Dredge and Rainey Report
August 17, 2012
Summary of accomplishments:
New hydraulic winch installed for raising and lowering the pump
Moved water pump back on the deck and connected hard pipe to front
Resumed dredging after 2 months offline
LSU adding more walkways
Total time pumped into Cell 3 (.366 acres): 4.5 hours
Impediments: Intermittent rain showers; HOT and humid working conditions.
This report can be downloaded in PDF file format by clicking the Resume Dredge Report August 17, 2012 hyperlink.
Dredging ceased 2 months ago when a stick become wedged inside the pump where we couldn’t reach it. The pump was taken away and returned, but the overhead winch (the 5th winch) was once again untrustworthy, and Javeler, Inc. (the dredge manufacturer and donor) sent out a hydraulic version as an upgrade.
Pumping finally resumed this week. The weather has been at record high temperatures and smothering humidity, making working outdoors extremely uncomfortable. Although the chance of rain is predicted to be low every day, pop-up showers are our norm and play havoc with any plans.
The first flock of teal were flushed in Christian Marsh.
Monday, August 6
I couldn’t make it out on this day, nor would I make it out the rest of that week. Timmy met the hydraulics specialist, Jack Winters, at the dock around 10 am. He brought the new hydraulic winch and fittings that Javeler, Inc. donated, to replace the overhead winch that we keep burning out. He and Timmy worked to refit the dredge to accommodate the upgrade. Timmy managed to find time to take pictures.
While Jack hooked up hoses and installed new switches on the hydraulic unit, Timmy worked to disconnect the winch and battery box from the tractor drive and pull the old winch off the overhead support (figure 1). The new winch would not fit in the same space as the old, so he had to remove the battery box as well to make space. The new, powerful, quiet, overhead winch was installed and tested by hooking it to the pump and standing it upright. However, a replacement support still needed to be fabricated before the tractor drive could be used again to move the pump fore and aft.
Monday, August 13
I headed down right after lunch towing the Avocet, and made it out to the Rainey headquarters around 2:30. Timmy was busy fixing his lawnmower when I got there, so I unloaded the boat and then went to see what I could do to help (which wasn’t much).
About 4:00, we loaded the Goose with a plethora of tools and headed to the dredge. It was a pleasure to see the pump standing up again, even if it wasn’t hooked up to dredge yet (Figure 3).Timmy had bought a piece of aluminum to make an extension to the support to get the tractor drive hooked up to the winch and battery again. I stood on a chair to hold things and hand things to Timmy while he measured and marked the piece of aluminum. We started up his tiny generator and plugged the saber saw in, but something was wrong with it and it wouldn’t cut properly.
We got back in the Goose, and went back to camp, where Timmy used the skill saw to cut the aluminum to the proper dimensions.
Back on the dredge, we clamped everything into position, started up the generator, and Timmy started drilling holes for bolts. I had grabbed another ladder from the shop, so I was up and down it to get bolts or tools. I used vice grips on the bolts while Timmy used an impact wrench to tighten all the nuts. When the battery frame was properly attached, Timmy hoisted the battery into it and connected all the electrical wiring. The tractor drive was pulled into position and the pin inserted.
Task 1 for this week was complete, and we made it back to camp at 7 pm.
Tuesday, August 14
Sunrise was at 6:37 this morning and we were out to start our day’s activities by 7:00. I pulled the Avocet out of the boatshed and tied it out in front of the house out of the way. The flat boat was scheduled for a new motor and Timmy wanted to clean and paint the hull first. That meant the old, non-working motor needed to be pulled off, and the easiest way we could think of to do that was to use the new hydraulic winch on the dredge.
It worked like a charm. Timmy tied the flat to the Goose and towed it to dredge. We maneuvered the flat boat around to the front of the dredge and cranked up the hydraulic unit. Timmy secured a strap harness around the motor, attached the winch to it, undid the bolts, and the motor was lifted away. The flat was pulled around to the side and the Goose brought to the front, the motor was lowered and Timmy positioned it on a piece of plywood on the deck. Done.
The flat was towed back to the yard, and Timmy used a 4-wheeler to pull the boat out of the water onto some PVC pipe rollers. We emptied it, and used a come-along and an oak tree to pull it up on its side where it was braced to be washed out. It was then rolled upside down and Timmy started scrubbing it off.
Of course it started to rain. The weather prediction for today was 20%, but that doesn’t matter in south Louisiana. It started raining and all our tools were left out on the dredge. I jumped in my boat, the 17-ft Avocet, pulled out my rain gear and boat shield, and raced back down the canal in the rain to the dredge. The rain had come in at an angle so a few things in the middle hadn’t gotten wet. Luckily, the rain ceased as I tossed everything under my rain shield and I headed back to the house. Timmy had worked to clean off all the scum and barnacles on the flat, but every time he got the paint bucket out, it would rain, and he’d have to wait for the boat to dry again.
Around 1:30, we loaded up the Goose, and headed to the dredge. We hadn’t had a chance to look at the pond, so took a detour to check conditions for the LSU crowd that was coming tomorrow. The water level was down 2 inches below marsh level, but the exposed mud was still very saturated. The green and gold marsh around our pond is absolutely beautiful, and every time we approach our work area, black-necked stilts, egrets, spotted sandpipers, seaside sparrows, rails, snakes, crabs, alligators or some other creature is seen in our contained ponds or fill area.
