OFFBoard Rat Guards To The Rescue

February 2017 Feature Trevor Mason

If you’re a die-hard houseboater, you know how much trouble wildlife can wreak on your boat. Mice, rats, and other rodents are especially troublesome pests to deal with. When you anchor your houseboat to the shore via mooring lines, it creates an ideal way onto the boat for any vermin in the area. Even being tied up at the dock, rats and mice will get aboard by simply scurrying across your ropes. So what’s a boater to do?

If you’re Art Onweller, you take the problem into your own hands. As he puts it, “It took only one night on Lake Powell to start our business. Just an elbow in the ribs at 2:30am and the cry, ‘Something just crawled across me’ got it started.”

What he came up with is ingenious in its simplicity. Why not just affix a round disc to the line itself that’s too large for a rodent to get around without falling off the rope? Thus the OFFBoard Rat Guard was born. The first version measured 10 inches in diameter and was designed to stay in place even in the wind and rain. Local boaters saw how well Art’s design worked and asked him if he could make a larger one; there’s now a 15-inch version available too.

We first saw this product years ago and were impressed with how well it worked. In the time since, Art has made a lot of improvements to make the OFFBoard even better. So how exactly does it work? Again, simplicity rules the day. The disc has a one-inch hole in the center with a door cut into the disc leading to the outside edge. The door has a spring on the back side that keeps it closed. Simply open the door, slide the disc onto your mooring line, and release. If your mooring line is smaller than an inch, the OFFBoard comes with four smaller inserts (1/2-, 5/8-, 3/4-, and 7/8-inch) that attach to the door with a small stainless steel screw. For owners with the older version, kits to upgrade to the 15-inch model are also available.

The OFFBoard Rat Guard is being used in such wide circumstances as the Navy, Coast Guard, NOAA and maritime museums. In our time using it, we were very impressed with its ability to keep rodents at bay. It’s virtually impossible for a mouse or rat to overcome the height of the disc and remain on the line (any animal that could successfully navigate the disc should give us some pointers on how to prevent it in the future!). Whether you’ve got a rodent problem right now or simply want to avoid it in the future, the OFFBoard Rat Guard is a sure thing.

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