Almost Empty Village

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Here in the floating village, I am alone. Now down below in Sarcelle, a tiny antique ply sailing boat, with just enough room to sleep two people who like one another, snug away from the rain. Outside the wind has abated, but the rain has increased in intensity. It sounds like it is here for a while.

I am alone on the Floating Village (some pictures). A village is not meant to be the place to be alone, but as the village is not only floating, but also temporary, the ability to spend time here in such weather is limited. There is a tarpaulin roof over a cooking area. The stove, a small and highly effective rocket stove, is mounted under the bonnet of an old Passat that has been outfitted with eight 250 litre barrels as buoyancy. The kitchen table has been assembled from scrap wood, including a few bits of driftwood. The roof is a cut down recycled tarp that has seen better days. So the kitchen are is by no means dry. Out the companionway I can see the silhouette of the roof and its bamboo supports wobbling in the breeze, the signal flags spelling out FLOAT14 as they flutter in the wind.

Behind the Octagon, variously referred to as Octopussy and The Kraken, the drainage pipe construction careens around in the contrary forces of the water, the wind and the other floating objects attached to it. The Franz Feigl, a Dutch boat that has become a core element in Donautics activities, is attached to the drainage platform. The tent on the drainage pipe raft is probably not dealing with this level of rain and wind very well: understandably no one is sleeping there tonight. The Isolation Chamber, constructed from two 1000 litre plastic tanks joined with a small window in the gap, has yet to be tested properly; tonight is definitely not the night for that test. The other objects are also as understandably unoccupied: the Princess Bed does not have a roof at all, the Croissant has a leaky rook and has become our larder, a storage place for food under a second layer of tarpaulin, the Kayakamaran is just a surface.

As the night watchman, I will have to pop up every few hours to see if anything strange has happened. Are all the vessels still here? Has anything broken loose? Are any knots untying themselves? Is the river level changing with the rainfall?  

Being alone to deal with the situation is interesting. As I arrived, the wind had picked up, so the kitchen roof had begun to get a touch more dynamic than it has been previously. Our optimistic construction was holding up, but it could be improved. Resilience is good, but some control is also necessary. Hammering a hole and an eyelet into the tarp as it tried to flap around, with nothing to hold it against, proved difficult but doable. This was the main problem – the middle of the leading edge of the tap was flopping around and causing the whole thing to belly out like a sail. Not quite what we need.

But after this, dinner on the rocket stove, with a hot cuppa afterwards, was lovely. Now it is later, the rain and wind have eased, I popped out to add a second line to the Isolation Chamber, saw that the Drainage Raft has gone all skew. But nothing looks endangered, so it is probably time to turn in.

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