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Old 25-09-2007, 17:41   #16
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Been down at the marina working on the termite / v berth problem. Got there on Thursday night like I usually do and sure enough there were some droppings on the bed in the V Berth. Next morning the sky was overcast and by that afternoon it started to rain. The radio reported the last time we had rain here in Long Beach was a 150 days ago. That night it was pouring, so I get into my snuggly bed and go to sleep. About an hour or so later, there is water dripping on my head from a seam in the plywood on the port side. I move over and go back to sleep. Get up in the morning and turn the heater on so to dry out the bedding and dry some of the plywood above. In a couple of hours, the V berth was like a sauna. I was cooking pancakes when a “fly” landed on me. Then another fly fluttered by gaining and dropping altitude like some drunken pixie. Then another fly careened into my pancake batter. WTF??? Then another fluttered past. Then another. Pretty soon I am batting these pesky pixies right and left. I go to the V berth to check on the heater, and there on the port side where the plywood almost touches the side of the boat, like pepper being shook from a shaker, "flies" were dropping down the side. I was being swarmed. I lift up my bedding and underneath my comfy pillow where it is warm and dark, maybe 50 to 60 winged termites had been snuggled in for the night.

Needless to say I never did eat my pancakes. Termites in the V Berth is nothing compared to termites in your pancakes. I was pissed.

I finished my coffee and decided today was the day to pay a house call. I started carefully removing the mahogany molding and removed the port and starboard side plywood. I am pretty sure I got all the infected wood out-- I have had no droppings and no termites for the past two days. I cut the plywood back as far as necessary -- I finally got a good clean cut where the wood was white and tight -- no dampness, no discoloration, no swelling, just the good smell of freshly cut wood. I am posting some pictures for you folks to see.

I think these termites are called Alates. But… I am not going to argue here whether or not they are termites. They molted. They flew. They lost their wings within minutes of hitting ground, and they (or someone that looks just like them) ate a lot of my plywood.

You can see that the damage to the plywood was extensive. I am pretty sure that they did not make it into the fiberglass core. In fact they likely could not live there since there is no oxygen. However the core is pretty screwed up (and that is the topic of next post), and is severely delaminated in places. I have a photograph where they actually tried to eat the fiberglass. At first I thought it was a perimeter formed by pressure against the plywood, but it would not scrape away, and there is actually an area of indent there.

Both sides of the plywood were infested in a matching pattern, although the port side (where the rain ran through) was far more heavily damaged. I added some pictures of a teak backing plate used for the Sampson post on the bowsprit that I sawed in half. As you can see they eat teak. The sailor here at the dock did not think it possible for termites to eat teak. Ha!! I sawed that piece in half and if you look closely, a little off center towards your right, you will see some gooey white of a little dude that got sawed in half. His other buddies who poked their heads and looked around when their homes got subdivided receded back into their little dark caverns before I could get their picture.

Like I said above, my next post is going to be about redoing the bow above the V Berth – there is water egress where fools mounted the windlass and simply drilled (actually bored) large holes in the teak bowsprit causing severe water damage in some places. But for now, I wanted to close this post with some pictures.

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Old 29-09-2007, 11:54   #17
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Meet Diva: Termite Worst-Case Scenario Poster Child

Well, maybe not least she's got a fiberglass hull...

Mon Cher MV; the links below should provide reassurance that your labors are well worth the effort. I bought Diva for a song on Tortola in 2002, with full knowledge that she had termite "issues" in the forepeak and the aft hold. And as Bill Bailey, our stoic British surveyor put it, "I highly doubt the little blighters got from fore to aft by walking on the lifelines." No indeed. After we limped her down to Trinidad and tore off the deck, we discovered they had pretty much hollowed-out the entire starboard sheer clamp beam, rendering the starboard chainplates purely decorative (I shudder at the thought of how much we sailed on a starboard tack on the way down!) Three-quarters of the athwartship beams were toast, and a great deal of the cabinetry below. We just kept tearing out wood, and finding more damage. Five years later, I've pretty much replaced every stick of wood on the Old Girl, and personally decimated a Trinidadian teak forest in the process.

I too give a bitter laugh when I hear someone posit that termites "do not eat teak". Moral of story: if you find evidence of bugs, bug-bomb/gas the bajeezus out of her (optimally twice initially, with a month between, then on a yearly or bi-yearly basis if you keep her in the tropics) and keep ripping out wood until you stop finding damage. Hopefully, MV, you've already avoided following my example. Best of luck!

"Give a man a fish, and he can eat for a day. Give a man a boat, and he can't afford to eat for the rest of his life."
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Old 29-09-2007, 13:28   #18
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Aloha Michael,

Termites are nasty critters. Sorry about your pancakes, that would have made me mad. At least they didn't try to drink your coffee. Termites can exist in a plywood core and they don't need an exterior oxygen source. They can get their oxygen from the wood cells. I'd drill a few holes and squirt a bit of epoxy in there if you find a soft spot.

It is a constant battle with termites, swarming ants and carpenter bees and dry rot here on my island where we get 120" of rain a year.

Hope you can get rid of them.

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Old 30-09-2007, 13:06   #19

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I have no idea if they are sold in eco-cali-fornia, but look for Raid "Fumigator" bug bombs. A mainly bright blue box about 3-4" square. Each bomb produces an insecticide smoke which penetrates much better than any aerosol or "fog" spray product. You seal the boat, set them off, follow the directions about when to return and how to vent it, and pretty much everything gets killed by the smoke until it dissipates.
If those critters have some egg or larval stage which survives bombing--it will be necessary to repeat the process several times to kill the new hatchlings from each cycle, till they are all wiped out.
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Old 03-12-2007, 23:04   #20
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They Are Dead

Last Chapter: Vikane Rules.
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Old 04-12-2007, 15:48   #21
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Tenting a boat ? Now that would be something to see .

I have a 40-unit apt building in Beverly Hills. We get those little buggers every Sept/Oct.......thousands of them, exactly as you have described. If you see them walking around, they have just swarmed. It doesn't mean a thing. If you see a pile of what looks like tiny coffee grounds somewhere, that's a nest.

Sub-tropical climates are perfect for them. Our termite control co treats them locally by injecting some chemical in the place where he finds the nest. It has been working well for years. My guy says that we should probably tent the building in about 5 years.

I would think that one could simply close up the boat and set off one of those "Bombs" made by RAID. Leave the boat closed up for a few days and nothing will be alive in there.

You don't have problems on the outside of the boat so I can't imagine that tenting would accomplish any more than sealing up and bombing.

BTW, most of what I see in that pic is wood rot. That is what attracted the termites in the first place. They love rotting wood. They did you a favor by pointing it out to you.

Now you've gotta get busy and find that leak (chain locker maybe). Looks like there is a lot more rotted wood there too. Get it all out. Rotting wood is a live bacteria and it will continue to spread. Termites are nothing compared to wood rot.

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