By Jonathan Katz

If you have walked the Stony Creek Limited Partnership property, you have seen, and likely strolled across, the magnificent, elevated boardwalk running east to west over the tidal marsh. Set on large pilings, the boardwalk stretches over 200 feet, providing 360 degree views of the marsh, the railroad embankment, the tree lines, and the oceanfront, with the Thimble Islands in the distance. Ospreys and other shore birds interact with other marsh wildlife in the fresh ocean breeze. Finished just before Superstorm Sandy hit, the pilings were connected by 3/4-inch manila guide ropes. The storm shifted the easternmost pilings, adding a modest balancing test to the last ten feet of the walkway.

In the intervening eight years, the organic ropes stretched, frayed, and broke down in the elements. They sagged below the walkway, and were missing in places.

The Land Trust replaced the ropes with new 3/8-inch nylon guide ropes this past October. Planning the job required seventh grade math: there were 21 pairs of pilings, each pair 10 feet apart from the next one. The pilings were 10 inches in diameter. Two ropes were tied to each piling, and each rope had to make a two-rope clove hitch around each piling. How does one determine the circumference of a piling if the diameter is 10 inches? How much rope did BLT need?

It turned out that the answer was “just enough”: two spools, of 600 feet per spool, fit perfectly with no leftovers. Matt Reed purchased the ideal amount of rope, and the correct number of staples. A self-described curmudgeon, Matt did not believe the hardware clerk who told him there were 100 staples to the pound. He counted the box — 70 only. 21 pairs of pilings, two staples per piling—one box would not get it done.

It took three volunteers a few hours on a lovely Saturday morning to remove and compost the rotten manila rope and replace it with the bright white nylon. Six thumbs were required. At least one thumb got moderately bashed once. During the job, at least 5 dogs crossed the bridge. Each dog controlled at least two people. Are you controlled by your dog?

Nobody fell off. When next you walk the Partnership Boardwalk, enjoy the new guide ropes, and the long views of sky, marsh, estuary, and ocean. You might hear and see the Acela rolling past.