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Can't you smell that smell?


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Bought my first boat and have been struggling with the smell and some mold. I put the boat in heated storage for the winter and I want to attack this odor. 

Wood - hitting it with a mix of water and vinegar followed by lemon oil. 

Liner - Going to use soft scrub with bleach followed by a water rinse. 

Cleaning the bilge - degreaser etc. Any suggestions welcome. 

Thinking about the Starbrite bomb as well. 

Any other ideas or suggestions I should take into consideration? I have five months to work on this project. 

Side note, Anchor locker is also getting cleaned, just curious how much that would affect the cabin since it's a completely separate compartment. 

Thanks in advance-

 

 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, LTR said:

Bought my first boat and have been struggling with the smell and some mold. I put the boat in heated storage for the winter and I want to attack this odor. 

Wood - hitting it with a mix of water and vinegar followed by lemon oil. 

Liner - Going to use soft scrub with bleach followed by a water rinse. 

Cleaning the bilge - degreaser etc. Any suggestions welcome. 

Thinking about the Starbrite bomb as well. 

Any other ideas or suggestions I should take into consideration? I have five months to work on this project. 

Side note, Anchor locker is also getting cleaned, just curious how much that would affect the cabin since it's a completely separate compartment. 

Thanks in advance-

 

 

 

 

prep and paint the bilge with bilge coat or similar

your cushions may be funky. If so, not an easy fix

clean clean clean

 

What's the head situation?

Diesel or just an outboard?

 

There's a book "Get rid of boat odors" that some in the cruising community swear by...

 

I had a boat once that I couldn't get a funk out of, turns out a prior owner had a busted holding tank disaster and it wicked into some exposed bulkhead edgegrain. Since the bulkhead was undamaged, we sealed it with epoxy. 

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45 minutes ago, LTR said:

Bought my first boat and have been struggling with the smell and some mold. I put the boat in heated storage for the winter and I want to attack this odor. 

Wood - hitting it with a mix of water and vinegar followed by lemon oil. 

Liner - Going to use soft scrub with bleach followed by a water rinse. 

Cleaning the bilge - degreaser etc. Any suggestions welcome. 

Thinking about the Starbrite bomb as well. 

Any other ideas or suggestions I should take into consideration? I have five months to work on this project. 

Side note, Anchor locker is also getting cleaned, just curious how much that would affect the cabin since it's a completely separate compartment. 

Thanks in advance-

What is the smell?

Head odors?

Engine odors?

Bilge odors?

Mould odors?

What's the boat? How old?

Could be permeated hoses.

Take the cushions home & see if they stink there.

Use this stuff - it's great and before you say it, it is not just spray bleach. I've been using it for several years and it's the best green slime (mould) killer I've found.

All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach | Clorox®

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"What's the smell?" is the key question. Of course, the answer may be "All of them." 

Each smell is different. PO of my boat had a dog. That was a pain to get rid of that smell. 

Clean, clean, clean some more. Separate the cushions from the boat as advised. 

Head smell? Wipe down all the hoses with a cloth and smell the cloth. If it smells, replace the hoses (permeation). 

2 hours ago, Raz'r said:

There's a book "Get rid of boat odors" that some in the cruising community swear by...

The author of that book recommends "Pure Ayre" deodorizer. And I can attest it helps quite a bit, particularly with odd organic odors. (Dog, weird tea smell in the galley cupboards, etc) 

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2 hours ago, Raz'r said:

prep and paint the bilge with bilge coat or similar

your cushions may be funky. If so, not an easy fix

clean clean clean

 

What's the head situation?

Diesel or just an outboard?

 

There's a book "Get rid of boat odors" that some in the cruising community swear by...

 

I had a boat once that I couldn't get a funk out of, turns out a prior owner had a busted holding tank disaster and it wicked into some exposed bulkhead edgegrain. Since the bulkhead was undamaged, we sealed it with epoxy. 

Cushions were definitely funky, those are history and being replaced with a new set. 

Brand new head, did not use the head once. 

Diesel

Thanks for the suggestion on the book. 

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1 hour ago, SloopJonB said:

What is the smell?

Head odors?

Engine odors?

Bilge odors?

