We have a rat aboard the boat. This is very, very bad!
Yesterday Keith was rinsing off the deck and noted that there were some droppings that didn’t look like they came from Kai or from a bird at the base of the mast, but we were on our way to go diving and we payed no more attention-maybe it was just dirt. This morning we woke up to finding that there was definitely a rat onboard the boat, no doubt about it. He had eaten the cockpit teak in eight different places. Eight! He left plenty of droppings all over the place as well. sH!#!!!
Our first place to look was in the mainsail since that is were we first saw his markings. Keith hoisted up the sail. On the very last tug of the halyard the rat (definitely not a mouse) fell out right over his head and landed on his foot! I barely saw this because I was too busy staring at the hole he had eaten through the middle of our sail. Bastard! I have never cursed so much at something so small. Really, why did it have to pick the middle of the sail to eat a hole in?!? Aargh! Kai saw the rat immediately and chased it up the deck and tried to corner it on the bow but it ended up running back under his legs and down right down the anchor locker hole.
Normally the anchor locker would have been a great place to trap him as it is closed off from the inside of the boat with a hatch, but of course we had the hatch open for ventilating. Great timing. We closed it as fast as we could and stuffed the opening shut with rags hoping he was still inside the locker and NOT INSIDE the boat somewhere. We made a game plan; Keith went to town for rat traps and I went to town systematically tearing our boat apart looking for a rat from bow to stern. When Keith got back we decided to empty out the anchor locker, hopefully we would find him, though we weren’t sure what to do if we did find him, besides being reassured that he was not inside. We emptied everything out including all 300 feet of chain. No rat. sH!#!!!
I continued my tearing apart the boat/cleaning spree for the rest of the day thinking at some point I would run into him. Every locker, bilge, and floorboard was checked. All the bedding and mattresses were completely removed and inspected, Kai’s toy bucket emptied, and the engine room searched. Everywhere we could stick a flashlight we peeked in. Nothing. We haven’t got a clue as to where to stick our two traps, so we are hoping that our random spots will do the trick and we wake up to a dead rat in the morning and not a half eaten boat. This could get real expensive real fast. Besides there is the whole icky-goosebumps-chills factor.
We brought Kai down below when we were ready for bed and he started going crazy wanting to get up on the v-berth bed. He has never once wanted up there. Out of curiosity I lifted him up. He started sniffing all around the anchor locker hatch. Ok, so he smells that at one point it was in there. Then he got really, really focused on a spot above a shelf almost at the ceiling and could not be distracted from it. He kept sniffing and pawing, then turning around a looking at us. Over and over in the same spot. Keith and I weren’t to sure what to think. He was, after all, bred to be a ratter on boats –maybe we should pay attention. We took everything back out of the v-berth for the second time and removed the ceiling panels trying very hard to avoid anymore falling rats. Kai was unwavering in his attention so just in case he was correct, I shut the sliding door which is broken and doesn’t slide at all, effectively locking us all into one tiny space together. Very slow-ly we unscrewed the side panel and very slow-ly we inched it down. IT’S THERE! IT’S THERE! THERE IT IS! RIGHT THERE! OH MY GOD! All three of us saw it. Mayhem in the V-berth. Good job, Kai. Good job. You were right, there is a rat there.
We quickly slipped the panel back in place and could just see his feet and icky black tail through the crack. Now what? I took Kai out and gathered some “tools” while Keith held him trapped behind the panel with the flashlight beam on him. We have fiberglassed in bulkheads so there was no place it could go. My assortment of rat-removal tools consisted of towels, pillowcases, a wastebasket, a spear tip (Keith’s weapon of choice), a conch hammer (my weapon of choice), and some more lights. But we still didn’t have a plan. The panel couldn’t be removed all the way and as soon as we moved it he would have too many escape routes. We stared at it for a really long time, like a half an hour. Finally Keith decided to try to spear it through the crack. He didn’t get a good shot, the rat was at a wierd angle and now it had moved down behind the panel and we couldn’t see it anymore. Now what? After a lot of poking and peeking with a mechanics mirror and not finding it we got the nerve up to just pull down the panel-spears and hammers ready…..No Rat. sH!#!! Where did it go? Finally we found a little hole, probably once used to run wires through at the very top, it led back to the anchor locker. Which of course was no longer sealed and now the damn rat could be anywhere outside. Like back in the sails.
In case he was just hiding in the anchor locker, we set one of the traps inside. It snapped when Keith set it down and he whacked the back of his hand very badly on the underside of the locker into some rough fiberglass. It’s pretty ugly and he is bummed it will keep him out of the water for a few days. When he finds this rat it is going to die an ugly death. We also shoved towels around the anchor locker hole to keep him in if he was still there. Then, just to be safe, armed with brooms and spears we raised the mainsail again. If any of our neighbors were still awake at this ungodly dark hour I am sure we gave them quite a show. No rat found, but we set the second trap out at the base of the mast. Hopefully, in the morning we will have one trapped rat! For its sake I hope it is already dead when we find it.
