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Keeping Cockroaches Off the Boat
by Tom Neale

The best way of dealing with cockroaches is to try to keep cockroaches ashore in the first place. Unfortunately, they may come aboard no matter how clean your habits and boat. They often board from docks when you are tied alongside. They can also come aboard from other boats when you raft up to them. There is at least one city in Florida which rents moorings (they wonít let you anchor there) and which insists that if you rent a mooring you must let any boat that they assign raft with you. This isnít a good idea unless you know the boats. But remember, that the cleanest, most well maintained boats can have cockroaches.

You may bring them aboard in cardboard boxes; particularly the corrugated ones. They love the glue and are exceptionally good at shrinking and hiding out. They also come aboard in groceries. Wash what you can on the dock or in the sea, and leave boxes and bags ashore. If you think youíre in an infested area, consider spraying your dock lines with roach spray, at least near the dock end. (If you spray the dock area around the cleat, you need to be sure that nobodyís pet or baby is going to be hanging out there, and that the product is safe for that.) If possible, tie the boat so that itís not touching the pier or pilings.

Weíve seen them literally swarming on the ground and walls of buildings in the tropics at night. All you have to do is brush against a wall and you end up with one in your clothes. Anytime you go to a beach cookout, shake and check your bags and blankets before putting them into the dinghy. This is a great incentive to go naked to tropical bars. They also come aboard in books, snuggled up (when little) in the binding where all that tasty glue is found.

We once saw a "Palmetto Bug" munching the label on a rum bottle. "They like the glue," we were told, by a man drinking his bottle of rum on the dockóhis entire bottle. "They leave tiny eggs under the labels." This whole thing was obviously becoming insidious. Itís a good idea, especially in the tropics, to unload even your bottles from their boxes or bags onto the dock, peel the labels, and wash the bottles. True, you canít impress your friends with the expensive booze labels, but cockroaches arenít very impressive at cocktail hour either.

For more tips about what to do when you find cockroaches aboard, go to, and follow the prompts to the ďTom Nealeís Cruising for YouĒ section.


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