Saturday, May 05, 2007

Float Cabin Living - Float Construction

How Can You Live in Such a Small Space?

This question was reiterated by a good friend just this week. He was wondering how a 9-day cruise with his wife would go in the confines of their new 40' Cruisers Motoryacht. He couldn't imagine how Wayne and I could share the limited space of our small cabin for such long periods of time without getting on each other's nerves. It's a little hard to explain, but I'll try.

Part 1 - Float Construction

First of all, John built the perfect cabin. His initial task was to construct a 40' x 40' cedar log float. Logs are hard to come by these days. Before regulation, you could harvest your own. Nowadays, logging companies own or have leases on all the timber around the lake. So, you must purchase an old float and redo the logs, or purchase new logs at lumbermill rates (Ouch, even if you can find them!). For our cabin, John started with logs from an existing float. He took the old float completely apart. Then he used 3/4" steel cables to lash them back together again. Read "Never Saddle a Dead Horse" (you'll just have to read the story) in Up the Lake for more details.

The float is the most critical component of cabin construction. It must be skookum (strong). It has to float high enough out of the water to support the weight of the cabin and everything else you bring on board (and that builds up over time!). If your float sinks too low or off balance, there goes your cabin. On the raft of tightly lashed logs, upright boards are nailed to support the decking. Once the deck in in place, cabin construction can begin.

After time, float logs become saturated. This causes them to sink farther into the water. Then they become even more saturated. It's a vicious cycle. To prevent this, additional flotation is needed. Way back when, more cedar logs were shoved underneath by big engined boats or tugs. We saw evidence of this practice on an old float at Rainbow Lodge. Today, plastic barrels, totes and styrofoam are used. Fifty-five gallon blue barrels are the most popular, but 300-gallon totes are becoming more common. Following heavy winter storms, you always find a few blue barrels floating on the lake. They have a tendency to pop out when cabins rock and roll in wind and waves. A common winter pastime is beachcombing for barrels. Who knows, the barrel you find may be your own!!

Stay tuned for the cabin raising! -- Margy

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