Translating a plan to reality

I spent the whole of this past week with owners, engineers and workers on the worksite of Skallywag Bay Adventure Park in Trinidad. For five days we trudged back and forth across the site many times, me with spray bomb and tape measure in hand and the small group in tow. My task was to lay out the locations of the foundations of the rides, fences and features on the uneven ground and then explain my vision to them as clearly as I could articulate it to them. Behind us a team of surveyors recorded the marks I made in the dirt for they will quickly disappear as construction proceeds. Over the next four weeks the workers there will translate these rough marks into concrete walls, feature footings and a newly imagined hilly terrain. Then I will return to create a whole new set of marks to build the next features and so it will continue for months to come.

There has been a large workforce labouring on the site building the basic building and infrastructure. They worked from blue prints on these works but now we are building the parts which are not easily translated into drawings. These areas need to be built by eye according to the plan that resides largely in my head.

My vision is the same plan for the site I’ve described and drawn for more than four years. Only now it is finally becoming real. One tiny piece of this giant complex puzzle is the cave that will become the hole twelve of the adventure golf. Above, on the mountain top guests will start their golf game by putting into the back of a giant cannon affectionately named Joe Blow. The difficulty is that no one on site has seen the cannon for it is tucked safely into one of the sealed shipping containers.

None of the workers have seen the sketches and drawings, only plans from the architect which are little more than plain lines. The drawings from the architect are constantly being adjusted by the needs of the mechanical and plumbing engineers and myself as I translate my vision into spray marks on the ground. The form builders will simply follow the lines, not knowing what they are building. It takes a little faith on all sides that it will all turn out just fine.

Published by

Dan Sawatzky

Dan Sawatzky is best described as a creative force in the sign industry. He and his wife Janis are owners of Sawatzky’s Imagination Corporation – a small family company that specializes in the design and creation of dimensional theme signs and environments. They tackle projects of any size from small signs to entire theme parks. Their work has garnered numerous international awards and Dan’s articles appear frequently in the sign trade publications. Dan and his crew also host Sign Magic and Sculpting Workshops in their studio a number of times each year with attendees coming from around the world. For more information please visit

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