Some friends of mine got drunk a few months ago and wrote down a list of crazy things they could do when they had some spare time.
I’m not usually one for planned whimsy. I like dicking about as much as any human being alive and spontaneous adventurous lunacy is always the most life affirming activity one can possibly take part in. When you’re sixty years old you won’t remember every birthday party, every friday night after work drink up or every holiday but by god you will remember that time you all went skinny dipping or invented a new sport called “elbow cricket” or got lost and ended up having an outdoor picnic at midnight involving frightened horses and loud impromptu singing.
That said certain things do require a degree of planning but still fall well into the joyously pointless endeavours category and these would be the bulk of the now infamous list. I missed out on the first list based activity (constructing a hut from objects found on the beach and ordering pizza to it) but dammit I was not about to miss out on this one.
We were going to build a raft using trash.
Some of this trash we found on the notoriously polluted Suma beach however the vast majority of it was plastic bottles we saved up from our homes and dutifully dragged out to Suma.
Which yes, did mean I was dragging giant bags of trash around with me on the train. I apologise to everyone in Japan.
I arrived at about 12 o’clock by which point only a few of the eventual team had gathered and not much work had been done. Helping to devise a plan we swiftly set about the main construction.
For anyone interested in building a rubbish raft here is our technique.
First we attached two plastic bottles together with tape at the neck creating a seal.
We then got three of these sealed bottle sets and attached them together in a triangluar shape.
Once that had been done we laid them out in a line and taped them together creating long triangular tubes. We attached five of these tubes together arranging the triangles to make one larger triangle.
A quick test showed that this “pontoon” was indeed bouyant on its own.
Doing this 4 times gave us 4 basic pontoons 1 for each side of the raft and 2 in the middle for extra support in the centre.
Finding some string and wood on the beach we made cross struts sitting across the pontoons to hold the basic shape of the raft together.
So the basic shape was 3 pontoons linked by 3 bits of wood.
Then came the messy part.
With the basic raft shape in place we flipped it over and began filling any spare inch of surface with one of our sealed bottle pairs. Doing this we were hoping to just add more and more bouyancy by adding lots and lots of containers of air to our basic structure.
Finally we used litter bags and tarpaulins taped to the underside to make a skin to help hold all of the bottles together.
The end result being this.
My what sexy examples of manhood we are.
With the finishing touches of a flag and an improvised oar the maiden boyage of the S. S. PET was ready.
(PET in case you’re wondering is an acronym for the kind of plastic used in the bottles. No we are not that nerdy, everyone in Japan calls them that.)
This video records the maiden voyage and all our successive attempts.
A complete and utter success!!
In lifting two grown men and letting them sail out to the bouys and back the raft was an unqualified success.
So we let the girls have a go.
With three of them insisting on a trip at once they didn’t distribute their weight properly and consequently made a massive tear in the structure of the middle pontoon.
Still I was determined to have a go.
My trip was not so successful. My first mate abandoned ship when it was barely in the water. Moments after that one of the outer pontoons completely came loose. This meant rather than lying across the pontoons in the structuraly soundest position I had to lie along the length of the pontoons putting half of the raft in the air behind me.
Still I managed to get the raft working and out into the water about halfway to the buoy.
At which point…the central pontoon finally gave way along where it had cracked and the raft split in half.
This is all that remained of a once proud and glorious thing.
Still, we built a raft and it worked.
For a bit. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon’s work.
And yes, for those curious we did clean it up at the end meaning we also had a net result of a slightly cleaner Suma beach.