Our First Marine Salvage Job

Posted in Under the Sea on January 7th, 2010 by MadDog
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Regular readers are probably growing weary of my constant whining about how the funds supporting our work with the mission by which we are employed are drying up. Apparently, some long-time funders reckon it’s time to come “home”, retire quietly and wait to die. They obviously do not know us. We’re just beginning  to roll! It looks as if Eunie will soon be the Country Director of the organisation in Papua New Guinea. If backers are not forthcoming with the cash, then I see it as my task in life to keep her doing the job that she loves and does so well. That means that I’m going to be doing a lot of things that might appear unseemly for a man of sixty-six.

I certainly had some fun yesterday. A friend, who is leaving the dive and salvage business in Madang for blessedly greener pastures (Best of luck to you, Tim and Leslie!), steered me to some work for a local construction company. Originally, my task was to simply take photos of the site. As it turned out, it was definitely a two man job and I ended up handling a wrench, an object with which I have long had an intimate relationship. I can twirl a Crescent Wrench (or wakabaut spana  [that’s “walkabout spanner” or adjustable wrench] as it is called in Tok Pisin)  like a high school cheerleader after downing six cans of Red Bull.

I won’t give details of what the job was about, except to say that there are some problems with the termination point of an undersea cable. In this horrible shot you can see the support structure intended to protect the cable from the violent wave action at the shore and John, my workmate, struggling to loosen a shackle. You can also see at the right the Devil’s Washing Machine of surge where the waves break on the razor-sharp volcanic rocks:

This shot gives a different perspective of the same scene. You can see the waves crashing against the rocks at the top of the image:Our job, aside from my task of shooting pictures for the company, was to loosen the stainless steel lashings attaching the undersea cable to the support structure which has been bashed badly and is in danger of breaking and flexing the cable beyond its limits:

The real fun started when I was working up in the surge zone. I had both legs wrapped around the  support structure to anchor me a bit and an arm wrapped around the undersea cable. That left me with one hand free for the wrench. My head was only about a half metre below mean sea level and every time a wave broke I felt as if I was making a visit to Satan’s Chiropractor. As you can see, the shackles were encrusted with marine critters all valiantly attempting to cement the whole contraption into a new reef. We had to smash these off before we could loosen the nuts holding the shackles.

Here is a close up shot of the arrangement:And here is one of John wrestling loose a nut. A socket wrench would have been nice, but we had to work with the only tool we were given. Next time I’ll preview the job and bring my own tools:

I certainly hope that there will be much more of this kind of work in the future, as it pays well. As I build my reputation, the jobs will come to me directly and I’ll no longer be a hired hand. At least that’s the plan. Wish us luck. Things are looking up.

For dessert, I present the Crazy White Star Plant, which was driving the bees insane the other day. We now have one on each side of our veranda:It exudes a fragrance which is utterly intoxicating and, for me at least, utterly indescribable. Don’t ask me what it smells like. I simply don’t have the words.

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