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Old 01-10-2013, 12:31 PM   #1
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Furballs out to sink your boat!

Now, of course this is no problem if you're a truly manly man. You'll simply acknowledge the risk, but choose to ignore it, and insist that anybody who would evaluate risk when making decisions is "afraid of the water".

For many of the rest of us, here's an incident report that is seasonal and appropriate:

Seasonal warning: This little furball would love to sink your boat!

The sharp eye of a fellow club member was likely all that prevented the total loss of a substantial yacht at the Queen City Yacht Club moorage. Noting that the vessel's stern was well down in the water, the member discovering the problem phoned the boat owner at work and an immediate investigation began.

A muskrat had crawled up the exhaust pipe of the sinking yacht, and chewed through the rubber exhaust hose. This is not the first instance of muskrat damage to a boat, nor will it be the last. They naturally look for small holes in which to establish a nest, and the exhaust port of a boat looks very inviting. Underwater exhausts are especially vulnerable, but muskrats have no difficulty getting into exhausts within several inches of the surface as well. One into the exhaust system, a muskrat will either attempt to expand the size of the nest by digging and chewing in every direction and will also gnaw on everything available to trim down its constantly growing, rat-like teeth.

In cases where the exhaust hose is above the waterline and where a hole is not likely to flood the boat, the critters have been known to get out of the hose and into the bilge. That rubber hose connected to a through hull? It looks just like a big juicy root coming out of the ground- customary food for a muskrat. After a few minutes of nibbling with sharp teeth, the hose is breached and the bilge begins to flood.

Queen City Yacht Club keeps a 100 gallon per minute pump on hand at the marina. Some members rigged the pump to evacuate water from the sinking boat, and it took more than 20 minutes to drain the bilge. There were over 2,000 gallons of water aboard. That much water could easily sink a boat of more moderate size.

Reports are that the yacht's generator may have been damaged beyond repair. There are undoubtedly other problems as well. Worse yet, many yacht insurance policies *exclude* any damage caused by rodents or "varmints" so the unlucky victim of this incident may be out of pocket for some, or maybe all, of the repairs.

One of the club officers recommends stuffing a NERF football up the exhaust pipe this time of year. Local boatyards also offer stainless steel "grates" that can be permanently installed over the exhaust port, allowing free flow of the exhaust but keeping muskrats from crawling into the system.

If you see vegetation trailing from your exhaust pipe, you may already have muskrats aboard.




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Old 01-10-2013, 12:50 PM   #2
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I had a river otter on my boat last weekend.

I found out because I kept smelling poo. It came in thru a chase for hydraulic hose and wireing. about 5" dia the thing must have been saving up for a few weeks.
No damage other than that.

SD
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:55 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by skipperdude View Post
I had a river otter on my boat last weekend.

I found out because I kept smelling poo. It came in thru a chase for hydraulic hose and wireing. about 5" dia the thing must have been saving up for a few weeks.
No damage other than that.

SD
Got a nice pelt now?
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:10 PM   #4
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Naw the little fellow left his calling card and split.

They can do some damage. A friend of mine in Seldovia had a pair set up house in his 36 Bayliner. Destroyed the entire cabin.
The boat sure looked nice after the interior was redone.

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Gould View Post
Now, of course this is no problem if you're a truly manly man. You'll simply acknowledge the risk, but choose to ignore it, and insist that anybody who would evaluate risk when making decisions is "afraid of the water".

For many of the rest of us, here's an incident report that is seasonal and appropriate:

Seasonal warning: This little furball would love to sink your boat!

The sharp eye of a fellow club member was likely all that prevented the total loss of a substantial yacht at the Queen City Yacht Club moorage. Noting that the vessel's stern was well down in the water, the member discovering the problem phoned the boat owner at work and an immediate investigation began.

A muskrat had crawled up the exhaust pipe of the sinking yacht, and chewed through the rubber exhaust hose. This is not the first instance of muskrat damage to a boat, nor will it be the last. They naturally look for small holes in which to establish a nest, and the exhaust port of a boat looks very inviting. Underwater exhausts are especially vulnerable, but muskrats have no difficulty getting into exhausts within several inches of the surface as well. One into the exhaust system, a muskrat will either attempt to expand the size of the nest by digging and chewing in every direction and will also gnaw on everything available to trim down its constantly growing, rat-like teeth.

In cases where the exhaust hose is above the waterline and where a hole is not likely to flood the boat, the critters have been known to get out of the hose and into the bilge. That rubber hose connected to a through hull? It looks just like a big juicy root coming out of the ground- customary food for a muskrat. After a few minutes of nibbling with sharp teeth, the hose is breached and the bilge begins to flood.

Queen City Yacht Club keeps a 100 gallon per minute pump on hand at the marina. Some members rigged the pump to evacuate water from the sinking boat, and it took more than 20 minutes to drain the bilge. There were over 2,000 gallons of water aboard. That much water could easily sink a boat of more moderate size.

Reports are that the yacht's generator may have been damaged beyond repair. There are undoubtedly other problems as well. Worse yet, many yacht insurance policies *exclude* any damage caused by rodents or "varmints" so the unlucky victim of this incident may be out of pocket for some, or maybe all, of the repairs.

One of the club officers recommends stuffing a NERF football up the exhaust pipe this time of year. Local boatyards also offer stainless steel "grates" that can be permanently installed over the exhaust port, allowing free flow of the exhaust but keeping muskrats from crawling into the system.

If you see vegetation trailing from your exhaust pipe, you may already have muskrats aboard.




The (potential) saving grace of this story is that the cause of loss is water intrusion into the vessel- which just about any yacht policy will cover. The proximate cause of loss (that which caused the water intrusion) is the muskrat. This is a great example of a "Consequential Loss/Damage" type of claim, which all yacht insurers

I say potential because the coverage will be specifically outlined in the policy documents. A yacht policy will cover, a boat policy will not. Reading to policy will give you all the details and fine print- AND, your agent should know exactly how your policy covers you.

There is one notorious case where an adjuster at one particular company initially denied a claim for a boat that sunk at the Seattle YC after a muskrat ate through the exhaust hose; however the loss was subsequently paid.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:43 PM   #6
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On Lake Union, where Queen City is, we had Muskrats. and in Everett we have Warf Rats. Our exhaust is above the water line, but on our exhaust I installed a tail pipe rubber flap thingy for some protection.

The Warf Rats in the winter time are a concern and will come on the boat for heat and food. I have those sticky strips and large trap through out the boat. I don't use poisen as they may crawl in to some hard to get place and die. Wats the awful smell?
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:45 PM   #7
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I pumped out a boat Tuesday evening here at the marina where I live aboard. That type of event is not unusual at all for me.

The one thing I try to teach fellow pleasure cruisers is tell tale signs of a vessel in trouble when its dockside.

One tell tale is that most vessels will have a scum line or at least a boot line or bottom paint showing against the water. When I see a nice clean looking hull meeting the water with no scum or boot / bottom paint line I takes a good look. Its that nosy neighbor thingy I am additcted too.

Boats sure are easier to deal with when floating compared to them being under water.

As for boarding , pumping vessels, thats anothere thread all together. Like unplugging the vessel from shore power prior to boarding and pumping can realy save you a butt pucker moment.
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