We got very little sleep, we both kept thinking we heard it or felt it. At 5:00 I KNEW I heard it in the cockpit. Armed with a flashlight, I confirmed it. He wasn’t in the anchor locker anymore. No going back to bed! In the morning we found that he had set off the trap in the anchor locker but it obviously missed him, he had also eaten his way out of the locker. Towels don’t make good rat stoppers. I hate this thing now. Up went the sails again and out went everything in the anchor locker again. No rat. Like Groundhog Day, Keith went to town to buy more traps and some poison and I went to town tearing the boat apart looking for this damn effing rat. Again. We are now armed with 2 rat snap traps, four rat sticky traps and a big block of rat poison that sounds awfully nasty. It is marked “not for individual sale” and I am pretty sure this stuff is industrial strength and not something we could buy in the US. I don’t like having it around Kai, but this thing has to go! Everything is being deployed tonight.
IT IS DEAD! VERY VERY DEAD!
Here is how it went down: I was in the galley making bread when I thought I saw a tail, but I have been seeing “tails” for 48 hours now. Nevertheless I leaned back to peek. I screamed, I don’t know what I was screaming, I just kept screaming and screaming, and climbing up the companionway locker. Keith was “what?” “WHAT?” The bastard was on the floor next to the salon table and now hiding in the corner. I’m not sure if or when I stopped screaming but we quickly shut all the doors and made barricades around the table. We reassembled the array of weapons and tried to work out a plan. He was going to stab it to hold it place with the spear and I was going to slam a trash can over him. It went bad. We did get him into the trash can but couldn’t get a lid on it because we had the broom in the can as well from trying to knock him back down, we couldn’t get the broom out because it was too tall and hitting the ceiling and we had to tip it over to get it out. The rat leaped out. We leaped onto the cushions. I wasn’t the only one screaming at this point. It got up onto the window ledge and I was trying to pin it with the broom. It wasn’t working. He got in the curtains, in the bookcase, in the shell basket, back onto the cushions, onto the floor and through our now completely demolished barricades. At some point in all of this the spear was thrown, Keith cut his face (not from the spear), and all remaining composure was lost. We watched it run up the hall and under of fridge. sH!#!!! Start over. New barricades were set up and we tore out everything in the pantry locker that sits on top of the frige. We took out the bottom shelf and Keith could peer down the top of the refrigerator and see him hiding. If he got up into the pantry he could get up into the headliner (roof). Keith kept knocking him down with the mag light and trying to scare it back out the bottom. His feet were in the escape route so he was “spidermanned” up the sides of the hall to keep his feet off the ground so it wouldn’t run up his legs. He finally scared it out and down the the hall towards me. More screaming. It ran into the trash and this time I shoved a huge pillow over the top. We both held it tight and carried up the stairs. I was on the underneath side and was still screaming. Keith flung it over the side of the boat. We watched it swim away…..for a minute. Keith wasn’t letting it off that easy, not after hurting his hand and keeping him from diving. He got into the dinghy, circled the rat and began beating it with a deck brush. That sucker was NOT going to swim up our anchor chain again. He kept beating it. Violently. It looked ugly, full-on over the head swings. It disappeared under the water but surfaced again, still swimming. The beating continued until he saw it sink with it guts coming out of it. If the inhumanity of it bothers you, you can think of it as we saved another boat in the anchorage the past 48 hours we just experienced.
OMG. I am so happy it is DEAD. Keith is making us rum drinks tonight and we are going to look for our happy cruising groove again. We are also giving our little Kai all the love and treats his belly can handle because he, unlike me, kept it together and watched quietly as the chaos unfolded without barking. What? We can’t believe it either. He is a good boy, and a good ratter. He has earned his keep 🙂
So where did the rat come from? We don’t know for sure. The anchorage we are in now is made up of three islands: Manjack, Crab, and…….Rat. We are closest to Rat Cay and I think it may have earned its name honestly. Keith first said we were too far from shore for it to swim out, but after watching it swim tonight he thinks it’s possible. Other ideas include it getting on in Geen Turtle when we were anchored very close to shore and it’s been onboard for at least a week. I think this is unlikely, he made himself very well known. Another thought was that he got on the dinghy and hitched a ride back when we tied it up at the public dock at Green Turtle (which has a dumpster on it). I don’t know, I’m just glad he is gone. Please, someone tell me that this is a rare thing and the chances of getting another rat while at anchor are zilch. Please.