power-winching the floating dock
Friday, October 27 2023
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, NY
This morning we packed up the Chevy Bolt with a few provisions and the dogs and began our drive to the cabin for the weekend. For months now we've been driving to and from the cabin using the scenic route through Middleburgh, but this time Gretchen wanted to stop at Pearl's Bagels in Albany on the way, so we took the Thruway. Pearl's is very popular bagel shop, but Gretchen figured we'd avoid the usual waiting in line by getting there in the mid-morning on a Friday. When we got there, though, there was a short line going out the door. The shop is tiny inside, though, so there's no other place for a line to be. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were a good number of people not in line waiting for their orders to be finished. After we'd ordered our sandwiches, bagels, and coffee drinks to go, we went back to the car to take our dogs for whatever walk we could find. They immediately gravitated to the back alley behind the bagel shop, where we were soon joined by a pair of sharply-dressed women from the salon next door. They were delighted by the dogs and one of them went back inside to get them treats. She said it was a "dog friendly" salon and that if Gretchen ever wanted her hair done there, she could absolutely bring the dogs in with her. At some point a quiet heavily-tattooed gentleman came out of the back of the pizza shop for a smoke break.
Once we had our bagels and coffee, we were back on the road. Once again I'd ordered the "New York, New York" vegan bagel sandwich, which was great. But the coffee was something of a too-bitter disappointment. Pearl's is great for the bagels, but maybe get your coffee from somewhere else.
At the cabin, we immediately started charging the car and then brought in all the things we'd need for the weekend. I'd brought a brand new $100 marine battery (ordered online from Walmart) for use down at the dock, where the plan is to use it for multiple purposes and keep it charged with a small solar panel. It was so heavy that I decided to carry it to the dock using my firewood-hauling backpack. I'd also brought a section of three-inch PVC pipe for potential use as a roller when winching the floating section of dock out of the lake.
The weather was so pleasant that Gretchen grabbed a book and headed down to the lake, bringing Charlotte and a very slow Neville with her. I soon caught up with Neville several minutes later as I carried my heavy payload.
After hooking up the beefy marine battery to my winch and connecting it to the cable attached to the floating dock (which had been anchored all week just north of the tree dock), I began slowly winching the dock ashore, stopping repeatedly to check on the progress at the dock itself (which I couldn't really see from the sheltered place I was in to run the winch). I've never used a powered winch before, so I didn't really knoe what to expect. I'd hoped the would coil onto the drum would in an orderly manner, but instead it tended to want to accumulate on one side of the drum, which would sometimes lead to the cable untwisting parts of itself enough for the individual wires to separate a little and then pinch (or be pinched) by adjacent wrappings of the cable. I found myself having to babysit the cable as it both left and return to the drum.
My main concern with this setup (and the reason I was using a powered winch instead of a hand-cranked one) was the risk of some component failing. If that happened, something could whip through the air and injure me, which was more likely to happen if I was near the winch instead of behind a tree operating it remotely with some push-button switches. I was making good progress with winching the dock out of the lake, but then things started getting hard for the winch, and it slowed down so much that Gretchen was wondering I'd I'd already exhausted the marine battery (with its 1.2 KW-hr charge!). But no, the dock was just plowing into too much mucky soil on the lakeshore. (The reason I was winching from a pulley mounted high in a tree was to minimize this sort of thing). Then suddenly I heard a clunk as something broke and the cable relaxed (though, happily, nothing flailed). I'd been winching using an eyebolt on the dock, and apparently the forces had been enough to snap the bolt off clean through its 3/8 inch threaded end from one of the dock's corner brackets. Fortunately, there were more solid places to winch from, so the winching continued.
I managed to get the dock entirely out of the lake this way, though things went a little faster than expected at the end and one of the corners of one of the dock's plastic floaters was now resting on a rough piece of flat granite that I'd thought was far enough out of the way not to worry about. I checked the corner to see if it had been damaged and it was a little rough there, but not worse than any of the other floaters' corners, which get a little chewed up just dragging them out of the dock floater factory.
I cracked open a beer to celebrate my success and then hiked back to the cabin, this time using the backpack to carry my telescoping ladder up from the dock. It was now overcast, so I stopped charging the Bolt to preserve enough power in the cabin's battery to make it through the night.
A big priority for Gretchen is to paint the cement boards on the outside of the foundation insulation project I'd finished back in the warmer weather. So after she got back from the lake, she started priming the south foundation wall's cement board with white primer. When she'd finished that, I took over and primed the west wall and even a little of the west end of the north wall behind the generator. By then Gretchen had made Korean dumplings and salad for dinner.
Later, in the light of a nearly-full-moon, we took the dogs for a walk to the radio tower and back, though Neville was walking so slowly he never even made it to Woodworth Lake Road by the time we were walking home.
After I'd read all I could of my usual web haunts from my Chromebook, I went down to the basement to build out more of the electrical system down there. I installed a single box for an outlet on the concrete south foundation wall a little west of the walled-off stairway. The plan is to install three more outlets on the concrete wall on the west side of the basement (bringing the total number of basement outlets to 17). But, in my now-somewhat-intoxicated state, I was having trouble figuring out where it made sense to run the wires. When I'm in certain frames of mind and there are multiple ways to proceed, I can experience paralysis, not wanting to foreclose a potentially superior option. Most of the time, though, I just charge ahead in such situations without much deliberation.
The truncated dock today. Gretchen was reading on that chair on the half-floating dock, which I will eventually jack up out of the lake. Click to enlarge.
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