Oh Rats!

As I cuss the previous owner for the things he did that I do not approve of, I am comforted knowing the next owner will consider me with similar reverence.

Run through the bottom of the storage locker under the starboard settee are the diesel line for the Dickinson fireplace and three cables for instrumentation. Under the cushions on top of the storage locker runs a 12gauge length of marine Romex with two untaped wire nuts in the middle of the run for the fireplace fans.

I’m a strong believer that cable and hose runs should be at the top of a space and suspended underneath something, rather than lead across the bottom with things laid atop.

2016-03-01 15.32.46
Holes drilled into the bottom of the wall between the storage locker and the hanging locker. The purpose of the hole in the bottom of the locker is unknown.

To run these hoses and lines through the bottom of the locker, holes were drilled into the aft most, lowest point in the locker. The problem is that these holes open into a hanging locker where water can collect from wet clothing, shower water from the head, which adjoins the hanging locker, a pump in locker, which leaked before being repaired, and unfortunately (and rarely) from  the deck ventilator.


When the water collects in the bottom of the hanging locker, it flows forward into the locker getting everything wet. We no longer store electronics there.

Full Locker
Full Locker

Emptying the locker went well, disconnecting the electrical lines from the instrumentation and threading back took a little time. I enjoyed discovering that the power line that runs under the cushions above the locker runs directly to the cranking battery with a fuse on the ground(!) side – no way to turn off the circuit without pulling the fuse, even then there is still voltage looking for a ground. With all the master switches turned off, you can visualize how I rediscovered this.*

Interestingly, it would have been shorter and a lot less trouble to run the power line through the storage locker, rather than up down and around. The line needs to be connected to a fuse panel connected to the house battery.

Rodent-damaged sliding door
Rodent-damaged sliding door

As I thought about the replacement holes to drill, closing the current holes and other ponderables, I noticed that the finger holes in the two sliding panels between the port cockpit locker and the galley were no longer round.


Yep, there is a 2 inch piece of conduit that leads from a cubby in the cockpit into the port locker, and the port locker has an opening into the galley, which we use to access the trash basket.

In the “basement” are many many rat droppings, a very large hole in the

Large hole gnawed by a large rat.
Large hole gnawed by a large rat.

lid of the whole-wheat flour container, and two holes in the now empty rice bag.

One item of amazement, and one item of annoyance: the finger holes were good size, and this rat made them bigger, telling me this was no small rat. Our marina mate Jeff Storm tells me it was a wharf rat.

My annoyance is that it enlarged two holes, rather than using the same one for ingress and egress. Perhaps this rat has a predilection for the hole on the left or the right.

I didn’t hear the rat while I worked the rest of the day, nor did I see the makings of a nest. I’m hoping this is a commuter rat.

The fix is easy: hardware cloth in the conduit. (There is another conduit on the starboard side, but that only leads to the aft cabin, and there is no way to get from the aft cabin to the main cabin or basement. I’ll be plugging it anyway and looking for other ways that rodents can get into the boat.)

This means that the rats have been crawling on every boat in the marina looking for ways in.

Glassed over, four-ply marine plywood makes up all the furniture in the boat.
Glassed over, four-ply marine plywood makes up all the furniture in the boat.

After my break and further pondering the life and times of Lake Union wharf rats, I cut four new holes in the ends of the storage locker, this time at the top: one pair for the diesel fuel line and another pair for wiring. Then called it a day.

Newly added to the shopping list: rat traps, hardware cloth, peanut butter, walnuts.

2-MAR-2016 20:02 PT The stove is currently clearing customs in the US and should be delivered here in Seattle on Friday the fourth.

4-MAR-2016 6:27 PT The stove has cleared customs and it currently in a warehouse in Louisville,KY. It won’t arrive today.

The rat seems to have vacated the boat. There are four places to enter in the cockpit cubbies. I have placed balls of aluminum screens in each of the four conduits.

4-MAR-2016 13:55 PT Stove is now in transit and will arrive here in Seattle on Monday the 7th ‘‘by end of day.’’

5-MAR-2016 10:35 PT Stove is now in Portland. However, after more than a year of having an eBay and Google search for Taylors stove turn up nothing, this morning two showed up. One brand new, which sold for $1200 – it looks like it may have only been available for a few hours before being snapped up, and a very beat one in Texas that claims to have electric ignition.

*I originally discovered that the line directly ran to the battery when I made the wiring diagram. Moving the circuit to a fused panel is on the to-do list and will probably get done as part of this project.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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