This Side Up

We all can use a place to start

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We can all use a platform.

I’m not thinking of politics, although this is the time of year candidates declare their candidacies and roll out a platform. But having a platform to start from is essential, and this winter has made that especially difficult.

The nor’easters and the ice are to blame. Sea level rise probably has something to do with it, too.

The first of the four storms tore at the stairs to the beach from our seawall. The structure has survived countless storms, even hurricanes, but this time a tread was taken by the pounding waves. It was an easy fix.

The punishment continued with the January freeze. Ice locked onto the stairs and then came days of 30 and 40 mph winds. Waves broke up the ice, slamming floes against the structure and tearing away treads including the platform to the assembly. Remarkably, the outer stringer supported by a stanchion and a couple of stairs at contorted angles were still standing.

The platform and stairs is a doorway to the bay.

From it I launch rowing sculls, a dinghy to reach boats moored off shore and to welcome boaters who can pull right up to it at high tide or climb the stairs after beaching boats at low tide.

I wasn’t going to wait until the summer to replace at least the platform. The stairs could wait. This time it was going to be even stronger with an additional stanchion, capable of withstanding the pounding waves. I planned it, using a 4x4 and carriage bolts for the framework. I fitted the decking, but with the forecast for another storm, I left it off.

The storm whipped through. Waves crashed against the seawall throwing spray into the air that was blown against the house. When it was over debris littered the lawn and where there had been grass there was sand. To my amazement the framework, including the new stanchion, was gone; swept away.

It was like an access denied, a door slammed. With some climbing it was still possible to get to the beach at low tide, but launching any kind of craft was out of the question.

There are times when obstacles are best circumvented. I considered the options. Might there be a better way?

I could see none other than to build yet a stronger structure. Now the stanchion is a 4x6 and the carriage bolts half an inch. The underpinnings of the platform are beefier. The planking is thicker. It hasn’t really been put to the test, and I have still to replace the steps.

Yet there is a platform, a place from which to start.

I got to use it last week to launch a scull when the bay was calm. My reward was watching the sunrise and to feel that perhaps spring is around the corner. I also spotted a figure on the Beach Avenue overlook, a white haired gentlemen who, like me, was enjoying the moment. He was doing more, however.

Later that morning I received an email from Bob Sweeney along with a photo.

It wouldn’t have been complete without a platform.

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