May 8, 2012

Tuesday, May 8

Karen (me) stopped by Grainger’s in Lafayette on my way through at 7:30 to pick up stainless steel cable and order another spare winch motor and cable cutters. In Abbeville, I met Timmy at Stine’s at 8:30 to buy more supplies for containment. We loaded the Goose with plywood and lumber and made it back to the Rainey headquarters by 10:00am.

We were at the dredge by 10:30. The first task today was to replace the cable that lifts the starboard spud. There are two huge pins that hold the spud upright, and it took a half an hour just to get the barnacle-encrusted cotter pins out.

Timmy attached a pulley on the overhead beam by a loop of cable and wrapped another piece of cable around the spud. The broken end of the cable still attached to the winch was passed through the pulley and hooked onto the cable around the spud.

By this arrangement, we used the spud’s own winch to slowly pull the spud out of the mud about two feet at a time. We winched the spud up, wrapped webbing around the base to keep it from sliding down when the cable was slacked, moved the gripping cable down the spud and winched it up again. The spud needed to be rotated onto the deck so that Timmy could get to the cable attachment on the bottom of the spud, but the water level in the canal was too low to rotate the bottom through 8 ft of mud and clear the dredge frame. The other spud was raised so the whole barge could move as we pushed the long metal spud against the mud. Timmy tied a rope to the top of the spud and pulled on it while I operated the winch. We raised it and pushed, then lowered and pushed until we worked it down and cleared the dredge frame, then lowered it to the deck and pulled it up as far as we could.

Once it was on the deck, we used the water pump to wash the thick, sticky mud off the work area. We had left the new stainless steel cable at the house, so Timmy went back to get it. While he was gone, I used a short length of 2×4 to knock the barnacles off.

Just before Timmy returned, SeaGrant extension agents Mark Shirley, Rusty Gairde, and Thu Bui came by to see dredge. They had an idea for a dredge project near New Orleans and wanted to get a feel for the capabilities and special requirements of ours. We explained the mechanics of the dredge, then Timmy dredged while I took them to the end of the boardwalk to explain the fill management. With the dredge pumping it was difficult to tell how deep or shallow the cell was, but fortunately a flock of least sandpipers came in and were running around in the low area, easily illustrating how shallow it was with their short legs. They kept us occupied between 12:30 and 3:00, and might have been longer had impending thunderstorms not chased everyone back to safety.

Back at the house, between thunderstorms, we unwound the stainless steel cable and measured out 2 lengths 25 ft long to replace the cables on both spuds. Timmy cut the cable with his grinder plugged into a small portable generator. One length already had a factory installed loop, and we added one to the other length. The weather prevented our return to the dredge for this afternoon.

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