For many of us lucky Floridians, summertime includes weekends and vacations on the water with family and friends. Nowhere else in the country is boating more popular than right here in Florida where water surrounds us. As a long time sailor and boating fanatic, I want to take just as much care with my boat as I do with my house. Today, let’s talk about pest control for boats.
The things that make boating so enjoyable for us also make it the perfect habitat for pests. Water (moisture) and heat create the ideal environment for roaches, ants, and termites to set up permanent residence in your treasured boat. Bilge areas, anchor lockers, clogged deck scuppers, and storage areas can all retain moisture and are common “problem areas” for bugs.
Whether your boat is small and stored on a trailer, or large and kept in a slip, all such watercraft are potential homes for insects. Some of these pests are merely inconvenient, while others may cause significant damage to your investment.
Let’s look at the most common bugs found on boats, why they arrive, and how to eliminate them effectively.
Palmetto Bugs, Roaches, and Ants
Palmetto bugs and ants in particular LOVE the moist nooks and crannies of your boat. They will find their way in by crossing dock lines or crawling up a trailer. Palmetto bugs may fly straight in!
The first reaction of many boaters, when confronted with pests like roaches and ants, is to “bomb” or attack them with aerosol foggers. I see two problems with this approach.
The first is that you wind up with pesticide spread out over the entire living space of the boat. Yikes! Second, it is very unlikely to actually control the bugs. It might even make the problem worse, because it’s nearly impossible to treat all areas of a boat with pesticide foggers or surface sprays. There are just too many inaccessible corners. As such, foggers and sprays will drive the bugs to more remote areas of your boat, where they’ll be even more difficult to reach.
Additionally, these products may wind up in the bilge and ultimately the water, making them both an ineffective and environmentally unfriendly choice for pest control. Baits are a better choice. They are readily available and can be used without harming the occupants of the boat and the environment. (Always make sure to follow the usage instructions printed on the label, of course.)
While not as common as palmetto bugs and ants, termites are a grave concern for boat owners in Florida. Both drywood termites and subterranean termites are commonly found on boats in the water and on trailers.
There are distinct differences between the two species. In their natural environment, subterranean termites live underground in moist soil. They travel between their nests and the food source (wood) through a network of tunnels. We rarely see these transit tunnels, since X-ray vision remains tragically nonexistent. These unwelcome intruders need moisture to survive, and exposure to air will dehydrate them to a swift demise.
On a boat, sources of wood can range from interior furniture components to structural members. Here, the transit tunnels are often easily seen, as the termites move from moist areas near the bilge to wooden areas in the cabin or above deck. On infrequently used boats, I’ve even seen these tunnels form over engines and transmissions.
The least obvious subterranean termite infestations I have encountered were on smaller trailerable boats with foam flotation. In this case, the termites tunnel through the foam and remain unseen until the colony is quite large. In this situation, damage can be severe.
Control of subterranean termites on boats usually comes with the aid of termiticide foams and liquids. However, not all termiticides are labeled for use on boats. Owners and professional pest control operators must carefully abide by the labels on the products they intend to use.
Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites require only a small amount of moisture to thrive. (Drat.)
Colonies of drywood termites can be found in almost any form of wood on a boat, including trim boards, structural components, and furniture. While not as destructive as subterranean termites, given enough time, repairs to the damage they do can be costly.
While subterranean termites are most often recognized by their telltale tunnels, drywood termites are discovered by the small fecal pellets they leave behind. These pellets are known as frass and usually appear on horizontal surfaces such as tabletops, shelves, and the cabin sole. If the frass (and the pest it represents) remains undiscovered, you may be joined by swarming termites in short order. Check out the latest buzzbgone reviews.
Similar to their subterranean brethren, drywood termites can be treated with foams and liquids. If the infestation is caught early, you may be able to get away with a spot treatment. Severe infestations will require fumigation of the entire boat.
Very often, boaters dismiss termites as merely inconvenient instead of the red alert that they are. While they might not cause the kind of long-term structural damage that will cause your house to fall, they can still cause enough destruction to make your boat sink!
Yes, even if your boat is fiberglass.
Keep in mind that the structural component of most fiberglass boats is still WOOD. Even well-made boats will have small voids in the fiberglass hull. These are often just large enough to permit termites into structural elements such as stringers.
Sinking due to severe structural damage may happen at the dock if you’re lucky, but is far more likely to occur when the boat is under stress. A boat underway experiences a great deal of stress, especially at high speed.
Not the time to discover that you have termites.
J Class Yacht Ranger source
Classic Yacht Under Sail
1900’s America’s Cup Defender ” Yacht Columbia”
Shamrock V Racing via marsemfim
J Class Lionheart Sailboat Onboard
J Class Yacht “Lionheart”
J Class Wooden Yacht Model Replica “Lionheart” Americinner a’s Cup W
1937 America’s Cup J Yacht Ranger Wooden Sailboat Model
The J-class yacht Ranger won the 1937 America’s Cup, defeating 4-0 the Endeavour II of Britain, raced at Newport, Rhode Island. It would be the last time huge J-class yachts would race in the America’s Cup.
