“We need to go ocean logging” announced the Tree Fella… “Ocean logging?” I ask, this was a new term to me. “Yes, there’s a log on a beach, it could make great planks….” A few days later the perfect opportunity presented itself, a flat calm, sunny day, a day starting to show the first real warmth of summer.
It was a great day for a trip up the coast, so with an intrepid crew of four, a picnic consisting of a packet of custard creams and a 12’6 Peel Pig in tow, we set off to salvage the ocean log. We were making steady progress toward our secret and presently undisclosed spot. About half way there one of our sharp eyed crew spotted that our tow was slowly sinking. My general eagerness to get there coupled with complete inconsideration for hull forms has resulted in the heavy displacement Pig sitting squat in the water behind the RIB, I’d been going a knot or two too fast. The Pig’s fenders had been acting as scoops, diverting each wave over the gunwhale and into the boat.
We slowed down and brought the Pig alongside, Tree Fella was super quick to hop into the swamped vessel. Little did I know that his chainsaw had been in the Pig too and was now submerged. With the saw salvaged bailing commenced. We eased the tow back out leaving Tree Fella aboard to man the pumps and started slowing steaming again as he bailed. With the Pig finally emptied Tree Fella was brought back aboard to navigate us to the Ocean Log.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to make this landing on the rocky shoreline, not a wave in sight. Tree Fella rowed the Pig ashore close to the log, while I found a “channel” between some rocks, brought the RIB in and tied her up in the rocks, with an anchor stretched out awaiting the rising tide.
Our destination has a driftwood shack tucked away at the bottom of the cliff. Nobody knows who built this place, but it sure is pretty. Everything has been made from driftwood or reclaimed from the beach. Inside the shack a string of names are etched into the timbers acting as a visitors book to those who have made it here. Those that have endured the long steep walk down, and the pain of the even steeper walk back up. It is cosy, a real hideaway with a stunning view, but I am glad I came here by boat. As we sat outside the shack, eating the now warm custard creams, our crew recounted the tale of the treacherous walk through fields of tics, and the steep steep climb up on a hot sunny day, the day the Ocean Log was first discovered.
Meanwhile down at the shoreline, our eyes are drawn to watching man vs tree, as we see Tree Fella rolling this 6ft something long log across the rocks toward the Pig. At no point did he (or would he) ask for help… so we watched this impressive log rolling, lifting, balancing and pushing display. Within 20 minutes one man and his log were off the beach, into the boat and rowing off out to sea, happy!
It would have been nice to have sat there enjoying the sunshine, but the tide does not wait and I didn’t want to swim back to the boat, so we scrambled back over the rocks, toward the RIB, getting there is just the absolute nick of time between walking and wading. All aboard and engine on, I negotiate our way off the beach and out of the rocky shallows, we are now in pursuit of one man on his log in a Pig somewhere out on the ocean.
We quickly caught up and took the Pig and her cargo back in tow. This would be a slow tow. Initially the boat behaved quite well on the tow, so we brought Tree Fella back aboard the RIB. Soon enough though, the waves were starting to build and the Pig was starting to surge and roll at the end of the line. The log seemed to be holding, having been chocked in with the Pig’s oars to stop it rolling.
We had left the beach half an hour ago and we hadn’t made much progress toward home. My fisherman friend (and owner of our tow) calls me “Are you alright out there gal?” “Yeah, fine, just heading back now” “It’s blowin’ half a gale o’ wind through the bay and there’s white waves off the back, just be careful now and get my boat home in one piece… if you have to chuck The Log in then do so” “Right-ho fella, thanks for the heads up, it isn’t too bad out here at the moment, we’ll be right, just taking it easy”.
We were right at that point, although the sea was definitely getting up and so was the wind, fortunately we were running with it, so it didn’t seem that bad. After a while it was clear the Pig was at a fairly high risk of rolling and spilling The Log into the sea. We opted to bring the Pig alongside and bring her home that way. Rowlock out, bow line and bow spring rigged and we were off again. It was tricky to get the lines set tight as the boats surged a different rates in the waves, the Pig sat forward on the leeward shoulder of the RIB was about as comfy as we could get it. We had another spring rigged from the Pig’s bow coming aft on the RIB which had a bit of slack in the line, as it turned out, with the slack taken up in my hand I could control the rate the Pig would surge on the waves and everything was more comfy again.
“Is anyone in a hurry?” I asked, knowing this was going to take a long time. Everyone was determined that this Log was getting home however long it took. Suggestions of taking it into an alternative beach were quickly quashed. There was no way I was getting back home without the Log or the Pig. Our average speed was no more than 2 knots on the way home. The fisherman was right, it was pretty choppy off the back, the white water gave some testing helming conditions with a rolling log in a surfing Pig tied alongside.
We rounded the Head and the fisherman was right again, it was blowing almost a full gale of wind into the bay and there were still some decent waves behind us as we turned in to the harbour. Round the corner and up into Watterson Row presenting the Pig and the Log to the handful of people who saw us come in. RIB recovered, Pig tied up and The Ocean Log transferred to the truck. We were all squared away almost three hours after leaving the beach. The Log was taken home for its next transformation.
Within days the Log had been sliced into planks revealing the most beautiful patterns made by Terrado Navalis – ship worm. The Tree Fella had been right all along and one of these stunning planks went on to win prizes.