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Lacking in fresh produce and fully aware that there would be no opportunities for shopping at Chacachacare, before we left Chaguaramas, Rebecca and I made the short dinghy trip over to one of the marinas to do a bit of shopping at the market. As we often do, we approached the unknown dinghy dock slowly. We’ve learned that it’s prudent to exercise caution at new docks as it would not be the first time that we have found nails or other sharp objects that could puncture our inflatable, or shallow rocks or other submerged items lying in wait to damage our prop. In this particular case, the dock was both in good repair and the water was plenty deep for our dinghy. There was, however, an equally nasty threat waiting for us on the dock: a big brown cockroach.

Cockroach infestations are one of those things that all cruisers fear, and for good reason. Once roaches make their way on board a ship it is extremely difficult to get rid of them. To be honest, until I saw that guy, I hadn’t really given much thought to the threat of them trying to stowaway in our dinghy when we were on shore, although I have had friends tell me that they’ve found the critters in their dinghies. The truth is, I’m sure this is one of the common ways that boats do get infected. Additionally, roaches can crawl up dock lines and gangways when boats spend time in a marina, sneak aboard hidden in foodstuffs (cardboard is a notorious culprit for this which is why we avoid allowing any on ZTC) and I’ve even heard of them flying on board boats at anchor. True? I don’t know. Can roaches fly?

Having spied the enemy, we immediately altered our plans. We backed away from the dock before we made contact and chose a slightly different place to moor our tender. I also opted to remain on board to stand guard against stowaways, vigilantly I might add, while Rebecca looked after our provisioning. You can’t be too careful!


  1. I’ve heard that some fly but I’ve never seen it. I HAVE seen how well they swim from first hand experiences being tied along side a sinking boat. In English Harbor while working ashore, I was tied along side a very old yacht that was rotten and used up, pretty much permanently tied up to the fisherman stone cay. It was given to a local guy who rented out bunks for $10 a night. One day poping my head out of my companionway someting wasn’t quite right! I noticed his waterline was sinking fast. I undid all my heavily sprayed with roach be gone juice docking lines and fenders and moved away as the roaches fled the sinking ship. I had to spray the whole cap-rail of my boat as the great swimming monsters fled the sinking ship. It was FRIGHTENING!!!! That boat sunk right there as we all watched, there was nothing that could be done about it. I just kept spraying and moved my boat away!

  2. Cockroaches, or Palmetto bugs as they are called in Florida, can fly. A long way.

    I recall laying on deck in Bequia, about 30-40 yards from the Frangipani (is it still there?) somewhere around midnight, and having one land on me. That will get you moving in a hurry.

  3. Yes the big roaches or palmetto bugs do fly. I used to live on Bermuda and believe me they fly. They area very active at night and I used to go outside my house at night with a flashlight in one hand and baygon bug spray
    ( )in the other and hunt them down. They are everywhere on that island. One night I was having a romantic candle light dinner with my girl friend outside by the water and one flew right into her meal. That put kind of a damper on the night as you might guess.

  4. A huge cockroach flew aboard my cousin’s houseboat when I was with them in Florida. So yeah, it happens.

  5. Well once again Mike, your blog post has led me to researching and spending crazy amounts of time. It’s all good, though, since I like learning! 🙂

    Anyways, I discovered an interesting site with ALL KINDS of information about cockroaches.



  6. Yes, they can most certainly fly. Especially the big brown ones. Used to give my wife and the other ladies fits. They are kind of part of the territory in New Orleans, so they were always around. A constant fight to keep them out of the house. I agree with the cardboard idea. The roach lays it’s eggs in a clear kind of paste on the cardboard sacks from the grocery, so we never kept them in the house either. If you look closely, you can actually see the eggs glued to the bag.

  7. Thanks everyone. Perhaps I’ll now lock the boat up tight and refuse to open any windows!!!

  8. Unfortunately cockroaches DO fly! Growing up in Florida it was one of the most disgusting things to witness. Be thankful you have yet to see it.

  9. Yes they fly. Living in the South, I’ve experienced turning on the kitchen light and having one fly across the room. You can clean all you like, they like it too. Unfortunately for us dirt dwellers, the OSB “flakeboard” type plywood is used in construction. Guess what roaches like? The glue!!!! Try bengal roach spray, or a good flat shoe!

  10. One Palmetto bug met my mom and regretted it. She was staying in Florida with my son. She opened a cupboard, and there he was! She used both hands to slam the door so fast that the bug never had a chance! She may be 94, but her reflexes are young!

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