Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Ranger Ralphers took part in a raft building day at Heatree Activity Centre at the beginning of July. Based more on the ‘fascine’ (see below) type rafts taken from the Ray Mears book of bushcraft, the children and families spent an hour and a half cutting willow to make the frames for two rafts. They made the buoyant raft frames by weaving the cut willow between a small and larger circle of stakes to form a circular ‘fascine’ of willow.
Once the willow was tied up tight a series of longer branches were crisscrossed on top of the frames to form a floor for the Ralphers to sit on. They then laid out two tarpaulins and piled freshly cut bracken in the middle of the tarps. Once this was done the fascines were laid over the tarps and bracken piles and the tarp edges were tied round to the top of the frames.
They were now ready for launch. They were taken to the larger of the two lakes at Heatree and after a bit of instruction from the centre’s Outdoor Activity Instructors they took to the water.
Ahoy me hearties, would you believe not a single man overboard! Neither was there any leakage or indeed a sniff of a sinking ship! A job well done by all the Ralphers and parents for making what turned out to be proper seaworthy vessels.
Thanks to Ranger Paul and Simon and James from Heatree with their help building the rafts, as well as keeping everyone safe and dry on the water. Thanks also to Helen Jenny for providing some much-needed sustenance in the form of juice and home-made boating cakes, very much appreciated once everyone had docked back in port after a long and arduous journey across the pond!
If you would like to join the Ranger Ralph club please see the ‘funzone’ for more information