July 27, 2012 – Pump fixed, pontoon restored

Dredge (and Rainey) Report
Pump fixed, pontoon restored

 

July 27, 2012

 

Summary of accomplishments:

  • Restored and deployed the outfall pontoon
  • No dredging

Impediments:  no working overhead winch

Dredge (and Rainey) Report PDF file format download link

Summary July 16 – July 27:

Javeler, Inc. returned the pump July 12.  We don’t have a working winch at the present time, and the outfall pontoon was being restored, so there was no dredging during this period.

Post-breeding season is becoming more evident. The martins left some time ago, the kingfishers are returning to start establishing winter territories, and feathers are everywhere as various birds are starting to transition to winter plumage. Summer ducks are in eclipse plumage and can’t fly. I haven’t seen any baby gators yet, but they should be emerging soon.

Monday, July 16

I towed the 17-ft boat, the Avocet, down late on Monday intending to give Timmy a ride home after he dropped the Goose off at the Sportsman for a new motor. However, he finished early with his errands and took his personal boat down before I could get there. I took advantage of the no-rush to stop at Stine’s in Abbeville for paint and other supplies. With one delay after another, the boat was launched at Intracoastal City surrounded by scattered showers, and I made it to the Rainey headquarters around 6:00pm.

Figure 1.  Late afternoon light through storm clouds crossing Vermilion Bay, and sunset at the camp.

Figure 1. Late afternoon light through storm clouds crossing Vermilion Bay, and sunset at the camp.

Tuesday, July 17

Figure 2.  Dawn promised more rain.

Figure 2. Dawn promised more rain.

Dawn promised more scattered showers with thunderheads already building along the horizon around us. The humidity was high and the windows were all beaded with moisture so details outside were impossible to see through the windows. When I stepped outside for my sunrise pictures, I discovered our resident deer herd bedded down against the pond edge bushes. I thought them all does, but one of the yearlings is starting to exhibit buttons between his ears. They reluctantly got up and sauntered into the marsh grass when I didn’t go back inside right away.

Figure 3. Our resident herd of 3 deer were bedded down at the back of the yard.

Figure 3. Our resident herd of 3 deer were bedded down at the back of the yard.

With high heat and humidity and storms looming, we stayed close to home to take care of a variety of pending tasks. Timmy put his mower back together and mowed the driest part of the yard. I painted the “private canal” sign that is needed for the SW Pass canals, and pulled the dry and clean pontoon out on the workshop deck to brush it out and coat the inside with a wood preservative. The whole time I was at the workshop, a very large alligator was cruising the opposite bank, occasionally jumping with a loud splash at the overhanging bushes. And, I’ve noticed our kingfishers are back!

Figure 4. Sitting under Took's new camp waiting for the rain to quit.

Figure 4. Sitting under Took's new camp waiting for the rain to quit.

Over at the pumphouse, I bleached all of the mildew and grime off of the baseboard lumber and set them inside to dry so that I can paint them at a later date. We are considering making this insulated room into an extra guest room.

It was very hot and stuffy inside the pumphouse, so when I got caught by a heavy downpour, I ran under Took’s camp to sit in the breeze until the rain abated.

Timmy discovered he had an appointment in town, so I quickly jumped in the shower to go ashore with him in his personal boat. The Goose was supposed to be ready this afternoon with a new motor, so Timmy pulled his boat out at the public ramp to drop it off at the storage unit on his way to town. I jumped in my car, dropped my trailer at Danny’s Marina (where our boatshed is) and headed to Abbeville. I finished my shopping at Stine’s and the grocery store and got to the Sportsman just as Timmy was signing for the new boat motor.

I followed behind the Goose as he towed it down to the marina. I feel like we should have flashing yellow lights and a banner across the back that reads “oversized load” when he is pulling the Goose, as it looks massive on top of the trailer. We made it successfully to the marina and got it into the water. I tied the boat to the dock while he went to drop his trailer and park the truck. I drove around to pick him up at the boatshed, then went back to load the Goose. While he drove the Goose back around to the public dock, I hooked my trailer back up and towed it back to the parking lot where I left it to meet him. Back across the Bay to headquarters we went, to tie up and unload just in time for evening relaxation.

