Termites can cause damage to boats and yachts, especially if these vessels are constructed of wood. Most modern wood boats are made of a softer wood such as pine in the structural supports. Exterior hull parts may be made of hardwoods for beauty, strength and durability. Termites will readily infest interior portions of the vessels, but can also damage the hardwood sections.
Drywood termites can infest the parts of boats that are not near the water. Drywood termites do not need excess water and can infest the structural parts of the vessel. Boats and yachts built with hardwoods, such as antique vessels, are also vulnerable to attack.
Subterranean termites will infest vessels, usually preferring to feed on the soft interior wood used in building the vessel. While they will feed on the hardwood portions, they are less likely to attack hardwoods than softwoods; however, they will attack hardwoods if conditions are right. Evaporating bilge water, for example, leads to higher moisture in the wood nearby. This is a condition conducive to infestation by subterranean termites.
Sometimes, termites will attack more than the wooden parts of boats and yachts. There are cases where termites have infested vessels and have attacked rope, canvas and even navigational charts.
Fiberglass vessels are not prone to termite infestation if the entire vessel is made of fiberglass with no cellulose on board; however, any wood-based product contains cellulose. Older fiberglass vessels have wooden backing on the fiberglass, and this plywood can be attacked by termites.
Treatment of infested boats and yachts can be difficult. As these vessels are on or near the water, extreme care must be taken to protect the waters. Boats and yachts which can be removed from the water are treated using one or more methods. Any repairs done must be completed and inspected by a marine architect or other specialist to ensure that the repairs do not affect the vessel’s seaworthiness.