Friday, June 22, 2018

A compendium of small and useful things

Well, having done with my tenure at a big box store to build up some cash for boat revisions and whilst waiting for parts and paperwork to arrive and for my knee to recover from the concrete floors (ow) at work, I thought I'd reflect on some of the small things we've learned this year.  Little stuff, but nontheless important.  Ready?  Here we go.

On Composting Toilets
This was so easy, why didn't we do it sooner?

It really amazes me, now that we have a functioning urine separator, how much of the bulk of human waste coming out of the boat is pee.  Not just by volume, but the bulk of the odor, certainly, is urine.  By comparison, solid waste is virtually undetectable, smell-wise. We wind up emptying the 1.5 gallon urine container about every two days, but the solid waste can go ten days or more, depending on how much we stay on the vessel.  Like I said in an earlier post, we shoulda done the separator ages ago.

On Solar Systems
When it comes to solar systems, size--or at least capacity--DOES matter.

The addition of the new, heavier battery bank has been a bit of a revelation.  Since it's installation, our system has only needed once to go back onto shore power, and that was before the last four of the 100AH batteries were installed and at the end of a period of ten days of rain and overcast this spring.  We were clearly wasting power before, our 650W system generating more power than we could store.  Currently, we're running our lighting, electronics, and refrigeration 24/7 without taxing the system.  So if you're wondering about the configuration for your boat or tiny home, put your cash in the storage.

On Water Systems
Both the pump in the background and the one in the foreground failed within a few months.  Bah!

Manual marine potable water pumps suck (both literally and mechanically).  In The Floating Empire, our water system was a traditional, cast iron pitcher pump, which worked beautifully and without complaint.  We have now been through FOUR hand galley pumps in our current vessel, one piece of Chinese-made crap after another.  None of them has lasted six months.  Some didn't make it six days.  It's dispiriting.  In the next iteration, it's either going to be a pressurized system or back to the cast iron pitcher pump.  At least you can count on them.

On Boat Cats
Magellan rocks.

Get one.  They're adorable.

We're both jonesing to get the boat up and at sea.  More in a couple of days as we get closer to this.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Magellan Speaks

It's about TIME you got off the computer so I can use it.
Magellan here, first Ship's Cat of the Tesla's Revenge. I thought, since the Captain and First Mate were off ashore doing human things that I would address the sad lack of articles in this column about. .well. . . .me!

I came to life aboard as a mature cat, a “rescue” in human parlance. I had been living with a family that dumped me when they bought a couple of obnoxious Corgis and was fortunate enough to have run into my new people at the shelter. Their former Ship's Cat, Kallisti, had just passed on and they were in dire need of a new companion. I made it clear to them that I was a people person, the perfect personal assistant for two artists living on a boat.

Fortunately, they bought it.
Sometimes living with artists can be a challenge.

I had never lived on a vessel before, but was surprised that they seemed tailor made for cats. Boats have lots of little spaces to explore and into which one might tuck ones self. During the days I can sit in the sun and watch all manner of birds and fishes. The ducks are especially friends of mine, which I refrain from trying to eat. Frankly, we get along splendidly. At night I can sit in the cockpit and watch the water and stars, or go belowdecks and sleep with my people. I have my own litterbox, which they keep (mostly) fastidiously clean. I have a waterbowl which I love to drag around, and the food is good. It is, all in all, a wonderful lifestyle for a cat.

But there are some challenges to being a truly great Ship's Cat (and I suppose, by extension, Ship's Dog, though I can't imagine that) that I thought I might detail to those of you of the furred persuasion that aspire to this life.

First of all, boats are small spaces. For my part, I genuinely like my people and like being around them. Even when they are off the boat, I follow them about to make sure they stay out of trouble. Like I said, I'm a wonderful personal assistant. If you are of a more solitary bent, though, or dislike constant human contact, this might not be the life for you.

Then there is the matter of the space. As I said before, boats seem created just for cats, with so many interesting crawlspaces, defensible positions, and overlooks available for our use. But the small space means you've got to be good with your aim vis-a-vis the litter box, and consistent in it's use, or you will most definitely come into conflict with your humans.

The water and weather can be an issue as well. Rain on a boat can be LOUD. Wind can knock us about, which I do not like at all. Though I've never suffered from it, some Ship's Cats (and presumably other pets) can become seasick, which would be unpleasant. The weather is just something with which one deals on a vessel, but it bears considering. As to the water: I am a sveldt (okay so I'm big boned) graceful creature of amazing coordination, but occasionally—just OCCASIONALLY, mind you—the boat moves just the wrong way when I'm coming aboard or walking down the gunwale and I, um, miss. Living on a boat means you really need to know how to swim, and being able to climb up the dock pilings is also a plus. As I say, it doesn't happen often, but it can happen. As it is, the few times the misfortune occurred to me, I just swam over to one of the pilings, climbed up to the dock, got aboard, and spent the next few hours putting my fur back in order.

Then there is the matter of other people, other spaces, and travel. First of all, Marinas are full of other folk, other cats, even dogs, and you need to be okay with that. People may, of course, want to adore you. That's only right and proper, and you need to be friendly and not a threat to them and their often clueless offspring, but you need to set limits and you need to be happy with staying close to ship when appropriate. Marinas can also be full of large, dangerous, terrifyingly loud equipment that could crush a kitty in a heartbeat. Even if you get to go ashore—and many of my compatriots do not—you need to be comfortable with keeping close to home. Losing your people or your people losing you would be awful.
The collar is not merely a fashion accessory:  It give me the power to locate my humans.

In that regard, if you'll notice some of my more handsome portraits in this fine publication, you may note a stylish diamond shape hanging from my collar. As fashionable as that is, it has a purpose: its a Tile, a bluetooth tracking device. With it, the captain can always find me with his phone if he needs me (and, not unimportantly, I can help him FIND his phone by a simple tap on the tile). It makes us all feel much more secure.
All taken into consideration, if the minor downsides don't bother you, being a Ship's Cat may be a wonderful life choice for you. I feel fortunate that my people found me and gave me this opportunity to be with them in so beautiful a place. We're happy here aboard ship. I think you might be as well.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the ducks need me for something. They're amazingly stupid, but I'm happy to help. All part of the Job.