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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mud Dauber Hatch Boards

Mud Daubers are sailors too. At least they seem to enjoy HideAway as much as we do building their mud tunnel homes anywhere they please. We’ve found them under shelves, in plain sight on cabin walls, and in our sail cover. Once they see a companion way open they have no qualms crowding in ahead of you to reach their home. Although they are not aggressive, a very painful sting can result if you happen to hit one during an angry swat fest.

Mud Dauber Defense System 1

Until recently the HideAways defense has been to shove rag, OK, old socks, into the extreme ends where the hatch boards do not meet the companionway cover. While you can usually shoo a Mud Dauber away, Yellow Jackets are another matter best dealt with using some sort of chemical attack.

As HideAway approaches her 33rd birthday her hatch boards have succumbed to the Florida marine environment to the extent of needing replacement. The need actually occurred a few years ago but their life was extended with infusions of Cetol into their weaker areas. Eventually the bottom board lost its edge and would slide to the deck creating an unacceptable gap between the two boards otherwise known as the Gateway to Mud Dauberville. Clearly a new design was called for.

Gateway to Mud Dauberville

It was a simple trip to the Home Depot and the discovery of Sande Handy Panel, a pre cut hardwood plywood with a no knots or patches on the finish sides. I did notice a couple of small voids on the edges when I cut it but they were easily filled. I began by adding one inch to the bottom board and with a helper I cut both panels into a rough-in shape scribing the top board to match the contours of the companion way hatch cover. How simple it sounds.

I added the height to the bottom panel because we usually dock stern in and if we are spending the night on board we leave the lower panel installed for privacy. I also use a solar panel set on top of the boom with the wire running through the gap between the hatch board and companionway top. I cut one of the new tabs a bit smaller to allow for the solar charger wire. While I’d have had to purchase a larger panel it may have been better to make one large panel then cut the 45 degree bevel between them. By the way this is no job for hand held power tools. A band saw and table saw were essential while the bench sander made sanding and final shaping a snap.

It’s too early to tell if I’ve solved the Mud Dauber problem but at least now they will have to work harder to gain entry and the buzzing in my ears is mine alone.