Cottage Reno

Doctoring The Dock

What a lovely weekend we had! The longed for spring has arrived, the sun was shining; it was the perfect temperature for working and were able to start surgery on the dock. Our son had the honour of making the first incision.

Dock 1

With his scalpel crowbar he lifted off the edge boards.

Dock 2

Under the top edge board was a side edge board. Between the two edge boards and the deck boards it was full of decomposed leaf matter. This is a perfect recipe for compost and eventually rotting wood…which is why we need to replace the dock.  We need to think carefully about the design of the new dock and how we are going to do the edging this time round.

Dock 3

We wanted to limit the amount of compost that went into the lake, so it was time for my husband to brave the cold water and christen his new leech protectors. Slowly he sank into the mud and we watched as the water rose up the wellies, but it stopped about an inch from the top. Perfect!

Dock 4

The wood was quite rotten and crumbling in places, but still came away in one piece, which was surprising.

Dock acorn

We have a maple tree already growing out of the dock and it looked like we were about to have an oak tree join it. All that compost was enough food for this acorn to think about sprouting and I guess under the dock is a great storage cupboard for critters to store their winter acorns.

Dock 5

Apart from my role as official photographer, I was busy doing some gardening whilst the boys worked on the dock. I didn’t want to see all this lovely compost going to waste, so I got my husband to fill up a bucket with it so that I could add it to the little garden I am making along the dry stone wall. The previous people put in a garden along there, but gave up when the deer ate all the flowers. I have been researching plants that deer don’t like to eat and am going to try and make a garden there. The soil is very sandy, so it really does need some compost added to it.

Dock 6 Dock 7

The wellies worked great as leech protectors, but didn’t do such a great job of keeping my husband’s feet dry! The water was really cold, but at least he didn’t come out with a friend!

Dock 8

Now that the edge boards were removed we could get a better look at the telegraph pole that the dock is sitting on and see how to go about attaching the dock leg bracket that we bought. Lag bolts seemed to be a good option, but the wood was so wet that my husband wasn’t keen to drill into the wood at this time. The plan to install the legs and lift the telegraph pole out of the water was changed and they decided to lift the telegraph pole out of the water and put rocks under to keep it out of the water and then install the dock legs once the wood has dried out a little. Suppertime was near, so it was a good time to take a break and just work the little grey cells with a plan for the next day.

Dock 9

First thing the next morning our son was out early and before 9am he had removed some of the old boards to make the dock lighter to lift, but left some in for access and stability. Now we got a really good view of the skeleton of the dock and the telegraph poles that we want to reuse. Despite the far one that is sitting in water, they are still solid and sound, so we can reuse them, but we want to make sure they stay sound, so we do need to lift them so that they are not sitting in water.

We thought lifting the dock was going to be a big challenge and we were expecting this part of the process to take a long time. The boys started by trying to use the crowbar as a lever to lift the dock. After struggling with that for a while it occurred to my engineer husband that they had lovely 8-foot long levers sitting there. That made the job so much easier and didn’t actually take them as long as we expected it to take. They put rocks underneath to keep it out of the water and even though they levelled it, we expect the rocks to sink into the mud and it won’t be level when we return. Hopefully it won’t sink so much that it goes back into the water. Eventually we plan to put a slab down to spread the weight and minimize sinking and then the new dock legs, but it would be good if we can keep the telegraph pole out of the water long enough to dry out a little first.

Dock 10

We certainly didn’t expect to get any new planks down on this trip, but with the progress we made we were able to actually start rebuilding. That was very exciting!

Dock 11

Because the dock follows the shoreline and we have to keep the same footprint as the old dock, we decided it would be easier to install the boards and then trim the boards level at the water’s edge once all the boards are installed. Those new brackets we bought for the new dock legs did get some use after all – they made great spacers for the boards as we installed the new boards. I love the way my engineer husband’s brain comes up with such good, practical ideas!

Dock 12

Another piece of engineering he did was fitting the boards around the tree. There was nothing to attach the end of the boards to around the tree, so he put in a crosspiece. He extended it all the way over to the first board to give those boards a little more stability. He figured this might be a place people stand around the table and there was a little bounce in the boards there, so this made everything a little more secure and stable.

Cutting the boards to go around the tree was not something we had thought we would get to doing on this trip, so we had not brought any power tools with us other than a drill. However, we do keep a handsaw at the cottage and the two boys did a tag team effort to saw the wood. Next trip we will be more prepared and bring power tools with us. A circular saw and a jigsaw will make things much easier and quicker.

We also didn’t bring enough wood with us for the whole job on this occasion. As we didn’t expect to get this far we didn’t see the point in bringing too much with us. We were a little unsure of how wet the field was going to be and didn’t want to overload the trailer with too much weight without knowing how much mud we might be sinking into. We brought some 8-foot lengths with us and the boys went out and bought some 12-foot lengths on Saturday morning, once they had figured out how many of the longer lengths they needed. We used up the last of the 8-foot lengths of wood around suppertime, so it was a good time to clear up and leave the project for the next visit.

Dock 13

It was VERY satisfying to have a “small” dock that is actually functional by the end of the weekend. Well done boys – you did a great job!

 

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