I Love the smell of bug bombs in the morning…

Posted in: Moving Aboard on Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Since purchasing Tygress a few weeks ago, we have managed to spend a few days on board cleaning, sorting junk and generally enjoying being on board.  This has led to a few eye opening surprises.  One surprise, and one I can easily deal with, is how unclean cupboards, storage areas and most hidey-holes are, and how much random crap has been stored in them over the years.  The more confronting surprise however, is the discovery of a healthy and apparently thriving community of cockroaches stowing away in our soon-to-be home.  This, apparently, is a common occurrence in the boating community.  One that everyone in the boating community we’ve spoken to so far, has failed to mention.  No one at any stage said “oh, and by the way, before you go buying a boat and radically changing your life, be aware that there’ll be cockroaches the size of rats everywhere, they love to live in bilges”, which is information that I class as essential.

So here we are, having bought a boat full of cockroaches (I’ve only seen 5 so far but I know the little bastards are hiding somewhere in their hundreds) I can’t bear the thought of sleeping on it.

Instead of letting the pests ruin my excitement about finally living on board our boat, I decided to learn all I could about the problem and how to deal with it.  Learning about something you fear is the only way to defeat it. Understanding brings courage (and all that other Zen stuff).  That and getting angry! I am going to wage a war and kill every last one of them, and their babies, and their babies babies!  I will be death incarnate for whole generations of cockroaches.  And if I keep telling myself this hopefully it will stem the urge to run screaming in the opposite direction when I see one (which on a boat really only leaves you overboard).

Having decided war being the only option to bring me peace, I have amassed an arsenal any self-respecting roach hater would be proud of.  Some may say it’s over-kill for the battle at hand. Some may say I’ve gone to far,  but personally I don’t think nukeing them is going too far .   After discussions with the Skipper a four-pronged, sustained assault has been devised.

First we’ll bug bomb the suckers.  A process which will involve shutting Tygress up, making sure her electrics are all disabled, then exposing as much of the interior space as possible and retreating to a safe distance for a day or two.  This will be repeated at 1-3 month intervals to ensure all cockroaches are eliminated.  A fact I learned in my research is that female cockroaches purge their eggs as they die, a reproductive survival trait, and one that makes them extra annoying to waste.

Then we’ll return to surface spray all the  storage surfaces and under floor areas, followed by a gel poison deposited in strategic crevices and finally we’ll finish up with a myriad of cockroach baits placed in cupboards and storage areas.

These are direct approaches for dealing with an already established colony.  There are extra measures we can take to prevent re-infestation but from what I’ve read, re-infestations will be pretty unavoidable over the years. They include limiting the cardboard brought aboard (cockroaches have been known to lay eggs in the corrugated spaces of some cardboards, and feast off the glue in others). Spraying mooring lines that connect to the dock and even checking the dock area itself for land based colony’s.  Keeping hatches shut or covered to prevent the flying kind, usually the females of the species, and my personal favourite, adopting a few geckos.  But on further reflection I think the ship’s cat would eat them before they could be effective pest control.  Then there are the obvious methods of keeping food scraps to a minimum and keeping all food in plastic containers that bugs can’t eat their way through.

It will be a constant effort, one that I wasn’t prepared for, but one that I’ll deal with.   Otherwise I’m not sure I’ll ever get a sound nights sleep on Tygress.





Survey day

Posted in: Buying, Featured on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Survey day was here and the weeks of lovely spring weather had deserted us.  Clouds, a chill breeze and he threat of rain greeted us as we woke Saturday morning.  Not that the weatherWet and rainy day mattered once we saw Tygress bobbing in her slip at the marina workyard waiting for us.

Our surveyor had gotten an early start (which thankfully we didn’t have to be there for, 9am is a much more appealing time than 8am for night owl like me) and was busy giving Tygress a thorough internal inspection.  Paul, the vendor’s representative, who incidentaly is a qualified marine surveyor himself,  was on hand to help out and answer any questions.  He proved valuable throughout the day, spending time scraping barnacles from the hull and propeller and helping to sail her during the sea trial.

Detlef, our broker, introduced everyone and then left us to continue on without him.  I was grateful to have Ben to rely upon because I felt supremely out of my depth having to talk with bona-fide boating people.  But my worries were unfounded, both Peter and Paul were very friendly and patiently answered any questions we had.  It was important to us that we could ask questions freely because as first time boat purchasers we had many.  Peter was very up front with us and was frank about what he saw and thought about Tygress.  Nothing was sugar coated or glossed over.   It was a sobering but not off-putting experience.

Once Peter was finished inspecting the interior it was time for Tygress to be lifted out of the water so that her hull and keel could be inspected.  Tygress was ‘poled’ into position, two yard hands used long poles to gently manoeuvre her into the slipping berth, where two large straps would be slung underneath her hull and the travel lift would begin the slow process of raising her out of the water.   A slow and fascinating process.  At first it seemed like nothing was happening, but over a few minutes it was apparent that she was being inched up, revealing her dark underside which given her recent hull repaint and anti-foul, was in good condition.

After she was hoisted to full height, the lift began to roll back over the concrete of the work-yard so that the hull could be water blasted clean.  There were 4 other vessels up on hardstands, including ‘Phoenix Star’, the boat we inspected before Tygress (had we had the money we would’ve bought her, but at $70k she was out of our price range)

I had expected large patches of barnacles but there was only minor patch on the starboard side.  These are easily scraped off and Paul happily obliged.

It was surreal to be walking around underneath her, and at first I didn’t trust the straps to hold her up, but I soon relaxed and was fascinated by the matt black, submarine-like finish of her hull.  Peter tapped with the back end of a screwdriver along the underside, listening for faults in her metallic echo’s.  He then did the same for the keel and rudder.  We were watching him intently for any sign of unhappiness or possible problems.  But all proceeded well and when Peter was finished she was rolled back to the dock and lowered down into the water.  The yard hands then poled her back to her slip and we all boarded for the sea trial.

As Murphy’s Law dictates, this is when it started to rain and the wet weather gear was put on.  We um’d and ah’d about whether or not to take her out in those conditions, but we didn’t want to let the weather put us off so out we went.  It’d be naive of us to think we’d only ever sail in fine conditions so we thought we’d best go see what the flip side was like.  It was a wet, uncomfortable, bumpy and incredibly fun ride.  The head sail wasn’t in the best condition to start with (part of the reason for her lowered price) and the wind was gusty enough to rip it shortly after we headed out.  A fortunate turn of events as the vendor then had to replace it at their cost instead of ours as part of the conditions of sale.  Now we just need to replace the main sail.

Ben took the helm for a while Peter and Paul kept her on course, and he handled it superbly, grinning from ear and getting soaked all the while (our Twitter picture is of Ben at the helm on survey day).  I spent my time down below seeing how well she rode out the waves, it was the most fun i’ve had in a while which I took as a good sign.  Our first sailing lesson had been in crystal clear conditions, and our sea trial in quite the opposite.  We’ve seen both sides of what sailing can be, some of it’s better sides, and some of it’s worst, and we’re still keen.

We made it back to the harbour fine, if not a little wet and tired, disembarked, shook hands all round and then went home and waited eagerly for the completed survey report.  Our bond with Tygress seems even firmer, we know her faults, we know her strengths.  We feel can make a much more honest appraisal of her now.