I’m on vacation!

Things can turn ugly in paradise when you finally reach that secluded anchorage. You set the hook and kill the engines, but the buzzing sound are not alone!

Black flies, mosquitoes, wasps and of course, the little army of invisible spiders that you accidentally brought with you, all emerge in the stillness, buzzing around looking for something, or someone to munch on.

Hopefully, you packed the AfterBite, lotions, antiseptic, cotton balls, antihistamine for those with allergies, BandAids and other first aid items, but the best route is to protect yourself from being bitten in the first place.

Mosquitoes harbor more than an excruciating pinprick—West Nile virus and other diseases can lurk deep within this summer pest. If you plan on cruising to remote areas, consider buying an Insect Blocker™ top made by Columbia. West Marine sells these and it’s not just for bug protection.

The Insect Blocker™ top has Columbia’s Omni-Wick™ technology and their Bug Shield Long-Sleeve shirt is outfitted with superior moisture processing to keep you dry and comfortable. It has mini-mesh fabrication to keep the fresh air constantly flowing through. The ergonomic design includes a drop tail in back for crucial coverage of your lower back when you’re bending over.

There are also many simple steps you can take, using environmentally friendly products that will reduce the number of pests on board.

If you are really “green” start with “Spider Away” made by StarBrite. This non-toxic formula “shoos” spiders away from treated area without harming them. In fact, the makers claim Spider Away will not harm any marine surface and it is safe for use around people and pets.

If you want to take it a step further, a recently introduced product that is spreading across Canada is “BugTek”. We first saw this at the 2011 Port Credit Boat Show where the salesman actually sprayed some in his hand and licked it! Although he is still alive and well, he doesn't recommend doing this. The formulation apparently targets only cold-blooded organisms, so spiders and insects are in trouble, but it does not harm warm-blooded organisms such as humans or pets.

The product is residually effective and can continue to kill bugs for over 4 weeks, depending upon conditions. Being odourless and non-staining, it is particularly suitable for application in enclosed spaces. If you catch your boat early in the spring, you can spray the cabin, under the boat top, bimini, sailbags, etc. A good suggestion is to spray your boat every long weekend. Three applications throughout the summer can keep those spiders under control for the whole season. That way you can reduce those black spider droppings which can damage the fiberglass surface. Incidentally, you can spray for fleas and ticks as you never know who may be hitching a ride on your pet, on you, or your guests. You can never be too careful.

If you were not already aware of this, the spider droppings, mixed with rainwater can be so acidic that they can literally burn into your gelcoat, permanently damaging the fiberglass finish. The same problem exists with bird droppings. This can be very damaging and the hot summer sun really bakes the “poop” onto your deck!

StarBrite makes “Bird & Spider Stain Remover”, a product that softens and dissolves hardened spider and bird droppings so that they can be rinsed away.

There are a number of product labels now that attest to, or at least claim to be environmentally friendly and we are not the authority on that, but we strongly encourage you to shop with care, investigate the products you plan to buy and ensure that people and pets and the environment will not be harmed by your choices.

Across Canada, the past winter was very warm with record low levels of snowfall. Combined with a warm, early spring, we are seeing many more insects than usual and you will want to be prepared!

By Andy Adams