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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Of all the things I had to consider regarding a first season on a new (to me) boat on the other side of the country from home, I didn't anticipate this - dry wood TERMITES came with the boat I just bought... from friends! We took possession in the Bahamas only two months ago. Sailed it around the Abacos for a while then crossed the stream to Lake Worth for provisions. Just as we were about to head back we discovered the buggers. Seems the colony had reached that five-year point in their morphology where they produce winged wanderers in search of new food sources. Apparently they couldn't get out of the aft cabin so jettisoned their wings and got to work creating new colonies. It was all the wings that alerted us to a potential problem.

The first big-time exterminator we called wants $4K to tent and fumigate my 44' steel schooner. That's sick.

I've searched the threads for info/mitigation of termites but there's little and little new on this subject. I need help, please.

I can't take the boat back to Green Turtle where I have a reservation to put it up for hurricane season without getting it fumigated first and that can't happen fast enough because it's high-season in Florida for exterminators. So, I need to find a new safe location to haul-out between North Palm Beach and Stuart.

Then, it seems that the only formula for successful mitigation might be to find an entomologist to analyze the infestation, prescribe a comprehensive fumigation process, then personally supervise the whole deal.

This deviation from our first season's plans - to save the boat rather than just enjoy it - is going to eat my lunch. Any information or referrals on these two most pressing issues will be greatly appreciated.
 

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4k to exterminate a steel boat? Id buy $20 worth of bug bombs and be done with it. I live in the south and have had termites is every house I've ever lived in, not that big of a deal. Most people treat them there selves of pay some one a couple hundred bucks. For 4k you could probably treat an entire office complex and a couple warehouses.

Edit. Shop around. That guy thinks your thick wallet mega yacht owner. Are just a plane sucker.
 

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Are you sure you have an infestation, or did you just find some leftovers from a termite flight? Just because they get somewhere and drop their wings doesn't mean they have established a colony. Have you found tunnels and eaten-away spots, or some critters and wings? I have always understood that termites need to be in contact with dirt, as there is need for dirt for their reproduction, but you might want to check that
 

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Are you sure you have an infestation, or did you just find some leftovers from a termite flight? Just because they get somewhere and drop their wings doesn't mean they have established a colony. Have you found tunnels and eaten-away spots, or some critters and wings? I have always understood that termites need to be in contact with dirt, as there is need for dirt for their reproduction, but you might want to check that
There's dry wood termites and there's subterranean termites. Subterranean termites need moisture and dirt where the dry wood termites don't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We first found a thousand wings, all in a three day period, inside, all abandoned in front of ports. Then found what appears to be the principal colony, characteristically not huge but old enough to get to the five-year mark where they send out scouts. They're not smart - headed toward light but couldn't get out - decided they'd reached their destination - abandoned their wings and crawled toward darkness to mate and start a new colony (like many humans). It only takes two tomtango and if even only a small percentage survived then we've got an infestation of many new colonies that will eat and produce their own new fliers in five years. It's textbook behavior for dry wood termites and keeps on cycling until the food's gone or they're eradicated.

Even a steel boat is lined with wood stringers and framing to support cabinetry and sole... that's also all wood. The boat and a big percentage of my retirement is at risk. Fumigation with Vikane gas will kill all life aboard but research suggests that it's correct application by exterminators is a crapshoot. As dry wood termites are really common throughout most of the tropical cruiser's world, fumigation every five years should be a standard to keep them at bay.

Believe me, I'm learning more about this than I ever wanted to know.
 

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It's common here to see boats tented while on the water, usually powerboats, they did tent a couple wooden top sail schooners once. These ships are 110 and 118 ft. they tented everything from topmasts down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, David. That's really just about it.

With no wood deck or cap rails, I'm going to close all through-hulls and try to get someone to simply gas the interior of the boat where the problem is, hopefully saving a lot of plastic, tape, and labor. Complications are, however, that it should be exposed for 36 to 48 hours with inside monitors to validate that sufficient levels of gas are maintained for that period. Also, too much gas force can increase moisture content inside the boat (fogging) leading to the production of H2SO4 that can damage electronics and other items. Most companies don't monitor and want to pull their equipment to the next job too quickly so a very specific contract or process oversight is necessary or it's just more cash down the rat hole.
 

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I don't know if it would work on a boat, but our neighbors had a "heat treatment" done to their house a few years ago and it seemed to work well. Apparently, termites are pretty sensitive to temps over about 120 F or so. The house still had to be tented, but there were no residues or clean-up involved.
 
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