Vintage Photo Shamrock V off Rhode Island J Yacht, America’s Cup
1895 Yacht Iverna at Full Sail
In 1890, Iverna represented a new design of great racing cutter – a handsome yacht with her distinctive fiddle or cutter bow and undercut stern. Commissioned by John Jameson (of the Irish whisky family), designed by Alexander Richardson and built by J G Fay in Southampton, she was 98ft. in length – 118ft. with her bowsprit – with a beam of 18ft. and a sail area of 8157 sq. ft.
J Class Yachts Rainbow and Vesheda Under Sails source
Shamrock V Yacht via jclassyachts
Shamrock was originally owned by Sir Thomas Lipton, the owner of the English grocery chain ‘LIPTON’, and famous for his import of Lipton Tea from India.
Shamrock V was built in 1930 for Sir Thomas’s fifth and last America’s Cup challenge. Designed by Nicholson, she was the first British yacht to be built to the new J Class Rule and is the only remaining J to have been built in wood. After launch she was continually upgraded with changes to hull shape and rudder. The rig was also modified to create the most effective racing sail plan but she was no match for the faster US design “Enterprise”.
Sir Thomas made all five of his America’s Cup challenges as a member of Royal Ulster Yacht Club, a club that continues to this day to have a strong involvement with The Cup.
Shamrock V was sold in 1933 to Sir Richard Fairey (Fairey Aviation) who again was a keen yachtsman who campaigned it in company of two new steel J’s built during 1933 – 1934, Velsheda and Endeavour. After World War II, Italian owner Mario Crespi installed the elegant bird’s-eye maple interior.
America’s Cup Shamrock Wooden Sailboat Model
Sails and Rigging Wooden Mast
1934 J-Class Yacht Rainbow Model
J Class Yacht Velsheda Model
Designed by Charles Nicholson and built by Camper & Nicholson in 1933 for Mr W.L. Stephenson, Owner of Woolworth chain of shops, she was built in 1933 at Gosport. She was Nicholson’s second design for a J Class and Stephenson’s second big yacht.
“Velsheda” was named after Stephenson’s three daughters, Velma, Sheila and Daphne. She raced with the greatest names in classic yachting including “Britannia”, “Endeavour” and “Shamrock” between 1933 and 1936.
In her second season she won more than 40 races and achieved an outstanding record of success at Regatta’s from Southend to Dartmouth. Other venues included Torbay, Swanage and of course the Solent, all under the control of the very famous Captain Mountfield.
The permanent racing crew at that time was probably around 16 men and this would have been augmented to around 30 for racing. When not required for sail changes, spare crew were moved to below decks.
1966 Queen Elizabeth with birthday gift for Prince Andrew age 6. Sailboat was a gift via flickriver
J Class Yacht Velsheda via source
Enterprise Decorative Sailboat Model
Schooner Atlantic source
On the Deck at the Helm photo by Terry Hilbert
Atlantic Schooner Ship Model
Commissioned by New York Yacht Club member Wilson Marshall, the Atlantic was launched in 1903. William Gardner, one of America’s foremost designers of large yachts, designed her. From the moment Atlantic went to sea, it was clear that she was an exceptionally fast and beautiful schooner. When a yacht in 1903 hits twenty knots during her sea trials, she is a promising yacht, but even then nobody could imagine two years later this yacht would set a record that would stand unmatched for almost a century.
Sailing Yacht Atlantic – Photo credit to Kees Stuip
1934 America’s Cup Race Yacht Rainbow source
J Class Yacht Endeavour via jclassyachts
Endeavour was commissioned by Sir T.O.M. Sopwith to challenge for the America’s Cup in 1934. Having prepared his campaign in Shamrock V, Sopwith was keen to ensure that this yacht was the most advanced design possible. With his experience designing aircraft Sopwith applied aviation technology to Endeavour’s rig and winches and spared nothing to make her the finest vessel of her day. From launching in 1934 she continued her preparation by competing against Shamrock V (then owned by Sir Richard Fairey) and the newly launched Velsheda (owned by W.L Stephenson).
The Yacht Magic
America’s Cup Rainbow Yacht Model
Yacht Rainbow via yachtworld
Olympic Class Racer Dragon Model Ship
Vanderbilt at helm of RAINBOW, New York Yacht Club Cruise,1934 source mysticseaport
Bluenose Schooner source
Bluenose Schooner Model Ship
Classic Yacht on the Deck
Classic Sailing Yacht
Classic Yacht J Class Endeavour photo Yoshi Yabe
America’s Cup Sailboat Endeavour Fully Assembled Model Ship
SPARKMAN & STEPHENS 40 FT SLOOP 1964 source
Sailing Schooner Under Sail source
Sailboat Love this Rigging source
Windjammer Schooner Heritage of Main schoonerheritage
the coast of Maine has been the foundation of the schooner’s design
Luxury Sailing Yacht SY Huckleberry source
Classic Sailing Yacht source