Post 1 of 3, During my first “tour of duty” on the island of Gau. This will be my last Fiji journal entry  


During my first “tour of duty” on the island of Gau, an outer island in the fiji chain, I was in charge of initiating the building phase for 4 guest cabins on the resort.  My crew was to be local folk from the fishing village of SomoSomo. These men were hardworking fisherfolk who had some building skills, mostly related to building with concrete block (homes) and thatched roofs.  Since my training is in western style carpentry, I decided to train my crew with ½ hour sessions every morning before starting work.  These sessions consisted of lessons in using our tools and techniques. Since our first projects were to layout and build foundations for the cabins, I began with laying out techniques, leveling and plumbing.  Since we were not building simple rectangles, but rather six sided structures, layout was more complex and involved some reasonably high level geometry.  We used batter boards at all six corners.  These consist of 3 stakes and 2 cross pieces set up outside the building corners, upon which string lines were strung from each corner to the next and adjusted back and forth until we had 6 even sides of the desired length.  To make  accurate the final calculations of the heights of the pillars we were to build, we leveled all the cross pieces on the each batter board with all the rest so that our string lines were perfectly level.