Mould odors?

What's the boat? How old?

Could be permeated hoses.

Take the cushions home & see if they stink there.

Use this stuff - it's great and before you say it, it is not just spray bleach. I've been using it for several years and it's the best green slime (mould) killer I've found.

All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach | Clorox®

 

Mainly smelling mold and mildew. 

Not really smelling the head or the engine. 

Sabre -84

Cushions were gnarly, those are history, new ones on order. 

The hoses, I need to replace those. 

Thanks for the suggestion on the Clorox, seems easier than Soft Scrub. 

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25 minutes ago, gptyk said:

"What's the smell?" is the key question. Of course, the answer may be "All of them." 

Each smell is different. PO of my boat had a dog. That was a pain to get rid of that smell. 

Clean, clean, clean some more. Separate the cushions from the boat as advised. 

Head smell? Wipe down all the hoses with a cloth and smell the cloth. If it smells, replace the hoses (permeation). 

The author of that book recommends "Pure Ayre" deodorizer. And I can attest it helps quite a bit, particularly with odd organic odors. (Dog, weird tea smell in the galley cupboards, etc) 

Thanks for the Pure Ayre recommendation. 

I'm going to replace the hoses. Visual inspection, a few look funky. 

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5 minutes ago, toddster said:

I did once go with the nuclear option after the cats did a number on my garage that was so far beyond "febreze" that it wasn't funny. Cleaned it all up in an afternoon.

61Z6cskvc4S._AC_SL1500_.jpg

I'd guess you can rent them if it's a one-time use.

This is an interesting suggestion. I'm willing to try every suggestion so far. 

 

 

I tried to respond to multiple quotes but failed twice, fyi. 

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3 minutes ago, LTR said:

Thanks for the Pure Ayre recommendation. 

I'm going to replace the hoses. Visual inspection, a few look funky. 

You can wrap them in genuine Saran Wrap in the interim, should ease the odor considerably.

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26 minutes ago, LTR said:

Thanks for the Pure Ayre recommendation. 

I'm going to replace the hoses. Visual inspection, a few look funky. 

My hoses were from 1990. All fresh water and waste water hoses have been replaced. 

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1 hour ago, LTR said:

 

Mainly smelling mold and mildew. 

Not really smelling the head or the engine. 

Sabre -84

Cushions were gnarly, those are history, new ones on order. 

The hoses, I need to replace those. 

Thanks for the suggestion on the Clorox, seems easier than Soft Scrub. 

Soft scrub has abrasives that can damage a gelcoated surface, so use with caution. 

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12 hours ago, LTR said:

Bought my first boat and have been struggling with the smell and some mold. I put the boat in heated storage for the winter and I want to attack this odor. 

Wood - hitting it with a mix of water and vinegar followed by lemon oil. 

Liner - Going to use soft scrub with bleach followed by a water rinse. 

Cleaning the bilge - degreaser etc. Any suggestions welcome. 

Thinking about the Starbrite bomb as well. 

Any other ideas or suggestions I should take into consideration? I have five months to work on this project. 

Side note, Anchor locker is also getting cleaned, just curious how much that would affect the cabin since it's a completely separate compartment. 

Thanks in advance-

 

 

 

 

For the odour, once the surface is cleaned;  a popular method here is to wipe everything over with neat liquid fabric softener. Fabric softeners just coat whatever they are applied to in organo-silicon.

Seals the surface and has a nice odour. Works on vinyl upholstery, hoses. varnish plastic and paint surfaces instantly.

 

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In season or off season; lot's of ventilation. Think of moving air completely through the boat, including, bilge and engine areas, year round. 

Not so easy in heated storage, but still make sure that the interior is exposed to the dry heated air. Maybe a small safe fan in heated storage that would move air through the boat. 

 

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2 hours ago, Max Rockatansky said:

I am not interested in the veracity of the assertion, but I do recall something I've seen claimed in fora: the ozone generated by the voodoo machine as mentioned above has a deleterious effect on plastics. Might want to check that

Maybe if used every day.  No real effect if used once or twice a year.  I used it once or twice a month.  Think of it like a fumigation.  Not a routine .

