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The weather was beautiful. Clear skies. Relatively warm. Winds 10 knots. What should have been a beautiful day for our first sail of the season was marred by 1 thing… we were engulfed in a plague of bugs! When I say plague, I am sure most readers are thinking ‘yeah, there were some pests out there.’ Honestly, it’s hard to imagine, and I don’t think the photos below do it justice.

Throughout the city, there are swarms of tiny bugs that most people are calling May Flies. I have also heard them referred to as midges. Around the marina they cover the outside of the boats. It seemed logical to us though that being out in the breeze, away from land, we should have less bugs around us. Wrong! Did I mention plague?

As this was our first time out this season, we had some tweaking to do with the sails. The Mylar main that we set did not yet have the reefing lines attached. We also had some issues with the battens catching on the lazy jacks (fodder for another post). All this required us to slowly motor into the wind for a fair period of time, allowing both our boat and Rebecca and I to get completely covered by these bugs!

How bad were they out there? Well, despite the fact that the weather was beautiful, Rebecca and I pulled the plug after only 30 minutes, dropped the sails and motored back to the marina as fast as we could. After arriving back to our slip and tying up, we had to wash, not only the boat, but we had to raise the sails and wash them too as they were trashed by a million or so midges. Oh, and then we showered to get the bugs out of our hair, and burned our clothes (we didn’t really do that last thing)!

Are we permanently traumatized? No. Are we going out sailing today? No. I think we’ll wait until this short-lived species has died off for the season.

This is the expression that both Rebecca and I had on our face the whole time we were out. We could hardly open our mouths to speak! Look closely and you’ll see the the underside of the bimini is covered with bugs too.

19 Comments

  1. Wow !!!! and i thought they were bad on land. The picture of the sail tells it all.
    I’m not in rush to go sailing anymore.

    When is the short lived season over?????

  2. Woah! That’s unbelievable. YUK!!!! I am really glad I wasn’t there. I think I would have lost my mind.

    It kinda reminds me of being in Florida last May during the Love Bug mating season. After two hours of driving down the freeway, you have to pull into a gas station to clean off the windshield because it’s covered in splats.

    Blech!

  3. Yuck!

    How disappointing. I hope the sails came clean. Oh well, if they didn’t, the first time you go thru a tropical squall with the sails up, they’ll get washed in Nature’s washing machine.

    bob

  4. BLAH!!!!!!!! Amazing photos!
    As for the battens catching on the lazy jacks… yeah that happens. You just need to make sure whoever is at the helm is pointing the boat RIGHT into the wind when raising the main. And just know that you’ll have to lower a few inches, adjust, and go up again as part of your normal protocol. At least that’s what we do. Maybe somebody has it all figured out, but we just accept it as “one of those things”.
    Hope your next voyage is bug-free!

    • I did a bunch of reading on lazy jacks yesterday as I wasn’t sure that I even rigged them correctly. I see some people only set them just before dropping the main. The rest of the time they are tied near the mast. If I was to do that I would have to think about how to tie them by the boom. The knots I would use wouldn’t be as secure as the ones I had used yesterday.

      • On the lazy jacks, we have 4 attachment points on each side. I added snap shackles on each of the aft 2 on each side, which we disconnect before raising the main and attach them to a cleat that we have mounted on each side of the boom near the forward end. We added knotted “tail” lines on each snap shackle to make things easier to reach and cleat off. If we expect nasty weather we reconnect them after the main is raised in case we need to douse quickly, otherwise we connect them just before dropping the main to minimize chafe. We forget once in a while and there is a bit of a fire drill but for the most case, it works well. Not only does this cut down on chafe but it also prevents hang up of the battens on the lazy jacks on the way up. Learned this lesson a few years back after “launching” a batten like a bow and arrow.
        On our last boat, we did it a little differently. We had the lazy jack lines run through blocks under the spreaders (cheek blocks on the mast work also although mast lap can be a problem) and run to cleats down low, which allowed us to “slack” the lazy jacks and pull them forward. Main issues there is to be careful locating the cleats on the mast so as to not catch the genoa sheets while tacking and there tends to be a lot of excess line to deal with down near the cleats when the lazy jacks are tight.
        We have the mayflies here in Maryland as well, but no where near what you are dealing with.

  5. Eeeeeeewwwwwww…..I believed you about the plague after photo 1, and I cringed after photo 3!

    Did they get inside too? Hope not.

    Sam.

    PS. I am really enjoying your blog. Thanks :-).

    • Thanks Sam. While out sailing in them we closed the salon door. But in general, it seems they don’t really want to go inside too much. A few straggles make it in but most seem content to stay on the outside, especially on the white surfaces.

    • I just followed the link to your blog. I’m bookmarking it so I can follow along. You have a beautiful boat.

  6. I now have the heebie jeebies. EWWW!

    I have been secretly trying to figure out which are the buggiest S Pacific islands so we can avoid them and I’ll be stocking up on REI’s “probably causes cancer, extra high DEET jungle juice”. After being eaten alive in Thailand by mosquitoes I have learned how they can kill a moment.

  7. That’s unbelievable! I’ve never seen anything like that. We call those Love-Bugs down here, because after this initial stage they start ‘hooking-up’ then you get the double wammy, so to speak. I haven’t seen too many this Spring, they must have stayed up North. At times here you can’t drive near the lakes because they are so bad. They end up getting squashed on your windshield of the car so bad you can’t see and your windshield wipers and water only make it worse. Every years someone ends up in a car accident because of them.

  8. Well, it could have been worse if they were actually what we call June bugs. They are bigger, both in size and numbers, and they are slippery and stinky! We have car accidents due to sliding on them, and the only thing anyone has figured out to do with them is compost them! Many lake shore cities, towns, and villages turn off the street lights during June bug season. They are drawn to lights. Your midges REALLY like white surfaces, but my friend who had his boat’s hull painted dark green drew his share anyway!

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