Wednesday, July 18

As soon as we were up and dressed we headed outside to work on the outfall pontoon while it was relatively cool. Timmy designed and constructed the outfall hose support for the pontoon while I cut the lid, sanded it, and sealed the corner supports. Timmy replaced the corner screw-eyes with stainless steel eyebolts and washers so they can’t pull out. I helped Timmy attach the hose assembly to the pontoon lid and we reassembled the pontoon, sealing the lid with caulk and screws. I used our new belt sander to sand the entire construction and we put the first coat of paint on it. Timmy would repaint it later this week after I was gone.

We stopped at lunch. I took a shower and nap and had to load quickly to beat a pop-up squall at the camp. My luck held as I made it to the landing and managed to load around the other boats running from weather and got on the road before the rain hit.

Figure 5. The pontoon clean and preserved ready for its new lid; and Timmy painting the new configuration.

Figure 5. The pontoon clean and preserved ready for its new lid; and Timmy painting the new configuration.

Thursday, July 26

I headed down to the Sanctuary early this morning and found Timmy at Maxie Pierce’s grocery store at the landing. I launched the Avocet and headed on out to the headquarters while he was loading and going for fuel. I stopped at the dredge site on my way, to check water level and conditions before the LSU crew was to arrive. They called shortly afterwards to say they weren’t going to make it. As I walked up to Cell 5 a family of black-necked stilts with a few willets clamored into the sky, and a king rail stalked quickly across our created island into the marsh.

The vegetation in Cell 5 is growing “like weeds.”  The darker green Schoenoplectus olneyi (olneyi 3-square) is filling in from the edges at quite a rapid rate, and the Spartina patens (marshhay cordgrass) is closing in our former canoe access. Even the work area where we took the hose apart that was damaged with the airboat and repeated foot traffic has regrown into beautiful marsh again.

Figure 6. View of Cell 5 to the east showing vigorous marsh growth.

Figure 6. View of Cell 5 to the east showing vigorous marsh growth.

Figure 8. The area we had muddied up and mashed down by airboat and foot traffic was green and growing again.

Figure 8. The area we had muddied up and mashed down by airboat and foot traffic was green and growing again.

As I was tying up my boat at the house, Timmy arrived and I helped him unload. Then I got to meet the newest member of the Sanctuary management who is now on staff as an intern. Blanche is only 7 weeks old, but shows great potential as a gopher (as in: go-fer things) and live entertainment.

Figure 9. Blanche, the new intern.

Figure 9. Blanche, the new intern.

At 10:00 we loaded the almost new, re-designed pontoon onto the airboat, and I followed in the Avocet over to the dredge site. While Timmy took the longer airboat route around to access the site, I bailed the canoe and loaded it with all the ropes I could find. When Timmy arrived, we wrestled the pontoon overboard where it floated like a cork, and tied it temporarily to the 2x4s where the outfall hose is tied, to keep it from blowing across the pond.

We decided to trade out the current hard hose for a flex hose to be attached at the pontoon to make it easier to position. I untied the end of the outfall hose from the 2x4s, and we found the joint in the pond that needed to come apart. With me holding the hose out of the water with a length of rope, Timmy beat on the connection until the corrosion broke loose and we could get the sections apart. We tied an empty water bottle to the end in the pond so we could find it. A plug was put in the tow end, and I leaned upside down over the bow to tie the rope to the cleat underneath the airboat. Timmy towed the section ashore as far as the airboat could go, then we had to haul it the rest of the way up the levee by hand. The hose end had plowed through some of the marsh so it was a good thing we had the plug in it.

Timmy put plugs in both ends of the extra flex hose so it would hold air and float, and used the airboat to pull it into Cell 3. I got in the canoe and paddled out to bring the pontoon over to the airboat. Timmy connected the hose to the pontoon while I held the rope to keep the sections from pulling apart. Timmy tied the two ropes back onto either side of the pontoon, and I canoed them over to tie it to the walkway so the wind wouldn’t pull the pontoon and hose across the pond.

