We built the island out at SandPoint Naval Station - a defunct military base on the shore of Lake Washington. It was Jason Puccinelli's studio, but he was kind enough to let us build the thing over the course of 3 weeks. Twenty feet in diameter, and constructed of lumber, foam blocks and 55 gallon drums, it was a rather large floating sculpture, complete with fake rocks, a palm tree and under-deck storage for sleeping bags, food, beer and other essentials.
The idea was simple. Build an island. Tow it out to the center of Lake Washington, and let the artist trio (and dear friends) SuttonBeresCuller live on it for as long as they could. It was the end of summer. The lake was warm and at the time, nothing sounded like a better idea.
There were some complications. Technically, you can't drop an anchor in Lake Washington. I guess it helps deter year round boat moorage. But the island had no propulsion, no electricity, nothing to keep it in position. We just had to be discrete about it.
On an early Sunday morning in September, launched the island on it's maiden voyage, hoping our calculations and floatation was sufficient for three men and their gear to live on. The island was solid and had no problem supporting the weight of a dozen of us. A friend met us at the dock in their ski boat and supplies stowed, the island was pulled a slow two miles across the lake to the north side of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. Our audience was going to be commuter traffic between Bellevue and Seattle. There is no easy "why did we do it?" Maybe the most authentic answer was " it sounded awesome to build a desert island and have SuttonBeresCuller live on it, dressed as shipwrecked businessmen, for as long as they could do it". There are longer, more intellectual, more art-speak ways of justifying it, but really I think it just sounded like a blast. Why not do it?
We said goodnight and pulled away from the island, leaving John, Zach and Ben to fend for themselves. The lake was placid and the air warm. They were a half mile from shore and 150 yards from the bridge, and were strong swimmers. What could go wrong?
What we learned:
1 - Just tell the coast guard that you got permission.
2 - Traffic will come to a standstill if you put a desert island next to a bridge.
3 - Mornings on the lake are cold.
4 - When outfitting an anchor, add 15 feet of chain so it doesn't drag across the floor of the lake.
5 - There is a really thick power cable running parallel to the bridge.
6 - When stuck on a really thick power cable, with the wind coming from the north, it will really bang you up against the side of a bridge.
7 - Making an desert island and floating it in the lake as an endurance performance installation is kind of one of the most memorable things you can do.
8 - It's really good to have friends with boats that can help you in a pinch.