Thursday, 27 August 2015

An unwanted visitor

The prospect of having a rat aboard your boat is one that worries most cruisers. When anchored out this is not so much of a worry but when in a marina or port it certainly can be.    John recently went back to the UK to help one of his daughters move to Gibraltar and I stayed to look after our home armed with a list of jobs to do whilst he was away. No worries!
I slowly worked my way down the list, varnishing, cleaning the bilge, washing down all the interior covers ....all ticked off the list. I replaced the mosquito netting on the small hatches one day and felt pleased with myself only to find the next morning when I awoke that there was a large hole in the one above the cooker. I had foolishly left the hatch open feeling secure in the fact that it was covered with the netting. At first I thought it was the wind that had torn the netting but then sitting down sipping my morning cuppa a horrible thought occurred to me .....we had a rat onboard!! I was astounded that one had decided to jump on board as we are a good 200m down the pontoon with other yachts in the frame before ours but no ratty had obviously earmarked Orion as a yacht full of stuff to eat, chew and generally gnaw away at! Rats can be really difficult to get rid of on a boat and have been known to cause severe damage to wiring, hoses etc ..... In short they are bad news.
So what to do....I asked at the marina if they had any traps or poison but they would get some. I decided not to wait took a trip into Puerto Colombia and armed myself with snap traps and poison which I set that evening. I spent the rest of the day listening out for the blighter and convinced it was in the bow I dragged out everything that it could BCD, bedding, everything was taken out and put in the saloon. I then bolted the watertight door safe in the knowledge that he could not get into the rest of the boat.
But ....the next morning as I stepped into the saloon I was horrified to find evidence of the darn thing all around the saloon .....mistake number all the stuff I had dragged out of the bow then went back in along with anything else I thought it might enjoy as a snack! I set the traps again this time in the saloon with the bow blocked off and the stern cabin shut off at all times surely this time he would take the bait?! I set the traps with a little peanut butter everyone kept telling me how this could not fail....but it did for five days I decamped early each night to the stern and listened for the sound of the trap doing its worse to Ratty. John suggested leaving it a route to escape from the boat but this only made it worse as I could hear it padding about the decks at night and then had to clear up its mess the following day. I was worried that I would end with a whole colony aboard and just getting rid of this bugger was proving challenging enough! So every night the boat was shut up tight and the only thing for Roddy to eat was the peanut butter or the poison that I eventually decided to put down. After five days my eyes started to play tricks on me and I began to imagine I saw him down a hole in the Saloon where the chart table seat fits. I had removed the seat as the ruddy rat was enjoying dancing about on the chart table each night. I covered the hole with a saucepan lid held securely in place with a heavy winch on top! I'd got it...... Well no I hadn't!....there was nothing there. I was started to get mightily p****d off with this rat. Every morning the bleach would come out and I systematically washed down all the surfaces where there was evidence the rat had been or might have been and every morning I awoke to empty rat traps. It had started to eat the poison though...then this was a worry as it might actually die somewhere on the boat that was inaccessible. This was always a possibility as I had emptied and and cleared lockers that many times now and had still not managed to get a sighting of the illusive rodent! By now all the surfaces in the saloon were clear and every conceivable ventilation hole blocked with bungs, tape, heavy toolboxes you name it....this was war .....and the rat was winning!

Meanwhile John would ring every day for an update hoping for good news before he arrived back in Colombia.
No such luck eight days after the rat climbed aboard John arrived back, tired and exhausted from his journey he decided to rip out the fridge to see if it was behind there. I had been unable to do this by myself as it was screwed down and definitely a two man job. The fridge came out and yes Roddy had definitely been behind there but he was no longer there having chewed through the electrical wiring to the freezer. We cleared up the mess and once more set the traps and put out the poison. The next morning there was no visible sign of his presence (no droppings) but he had taken all the poison. The next morning, the same but this time he had not eaten any poison....could we be rid of him? John and I crossed our fingers that he had left as we left the boat open now in the hope he would exit the way he came. John was not so hopeful thinking that he was either very sick or dead somewhere on the boat. As anyone who knows John knows he has no sense of smell so I was the one who had to do the sniffer dog impersonation trying to determine if 'thing' was still on board. As the days passed I was becoming more hopeful he had got off the boat. As we prepared to dinner I asked John to get me something from under the boards in the saloon where we store some of our tins as it was dusk he got the torch lifted the lid and then turned to me asking exactly where this tin was......Arghh! There was the rat! It was deceased, a dead rat, it was no more and it had gone to that big rat colony in the sky! John and I had checked under there but it must have been sick but still on the move then. It was rubber gloves time again and the rodent was dispatched overboard along with all the tins it had used as its coffin!
Finally today has been the last day of cleaning the underfloor storage with bleach yet again and whilst the cursed thing has caused some damage I am glad to say we have managed to wrestle our boat free from the jaws of this rat pirate and there are just the two of us on board again!

1 comment:

  1. Eeeek! I hate rats. Once we had a possum come in the boat in the middle of the night. I could hear its claws clattering down the deck above my head. I jumped up to scare it away and as it ran off it narrowly missed falling in the open hatch on the bow and on to the sleeping skipper! That would not have been good!