October 25, 2012 by Last Star blog
Cap-Tain’s mast or Cat-Pain’s mast….which is it?
Captain’s Mast: A disciplinary hearing during which the commanding officer of a naval unit studies and disposes of cases against the enlisted personnel in the unit
Two constant companions and roundabout contributors to this blog are Cooper and Mini. The names totally unrelated to the small British car (ask if you want the full story). Now when we were house-bound they had the epic “Kitty-Kondo” built by yours truly and comprising of three levels, a sleeping compartment with play holes, 2 sun-decks and a +6 foot climbing post made of carpet and sisal rope.
This provided them the high perch that cats appreciate as well as some exercise. Now on the boat the exercise while underway is limited. I think even Mini has grasped that 20 cat claws sharpened like needles are not effective in holding fast on fiberglass or finished teak. Occasionally they will chase and “hunt” one another around the deck and inside of the boat when we are at anchor so we were looking for something else to provide them some exercise.
You’ll note in this photo that the hatch is right next to the mast and we surmised that the mast would make a ready path to the hatch as well as the small shelf/storage area up there and they would love to go up and down to access the deck as well as play chase.
We decided to wrap the mast inside the boat similar to the post on the Kitty Kondo but elected to go solely with sisal and no carpet for esthetique reasons. Now sisal isn’t much use except in craft applications as today’s modern ropes are so much better and stronger so finding an adequate amount of sisal was a challenge. You can buy a 50′ length for about $6 but that is thin like a pencil and would take small fortune to wrap the mast. The mast has a circumference of about 30 inches and floor to ceiling is about 6’3″. The number of wraps would be dependent on the thickness of the rope. For those inclined feel free to do the math–I was told “there’d be no math” (for my friend Quizmo if he’s checking in). Patricia scored a deal on-line (surprise) of 600′ of 1/2 inch sisal for about $70. This would be too much we estimated (no math) but the 300′ length would be too small. We wanted one continuous length that we would anchor top and bottom with a bolt and washer. If the mast ever needs to come out/down then the sisal must come off.
Well we undid the bale of sisal (don’t know what else to call it) as we always knew it would not pass between the small gap between the mast and the bulk-head behind it. Our goal was to create multiple long loopy-bundles all continuously linked that would go around and around and around the mast as we wound it tightly. The bundles diminishing in number and length as we unwound the mess.
This sisal was “hecho in Mexico” and came to us in a squishy cardboard box sealed with glue and wrapped in….wait for it…. yes sisal. I didn’t know the USPS took that type of package, try sending a package with twine on the outside next time–good luck. It looked pre-depression era. Maybe when it comes from overseas they have to take the package?
Creating the bundles was quite a challenge, remember in yesterday’s post when we arrived early to Adam’s Creek I said it would be an “easy day”? Hah. We started this task about 1:30 PM. Unraveling the bale began a giant sisal dust-storm/dandruff attack in the salon. The wooden floor became as slick as the dance floor in a country western bar where they put sawdust or wax or whatever it is for two-stepping. (I think you need the floor slick to slide around in those OH SO TIGHT wrangler jeans those poofy cowboy types prefer–I’m Texan, these editorial comments are my birth right). After being coiled in the bale the sisal had a mind of its own. I think coiling a frozen garden hose in January is easier than trying to tame the sisal. After about 20 minutes we had 6 “bundles” of about 8-10 loops with the loops being floor to ceiling and all tied together with the sisal twine from the original box.
Well anchoring the base was pretty easy, we “wound” about 4-5 wraps backwards and without passing the bundles because at that early stage it was possible. Once the base was anchored and the sisal wraps started we began the passing. Well this was a total cluster. First of all it was pretty heavy for one person in this demonic party. Patricia’s arms are about the same thickness as the rope so handling these was not easy for her. We had to pass the “first” bundle that was being wrapped about the mast and then follow that with the 5-6 writhing anaconda bundles to complete each wrap. Yes each wrap required the full dick-dance that was getting the oh let’s just call it the 583′ now around the damn mast. The lines were getting a “twist” in them somehow with the wrapping. If you’ve ever wrestled with a messed up extension cord you are getting the picture. In some cases I think the sisal was becoming coiled steel cable it was so damn wound-up. I was getting wound-up. All small talk had ceased between us, I think we were both pondering the demise of the damn cats.
As the sisal went up the mast (yes we were making some progress) we were no longer passing the bundles between the painted steel mast and the finished wood; now the wrapped sisal was making it harder to pull the bundles through–joy. As we neared the 2/3rds point Patricia insisted we do some math–much to my dismay. It was clear by this point that the 600′ was in fact too much and the original 450′ estimated would be more accurate. We used the previous 4′ of wrapped mast and the 30″ circumference to lop off some extra we knew we would not need. To do this we had to undo the bundles again; we undid the bundles a couple of times to work out the twists that inevitably formed in the wrapping. With the 150′ cut off and the whole package re-bundled we started to pick up some speed in the process in the end.
The process was not painless, Patricia had to don a long-sleeve shirt as the sisal was scratching her forearms (mine are toughened from other tortures I’ve endured..). I kept banging the knuckle on my thumb on the mast on the “blind pass” to Patricia so eventually the skin there went the way of the dodo. I got a nice blister from pulling the rope tight I guess so I put on gloves a bit too late and of course the coarse sisal attacked and poked every nick, cut, scratch we already had on our hands–whaa-mbulance is making another stop at the LastStar.
So for all that I hung Cooper on it and he promptly jumped down. Mini did go up it once so far and sharpen her claws/stretch on it once as well. Cooper still uses the HDTV as a vaulting point to get up on the high shelf so that pleases me tons. I think I’ll bring these two miscreants before the Captain’s Mast in order to exact my revenge for all the cat-pain I endure because of them. We missed happy-hour and had to go straight to dinner prep at 7:00 PM, yes 5.5 hours for this mess. And in the dark I managed to burn my knuckles on the BBQ grill when I misjudged the handle; I’m blaming the cats for that too.