Sunday, August 5, 2012


   Leeches; disembodied stomachs crawling along waving 300 razor sharp teeth at the end of their tiny necks.  Mouths filled with anticoagulants and painkillers designed to allow them to feast on my blood without detection. 
Leeches; not what I want to see when I pull back my kayak skirt.  And yet it’s happened- twice. 
                                 This little creature is the most recent.

     Oh sure, it looks all innocent and plump, but trust me, it was just waiting for bare flesh to get near it.  Worse, while I was looking for a stick to remove it, it crawled under my seat and hid.

    “Pour some water in your boat,” Mark suggested; being as unwilling as I to reach in after it.

     I tried that, to no effect. 

    “Let’s just put the hose on it at home.”

     With a sigh, I helped lift my kayak onto the car. But, at home, after running the hose under the seat, the leech failed to appear. 

     “Maybe it just crawled away on its own.”

     Oh yeah, I’m going to trust that this little blood sucker is gone and not just lingering under my seat waiting to act out scenes from Stand By Me.  I don’t think so.  

     It took a pancake spatula, and a few minutes of searching, but I made sure my cockpit was leech-free; for now anyway.

A few leech related links:
This Youtube video shows a Maine leech merrily crawling over the surface of a kayak.  I’m not sure if my leech came in off a foot, or if it just crawled up over the side and slipped in; I had not worn a skirt through the entire paddle.
And this article is by Tamia Nelson- who claims to like leeches, and offered the same advice Mark did:  "Deal with it- leeches are everywhere; unlike mosquitos and ticks, leeches are not linked to any serious diseases."  Easy for Mark to say, he’s never been surprised by a leech hiding in his boat.  
How about you??  Leech fan or foe?  Any great leech stories to share??


  1. Ick. Foe! No tales to tell yet. Hopefully I won't have any in the future! Thanks for giving me the "willies" this afternoon. :)

    1. Sorry about that; but I'm glad to hear others feel the same way. I need to make more of an effort to stay away from muddy bottoms.

  2. Yikes! I have never encountered a leech! And hope I never do! But, I have managed to pick-up a few ticks during my travels to various put in areas. Those blood suckers are bad enough! I'm firmly in the leech "foe" camp.

    1. Oh no! Now it is looking like no one else sees leeches! perhaps I have some sort of odd leech magnetism...

  3. Ha, ha! It's only a matter of time before every kayaker takes home a leech or two. Don't spend too much time standing around in soft, muddy, weedy waters. I did at a local lake one day, got into the kayak, and looked down to put on my skirt and had three on my leg. I freaked out and ripped them all off and threw them overboard. But if they had been there a long time, I wouldn't be able to do that. Now I check my legs before I get into my boat. And each time I step into muck, I think, this is perfect leech territory. Get out fast.

    But having it hiding somewhere under the seat is pretty creepy. Maybe leave your boat out in the hot sun for a few weeks upside down and cook it real good before you paddle that kayak again!

    But seriously, my sympathies. I know what a bad feeling it is to find a leech on you.

    Cheers from Canada.

    1. Three!!!!! I'd be doing the freaked-out dance.
      I suspect my leech buddy joined me when I stepped into the boat. I try never to linger in mud; I must just luck out and step where a leech is waiting for me. I guess leeches are one good reason to launch from a dock, versus the shore.
      I hope your future voyages are all leech-free!

  4. P.S. On some shorelines I put my cockpit cover on my kayak to keep out creepy crawlers. Even harmless snakes could crawl in. Especially when camping - I always cover the cockpit. I think you probably picked it up in the water. It's amazing how we don't even feel them crawling up our leg.

  5. Well, if you look up the advice on the Net on what to do if you get a leech on you, they recommend gently trying to dislodge it without harming it, so it doesn't release anything that could cause an infection. If you can't remove it, you're supposed to let it feed on you for about 30 minutes until it's done with lunch, then it will fall off on its own.

    Now that I check for leeches each time, I don't find any!

    Pretty creepy.

    1. Maybe if I was having a limb reattached and medical leeches were a part of the healing process. Otherwise I think I'll risk flicking them off.
      Hope you don't find anymore!

  6. I would say stick to the salt water!