Day 15: Waterproof Tent
1 of the third programme, and it's down to Mikey L and I to be helicoptered
into the wilderness to find some gold-bearing rock to bring back to the
sawmill. We're going to have to camp out overnight on the second
‘day' of filming, and we're given the job of constructing
our own tent and waterproofing some cotton material for a flysheet, just
in case it rains, which on the west coast of New Zealand is very likely.
Mike and I have a think about the kinds of things that we have at our
disposal that we'll be able to use to waterproof the cotton. Lanolin,
from TV 2, is an obvious choice - if it keeps the sheep waterproofed,
it should be good enough for our purposes. There's also some beeswax
in the suitcase of resources that we were given at the top of the programme
- a bit of a give away that! Beeswax is a little like candle wax, and
it should do the job perfectly. I've also noticed a bag of coal
lying around the sawmill, and we can get some creosote from that easily
enough - creosote's used to waterproof timber, so I don't
see why it shouldn't work on cotton as well.
First job then is
to light a fire, put on a kettle containing some of the ground-up coal
and condense the ‘creosote' vapours that come over. We're
pretty pushed for time with acquiring these waterproofing agents and applying
them to the cotton fabric, as we're being taken up into the hills
by helicopter at noon on Day 2. Mikey's suffering from a massive
hangover from last night, and although I'm also not feeling too
bright, we push on with our creosote extraction. By the end of Day 1,
we've managed to coat small, test-strips of cotton with each of
our three waterproofing agents, as well as a fourth: a sticky gum that
Ellen's extracted for us from a flax plant. She's also used
the leaves of the plant to make us some twine, and, more importantly,
two superb mattresses to take into the hills with us. What a star!
test that we carry out at the end of the day show that beeswax and lanolin
are good at repelling water, the creosote and flax gum less so. We also
test each of the four ‘waterproofed' strips for flammability:
The beeswax- and creosote-treated test-pieces quickly go up in flames
when we put a match to them. This is scary as we're going to have
to build a fire up there in the mountains, just to keep warm. We must
make sure that we pitch our ‘waterproofed' tent a safe distance
from any fire - one stray ember could mean we're without shelter
for the night!
Tomorrow, we have
to waterproof our cotton flysheet by mid-day. Will we have time?