dock winterization, day 3
Saturday, November 19 2022
location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY
I had a fairly long, relaxing morning as I waited for Gretchen (who had set out this morning) to arrive at the cabin. I was anxious about the state of Woodworth Lake Road. It had been plowed, but snow (likely from the so-called "lake effect") had continued to fall afterwards, and, when I went to check on it, it had a surface of two compressed tracks with a low ridge of snow (only about a half inch high) between them. This continuing snow had again covered the solar panels, forcing me up on the roof for a second day in a row to clear them. Fortunately, they were easier to clear this time, and I made further progress against some of the older, harder snow that I'd been unable to clear yesterday.
Gretchen would be helping me with the dock winterizing project later today, so I wanted to do some initial prep work first. Mostly this entailed making a base for the pole that I will be hanging the hinged part of the dock from. That base will sit on a bottom comprised of unknown material, so it needed to be able to spread out its weight load on the possibility that the lake bottom is two feet of soft muck. With this in mind, I found two scraps of treated two by fours, each roughly eighteen inches long. I notched them both so they could fit together in a half-lap joint, and I even glued them with Gorilla Glue (which is waterproof). I then used four short lag bolts (the only suitable fastener I had on hand) to attached a big flange capable of accepting a pipe with two-inch NPT threads. To deal with the possibility of this cross sinking deep into the much, I looked around the basement for some sort of thin material to create "webbing" between the cross's "fingers." Plywood would've worked, but it might only survive a single winter on the lake bottom before delaminating. But then I saw an old plastic toilet seat with a lid which Gretchen had hoped to return to the cabin's builders (since we're using a different toilet seat). But they'd consider it suspect and just throw it out. So I decided to use the toilet lid as my "webbing." The result looked a little blasphemous, since it amounted to a crucified toilet lid, and that gave me a hook for a Facebook posting about it.
In the process of installing the lag bolts, my impact driver managed to snap off the quarter inch ratchet adapter in its chuck (or whatever the equivalent is called on an impact driver). It snapped off so cleanly that there was no way to easily get it out, and I wondered if maybe that was the end of the impact driver. [Fortunately, though, after doing some internet research, I was able to extract the remnants of the adapter using a nail and hammer (to knock it loose) and a rare-earth magnet (to extract it).]
At some point I looked up at the driveway and saw Gretchen walking in, carrying two bags of food from our refrigerator back in Hurley. On my advice, she'd parked at the beginning of our driveway and hadn't attempted to drive on its unplowed surface (which is still no obstacle at all for the Subaru Forester). The dogs were delighted at Gretchen's unexpected arrival, and Gretchen plunked down on the couch between them. (Ramona, though, had actually gone with me to meet her in the driveway.)
After some leisurely Saturday morning stuff in front of the fire, I feared it would start getting dark at around 3:00pm, so I said we should go down to the lake to work on the dock winterization project. Because it was the both of us going somewhere, the dogs followed us down. But there was nothing for them to do down there and no place to get comfortable. Gretchen tried a spreading out a piece of cardboard on the snow, but the dogs didn't much like that option. Instead, they followed us back and forth onto the dock as I set up the pole at the end of the hinged section of dock, which I had Gretchen hold in place while I fetched other things. I needed to use the chain I'd used to help pull the floating section of dock onto the shore, and that meant disengaging the come along. But, a minute or so after I did that, I heard a sound and saw that the damn dock had slipped about six inches back towards the lake, stopped only by the various blocks I'd set in place to hold it up. But I decided not to worry about it for the time being.
The jacking up of the hinged part of the dock went even better than expected, and I'd planned things so well (including a rope in case the pole slipped out of our hands and fell to the lake bottom) that I could tell Gretchen was impressed. The only glitch, if there was one, was that the lake bottom featured a cliff right at the spot where I wanted to put the pole, so I had put it about two feet further out, meaning it didn't end up as vertical as I'd hoped. But it seemed solid in this position, and I was able to jack the hinged section of dock so that the bottom of the floater was about three inches above the lake surface. And the lake surface now is back to being high and is unlikely to rise much more.
I then turned my attention to the floating section of dock while Gretchen went back to the cabin to the dogs wouldn't be with us in the cold and so she could get some warmer socks. While she was gone, I tried prying up the dock and inserting more blocks. But eventually I decided I needed to use a proper jack and get another chain to keep the dock from wanting to slide back into the lake. When Gretchen returned, I told her these things, and we trudged back to the cabin through the snow.
Back at the cabin, I decided to drive to the Ace hardware in Johnstown to get more chain and perhaps a good farm jack. They didn't have farm jacks, and their range of chain didn't have a lot of steps in it. So I bought 30 feet of chain with a five hundred pound rating.
When I returned, I ate a burger Gretchen had gotten me from a Black-owned vegan burger franchise called Slutty Vegan, which recently opened a restaurant in Brooklyn. Gretchen had been to Brooklyn on Friday to attend the funeral of Betty Adelson, America's foremost authority of dwarfs. Betty was not a dwarf herself, though her Anna daughter is, and Gretchen had helped Betty edit her two big definitive books about dwarfs and dwarfism. Gretchen had considered Betty a good friend early in our marriage, though eleven years or so ago, Betty's mind began to be destroyed by Alzheimer's Disease. After I'd eaten my reheated burger and fries (they were delicious!), Gretchen told me about the funeral and the surprising fact that she kept finding herself bursting into tears. She said this was the first time she'd ever attended a funeral mostly for her own purposes (as opposed to the purpose of comforting family members, one of whom, in this case, has become estranged).
The base of the pole I designed to hold up the hinged section of dock over winter. The toilet lid provides webbing should the base find itself in mucky conditions.
The pole (on that base) holding up the hinged section of dock. The floating section of dock is out-of-frame to the right. Click to enlarge.
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