Come to the jungle and find your ability to build stuff from scratch

By Matt Barker 3 years ago
Categories Mahe and Curieuse

When I signed up for GVI’s Ocean Conservation and Divemaster Internship I expected to learn about coral reefs and the life they support, how reefs fit into the larger ecosystem, how to conduct reef surveys and collect data and loads of great diving. All of that has been delivered in spades. What I didn’t expect was to discover previously hidden (very well hidden!) abilities like making stuff out of wood.

One of the aims of the internship is to expose us to all facets of running a base like this one. This includes the logistics of managing daily schedules (maximising dive numbers while accounting for tides, lectures, meals and duties on base) to undertaking projects that improve base life (both practically and socially).

Practical improvements often means making stuff. Previous volunteers have made wetsuit drying racks, a fin storage unit, very, um…., rustic, gym equipment, shelter and benches for our ‘bar’ area and a lots of other good stuff.

I was tasked with adding a practical improvement of my own. Given my passion for good veggie food, I decided to build a new fruit and veggie storage unit (up to now fruit and veg had mostly been kept in one open container or the boxes they came from market in, and rot sets in very quickly). The new unit would be a large sealable box with three compartments and one side that let air in without letting in fruit fly, rat’s or the other various pilferers of our food for the week! A simple enough task for many people. I, on the other hand, had not made anything since failing woodwork in year 10 over 30 years ago!

I had to design the structure, decide what materials to use, calculate quantities of each material required (2x2 timber, plywood sheeting, screws, varnish, mesh, etc…), and then, build the thing. Fortunately there are vollies on base who have done lots of this stuff (like Euan & Ken) who helped me with constructions decisions and Kyle who worked with me whenever 2 people were required (which was lots of it).

So, it’s no work of art and I’m a long way from a woodwork craftsman, but the end product is a ‘screwed & glued’ strong, durable and functional piece of furniture that should last and keep fruit and veg fresher longer! To top it off, I actually found the process satisfying and even enjoyable – who’d of thought? Certainly not me!