I mean, the dioxygen gas in your home is going to kill you and destroy every bit of organic matter from the wood in the walls to the plastics in the TV set.  Eventually.

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5 hours ago, MikeJohns said:

For the odour, once the surface is cleaned;  a popular method here is to wipe everything over with neat liquid fabric softener. Fabric softeners just coat whatever they are applied to in organo-silicon.

Seals the surface and has a nice odour. Works on vinyl upholstery, hoses. varnish plastic and paint surfaces instantly.

 

Can you provide an example of a "neat liquid fabric softener" you use? 

Appreciate the suggestion.

4 hours ago, Max Rockatansky said:

I am not interested in the veracity of the assertion, but I do recall something I've seen claimed in fora: the ozone generated by the voodoo machine as mentioned above has a deleterious effect on plastics. Might want to check that

I read some articles last night discussing this issue. There were also a few articles stating that a toxic odor was created in place of the original scent that they were seeking to remove. Certainly raises a concern.

Thank you for the info.

 

I'm going to hit the interior hard over the next few months. If the problem persists, then I might have to risk this option or try one of those mildew bombs from Starbrite. 

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1 hour ago, toddster said:

Maybe if used every day.  No real effect if used once or twice a year.  I used it once or twice a month.  Think of it like a fumigation.  Not a routine .

I mean, the dioxygen gas in your home is going to kill you and destroy every bit of organic matter from the wood in the walls to the plastics in the TV set.  Eventually.

Thanks for the response.

Just to clarify, you are using an ionizer in your boat? If you are using it once or twice a month, does that mean it's not very effective or that it works great and you are pleased with the results? 

 

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I have an ionizer/ozone generator that I used in my home for a while. It definitely made the place odor free but I was wary of using the ozone generator too often. Ozone ruins car tires and rubber items, but to nuke any smells from living microbes dying off, I’d consider running it in my boat for a day or two. But…
 

I noticed that my boat had a distinct odor of mustiness yesterday, so I stripped everything out that I could and sprayed the anchor locker, storage areas and bilges with a mix of outdoor bleach and water. I could see the white surfaces turn a slight yellow color and after about 10 minutes it was white again after the microbes all died. Rinsed down with fresh water and now the boat smells like clean laundry. And since it was going to rain, I sprayed the decks and cockpit and let the rain rinse it off. 

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2 minutes ago, LTR said:

Thanks for the response.

Just to clarify, you are using an ionizer in your boat? If you are using it once or twice a month, does that mean it's not very effective or that it works great and you are pleased with the results? 

 

I have not used it on the boat, but wouldn't hesitate to do so if needed for spring clean-up.  Typically contractors use them in houses when cleaning up after a flooding event.  You set the timer and leave the room until a couple of hours after it's done.   I was using it twice a month in the garage because there was a problem of on-going contamination.  Three cats, three litter boxes, and the fat old Tom claimed all three, so the other two cats were crapping and pissing all over the place.  Even though they had free access to the yard, through the pet door.  :angry:

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2 minutes ago, Sail4beer said:

I have an ionizer/ozone generator that I used in my home for a while. It definitely made the place odor free but I was wary of using the ozone generator too often. Ozone ruins car tires and rubber items, but to nuke any smells from living microbes dying off, I’d consider running it in my boat for a day or two. But…
 

I noticed that my boat had a distinct odor of mustiness yesterday, so I stripped everything out that I could and sprayed the anchor locker, storage areas and bilges with a mix of outdoor bleach and water. I could see the white surfaces turn a slight yellow color and after about 10 minutes it was white again after the microbes all died. Rinsed down with fresh water and now the boat smells like clean laundry. And since it was going to rain, I sprayed the decks and cockpit and let the rain rinse it off. 

I going to hit the interior with that Clorox with bleach. See what the results are. Hopefully, this works. I'm going to have some work to do, but I'm excited to see the results. 

Wish my boat wasn't on the hard. Hopefully, the heated storage will help. 

