I woke up to a familiar sight. Outside the vehicle I had slept in was Brian, on the phone, trying to get us help with our latest predicament. And, just as last time with being stuck in mud, our unfailingly benevolent neighbors came to our rescue.
"I don't let anyone besides my dad work on my motor. He could have you going in forty five minutes."
I didn't believe him for two reasons. First, it seemed absolutely impossible that we could be in possession of a functioning boat. Him fixing our motor would violate this apparent law of the universe. Second, I have an inappropriate hubris that prohibits me from fathoming that experts could possibly fix something that I was unable to fix.
Our motor wasn't working in forty five minutes, it was working in about fifteen. Perfectly. And the gear oil was checked, the shaft was lubricated, and a new choke lever was fashioned out of a screw.
From that point on, our boat started on the first pull and got us where we needed to go.
Chomping at the bit to be productive, we sped over to the island, marvelled for a moment that we were actually there, and began.
The biggest task was to clear the thirty foot radius where we plan on putting our yurt. A twenty by fifteen rectangle had already been cleared, which gave the impression that most of the work was done. As it turned out, clearing the rest of the land took almost all of our waking hours.
There was one diversion of note, though. Our neighbor, a professional clam digger, loaned us a clam hoe and explained how to catch clams, saying that the mud flats exposed by low tide around our island were full of them. Ben and I went down to the flats and immediately got to work. We looked for the holes in the mud, like Ray said, but every time we dug there was nothing there.
Finally I dug a little bit deeper and found a clam, but cracked its shell with the hoe. I felt terrible about killing it, but by the twentieth one I killed, I was numb to the murder. Later we found out that cracking their shells doesn't kill them. They just regrow their shells.
Finally, I caught a live clam without breaking it. I'm not sure any moment of my life has been so triumphant. Ben and I whooped and high fived, celebrating our first catch. I headed back to camp, leaving Ben to keep trying to catch clams. Later, he came back with over forty of them, having mastered the skill of clam digging.
We decided that we had no choice but to make clam chowder. When the sun set and we couldn't work anymore, we took the boat through the rain to the mainland to buy the ingredients we needed. We hauled them back, chopped vegetables and clams on a spare piece of lumber, and made clam chowder over the fire. It was delicious, if a bit sandy. A fitting first cooked meal on the island.
On our last day we finally finished clearing the circle we needed to build the yurt. We left ourselves a full day to dig the holes, fill them with concrete, and set the footer brackets. One thunk with the shovel and we realized we had a big problem: the ground was frozen solid. The areas that had been cleared before had thawed, but under a protective layer of pine trees and logs, which we had removed, the ground was a block of dirty ice.
We filled the partial holes with shovelfuls of embers, but it didn't work. The island was left without posts being set.
Despite not setting the posts and all of the disasters of the first half of the week, the island trip was a successful one. We doubled our trail length, built a fire pit, cleared a ton of land, and bought a boat. We'll have to go back in June to set the posts, and will hopefully still be able to put up a yurt this summer.
Photo is Ben in the process of clamming
Sorry about posting this Saturday instead of Friday-- didn't have good enough internet on the island to upload a photo.
I'll probably write a post soon in response to the people who thought we were taking crazy risks...