page 14 - November, 1963, Ben Oostdam's Autobiography

November 24-30, Sunday-Saturday: Got partly over the sadness of Rose's announcements by working hard and avoiding urges for precipitate actions. Also played a lot of squash and read several books in spare time. Received back dozens of boxes with excellent 3D-slides ranging from "Griekenland" (Greece) to Griqualand (S.A).
Completed and tested caisson, cat-cranes and SPC + anchor. Left SPC out anchored overnight and broke several slings trying to pull it out by CAT the next morning. Delays because of pump, which did, however, work fine if we got airless water from a lagoon instead of aerated surfwater. Gave the workshop crew two boxes of beer on Friday night and partied with John Hoyt and surveyors passing through from Capetown to Luderitz.

30 November, Saturday:
Up early and off to the beach, where we enjoyed seeing the SPC pushed into the sea by a giant CAT.
Tried to dig a hole to get water for small priming pump: no luck, so Foreman Bill Fry went off to get a tankcar with water.

Suction Pipe Carriage (SPC)
please click to enlarge
Fixed some leaks and wrong connections, then came the magic moment of the first test: The modified frontend loader picked up the caisson and positioned it over the intended hole site and the pump was turned on so the jets at the bottom ring shot water down into the sand.

To help things, the frontend loader stood on its "hindlegs" to provide maximum downward pressure. Surprise ! . . . . it did not work. Disappointed, the operator set the vehicle back on its four wheels, taking the pressure off the caisson, which then all of a sudden sank into the sand some four feet . . . I suddenly recalled the interesting phenomena of: thixotropy and spontaneous liquefaction!
Although Francois and our Ovambos were nervous, the overall performance was fine and followed by a successful picnic arranged by Martha Fry who was about to have a baby.
At 20:00 I was back at the Fry's again, this time to pick up my "blind" (but beauteous) date Denise Cristi for an expensive dance-party followed by a late tête-a-tête baring all about my recent Rose-relational woes. Returned home at 26:30 relatively unscathed.

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