Thursday, September 29
A storm passed through overnight dropping about a half inch of rain. Timmy had installed the doors on the big building yesterday while I dredged, and a brief survey proved that nothing was leaking. He intended to frame up the door on the pumphouse today, but volunteered to help me move the pontoon and discharge over before leaving me to dredge.
Lower water exposed Tuesday’s delta and new mud, and left the pontoon float sitting on mud. We have two ropes attached to either side of the pontoon, and one on the hose midway between the pontoon and shore to steer the pontoon around the many posts that LSU placed to document fill and deflation. Timmy took the airboat around to give the south rope slack and I used the canoe and walked the marsh to tie extra rope to the north rope. He brought the airboat back around and we tried to pull the pontoon by hand. We were pulling the hose and pontoon against thick mud, inching it along, until suddenly I was sitting in the marsh and Timmy was holding a broken rope!
Realization strikes that this will take longer than planned! A third rope was tied to the hose midway into the cell at a red float, so I walked the marsh, crossed over containment 5a, tied extra rope to it and tossed it across to Timmy. He tied it to the airboat this time. We managed to pull the hose halfway to the north shore when we realized that we were kinking the hose and still wouldn’t be able to pull it into position or reach it.
We took the airboat over to the south shore and carefully towed the pontoon to shore where we could reach it. A new rope was tied to the corner replacing the broken rope, and Timmy tied the free end to a cane and tossed it across containment 5b which is too unstable, following the storm, to walk on. This rope was pulled around the pond and tied to the airboat on the north shore once more to pull the pontoon carefully to the northeast. When the large eyebolt pulled out of the pontoon this time, we decided the pontoon was at the perfect spot.
Timmy finally left at 10:00 while I went back to the dredge to get it started up. “Curious George,” a small alligator about 3 feet long that frequents the south bank, came right up to the dredge while I was connecting batteries and making preparations. He didn’t move off until I started moving the dredge into position. No matter how much he begged, I wasn’t going to give him my lunch!
I dredged for roughly 20 minutes before a squall was obviously heading my way and I shut it all down to run for cover. At the camp, I checked the weather radar, and since it was an isolated shower that had moved through, returned to the dredge.
Dredging went fairly well at first, but the front winch that lifts and lowers the pump was increasingly difficult to operate. It was slower and slower to lift the pump, and started to bind until it would cease altogether. After a few moments, it would lift another couple of inches before quitting again. This was increasingly frustrating, and there was a sense of wasting dredging effort when moving the dredge was so slow. After 2 hours, the winch decided to quit altogether. I tried everything I could for another 30 minutes before I finally called Timmy. We decided that it wasn’t worth fighting until we got a new battery and removed some of the cable from the winch. We flushed the pump and washed it, then shut everything down and secured it. It will be 2 weeks before we can dredge again.
A visit to the pond showed that in 2 hours another delta was above marsh level, and more fluid mud filled Cell 5.