Hmmm, what have we bought (or otherwise obtained!) that has made a positive difference to our boating this year? I can think of three things.
1. A Box!
This is something I made at the end of last year and I think it’s fair to say it has been a success. Herbie as you know has a semi trad stern with lockers on either side of the rear deck which also serve as seats. These are OK, but (yes there’s always a but), but as seats they are a few inches low for best comfort and for seeing over the roof. Furthermore, although the lockers are capacious, sometimes they are a bit too capacious, being full of all manner of odds and ends when you are quickly searching for a hammer and a stake or perhaps another windlass. So I devised a cunning plan. I made a box with just the right depth to raise the sitter to a proper height and big enough to take hold our windlasses, hammer, stakes, and piling hooks and chains – just. To do this I had to measure the length of a mooring stake and then the distance between Kath’s knees and her feet! Now we can sit more comfortably and grab a chain or whatever in seconds without having to bend down rummage in a much bigger locker with other things like tins of paint and bow saws in it. It’s nothing fancy just a rectangular box with a hinged lid, painted with umpteen coats of varnish – and would you believe it(?), I don’t have a photo of it. Still you know what a rectangular box looks like, just imagine it with the neatly arranged bits and pieces inside. Magic.
2. A toilet
Regular reader will know that we installed an Airhead composting toilet into Herbie this year. This was not without considerable expense (think an arm and a leg) and even more considerable faffing about. The faffing about bit was all about making sure that the “exhaust” fumes went outside the boat and didn’t leak inside, not so easy as it turned out until I called in Rick, who as all his friends know is a DiY genius. The benefits off these loos are that they use no chemicals – saving money, chemical smells, and the environment, and the “solids” only need clearing out every six weeks or so, by which time with the addition of some cocoa shells they have lost much of their unpleasantness. So no emptying of cassettes every couple of days, which with the poor state of some of CRT’s sanitary stations is a blessing. Here is the Airhead in situ.
Does it work? Yes. Does it pong? No. Does it really go for weeks without needing to be emptied? Yes the solids do. The liquid collects in that tank at the front and needs emptying daily, but that’s easy.
3. A steady hand on the throttle
Pardon? Well alright, a throttle steadier. Herbie’s morse lever needed stiffening up to stop it creeping back once set. We tried installing an O ring on the lever spindle and that worked a bit. Rick reckoned it needed a “wavy” washer, sort of crinkled. You can buy wavy washers, but not singly. I wasn’t going to buy a hundred for fifteen quid and then find I had 100 washers that don’t work, so Rick made one. He called it the Tachomatic Revostat –well he would wouldn’t he? Here it is.
It sort of worked, but not well enough because it was too flimsy, so Rick ruthlessy stole Marylin’s Prestige stainless steel kitchen spatula (a wedding or engagement present over forty years ago), sawed off the end, and using the offcut made another, stouter version called the Tachomatic Revmaster which looks exactly the same only thicker (and tastes faintly of cake icing). I am happy to say that it works and now Herbie can hold a steady speed on her own.
So there you have it. Three things that have changed our life on board this year. Only one can get the Herbie Award. What would your choice be? You have a day or two to send in your thoughts while we have a short diversion next time to look back at an aspect of our ten years on Herbie.