Sailing with Rats = A Shitty Time

Life is funny.  While in Mexico we were worried about accumulating wild creatures, rats, mice, and cockroaches aboard Camanoe. There wasn’t much we could do to keep out the wildlife except keep Camanoe clean and inspect/clean all fruits, vegetables and foods. Not only did we not have any problems on board, we never saw any indication of potential problems, such as bugs and roach eggs on any oncoming food. This being said, I was very surprised one morning here in Hawaii when I woke in the morning to find various fruits and foods in the cabin nibbled on by what appeared to be a four legged rodent, most of them only 2-3 feet from my pillow. We had collected this fourth member of the crew after less than a week while med-moored to a concrete dock in Radio Bay, Hilo. Potential rodent problems crossed my mind when first tying up, but I quickly dismissed them after naively thinking, “This is isn’t Mexico!”  Besides, I wanted shore power!

My parents and I had a perfect weather window to round the north part of the island, so I hastily went into town and purchased several sticky traps. I underestimated “Monty’s” (the rat) size. I figured he was probably only 3-4 inches overall. I’m not so smart!  We set the sticky traps out around the cabin. Sticky traps are humane traps. When the mouse/rat walks through the traps, their feet stick  to them. Then you can relocate them off of the boat. The first night Monty stepped in one, only three feet from my pillow. I heard him, but when I turned on the light he had already dragged the trap back to his hole between the mast and the floorboards and squeezed through. He had one paw stuck in the trap. So he was stuck momentarily with his hand in the air on the trap, but his body in the hole. Then he was gone. No more Monty, and no chance of him stepping in the traps again. He was smart!  For the next two nights, while we harbor-hopped to Kona where they have an Ace Hardware, I didn’t sleep much. Every half hour I would vaguely see him running around the cabin, hopping up on the table, behind the walls, eating tupperware, eating various food items and boat hardware, including wiring.  Of course he left turds everywhere as a calling card. I went so far as to mix boric acid with chicken broth as a makeshift rat killer. No luck.

Either way, we had a great sail around the island; Hawaii is truly beautiful. After arriving in Kona, Mom and I walked the three miles to Ace Hardware and purchased over $100 worth of rat traps, poison, huge sticky traps, and an electronic rat zapper. It was time for Monty to go!  By then I had cleaned out all the cupboards and isolated the food so he couldn’t reach it. He was hungry and desperate.  I was having visions of an infestation, chewed wiring and hoses. After all, he actually ate my Tupperware.  Monty was a rat! That night, the boat looked like a war zone: sticky traps, huge, spring-loaded traps, Rat Poison, and a fifty dollar electronic rat zapper.

Not ten minutes after shutting off the lights I heard a large snap in the starboard cupboard, followed by a few seconds of thrashing and wriggling by Monty, then silence. Monty’s back was broken. The spring trap got him in ten minutes. No mess. No dealing with a live, biting rat on a sticky trap. No dead rat from posion. Screw humane, screw posion, it’s all about traps. Monty was huge!  At least 15 inches overall, including tail, and about two lbs. He was not attractive, with large teeth and large claws. Monty and I

Living in a small area is tough enough, let alone knowing every inch of the boat, table, counter and sink, has been dirtied by a rat, who by the way, pees and poops as he scurries along. In short, Death to Rats!!!!