Outfitting the kelp farm has always been a large part of the process, but one that would be addressed after all the permitting was complete, and that process took over a year, so we didn't worry too much about the gear. It was a distant item on our to-do list. Then, without warning (*with plenty of warning from Greenwave which we failed to heed) it was time to get all the gear ready for the farm.
We sat with Kendall and Bren from Greenwave and made a list of needs which naturally split into three components: stuff we must buy, stuff we can make, stuff Greenwave can help with. Our shopping list looked something like this (give or take a few hundred feet and a buoy or two):
- 36 Anchors
- 2000 feet 1/2" line
- 600 feet 1" line (we were provided 650 feet through Greenwave which was a big help)
- 32 flotation buoys
- 12 mooring Buoys
- 6 Navigation buoys
- Materials for outfitting boat to transport/ drop anchors
I am sure that with the right funds, a person could go to a store or two and purchase these items and be done with it, however that is not how Jay and I roll (mostly because we do not have the right funds). The buoys and most of the line needed to be purchased so they would meet regulations. Greenwave had some line they were sharing with all the farmers. The anchors, however, were something that we could build...and build them we did. I thought the process was so interesting and so time consuming that I felt compelled to honor it with a post.
ANCHOR MAKING 101:
Our anchors are disappointingly concrete. I hoped for something more iconic - something that would be tattooed on a forearm or a bicep - but that was not in the cards. What i did appreciate, however, was the DIY-ness of the anchors. We borrowed the design for a form from Bren. The form makes a standard pyramid anchor - essentially an inverted pyramid resting in a wooden frame. The plan was to fill the form with concrete, allow it to set up, lift the anchor out, rinse, repeat. The form was designed to make concrete anchors that weigh approximately 160 lbs which was necessary for us to meet the permitting requirements.
Figuring out how to actually make the anchors, fix the links of chain into the anchors so they could be attached to line, and try to reduce the friction was left to Jay and I to noodle on. Jay was the project manager on this one - and there was some trial and error - but I think he landed on a pretty good process for making the 36 anchors being used to hold our farm in place.
STEP 1: Prep
We used 3 forms built from plywood. Jay painted fiberglass on the inside of the forms to keep the concrete from setting to the wooden form. We learned (after a few anchors got stuck) that if we covered the inside of the form in wet newspaper before filling them, the anchors easily slide out of the form after they set.
We purchased process from a stone yard, we purchased long metal chain from a salvage yard, we had a winch, and we borrowed a metal cutting saw.
STEP 2: Mix and Pour
We set the forms up in a row under a ladder. Suspended partially in the form was a chain which would be used to tie the line to. We crisscrossed 4" pieces of rebar to secure the chain in the anchor and give the concrete more metal to grip. We didn't want the chain to break out of the anchor. Here is a picture since this is hard to describe.
Our anchor recipe was two parts process, one part sand, one part water, one part elbow grease. We mixed the anchors in our wheel barrow and shoveled the concrete into forms. Each anchor took 24-48 hours to set. I learned, while waiting for the anchors to harden, that concrete becomes hard through a process called hydration which is a chemical reaction where the major compounds in cement form chemical bonds with water molecules.
STEP 3: Removing the Forms
We used a winch to lift the anchors out of the forms. Once lifted, the form needs a little encouragement (we tapped them with a 2X4) and then the anchors need to rest for a few days. We had to give them time to adjust to their new state.
If you were to watch the blooper reel, you would see Jay hurting his back from lifting too many anchors solo, you would see me scraping all the skin off my knuckles when an anchor attacked me while I was moving it, you would see Jay cutting lots of metal chain WAY too close to our flammable home and other painful/stupid mistakes. You would also hear lots of four letter words that my toddler is now repeating.
Who knew that making anchors would be such a large part of establishing an ocean farm?