Figure 10. Timmy connecting the hose to our restored pontoon.

Figure 10. Timmy connecting the hose to our restored pontoon.

Then I went to look for the free end of the hose so we could connect the two together. We discovered that our waterbottle marker had been pulled off of the hose in the pond by the one we had hauled ashore. I tried to find the submerged hose by paddling around and dragging a pole, but several attempts failed to locate it in the muddy water where we thought it should be. Following the hose that came off the dock with a pole proved the end had been pulled almost to shore by the hose we had hauled up. I got a rope around it and towed it by canoe over to the airboat, which by this time had been pushed by the wind into the middle of the pond.

Two hard sections of hose needed to be connected, and the angle caused by the position of the airboat just would not work. Timmy tied another piece of rope to the airboat, I paddled to the walkway with the end, got out to sit on the walkway, and prepared to pull the airboat to straighten the hose attack.

Unfortunately, the weather we had been watching decided to move in with a vengeance. Thunder rolled across the landscape and we worked quickly to disconnect everything while watching lightening striking closer and closer. Timmy tied the two hose ends together, we both headed for shore and my boat, and quickly raced down the canal for cover.

Two and half hours later (around 1:30), after the showers had moved on, we returned to finish the deployment. I hopped in the canoe and Timmy moved the airboat once again into the pond. This time, he pulled both ends of the hose onto the airboat, one from each side. I tried unsuccessfully to push the hoses into position with the canoe, so tied the canoe to the airboat and climbed aboard to help from the deck. With better leverage, we lined the hoses up and Timmy got the camlocks in place. Now all we need is a working overhead winch!!!

Figure 12. The refurbished pontoon reconnected to the dredge and ready for action.

Figure 12. The refurbished pontoon reconnected to the dredge and ready for action.

With that task complete, Timmy needed to check on the grass plantings in Christian Marsh. He took off in the airboat and I ran the Avocet down the canals to meet him at one of the airboat crossing.

The Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) marsh grass along the waterline of the terraces was planted by volunteers in mid-May, by plugs of 1-3 stems spaced several feet apart. In only 2 months, those battered plugs had grown and spread into healthy clumps ringing all the terraces. Small flocks of Forster’s terns and black terns were congregated on the peaks of some terraces, and black-necked stilts, various sandpipers, rails, marsh hens and summer ducks were seen flushing or ducking over to the other side of the mud ridges as we passed by.

The Ruppia maritima (widgeon grass) in the pond was very thick in some areas, and a few Nymphoides aquatica (banana lily) were observed in a couple of places which made Timmy smile. Both aquatic species are important as duck feed during the winter. Usually shy marsh hens were observed out in the open ponds, some with fuzzy black chicks, their movement hindered by the thick aquatics and unable to get off the water quickly.

Figure 13. Two months after being planted as battered 2-stem plugs, the marsh grass had grown into healthy clumps of marsh.

Figure 13. Two months after being planted as battered 2-stem plugs, the marsh grass had grown into healthy clumps of marsh.

Figure 14. Flocks of Forster's terns and black terns enjoyed the convenience of the bare top of the terraces.

Figure 14. Flocks of Forster's terns and black terns enjoyed the convenience of the bare top of the terraces.

Figure 15. A marsh hen racing across the widgeon grass.

Figure 15. A marsh hen racing across the widgeon grass.

Figure 16. Marsh hen mom and chick.

Figure 16. Marsh hen mom and chick.

Figure 17. Summer ducks in eclipsed plumage could not fly.

Figure 17. Summer ducks in eclipsed plumage could not fly.

 Friday, July 27

Figure 18. Rain falling on the rising sun.

Figure 18. Rain falling on the rising sun.

Before I left for home, we took an early morning tour of the south property, and Timmy took me through more canals I had never traversed. The Paul J. Rainey Wildlife Sanctuary is a very unique and wonderful place.

 

Karen A Westphal and Timmy J Vincent, National Audubon Society
Louisiana Coastal Initiative and the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Refuge
6160 Perkins Road, Suite 215, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-768-0921 office, kwestphal@audubon.org

 

 

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