Back on the dredge, we got to work preparing to dredge again. We had moved the waterpump back, but the hose still needed to reach the pump, so Timmy started assembling a PVC pipe extension. I worked to organize the hydraulic hoses, and to take the metal ring structure off the deck. The metal ring had been meant as a support for the pump, but the jet ring on the pump wouldn’t fit so it was superfluous and used as a trash collector.
Every 30 minutes or so, we were forced to stop work and move tools into the dry part of the Goose as our 10-20% chance of rain fell on us.
The PVC extension was finally complete and put side for the glue to set up. We attached the 4-inch dredge hose and the 2-inch water hose to the pump and tied them neatly to the new bracket on top of the pump. I used cable ties to group the hoses together into neat units so they wouldn’t make snarls of ankle trapping loops. We repositioned the carpet, and tied everything down. The only thing left before pumping again would be to attach the water hose to the new PVC extension and prime the pump. We could see another set of rain showers heading down the canal toward us, so quickly packed up and went back to the house at 4:00.
Amazingly, when we got back to camp we found that it hadn’t rained there and the flat boat was dry. Timmy got the bottom painted, and we called it a good day after all.
Wednesday, August 15
The LSU dredge group needed lumber transported today and we had a boat motor on the deck that needed to be moved, so we left the house around 7:30 in Goose. The trip across Little Vermilion Bay was slick – not a wave or breath of air. Timmy dropped me at the boatshed to get his truck and I drove to landing to meet him. Since we were early, I walked to Maxie Pierce Grocery for breakfast sandwiches. And it rained.
We had two groups from LSU coming out today. The one led by John Cross (LSU#1) was working the dredge study site, and the other led by Matt ___ (LSU#2) needed to access their study site in Christian Marsh. They were supposed to arrive an hour apart, but the first group was late and the second group was early.
There were plenty of guys to load the flat boat motor from the Goose to the truck, and I drove it back to the boatshed. Timmy came to pick me up and we went to Shell Morgan where John Cross had the lumber delivered. A Sheriff deputy in a boat stopped by to visit with Timmy while we waited for the LSU boat. LSU finally made it over and they loaded about half the lumber which was all the Goose could hold and still get up on step.
We headed back across the Bay to the house so that I could get my boat, and LSU group #2 was already there and waiting. I followed Timmy back to the dredge site where he tied up the boat and left it so that LSU group #1 could unload the lumber. We headed back to house.I dropped Timmy off to get the airboat and continued on to the Christian Marsh dock with LSU #2 following. The airboat was used to transport everyone out to one of the terraces that had been planted with a variety of Spartina alternifloracultivars with various treatments. The ride out was marvelous, with a variety of birds including great blue heron, great egrets, common moorhens and chicks, summer ducks, pied-billed grebes, and even a flock of blue-winged teal that apparently had just come in. The number of alligators was almost frightening with 5 big gators just on one side of the terrace that LSU#2 was working.
LSU group #2 had told Timmy they wanted to “look at” their site, but failed to explain that they meant to “work” the site. They had come to collect data on the response of various Spartina alterniflora cultivars to fertilizer treatments on this terrace. Instead of an hour visit, it would be several hours and Timmy had to stay with them since they had no other transportation. I had no reason to stay and had him bring me back to the dock so I could go get the dredge started up.
I stopped at the house for a quick lunch then loaded my boat with dredge paraphanalia and made it to the dredge around 1:00. LSU #1 was still eating lunch, then left to take some of their crew back to the landing and pick up the rest of the lumber. Before I could get the dredge prepped for dredging, thunder boomed to the north of me, and I packed up instead to head back to the house.
As I approached the house, I could see a boat heading my way down Belle Isle Bayou with a huge storm behind it. As I pulled in and tied up, they asked for shelter, and told me they knew Timmy. The Goose was still at the dredge site, and Timmy’s flat boat was up on the bank with new paint. I directed them to pull up on the other side of the boatshed, and we sat and chatted as the rain slowly crept toward us. I could see down the canal toward Christian Marsh, and as the dark, menacing rain cloud moved over the house and leaned over the canal, I could see LSU#2 coming up the canal in their bateau. Timmy had stayed at Christian Marsh with the airboat. We pulled their boat in front of mine. Then LSU#1 showed up, having crossed Little Vermilion Bay in the rain loaded with lumber. We wedged them in between all the other boats. This made 4 boats in the boatshed and none of them Timmy’s!
The rain came down in buckets and lightening boomed around us. During the first break in the storm, Timmy came, flying up the canal in the airboat. It didn’t take long before the isolated storm passed beyond us. Timmy took advantage of the extra muscle and had some of the guys help turn the flat back over onto its rollers. Each boat then departed to their individual destinations.
Since there was still some time left in the afternoon, Timmy and I went back to the dredge to test our new system. It was a pleasure not to hear the overhead winch creaking and groaning, or not to be worried about the cable jamming or leaving the pump on the bottom. Our deck was clear and all of the noisy machinery was behind us.
After a few minutes, I left Timmy dredging as I went to the pond. It was so nice to see mud flowing again! With LSU’s walkway conveniently along the containment, I checked for leaks and watched the mud plume curling around Cell 3. The water level was at 3 inches below marsh level.
We dredge for an hour and 40 minutes and made a small subaerial delta at the present water level. We discovered as we were inspecting our results at the end of the day, that Curious George had moved into Cell 3, and would calmly watch us from next to the walkway.
With the new system tested and approved, we hailed this as a successful week for the dredge. The new hydraulic winch provides great relief to the overhead winch headache we’ve suffered for the past year. The rearranged deck is more comfortable for a long day, and moving mud has resumed.
My presence was required back in Baton Rouge for the 17th, so our efforts will resume next week.