Ella's magic mat
This is actually the question we are most frequently asked about, how special is Ella’s peepee mat?
Seriously, we get approached by other yachties just to ask if the mat is from a specific brand, etc. They approach us while we are heading to town in our dinghy with Ella, sometimes they come near our yacht with their dinghies to ask about it, and I think they always get a bit puzzled with the answer.
I guess it always leaves them very surprised seeing such big dog going to the bow do her business and then one of us throwing the mat overboard to get it clean.
Maybe it looks too easy to be true, not sure what goes on their minds and clearly, they have no idea how often we get thrown Back to square one on this matter.
So I think it’s about time to talk about the business and debunk the whole thing.
No, it’s not as easy as it may look from a distance, from shore or from another yacht.
It’s actually a situation full of frustration from both sides, us and Ella.
After all, she’s not a small dog, she’s 25kg, and managing to pee and poo on a small area while the boat rocks to the swell and waves is not easy.
Plus, she was potty trained to go pee and poo on the garden below our apartment from young and changing habits at the age of 2 is not easy, especially when there are periods when she can just go do her business on land easily.
So what’s so special about Ella’s peepee mat?
Nothing, absolutely nothing!
Well, this is version 2.0 of her mat because as I posted in an earlier blog post version 1.0 was lost overboard.
Both versions of the mat are actually very similar and made by us with materials you can easily find at any hardware shop.
It’s composed of 3 elements:
a tray to hold the pee and avoid getting it all over decks even when we are picking up the entire assembly to clean it. This is just a plastic lid from a big storage box. In version 1.0 was from the IKEA transparent storage boxes, the biggest size. In version 2.0 it’s also from IKEA but this time from the heavy-duty dark grey boxes, the biggest size also, although version 2.0 is smaller than 1.0, and that is a small disadvantage the edge/rim is higher and that’s a big bonus, this way there are fewer chances of pee going all over when picking up the tray and it’s more sturdy.
a mat for the young lady to actually do her business. It’s not easy to convince a dog to just do it on a plastic tray, it needs some padding. There’s nothing special about the mat, it’s the training that makes the difference we believe. But we do recommend an easy clean mat! Version 1.0 had a mat that was very easy to clean superficially but would hold the pee inside it and the smell was unbelievable (that’s why it fell overboard, it was so stinky that the moment Ella would do her business I would hang it from the bow cleat for a couple of hours, until I thought she may need it again). Version 2.0 has a much lighter mat, perforated, maybe not so easy to clean a poo especially if with a moosh consistency but works like charm with pees, we believe this one will be much less stinky. It’s a bit prickly on her feet but she now doesn’t seem to mind so much.
a rope/sheet, that will hold the entire assembly together and allows to hang the mat from a cleat or even trawl it for cleaning. We simply just used an old mooring line that we had retired. The only recommendation is to be as long as needed to get the mat in the water from the bow.
Assembling the entire thing is super easy, we just open two holes on one of the tray ends and also on the mat at the same distance from each other, we then run the mooring line through the holes having the mat inside the tray and then tie it. Of course, this can be done in a neat way or clumsy way and although version 1.0 was done carefully, experience using it allowed us to improve when assembling version 2.0.
The entire thing cost us maybe 10€ and 10 minutes assembling it, after testing it for length etc, I spent another 30 minutes doing a long splicing on the mooring line just to get rid of the ugly knot and get a nice full loop hanging line that fits nicely on our bow cleat even with the snubber line in place etc.
Version 2.0 of the mat is "permanently" cleated and this way I’m sure it won’t fall overboard with strong winds or even when I hang it for wash without paying much attention. Now I just lift the tray and throw it overboard, only caring not to get pee splashed or the mat smashed all over the broadsides.