internet I managed to find a source for the epoxy in Dartmouth and on Tuesday drove down to pick it up. Mike had estimated the cost at around a hundred dollars, but it came in closer to a hundred and seventy, another casualty of rising oil prices I guess.

I also had to get in firewood. It is still pretty cool here, going down to 5C or 6C at night and rising to maybe 15-18C during the day. One fire in the morning is really all I need, the house stays warm for the rest of the day and I don't mind the cold at night.

Mike cut down a dead maple on the rental property and junked it up into stove lengths and told me I could have it if I wanted. I just had to pick it up in my truck. It was supposed to rain on Wednesday so after my trip to Dartmouth to get the epoxy I hurried back to the Harbour to get the maplewood in before the rain.

Tuesday night I was moved in, with my gallon of epoxy, about a month's worth of firewood and a couple of pails of water from the spring that will be my water source. Fritz and Carolyn's house in the Harbour has electricity, but no phone, internet or running water. The toilet is an outhouse.

On Wednesday I spent the day just unpacking and wandering around in the woods looking at all the plants just starting to emerge.

Lots of ferns and sarsaparilla unfurling, elderberries with purplish flowerbuds, and clintonia and bunchberries and mayflowers with their first few flowerbuds.

I wandered around the old site of my house, now a grassy clearing in the woods. It had been surrounded by birches and everyone said it was a miracle that those birches were untouched by the fire.

But it turns out they were touched, it just took them a decade or so to die. Now only one of them remains alive, and it looks like it is on its last legs.

In the evening I went into town to have dinner with Carolyn at Paddy's and listen to the Hupman Brothers. Whew! Loud!

Afterward I drove back up the mountain and, not wanting to back into the narrow winding driveway through the woods, I parked the truck the wrong way. I turned on the inside light to get all my stuff together to walk the hundred yards to the house. Unfortunately I neglected to turn that light off and didn't notice its soft glow inside the truck on my walk back to the house. Didn't think about it again until the next day in the mid-afternoon when I wanted to turn the truck around and park it properly, and discovered that the battery was now quite dead (but that damn light was still glowing). Great.

Parked the way it was jumper cables were just not going to reach the battery, this was going to be complicated. However, when Mike got home from work he told me he had extra long cables, so using my short ones and his long ones we successfully jump started the truck. I then went on an impromptu hour-long tour of the Fundy coast to recharge my battery. At current gas prices this was a rather expensive error, hopefully it will stick in my memory!

I am so happy to be here. I almost don't want to start the kayak, I am enjoying just walking around in the woods too much. The black flies are a bit much right now, but nothing a little DEET can't handle. But on Thursday I finally sat down and read through the instructions and talked them over with Mike. Today (Friday) I have to go into town to buy yet more stuff for the kayak, so maybe I'll find a WiFi hotspot and post this blog entry.

Tomorrow Mike and I will start cleaning up the Garden House where the kayak hull now sits.

The electric wiring of the building is rather precarious, that will be the first thing to clean up. After that I guess I'll start working on the kayak deck.

At the moment this project looks daunting. I have never done anything like this, I know next to nothing about boatbuilding. Even reading the instructions was scary, they seem to assume considerably more knowledge and skill than I have.

In a way this reminds me of technical writing projects, that scary first moment when I know nothing at all about the project or what is required or where to get the information. I don't even know what questions to ask! But slowly it unfolds. For me, the trick is to get that crucial first fact that is the way in. Like finding the right strand to pull on to begin unraveling snarled yarn. A lot of just picking at it to begin with, trying to loosen it up and see some kind of pattern.

My main source of information will be Mike, when he is available. I bought a couple of books on Amazon, and I have Mike's written instructions. When I was in Dartmouth buying the epoxy, the fellow in the marine store showed me a book called Kayak Construction Manual written by a local guy. He didn't know where it was sold but I wrote down the title and author's name and will search for it on the internet. Later, talking to an old friend, I mentioned the book and its author and my friend said he used to go to school with the guy. Very small world here.


Anonymous said...

This sounds so lovely and peaceful. I can imagine why you are reticent to 'get to work' right away. Relax! Enjoy the peace.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful piece of property!