It’s now eleven days since Moby arrived on board and, despite our best efforts, he continues to elude and outwit us. Thank you to those of you who have suggested ways to remove him. These have ranged from baiting traps with peanut butter, chocolate or cured meats, to home-made humane traps in the form of jam jars or paper bags, to offering to loan us your cats or suggesting we get our own ship’s cat. To all of you, I have only this to say – with all your diplomas and degress and PhDs and fancy education – Moby is smarter than the lot of you! Well…perhaps not you cat people. I haven’t tried out that option yet, but being a dog person (why do we need this dog-cat binary) and having had cats for pest control throughout my rural childhood, I grudgingly concede that you may be on to something.
Now before I go on with this story of Moby’s (mis)adventures, I must explain the sleeping arrangements aboard Carina. When we first moved aboard, for reasons of convenience and safety, we put the girls in the aft cabin, and I slept with them. The fore cabin was a mess, and is too short for Julian to sleep in, so he took the larger berth in the saloon. The plan was to eventually move the girls into the fore cabin, and Julian would move to the aft cabin. The months have gone on, and it still hasn’t happened, so I still sleep in the aft cabin and Julian remains in the saloon. And so on with the story.
The day after we discovered Moby, we set peanut butter-baited traps in the quarter berth, in one of the food cupboards and in the bilge. After a week, the bilge trap remained untouched, so we moved it. The other traps, however, showed daily evidence of Moby’s presence – he poo-ed by them, he sprung them, and he ate the peanut butter. The issue of bait caused not a little friction between my husband and I, as I argued for the superiority of chocolate, and bombarded him with the suggestions of you, my kind readers.
On the third night, Julian awoke in the night to find Moby on his shoulder. In his half-asleep state, he grabbed the rascally rodent and threw him to the floor, before he even realised what he was doing.
On day four, Julian took the girls off the boat for four hours, while I cleaned the food cupboards from top to bottom, and mouse-proofed all our food. I then reset the traps with chocolate, melted first so it stuck firm to the traps. We went to bed that night and, after half an hour I heard some rustling, followed by a series of shrill squeaks, followed by silence. Yes, I thought to myself, Moby is dead and I am the champion in the peanut butter-chocolate wars.
The next morning I discovered the traps had been sprung, the chocolate eaten, and no Moby.
Julian bought poison and I said ‘No way’. I don’t want a dead rodent decomposing somewhere in the bilges, stinking out the boat. My father-in-law came to visit and I asked him to bring his humane mouse trap along. I set it in the quarter berth and the next morning it too had been sprung, along with the snap traps, chocolate eaten, no Moby.
That was the night Julian lay awake from 1am to 5am playing catch the mouse with Moby. He heard a noise coming from the galley and shone his torch over in time to see Moby leaping from the top of the fridge onto the hob. This was followed by scrabbling and scratching in the grill pan and the oven. Julian turned on the oven and grill and when it started to get smelly he was convinced he had roasted rodent. But when he opened the oven, no Moby.
‘Use the poison’ I said to Julian. So last night he set all the traps and put out three trays of poison. And this morning? Traps sprung, bait eaten, poison left untouched. This mouse is a genius.
I lie in bed at night thinking of the potentials for a great series of children’s stories about a stowaway mouse. If only I could get some sleep I might have the energy to write those stories. Every time Katie’s little feet touch me in the night I think it’s Moby and leap awake.
There is, of course, a very serious side to all of this. I have heard horror stories about other boat owners who have incurred thousands of pounds worth of damage as a result of rodents chewing through electrical wiring and rubber pipes. And most of those systems are part of safety features, so money might not be the only thing we lose.
I live in hope that tonight’s the night!!