Our Tern Raft: revisited by Martin Spriggs

Tern Raft revisited eyewitness account by Martin Spriggs ( from April Newsletter)

They stood there, the five men, clustered together on the edge of the swim, staring fixedly out across the water. Small wavelets curled in towards them, looking as the feather curls on a drake Mallard tail.
Grey water, grey sky, birds calling in the distance and there it was, low in the water, a grey silhouette, an oblong shape – the raft.

The morning had begun at 08.30 when four of team had met up to collect the boat, the aptly named `Fun Yak`! The troubles then began. First the noble craft had to be emptied of extraneous items such as sacks, plastic bags and other electrical units that had been dumped on board for temporary storage. Then and only then, when the boat had been wheeled out was it discovered that a vital piece of equipment was missing, a tiny key which allowed the trailer hitch to be unlocked. With a crestfallen look and a remark `Oh bother`– or words to that effect the team leader vanished to his car and disappeared into the distance to return later with the offending key. Meanwhile an animated conversation took place about reliability, nest boxes, swimming pools and most mysteriously `Aunty Jean` between the remaining three . Having retrieved the situation a communication arrived from the fifth team member as to `Where on earth are you lot` as he was by the lake and rapidly chilling, having arrived early. Swiftly the boat was on the road and soon down at the embarkation point. The cold teamster was assured that he was still alive and then action ensued. Bernie-the -Bosun began loading the craft with needed equipment. Rakes, shovels, buckets and plastic crates ( to be used as sieves). An oarsman and pilot were selected. This was not difficult as only one team member had the required sea- going initials — RN.  The grey had lifted slightly as the crew were ferried out in two batches.

The raft lay there like a partially built Package Tour Hotel – taking bookings but not yet finished and ready! Swiftly the gravel layer was scooped up into a pile at one end to expose the deck. This was sluiced with copious amounts of water bucketed over the sides. Gravel was placed in small amounts in the crates by the two teams, one starboard and one portside,( or of course it could have been the other way round as both ends of the raft are the same, oblong,—no pointy bits.) The fillers filled and handed the crates over to the washers, one either side standing with waders on in the water . The gravel having been ceremoniously dunked and cleaned was returned to the raft. After some concentrated effort with load, wash, replace, the raft began to look cleaner. Suddenly a muffled imprecation came from the starboard washer(or it could have been port)— a few choice words indicated that one wader had been swamped and that he now owned a very wet leg and foot!! By degrees all the gravel was washed and replaced, shade units with roof tiles on bricks placed and the whole looked ready now for the first set of Tern Tourists to arrive. The `Fun Yak` skipper rowed everyone ashore, the equipment was distributed to various cars and – at last—coffee-up came the cry.
The raft still lay low and grey on the water but we knew that the` bed sheets` were clean and ready.

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