While many people who don't live on a boat think this life is one of endless idyllic, halcyon days, we can assure you that like all else in life, boats require maintenance, and unless you are independently wealthy or even moderately well off, life aboard a narrow boat will require you personally to engage in regular boaty chores. The engine oil needs changing every 300 hours, the batteries need looking after, the shower pump filter will clog up about every three months, requiring one to uncover it from wherever it lies buried; behind panels underneath the bathtub perhaps, like ours. I can always tell when the pump filter needs cleaning because the tub won't drain properly after a shower and begins to sound like a sick opera singer with a bass voice register and a really bad sore throat. Les takes it all apart and scrubs the filter with one of my old toothbrushes, puts it all back together and we are good to go again for another quarter of the year.
We use cocoa shell mulch for the dry mix in our Airhead composting toilet so it really does need to be dry, Sadly, garden centers don't understand that if a bag of plant material--which is what cocoa shell actually is---is left stacked outside in all weathers, it will inevitably get wet, and the composting process will begin in the plastic bag it comes in. You can tell your cocoa shell has been wet if, when you open the bag, you see chocolate colored shells mixed with gray, papery shells which resemble the paper in a wasp's nest. Cocoa shell should be a deep, rich brown color and smell like chocolate. If you use this product in your composting loo and your bag has gotten wet, it is imperative to dry it out so it will work properly in your loo, and so it cannot provide a haven for bugs that like damp, dark places to live.
|Drying a bag of cocoa shell mulch in the sun.|
I called Les to take a look and he figured something was blocking the fan, so off came the hose, and he unscrewed the fan housing from the roof to exclaim, "Look Jaq!! Spider mites! Millions of them! Sure enough they had made a happy home amongst the fan and in the housing, clogging it with friss (bug poop), and debris. So Les climbed on the roof and removed the mushroom vent--to find the inside caked with dirt and muck, as was the hole in the boat roof where the fan housing had been.
|The fan and its housing which connects to the ceiling in the bathroom. Nasty!!|
|Now that's better! Clean, dry and ready to put back together.|
|The black stuff is rust converter which is supposed to seal the exposed metal and convert any rust to an inert layer no longer eating at the boat.|
|Poor NB Val was pitted with rust spots and looked really tatty. These boats have many lips, edges, nooks, and crannies; you have to get into all of them to stop the rust and re-paint the boat.|
|After painting on rust converter and sanding, we painted on white primer and then sanded again, primed again, and sanded again...|
|...hunting down every spot of rust, every bit of exposed metal and every flake of loose paint. NBV looked like she had a bad case of the measles!|
|A good close up of before and after in one shot.|
|"Look Jaq--I can see myself in the paint!!!|
|The front half of the starboard side of our boat with the first coat of new paint...|
|...and the rear half of the starboard side. Looking good!|
|Our table in the shade of an apple tree where we take our meals and wait for paint to dry!|