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Dealing with rats on a yacht

Skipper’s Tips: Ratted Out

This writer experienced firsthand the privations of the toothy terrorists. I lay in my bunk one evening and heard a rowdy racket on deck. It sounded as if something with claws was trying to get purchase on the fiberglass. Leaping out of the companionway, I shined a light around the cockpit and soon illuminated the source of the scramble: a wee rat, looking confused.

I thought he might have sensed my disapproval and returned whence he came—presumably my anchor rode. Such naiveté was rewarded by the next day’s discovery of a delicate half-moon shape nibbled out of a banana.

Curses were uttered, and I set several traps; the next night I caught a little creature which I promptly dispatched to the gruesome depths of the inner harbour. Success was mine.

Next day, however, I discovered another chewed banana. This was serious. Feeling confident in my hunting abilities, I set out a series of big spring-loaded snap traps and a couple of glue boards and smugly awaited the destruction of the beasties.

In the middle of the night, I heard a loud snap and leaped from my bunk to discover that the bait had been removed from the spring trap; the trap itself was sprung, but the wily rascal was gone. The stakes were now higher.

I put word out that I had been invaded and was offered an electric trap. Being called away on charter, I laid traps around and left in full knowledge that it was only a matter of time before victory came my way.

Eight days later, I returned to find the blinking light in the electric trap indicating that there had been a massive voltage event. Peering into the depths of the trap, I saw that the bait was gone but there was no rat. How could this be?

There was only one possible course of action—reinforcements. So I purchased an $80 super rat zapper along with some new type of spring trap, and, against my better judgment, I stocked up on poison baits.


I thought the upgraded electric zapper would do the trick, but it was not to be. I observed that one of my poison baits seemed to have disappeared, but I thought that might have been a trick of memory.

Off I went on charter again.

On my return, I noticed no changes to my traps and baits though I did see some dark droppings indicating the persistence of the pestilence. One other thing I noticed was a rather sharp odour. “Hmm,” I thought, “that darn mould again.” Ha ha—that wasn’t any mould; that was a dead rat stinking up my crib (or so I came to believe).

My emotions were mixed since on the one hand, I seemed to have solved my problem, but on the other, there was a dead rat somewhere in my bilge.

A month has passed, and still no sign of the rodent.

Until I get truly to the bottom of this issue—which means some dark and hitherto unexplored nook deep in my bilge somewhere—I’ll never know if the little rat truly is dead, or just biding his time until I’ve finally relaxed again and reintroduced bananas to my cabana.

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