Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's Not All Pie and Sunsets

Hose clamps and rubber gloves = terrifying photo.

We've been doing a ton of stuff to Bettie, getting her all spiffed up and ready for our next foray into the unknown. Here's a sampling of what we've been up to in between all the pie and cat stalking. We replaced the weather stripping and recaulked the fridge. Vlad added fins to our dinghy so that it planes more easily. He set up our wireless system so that we can pick up wifi from onshore routers and put in a water filter to make our drinking water taste better. We've replaced a ton of parts for either things that broke or stuff that we realized we needed. We've been working on getting the ham radio set up, and as always we're putting stuff away, getting rid of things and cleaning, occasionally with a Q-Tip. Fun times.

But my favorite thing that we've done to the boat during our stay in Key West is also the grossest. It's my favorite because it has alleviated a certain odor that has bothered me for quite some time. You see, with a boat you are never hidden from the inner workings of your living space like you are in a house. You often come face to face with electrical wiring and plumbing that, if you've lived a soft, sheltered life like I have, you've never before encountered. And truthfully, sometimes it smells bad.

What I am talking about specifically is the hose that served as the main conduit from our toilet to the holding tank and the overboard thru-hull. In case you didn't know, on a boat you have two options when it comes to going to the bathroom that completely depend on geography. If you're in a marina or near land, you have to use the holding tank, but if you're offshore you just pump everything overboard.

The hose smelled for reasons you can probably guess, and nothing I did to try to clean it seemed to help. It especially wasn't great when I accidentally created a World War One reenactment on the boat, complete with chlorine gas and scattering townspeople. "Open the hatches!" "Save yourself!" Don't forget the hedgehog!" "Attila, why are you trying to kill us?" Evidently, that whole bleach and ammonia thing is no joke.

From what I've read, old plastic hose gets permeated with nastiness, and there's not much you can do except replace it. And that's just what we did on Sunday. (Helpful toilet tip: The stinky hose was the standard white sanitation hose most people use on a boat. We replaced it with Shields sanitation hose, which is black with a green stripe. It's much more expensive, but it is more flexible, attaches better, doesn't allow as much nasty mineral build up like the kind I had to clean up later and lasts a heck of a lot longer without permeating odor, which is well worth the price to me. Also, Vlad wants everyone to know that using two hose clamps is the way to go with any type of plumbing project, something about double the poo-tection. Sorry, but a post like this needs some 5th grade toilet humor somewhere!)

Here's what it looked like halfway through the process. 

I use the term "we" loosely, since, unfortunately for Vlad, I started reading this book called "And The Sea Will Tell," which is one of those true story courtroom thrillers where a hippie couple is accused of murdering this other couple on a deserted island for their boat, and I kind of didn't stop reading all day, even though there were a million things to do. I just had to figure out what happened! I did assist him in his replumbing adventure by handing him various items and helping hold the new hose in place, but he was mainly struggling with y valves underneath the sink and folding himself into the chain locker like some sort of tall man origami. There was also a blowtorch involved, which is generally a sign that I should stay away.

I will say in my defense that there wasn't much room for an extra person, and I did clean up the cubby that got filled with about an inch of what I told myself was just sea water. But still. Anyway, now we have glorious new pipes and a new macerator. And best of all, there's no smell! It's a magical world we live in. Complete with sunsets.


  1. This is very good information!!! Maybe I'll talk Raymond into doing this when he's on the east coast during the week (while I'm not there).:)

  2. Who taught you to be so funny?

  3. Such a nasty job! You made the better choice with that book. Mike made a nifty filter for the vent from the holding tank and that has made all the difference in the smell created when 'flushing'. It was cheap and easy using pvc and aquarium charcoal.
    Ammonia and bleach, plus a small space? That could kill you. Nasty!

  4. Kaye pointed me to your blog. As a co-producer of "Cruising with Bettie" it's fantastic to read your posts and see "Bettie" cruising again with a new set of devoted owners. I'd like your permission to include your blog at www.thesailingchannel.tv/cwb

    It's wonderful when we can continue a boat's cruising adventures from one owner to another. And if you have any interest in shooting some video, please contact me and we can talk.

    Tory Salvia
    President/Executive Producer

    1. Hi Tory,

      We'd love to be a part of the TheSailingChannel. Please include our blog, and we will work on getting you some video. Also, please pardon my tardiness in getting back to you. We were on a long passage.


  5. Attila I cannot express how much I love reading your blog. Only the poo entry could bring me out to comment! I also cried about your mom surprising you...and look there's an executive producer up there! Love your stories as always and love you guys as always!

    1. We love you too!! And of course the poo entry pushed you over the edge. Give everyone in y-town my love, and especially your sisters with their new babies!

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