Curse of the Smelly Otter

smelly_otterMiss the first post about how the heck I got a boat? Read it here.

Note: What follows was written 11/12/15.

Another weekend with Foam. This time, I brought along Kiddo and Kiddo Number Two (K2). We arrived after dark Saturday night. The kids oohed and ahhed at our pretty pirate ship.

“What’s that smell?” said K2.

Damn. “Watch your step. The otters were here.”

We filled the cabin with our bags and supplies, Kiddo and K2 both claiming and vying for top bunk in the salon. Kiddo won out, despite K2 rolling his sleeping bag out first. She simply laid on top of him, giggling, making no adjustment for skinny bones poking into flesh, until he had to acquiesce and slide down a level. The sweet tolerance born by this stepbrother knows no limits when it comes to her. I can’t imagine his response would be so kind had they grown up together from birth as full brother and sister.

The discovery that we can’t open the port holes even during light rain without getting water in the cabin puzzled me. Why would they tilt the windows so that water flows inside? The boards removed from the front of the companionway would have to do for ventilation for the night. The air hung heavy with mildew and chemicals. I added fan to my mental list of what to bring along next time. Hopefully the stale air wouldn’t do too much damage to our lungs in one night.

Still afraid to work the electrical panel until I understand exactly how the critical, keeping-boat-above-water, bilge pump connects to power, I simply strung patio light cords around the cabin. The kids used camping headlamps to illuminate the pages of their books, but mostly to shine in each other’s eyes at brightest setting.  After pinching my fingertips in the adjustable table and spinning in curse-suppressing circles for a full minute, I made my bed on the converted settee. In the warm glow of the string lights, the boat interior took on a cabin in the woods feeling. We made one group trip up the long gangplank to use the marina restrooms before retiring, delighting in the sea creatures brought to the surface by our lights. An army of shrimp wiggled glowing eyes at us when we leaned over to peer into the black water.

“Yum,” said Kiddo. “Ebi!”

The kids could not calm down enough to sleep until just past midnight. I slept, but woke each time the bilge pump kicked on. Even though I spent a week away in Seattle without worrying about systems, now that I was on the boat I wanted to witness and supervise each pump and dump. Like checking on a newborn, I woke every hour through the night, just to make sure the boat was still afloat.

At eight, Kiddo popped up in her bunk. “Mom. Mom. Mom.”


“It’s morning. Let’s get up and start work.”

“No. I’m still sleeping.”

“Mom. Mom. Mom.”


“No you’re not. I see your eyeballs.”

Sigh. Once again, I began the day by washing otter excrement off the deck.

Below are snaps of the actual offending otters spotted on later trip. They huffed at me aggressively. I used to think otters were so cuuuuute. Now guess what I think of them.

2015-11-22 16.46.11 2015-11-22 16.51.54-2

Leave a comment


8 years ago

I've told people that possibly one of the worst smells in the universe is sea otter poo.

Borne Wilder

8 years ago

My endgame involves a large sailboat. I don't know how to sail, but being rocked to sleep every night, by the sea appeals to me. Maybe I'll keep it tied to the dock.


8 years ago

You think like me. 🙂


8 years ago

The post title would make a great title for a children's book ?

Carol McCreary

8 years ago

It's the river otters who love to come on your boat, tear up the cushions and make their nests. Sea otters - like the one in the first picture - are still adorable. And they stay in the water and don't haul out on docks.