The Hook on the Rock

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I’ve always wondered why there was an iron hook, kind of like a bent railroad tie, embedded in the top of the boulder just south of the front of the house.  It was good Jim came to supervise the lowering of the flagpole for repair.  As an engineer, he was very systematic and level headed about the procedure.  I wondered which of the two pins he would take out of the two six foot, three and a half inch pipes that brace the flagpole at its base to lower it.  One was the hinge and one the release but I wasn’t sure which made the most sense.  I also wasn’t sure which way would be the best way to lower it:  northeast, which would land the top on the downhill, or southwest, which would land the top in the brush up against the boulder.  Apparently wrong decisions had been made in the past, which is what bent the very top in the first place and caused the rusted deterioration that eventually led to that piece coming down.  Dave says he’s personally seen this happen at three different installations while serving in the Coast Guard.  All the poles are regulation issue and identical.

After taking every precaution with harnesses and ropes and people out in all directions to carefully control the pole as it was lowered, we discovered that the bottom three feet or so was filled with lead (the entire pole weighs about 800 pounds) and that the pole was counterbalanced perfectly to be lowered by taking the pin out at the bottom (which took a blow torch to loosen) and using the top pin as the hinge so that in fact we almost had to pull it down.  And that’s exactly why the iron hook was embedded in the top of the boulder:  we got as far up the pole as we could, while it was erect, with a rope in a cinch knot, and looped the other end around the hook and then stood there with the end wrapped around our waist so that we could pay the rope out slowly while it lowered toward the downhill.

Jim loved the blueberry muffins and was promised another when he returns this morning to weld the top piece with the rope and pulley back onto the pole, which got a fresh coat of white paint yesterday afternoon and a second coat this morning at six.  The day is calm and overcast with hardly a breeze.  We’re expecting three boat trips of visitors according to Captain DeBery and Dee Perry, the president of the Board for the FOSI will be on the first one.  We look forward to her visit and showing off the pole, hopefully back in place and erect and flying the stars and stripes, before she leaves.

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