Boat Maintenance


Spiders. Those horrendous, eight legged, scary things that seem to think they have a right to inhabit boats. Big ones, little ones, fast ones, stripey ones and even ones with hairy legs. Ugly things that drop down on your face just as you are nodding off to sleep. You will notice that there are no scary photographs with this blog post. Yes, even a photo of a spider gives me the creeps.

But after years of losing a battle to keep them under control, I have finally found a decent solution. And it is clove oil. Simple as that. You can buy bottles of clove oil in large chemists and health stores. It isn’t expensive either – about €6 for a bottle. But it must be clove oil, NOT clove bud oil.


So how does it work?

I keep ashtrays around the boat and roll up a sheet of kitchen paper into each ashtray (any small container or a saucer would be fine). I put the ashtrays  near windows where the spiders come in. And every time I leave the boat, I dab the kitchen paper with clove oil. The smell can be a bit strong, so I don’t use it while we are on the boat ourselves. Spiders can’t stand the smell. They hate it. It doesn’t kill them, or cause them harm. You will need to get rid of existing spiders, but you will not get new ones. They just won’t like your smelly boat and will head elsewhere.

Alexandra no longer has spiders at every window corner, and cobwebs criss-crossing the bunks and gangway, and spider poop ruining the curtains. And I can sleep peacefully knowing that I now have a boat with almost no spiders at all. Well, it’s not 100% perfect. There are a few rogue spiders that don’t seem to get the message, but I can live with that. And remember that spiders do actually have a use… they eat other bugs.


When to start using Clove Oil?

You can start using it any time you like, but the best time is now, just before the autumn starts. That way you will reduce the number of spiders seeking refuge on your boat for the winter, and avoid lots of little baby spiders arriving at the start of next season.

Alexandra is a fibreglass boat and clove oil will stain the fibreglass. So be very careful about spilling the clove oil. For steel or wooden boats, you can use watered down clove oil in a spray bottle. Spray around the windows, external doors, hatches and sun roofs when you leave the boat. But remember that it is an oil which can cause stains.

Also, don’t use clove oil outside your boat. Getting rid of spiders inside a boat is one thing. Clearing the entire river is another.

Do you have other tricks for getting rid of spiders? Or other bugs? I would love to hear your suggestions!

Happy boating!


One thought on “Spiders

  1. Funny you should mention this, I was down at your boat today and even walking down the gangway it felt like I was walking in an underground tunnel being attacked by spiderman it was very thick and strong webbing and I felt like I was wearing a hair net when I came back up, there must be some sort of super spiders in Athlone.

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