Friday, 2 April 2010
A perfect system of pulleys
The most time consuming part of boat turning is the waiting around for someone to come by who can be roped into giving a hand. Recently OB’s been turned more often than rashers in a pan and I’ve been depending on a local builder for muscle. But when he was suddenly called away to birth of his fifth son I had to find a way to flip the boat alone.
Setting up a block and tackle in the olive tree I thought of Fitzcarraldo—the character played by Klaus Kinski in the 1982 film by Werner Herzog.
Fitzcarraldo is a passionate single-minded dreamer intent on building an Operahouse in Iquitos, deep in the Amazon jungle in northwest Peru. First he has to raise money by harvesting rubber from an inaccessible location. To achieve this he buys a 300-ton ship and steams upriver into an area populated by unfriendly tribes. The crux of Fitzcarraldo’s plan lies in employing native labour to haul the three-story steamship over a mountain from one tributary of the Amazon to another, collect the rubber and then run the rapids back down to the Amazon river and Iquitos.
It’s an amazing piece of film, the boat inching its way up the 40º slope. Herzog used no special effects to cross the isthmus and later called himself a ‘Conquistador of the Useless’.
At one point, on the muddy hillside, amongst the massive winches hewn from felled trees, Fitzcarraldo says, ‘With a perfect system of pulleys I’d pull the boat up alone.’
Turning OB is a good deal more simple.