Tag Archives: river otter

The Otters Revenge

A couple of weeks ago I made what I thought was an innocuous remark about river otters at the marina and the various ways boat owners have chosen to keep them off their vessels.

River Otters use their scat and urine to mark their territory, and once they find a spot they ‘like’, they return over and over. If your the lucky owner of a boat that’s become their favourite spot – good luck.

Here’s the thing.

They’re cute as hell, but their leave-behind, while I’m sure aromatic to another Otter, is down right smelly. Our friend Mandy on Saltspring says if they get in your boat, about the only way to get rid of the smell is to sell it.

With a sailboat, the issue is less problematic than an open powerboat.

Unless you leave a hatch open.

Which I never do.

Except for earlier this week.

When I did.

Leave the hatch open.


Ironically, the day I left the hatch open was the day I went down to the boat to wash the otter goo from the foredeck.


Normally, leaving the hatch open would mean a nice fresh air smell down below.


Our local otters discovered my mistake and used otter SMS to let their peeps know it was time to party.

Compared to the cold fiberglass non-slip fore deck, things are downright luxurious below decks. At least from an otter’s perspective (or a cold sailor’s).

Those crazy kids left quite a mess, the smell was quite unbelievable. I spent a couple of hours pulling everything out of the boat, washing it down, and scrubbing down the boat. EB finds it amusing that I can spend hours scrubbing the boat but rarely do the same with our kitchen or bathroom floor but that’s for another post.

Even then it smelled mighty ripe.

A nice day out on the water to air things out seemed appropriate.

What little breeze there was didn’t do a lot to dissipate the smell, so I’ve hauled everything ‘marked’ by my otter pals home for a heavy duty scrubbing, using organic orange peel concentrate and whatever else I can get my hands on.

So far the results are 50-50.

My foul-weather gear is smelling pretty good actually – the 4 settee cushions a lot less so.

Thankfully the boat’s only in the water for another week then will be parked beside the house where I can apply any number of smell-reducing-organic-concoctions in hopes of bringing Madsu back to her odiferous self.

Never before have I longed for that musty smell of a closed up sailboat.

Crisis? What Crisis?

The title of a 1975 album by Supertramp has absolutely nothing to do with the current financial meltdown. But the phrase (also from the movie Day of the Jackal) is my favourite response when things get testy.

With every news report laden with the latest stories on the financial crisis, and an election campaign both here and in the US, its time to deal with this stuff once and for all.

How ?



Down on the docks at Horseshoe Bay there was no inkling of anything other than the typical waterfront activity.

Ferries from Bowen Island, Departure Bay on Vancouver Island, and Langdale came and went like clockwork. And hundreds of cars – long-weekend mainlanders heading to a B&B or Gramma’s house – lined up (as usual) waiting for their boat to arrive.

Over on the east docks, where Madsu is moored, river otters continue to make a mess on boats tied there. Given the choice between munching their seafood on the rocks or on a nice Sumbrella fabric cover, they go for the boat covers ever time.

They also seem to like those lovely upholstered seats in power boats, and they leave quite a mess.

Here’s what they left behind on the boat in the slip next to me.

This is the same guy who’s parents leave CBC Radio One on in their boat, claiming it keeps the otters away ( and it seems to work).

My boat neighbour though claims he’s found the perfect anti-otter-repellant: wolf pee. I’m not entirely sure how he’s going to acquire it, or how he’s going to apply it, and if his boat will smell better or WORSE because of it, but what the heck – sounds like a plan

Over at the government dock, a big vintage power vessel was tied up, getting all gussied up for what looked like a wedding party.

I’ve not seen the Tarapunga before, and her aft deck was decorated with ribbons and flowers – but the wedding is a fake: they were shooting on-the-water scenes for the TV series Harper’s Island.

While I was out sailing, Tarapunga went steaming by – not far behind the picture chopper flew just a hundred feet or so off the deck – swooping in on Tarapunga for what I’m sure will be a very sweet shot since as she steamed out into the Straight with the sun glistening off the water.

Beautiful BC couldn’t be much more adorable than it was today.

I tried to get Madsu in the shot but when it comes to a race between my Catalina 22 and a helicopter, well…

The wind piped up so I put a 2nd reef in the main and pulled out my bagged out old jib.

Six hours later I was back at the dock, giving Madsu a proper scrub down after soaking the foredeck in salt-spray.

One fine Thanksgiving Weekend sail – and the only bail-out I considered the entire day was in relation to the dinghy.

Markets ? What markets?