Bugs, Critters & Mold … OH NO!!!

Empty Provision Locker

Empty & Scrubbed With Bleach Water Ready to Leave Winterlude

I hate cleaning!  But I hate bugs and critters even more …. years later, I can still recall the look of horror on some aquaintances faces upon returning to their beautiful Amel sailboat … they only left the boat on the hard for a couple months and somehow they had acquired a rat.  Unfortunately they left food under the floorboard in their normal storage lockers.  The rat apparently smelled it and wrecked havoc with the floorboards and other parts of the boat.

As much as I HATE cleaning (as anyone who knows me will attest), I’ve never wasted a week or even a few days wiping mold out of the interior of our boat when we return from a six month absence (not to say there’s not a bit of mold here or there in an unreachable corner).   When we return, we’re both excited and anxious to get off cruising again … not wasting time at the dock scrubbing out an uninhabitable boat!

So as part of our process to leave Winterlude, I’m cleaning.   First we remove EVERY trace of food that is in anything other than a can from the boat.  That can create some waste, but I’d rather give some provisions away than risk bugs or worse when I get back.  Then I wipe out every locker that even touched food with a bleach water solution.  I let them dry and leave the doors open.

Just before we leave, we set out roach and ant pest control individual eating stations.  Raid makes them as does alot of other manufacturers these days.  We place them in dark corners and in each and every locker that used to contain food (or still contains the few cans we leave aboard).   Unfortunately they only last for 3 months, but we don’t worry about changing them out while we’re gone.

While We're Gone, Cushions Askew, Locker Doors and Bilge Left Open

While We're Gone, Cushions Askew, Locker Doors and Bilge Left Open

When we were out cruising and were unable to get the roach traps, we simply went to the local farmacia and asked for boric acid … a powder that I then put into bottlecaps that I’d been saving and placed them in the same locations.  The down side to these is they spill, so you have to be careful when you return to the boat to retrieve them and dispose properly.

What other measures do you take when you leave the boat to make sure you don’t have to waste time with bugs, critters or mold when you return?  Please leave a comment and share ideas – I’d love to learn something!  Cheers!  Jan


  1. If you mix the boric acid with a bit of powdered coffee creamer and just enough water to make a thick paste (similar to peanut butter), it won’t spill out of the bottle caps. In Mexico, you can buy it as a pre-mixed paste in the grocery store. Works really, really well.

    Benefit of boric acid is that while it’s really deadly to the nasties, it’s only very mildly toxic to people and pets. In other words, you want to stay away from it, but if someone does get into it, they won’t die.

  2. This may not be in the what-to-do-afterwards, but I’ve had really great success using Pettit’s dura-white paint for inside the cabin. I’ve used it when cleaning up and painting small cubby holes as I’ve been in the middle of a 10 yr refit. I plan on gluing mouse fur back on to finish dressing it out (I’m just about there, soon), But since I’ve been using this, I’ve had the boat in warm and cold climates, it’s been so wet inside it was raining, and I’ve yet to have any mold grow where I’ve painted. The paint is strange in that it is water based, and when you use it, you can smell an ammonia smell, and once it drys, you can scrub the heck out of it. I’ve had to sand it off in places where I’ve done some additional fiberglass work, and the paint drys really tough. I’m enjoying the heck out of it. It only comes in flat white, but that’s what I wanted anyway, to brighten the holes up and see without light.
    s/v Renasci

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