 

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BTW: When microbiologists sanitize surfaces, we use a 10% dilution of household bleach in water.  More concentrated stuff can react with biofilm material to actually create a cocoon that protects the cell from harm.  Since we also sanitize our work surfaces umpteen times a day, we generally alternate between bleach and a light detergent solution with quaternary ammonium (lysol, etc.). To prevent residue build-up or development of resistant organisms.  (Fancier workstations have a UV light that you leave on in between sessions.)

Wear old clothes that you don't mind getting white spots on. (When I worked in a food processing plant, the sanitation crew and I had "acid washed jeans" decades before anybody else did.) Or just a white painters coverall.  

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This is only relating to head smell, but I thought I would pass it along. A couple seasons ago I tackled the head smell problem, and cleaned everything out including the holding tank. It didn't solve it, so I replaced all the sanitation hosing, assuming that was the issue. All of that helped, but the head still smelled pretty bad (not sewage, but the typical urine head smell). Someone explained to me that most heads have decades (my boat is old) of guys missing the toilet, splashing, etc soaked into the hardwood. So I tried using a pet odor treatment made specifically for hardwood floors, and it actually helped a lot! It was such a simple fix, but the bulkheads just weren't where I was expecting the smell to come from. Nothing is perfect, but the change has been noticeable. And now I wipe the walls down with the odor remover below every time I leave the boat, and the smell is mostly under control.

 

Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator

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18 hours ago, LTR said:

Bought my first boat and have been struggling with the smell and some mold. I put the boat in heated storage for the winter and I want to attack this odor. 

Wood - hitting it with a mix of water and vinegar followed by lemon oil. 

Liner - Going to use soft scrub with bleach followed by a water rinse. 

Cleaning the bilge - degreaser etc. Any suggestions welcome. 

Thinking about the Starbrite bomb as well. 

Any other ideas or suggestions I should take into consideration? I have five months to work on this project. 

Side note, Anchor locker is also getting cleaned, just curious how much that would affect the cabin since it's a completely separate compartment. 

Thanks in advance-

 

 

 

 

2 hints:

Tee tree oil, $$$ at the boat store, $ at Trader Joe's.

Industrial type ozone generator.

 

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Nearly 20 years ago I installed an ozone generator in a manufacturing setting. At about the same time, our family had an ozone machine as an air purifier in the small cottage we lived in.  Removed both. At work it ate rubber fittings, and at home we discovered it aggravated rather than lowered asthma. IMO for most applications it's a solution looking for an application.  I'd use about anything else.

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27 minutes ago, Israel Hands said:

Nearly 20 years ago I installed an ozone generator in a manufacturing setting. At about the same time, our family had an ozone machine as an air purifier in the small cottage we lived in.  Removed both. At work it ate rubber fittings, and at home we discovered it aggravated rather than lowered asthma. IMO for most applications it's a solution looking for an application.  I'd use about anything else.

Mine has a timer and only runs 45 minutes max. Humans or pets can't be there when it is on. It is not for continuous use, but works great for knocking down mold and organic odors of all kinds. I originally got it after a hurricane to de-stink a flooded basement.

 

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7 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Mine has a timer and only runs 45 minutes max. Humans or pets can't be there when it is on. It is not for continuous use, but works great for knocking down mold and organic odors of all kinds. I originally got it after a hurricane to de-stink a flooded basement.

 

Just to clarify, you use yours on your boat? 

 

I'm going to keep this option in my back pocket as a last resort. Basically, I have five months to attack this issue. Luckily for me, I find cleaning certain things therapeutic. 

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1 hour ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Tee tree oil, $$$ at the boat store, $ at Trader Joe's.

I used Kanberra Gel and it's good stuff. It has tea tree oil.

https://kanberragel.com/collections/our-products/products/tea-tree-air-purifier-kanberra-gel

Also available at Jeff Bezos's general store.

 

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Just now, LTR said:

Just to clarify, you use yours on your boat? 

 

I'm going to keep this option in my back pocket as a last resort. Basically, I have five months to attack this issue. Luckily for me, I find cleaning certain things therapeutic. 

I have used it on the boat. You do NOT want one that just runs all the time, it will eventually eat up anything rubber. What you do is run it with the boat closed up for the length of the timer, usually about an hour max. Then wait another hour before coming back. Really. Don't ask how I know :rolleyes:

That should kill of organic odors and mildew to a large extent. Then get to cleaning and finding out how to keep them from coming back. This will do nothing at all for gasoline or diesel odors though, so you need something else for that.

