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Date:  19 September 2013. Screening Seaweed.

When you live in a bug-free home maintaining same is of utmost importance. Sure, we all know the old tales of "keep all cardboard off the boat" and use Borax as bait, but it's not the roaches that drive you batty so much as the mosquitoes, biting flies, no-see-ums and the like -- those critters have to be kept out and there are several ways to do so.
 


An oversized screen in the window aft and lace curtains to port.
 

[The only time Seaweed had roaches was when I rafted up next to a sailboat that had them -- he sprayed while I was tied alongside and still (two or three years later) I'm not quite satisfied said sailor is contrite enough. Quick diversion: I got rid of them by putting out roach bait hotels (Hot Shot brand) and they worked great. Twelve come in the package, so I put all 12 out scattering most in the galley under the sink and where I have my hanging produce, plus a couple in my cabin and one in the head. I put a couple in my cabin and one in the head. The first few days I saw nothing but finally I saw a few dead critters and found one floating in the bilge. Disgusting. However by then end of the month I was seeing nothing nor any evidence of bugs.  I did buy and distribute a second package but I probably could have left them unopened. Sum total of dead bugs: less than ten.]

Anyway, excluding the roach problem that was quickly resolved, the bugs I have to fight are mosquitoes! For those I bought at a thrift store an old army screened tent for $4. They retail for less than $20 at Army/Navy stores in case you're curious.

The first thing I did was cut off the ribbons and lay it all out flat looking for the largest area which turned out to be two walls; that was destined to be the screening for the cockpit. I'll admit to having trouble initially in that I wanted it to be perfect and it did take nerve to make that first cut. Still I've always found that proceeding usually is the right choice and even if I'd cut wrong, what's one more seam?

One thing about myself I have to work on constantly is the realization that my boat is just that: a boat. She's not a yacht and the "Bristol finish" some boats have probably won't ever be a factor on Seaweed. She's good enough, and folks who visit don't seem to mention/mind the places that could be better. In most ways I'm quite comfortable having a boat that isn't perfect because it allows room for improvement someday.

Done is better than unfinished and waiting/planning for perfection.

With the largest flat part I made a screen that will enclose the entire cockpit. By "made" what I mean is I wrapped the screen three times around the pieces of ribbon and sewed up and then back. Voila: an edge with some body. And at that point the cockpit screening is completed -- except for hanging and that'll be another day. The turn three times and stitch back and forth was done on all pieces. Simple, double stitched so if one comes out I'm still good, and it works!
 


Clipped back so you can see the back side...
 

Next I cut oversized pieces for both pilothouse doors and a third one for the window by my dinette. As you can see above, it's not fancy -- basically I sewed across and then back. On the return trip I stitched a few loops (just some old line I had in my string box) so I can attach the screen doors.

For the most part the loops attach to some fender hooks I found at a nautical exchange. They are easy to take on and off. The larger hook you see in the picture above is for when I hang one of my oil lanterns. It's centered above the window in the doorway. A few years back a friend (Ann on the Schooner Steelaway) made a lovely Christmas hanging bough for my Seaweed and that's where I hung it for all to see.

The screens simply hook over the fender hook gizmos and I pin them at the bottom. They aren't tight but seem to do a great job keeping out the biting critters.

When the bugs are thick I also have a couple other tricks in my arsenal. One is the PIC Mosquito Coils I'm sure you're familiar with. I bought a little terracotta container but frankly I wish I'd gone ahead and bought the better one because mine is too small when the coil is new and even as small as it is now, the cover won't fit on without touching the coil which of course puts it out. Argh. 
 


This is the one I bought, and this is what I should have bought:
 Pic COMBO Terra Cotta Mosquito Coil Burner is less than $6. Sigh.


The next weapon in my fight against bites is something we've had in our family for decades. It's a gorgeous copper color now though it was brass until I took a too-strong cleaner to it, and now, well, I'm learning to love copper!
 

 


Those with careful observation will note perhaps the koi fish that holds my curtain rod... it's a bit of whimsy, gifted to me by my friend Marsha on Freebird. She has the best eye for pretties, and let me adopt the pair.  Tucked up near the overhead, when noticed they always get raves. Thanks Marsha! Freebird is a Freedom 30 with an unstayed mast.

Just to the right of the lantern's Fresnel lens you'll see a tiny brass cleat. On the opposite side I have an eye-bolt with a bit of black string. The line and cleat keep the lantern from moving when underway and it never gets hot when lit.

This lantern is my designated bug lantern. Rather than burn Mineral Oil (far less expensive than the lantern oil, though of course you must be careful: we are talking fire after all)  I use Citronella oil. It does give a chemical smell so of course having open windows and fresh ventilation is important. I'm used to the smell but it does bother some folks, much like kerosene does.

Anyway, screens are a good defense against mosquitoes, biting green flies, no-see-ums and more. They aren't perfect however -- at least mine were not, and tomorrow I'll tell you about what I did wrong, and how I've fixed it. And don't forget that in the south cockroaches can fly!!!

What do you do to prevent bites?
Are there any secret potions that work in your area? And where are you located?

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