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.

5 thoughts on “The Otters Revenge”

  1. To get rid of otters or deter them use moth balls. Put a few in a plastic container with some holes in it. Screw the container to the dock or leave it under your boat cover. If they have pupped it will not work as the mothering instinct is too strong. You can remove them physically but you better get someone with experience.

  2. Pool chlorine tablets crushed on your deck should do it together with mothballs. Stinky to them but darn it worked!

  3. Otters have taken up residents under our waterfront sun deck. We have tried moth balls, electrical wiring, large rocks, heavy lattice, strong wire and having them professionally trapped and moved. Guess what THEIR BACK bringing that lovely aroma and droppings with them. Selling the house is final option.

  4. Oh my gosh… that huge pile of mess is from those cute creatures?? We found some last week. Where? Inside the dodger area and on top of our companionway entry. Oh ya… even on our sheets and rigging! Nice and smelly!
    We washed it and cleaned it but it came back! Left another load! Tomorrow we go armed with citronella, and some essential oils like geranium, lavender and lemon grass. Then just to hopefully annoy the otter… some fresh cut peppermint! If that fails… out come the moth balls!!

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