A few years ago now, I was skipper of a yacht cruising to New Caledonia crewed by a group of sailors who belonged to a club.
While loading provisions for the 12 day voyage, one of the crew stopped his mate from passing a cardboard carton of food onto the yacht. He demanded that the contents be unpacked and re-stowed in one or more plastic bags. Why? From his experienced he knew that this form of packaging was a ‘cockroach Hilton’.
Once cockroaches have found their way on board your yacht, it is extremely difficult to get rid of them. And it’s not a new problem.
Thomas Huxley*, Assistant Surgeon on HMS Rattlesnake**, reported in his diary:
“I wonder if it is possible for the mind to conceive anything more degradingly offensive than the condition of us 150 men, shut up in this wooden box, being watered with hot water, as we are now. It’s too hot to sleep, and my sole amusement consists in watching the cockroaches, which are in a state of intense excitement and happiness.”
To rid the vessel of its infestation, the crew sank it for two days. When they raised it, they discovered that the cockroaches had only been stunned. Finally, by sinking the ship for a week they achieved their aim. The sailors saw the cockroaches swimming ashore in a black cloud and later had to clear away dead ones by the bucket load.
* Thomas Huxley was made a Fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 25 and later became known as ‘Darwin’s bulldog’ in recognition of his support for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
** HMS Rattlesnake, with Owen Stanley as captain, explored northern Australia, Torres Strait and New Guinea in the years 1846 to 1850.