Rat, Fire, Cockroach

Okay, don’t freak out, but the story that follows will let you know that it is not always paradise in a sailors world.

Living aboard a sailboat is usually fairly stress free. You may have to weather the storms, so to speak, but for the most part what’s stressful about looking at water and floating on it while wandering.

Well, this summer we returned to our floating home in mid August and have opted to stay at a marina for the season working on projects. There are always plenty of projects to be done on a boat and the list is never ending, no different than a land home.

View across the water at Hampton

This year I (G) redid our dodger (aka windshield) with new strata glass. I also made a new seat back for the helm with P’s help cutting the wood needed for it. I also made a seat cover for one of our inside seats and made a few new cushion covers (they tend to get salted up and drab looking after a few years). P has been working on many projects including installing AGM batteries, updating our lithium batteries, troubleshooting and installing a new fix to our starboard starter which has never been reliable, replacing a few rigging lines, repairing a winch that decided to freeze up, repairing hatches that have started to leak, replacing old mirrors with new ones, among many other small jobs. He’s also ordered and received many replacement parts and items that have worn out or broke (swim fins, paddle for paddle board, dinghy motor and dinghy).

One way to get up the mast
Our rigger up the mast again
Our main sail heading off to be restitched

We’ve kept ourselves too busy to sail anywhere. One of the most rewarding projects was getting some items off the boat that we no longer need or that we don’t use while in the islands of the Caribbean. We donated 3 large bags of goods to Goodwill and gave other items to fellow boaters.

Some things we wanted to keep, but wanted off the boat to give us more space. Our folding bikes were only used once in the last 4 seasons while down in the islands. We don’t want to get rid of them as we enjoy using them while cruising the east coast, but they take up a lot of room on the boat that we’d like back. So I drove them to our new storage unit in Michigan for the winter and we plan to pick them up again next summer which also gave me an excuse to visit my son and his family.

Quick pic before heading back to the boat

Joni likes Grammy’s cookies
Joni and Grammy selfie fun
Joni is fascinated by the bobcat digging outside the window

That explains our purpose for staying put this summer. We have enjoyed getting to know some of the locals to Hampton, Virginia. One couple actually lent us their car for 10 days. They are also sailors prepping their boat for a future passage south. How nice it that.

Anyway on with the stories that go with the title of this blog post.

About 3 weeks ago I was staying up late after P had gone to bed. It was a full moon and about 10:30 at night. I had the windows and doors closed. I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye while reading. I looked out and noticed an unusual shadow near the entry to our cockpit. The next thing I saw was was a rat stepping onto the cockpit cushions. OMG, I yelled for Paul to wake up. Told him we had a rat on the boat. He got up and made a big racket with our sliding door which scared the thing off. It lept off the stern doing a swan dive and rapidly swam away. Paul felt it was actually a muskrat. Whatever it was, I slept with all windows closed that night and a few nights following.

I know many boaters here that sleep with their doors open and hatches open. Some even leave their boats unattended for days with everything open (very trusting souls). After this experience I’ll be sure to at least have my screens shut if hatches are open at night. This was the first stressful experience of this sort in our 5 years living aboard.

Two weeks ago while we were getting the car loaded for me to drive to Michigan we smelled smoke. Paul had pulled through 2 new wires just the day prior so we worried that some connection got damaged inside the hull. The smoke dissipated and stopped so we really weren’t sure what it was. We immediately unplugged us from shore power. Paul stayed behind to continue his projects so he kept an eye on things. Over the next few days he noticed the smell of something burning a few times, but only when he used significant wattage by operating an appliance. After I arrived back he finally found the culprit, the main ELCI breaker. It clearly wasn’t protecting us. So now another new item got added to his to do list.

Burnt breaker

I was just grateful that he found the source and I could sleep again. The new and improved breaker was ordered and P is currently installing it as I write this post. Whew.

There are cockroaches at this marina and they do spray to keep them under control but there are still a number around. We’ve seen them down the pier and I’m very careful that all food that comes on board immediately goes into glass ball jars or is stowed in heavy duty bins. Friends of ours got cockroaches aboard their boat while here so I’ve been extra cautious.

Three nights ago I reached into our cupboard to get a Seltzer Charger for my spritzer bottle. These are not edible, but I’ve never removed them from their small cardboard box. When I reached in for a charger out came a cockroach. It immediately went under my seat in our main salon. I was so upset. How these things even manage to get on board is a feat in itself. The only way on is to climb along one of the lines attached to the pier and then make their way inside. Who knows how long it had been on board. It was in the cupboard where we keep the dog food and everything in that cupboard is in containers so there couldn’t have been much for it to live on, but it may have found the odd dog kibble.

I went online right away and found a recipe that called for a mixture of borax and sugar. I prepared it and placed it in 2 lids and put the lids into the 2 areas we keep food in the salon. The next morning it was clear that something had disturbed the poison. We haven’t seen the creepy thing since. I’m trusting it’s dead somewhere. I’m sure we’ll come across it’s corpse some day. Meanwhile the poison is staying in place until well after we leave just to be sure.

I’m hoping that superstition holds and now that we’ve had 3 stressful events we are done. We certainly don’t need any more unexpected surprises this close to our departure planned for November 2nd. More on that in our next post. Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “Rat, Fire, Cockroach”

  1. We love that marina – we’ll have to keep this in mind when we go back. Sounds like you guys are almost ready for the passage. Next week is when all your hard work pays off and the fun begins. Safe travels down to Antigua – we will be following along.

  2. So glad to hear from you. Have wondered about your plans for traveling so happy to learn what you will be doing. Glad especially that you found the scource of the smoke/fire! Safe travels. Hugs to you both. Aunt Lo

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