March 10th, 2012
Ephemerisle is likely to be bigger than ever this year. In the past, the event was small enough that everyone could raft up all the houseboats into one big platform. However, as the grows even further past the Dunbar number, people are likely to want to create separate raft-ups (for privacy, safety, noise, etc.)
Once separated though, it becomes more difficult to travel from platform to platform. One solution is to bring a kayak/canoe or other small tender. However, it’s a pain and time-consuming to dock and undock a boat whenever you want to go to another platform. It’s much easier if you can walk.
The ideal platform connection would be
* easy to put together
* easy to transport
* easy to store
One solution is to buy a modular floating dock like Versadock:
However, such modular docks are fairly expensive for a one time event, and are bulky to transport and store.
Dunnage bags are commonly used in the shipping industry to stabilize loads in trucks and shipping containers. Dunnage bags typically come in sizes 4 ft wide up to 10 ft long. Polypropylene bags are theoretically waterproof. A 4′ x 7′ bag costs about $20.00 (If bought in units of ten), and according to the manufacturer can be used up to ten times (as a shipper). For example:
Roap bridges are often used on land. For example:
However, rope bridges require two stable points to provide tensioning. Boat platforms will be constantly shifting relative to each other. Therefore, we need a solution that doesn’t require (much) tension.
What if we use dunnage bags as the the flooring planks for a rope bridge? We could use paracord as the rope. I imagine it would look something like this:
This would have the following advantages:
* easy to transport (the dunnage bags can be deflated)
* safe ( no boat/person is likely to get hurt by falling on a dunnage bag, though they might get tangled in the rope, or fall in the water)
* Relatively inexpensive. A 4 x 14 ft bridge could probably be made for under $100.00.
However, to my knowledge, no one has used dunnage bags as a flotation device. So I don’t know how long it would take for the dunnage bags to leak. It’s also unclear how long the bags would resist puncture/abrasion. (Though I would predict they would last at least one ephemerisle). They could also be made to last longer by sewing a nylon sheath.