Our last major project is to rebuild our net shed; aka warehouse; aka barn.  It’s pretty tired and probably dates to the the founding of Petersburg in 1910.  It was once a gaff-hook factory.   It’s 20′ X 40′ and two levels built on creosoted piers with the tidal edge at the 14′ level, more or less. As you recall (those of you who are fascinated with this blog) we rebuilt the dock two years ago so now it’s time to reclaim the visible structure–our net shed.

In the early days, everyone in Alaska fishing towns had a net shed–to dry and maintain their nets and to store essential fishing equipment. Remember, everything then was made of wood or natural fibers. Today, most of the net sheds have crumbled to the beach and been reclaimed by mother-nature…..with a few exceptions….and we’re lucky to have one.

The SE corner is the weather-ward side of this warehouse and the ledger has severely decayed so I need to raise the second level flooring which rests on this critical beam. Not an easy task. My neighbor has a 6″ X 6″ X 25′ beam which handily slips into this space……..

I’ve jacked up the second story here and removed the rotted 20′ section using a ‘ship-splice.’

Here I’ve winched up the end of the beam (note the splice already cut) and opened up the siding (to be replaced) to slide in this 6″ X 6″  beam.

Working alone, I build a tripod support and winch it in with a come-along.  I made a ‘tray’ platform so I could roll small pieces of pipe to reduce friction when it slides in–worked perfectly!


And the splice fits perfectly!  Two large bolts complete the integrity to the building.  Braces are removed and the second floor joists now rest on solid wood and about 3″ higher.

Now that the beam is in place, I order up some yellow cedar from Prince of Wales Island (still no mills in Petersburg) and tow it down the Wrangell Narrows about 2 miles–it’s a free ride with an ebb tide….

This is about 2000 board feet of yellow cedar at $1.20/ft–we support our local mills.  I managed to refloat this pile on the 4am high tide and drag it right to the dock saving me lots of work.  These are 1 X 10’s, 2 X 8’s, and 2 X 6’s which we’ll use for boardwalk ramps, raised garden beds and board/battens for the netshed.

After dragging in the lumber, look what floats by–an errant iceberg from the nearby Le Conte glacier.  I run and grab a couple ice screws and some rope and after another hour, have this sitting right in front of the house–refrigeration for a week or two….until another higher tide takes it.   But first, this thing almost dragged me backwards out into Frederick Sound–a funny site at 5am.  This is about 8′ tall!

After all this monkey-business, it’s a rest on our newly built (red cedar) porch swing.  Note the Garden Gate Trellis beyond.  We’re ready for summer–time to sit down and watch the critters:

Our third bear so far…..stay tuned.

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