If you cruise in an area with no-see-ums (sometimes called sand flies or sand fleas), you know that they are small enough to easily slip through standard screening on your boat.
But where do you find screening that’s fine enough to keep them out?
Actually, just about every fabric store carries no-see-um screen. They just call it by a different name: bridal veil material.
And the bonus is that you can find it almost anywhere in the world — even in fairly small towns in Mexico and Central America (although not the tiniest fishing villages). I’ve seen something similar in markets in East Africa and Mali. It seems women wear wedding veils almost everywhere!
You can get bridal veil material in almost any color you want, not just the traditional white, but black will be the least obvious as you look out your ports and hatches. I’m using white in the photos here as it showed up better.
It’s not the same thing as “netting,” as shown in the photo below – netting is on the left and bridal veil material is on the right. Netting has holes about the same size as standard screen material and won’t stop the no-see-ums.
One thing to note about any screen this fine: it won’t let as much air pass through as regular screens, so you won’t get as good ventilation. Still, it’s much better than totally closing all the ports and hatches, not to mention the companionway.
There are several ways to make no-see-um screens – use whatever works best for various locations on your boat:
- Bind the edges and use Velcro to hold them over ports and hatches (make sure there are no gaps in the Velcro for the little devils to slip through)
- For hatches and the companionway, make loosely fitting nets to go on the outside of the boat (covering the open hatch or companionway doors) and put a 1” hem on all free edges, then use small weights (fishing weights or BBs work well) in the hem to hold them down. The screens that came with Que Tal used this system and I was surprised at how much wind they’d withstand before starting to move. Of course, once the wind picked up, the bugs went away and I could remove the screens.
- Get replacement screen frames for your hatches and ports (you can often find them used at swap meets) and build a second set of screens for your boat. Exactly how you attach the screen material will depend on the frames.
- Simply cut sections a little larger than your current screens, remove your screen, wrap the no-see-um material over the screen that’s there and replace the screen. Maybe not the most elegant solution, but quick to implement and usually doesn’t have gaps for bugs to get through.
Got other ideas for making no-see-um screens? Please leave details in the comments.