The Spotted Custard was commissioned by Lord Akeldama and gifted to his adopted daughter, Rue. It is the peak of engineering technology for its time: lighter, better, faster, and more deadly than even the ships in Her Majesty's float force. It is capable of operating both on helium and hot air. Most of the boilers and steam engine controls were designed by Quesnel Lefoux.
The exterior of the ship is large, with a gondola the size of Lord Akeldama's house, and is made of a light, flexible wood from China (most likely bamboo). Its balloon is red with black spots. The gondola's trim, railings, and other details are painted black.
The navigation centre on the poop deck is designed to look like an old-fashioned ship's helm, but it's just an aesthetic. A large parasol was installed over the navigator's station that matches the paint of the balloon. The balloon could be inflated an deflated by either helium, hot air, or both depending on resources. A paddle propeller below aft does most of the steering and propulsion with a single mainsail off the stern for use in high-floating in the aether currents.
The ship includes crew quarters, officer's quarters, lavish captain's chambers, a mess, a galley with refrigeration boxes and every kind of pot and pan, a stateroom, a smoking room, a sickbay/laboratory, and guest berths. The hold is at the fore of the ship, and a massive engineering chamber (with coal bunkers, boilers, and tea kettle shaped steam engines) is at the aft.
There is a nice-looking mess and galley which include the latest in refrigeration boxes and every possible pot and pan to crumpet rings.
Technological Components Edit
- Boilers ~ There are two boilers in engineering, both shaped like tea kettles, a large one (the main boiler) and a smaller one (the second boiler). Main boiler (AKA the Big Kettle) runs all ships mechanics, engines, heating, and galley. The second boiler can be used as back up in case of main failure, and also runs the propeller. It can sometimes be called the propeller kettle.
- Mandenall Pudding Probe ~ A device used to determine whether the ship was in the right place among the aether currents. The instrument squirts a viscous milky liquid, not unlike rice pudding, to indicate that the ship is below the correct current.
- Proximity Alarm ~ An alarm that can be activated by a crew member to alert the rest of the crew of the ship's proximity to another ship or object. It makes a loud sound that is some mix of a warble and a garble. (Prudence, Chapter Five)
- Duck Horn ~ The Spotted custard has a duck horn: which lets out a resonating quack that shakes the deck boards and permeates the entire airship. Three blasts means the officers are to assemble (Imprudence, Chapter Fifteen).
- In Imprudence, the Spotted Custard has been outfitted with a new Gatling gun. A gift from Lord Akeldama for Prudence's twenty-first birthday.
- Prudence Akeldama—captain, skipper, Lady Captain
- Tasherit (officer) - First Mate
- Primrose Tunstell (officer)—ship's purser, head of staff, handles supplies and finances
- Percival Tunstell (officer)—navigator and helmsman
- Quesnel Lefoux (officer)—chief engineer
- Anitra—interpreter & cultural liaison
- 3 Deckhands
- 6 Decklings
- Spoo—sootie (becomes head deckling, occasional gunner)
- Nips—lookout, often in the crowsnest
- 4 others
- Aggie Phinkerlington—senior greaser
- 2 Firemen
- 2 Greasers
- Cook - male
- 2 Kitchen Staff
- 2 Quartermaids
- Ship's cat (Footnote)
- Valet (Virgil) also assistant helmsman and gunner
- The decklings have a chant while in combat: "We are The Spotted Custard! / From the crow's nest to the tomb! / Spotted Custard is your saviour, / or Spotted Custard is your doom!"
- Tasherit is made first mate in Imprudence.
- At the beginning of Imprudence, the Spotted Custard is moored off Worple Road in Wimbledon at the All England Croquet, Lawn Tennis, and Airborne Polo Club.
- With the use of one of Primrose’s dresses and Percy’s bathing suit, the crew cobbled together an American Flag to trick the desert city of Khartoom in Imprudence.
- The chimney off the stern tends to belch smoke and flatulent noises.
- "I commissioned her several years ago, before some of the technology was even ready. Now she has all the very latest of everything, from navigation to habitation to mechanics to munitions. She's lighter, better, faster and more deadly than anything, even Her Majesty's floatforce." (Prudence, Chapter Two)
- "It wasn't as big as one of Her Majesty's mail ships but it was large. Rue suspected the gondola alone of being about the size of Dama's town house, if the house were tipped on its side and made into the shape of a streamlined boat." (Prudence, Chapter Two)
- "The open squeak decks, below the massive balloons, seemed protected enough from the helium above to not cause undue voice modification." (Prudence, Chapter Two)
- “If only, she thought, we really were a ship of exploration and not a ship near constantly under seige.” (Imprudence, Chapter Fifteen)