Then get the tee tree oil. You can wipe down various things with it or pour it into a cup and let it sit and evaporate. The smell is pleasant and it also has antibacterial properties.

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2 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Then get the tee tree oil. You can wipe down various things with it or pour it into a cup and let it sit and evaporate. The smell is pleasant and it also has antibacterial properties.

The Kanberra Gel thingy does the evaporation bit.

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That is the exact one that I have.

 

Come to think of it, there is also a small ozone generator in the backyard hot tub.  It's supposed to turn off when people get in but I don't recall the exact timing.   Obviously doesn't harm the fiberglass, pumps, or hoses, but that's a much lower concentration of ozone.  Which I don't recall at the moment.  

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18 hours ago, Sail4beer said:

The best cure is to replace all sanitation hoses. They can hold a lifetime of “memories”.

Yes and no.

Permeated hose is actually a rare problem IMHO, because "that smell" did not go away after replacing hoses. Wrap a towel around the suspected hose, concentrating on low spots in the hose run where liquid will settle and rest. Pour almost-boiling water on the towel, let stand. After it cools, pull the towel off and see if has acquired the smell.

The flip side of this, any hose including the most expensive and impermeable will become permeated if sewage is let to stand in low spots along the hose run.

Usually, the culprit is stagnant sea water in the bowl and bacterial scunge growing in impossible to reach corners around the bilge. This produces an odor that most people mistake for sewage.

Bleach can do a lot of damage, vinegar kills stinky fugg bacteria and mold & mildew. I use a garden sprayer with a long flex nozzle to reach down into the bilge and spray upwards & sideways into all possible nooks, crannies, crevices.

Simple Green is a great cleaner too.

Replacing old hoses is a good exercise in building up a reserve of good karma.

FB- Doug

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I’m another fan of the ozone generator. I use mine in my car and apartment on a fairly regular basis (once every few weeks). I’ve got an old, sick dog, and some unpleasant smells are inevitable. The ozone wipes them out in nothing flat. Too be fair, I move my sails, life jackets, foulies, and life raft to a sealed off room when I do the ozone treatments. I can’t see how a once a year treatment on a boat would harm anything. 

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On 11/2/2021 at 4:16 PM, SloopJonB said:

What is the smell?

Head odors?

Engine odors?

Bilge odors?

Mould odors?

What's the boat? How old?

Could be permeated hoses.

Take the cushions home & see if they stink there.

Use this stuff - it's great and before you say it, it is not just spray bleach. I've been using it for several years and it's the best green slime (mould) killer I've found.

All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach | Clorox®

Sloop is right...this shit's the bomb!

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17 hours ago, freewheelin said:

Someone explained to me that most heads have decades (my boat is old) of guys missing the toilet, splashing, etc soaked into the hardwood

That sounds horribly true :(

Most men won't sit down to piss, even if the toilet is moving around in the waves.  So basically every woman who goes to use a marine toilet is sitting beside walls soaked with years or decades of male urine.  YUKK

C'mon boys.  Sit down to pee if you use the heads ... or else go outside and pee over the rail.

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5 minutes ago, TwoLegged said:

... or else go outside and pee over the rail.

I remember reading in some English periodical (Yachting Monthly?) that a study of pleasure boat drownings determined that ~30% of the male victims recovered had their flies un-zipped. :o (how's that for a scholarly citation - must be true). No one pees over the rail on my boat. I keep a jug at hand when I'm sailing by myself.

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26 minutes ago, Jim in Halifax said:

I remember reading in some English periodical (Yachting Monthly?) that a study of pleasure boat drownings determined that ~30% of the male victims recovered had their flies un-zipped. :o (how's that for a scholarly citation - must be true). No one pees over the rail on my boat. I keep a jug at hand when I'm sailing by myself.

I read something similar, Jim, and I can believe it.    I had that in my mind when i wrote, and thought of adding some addendum along the lines of "or piss into a bottle" ... but I have to admit that when I was writing I wasn't feeling very charitable towards those who otherwise use their body's external plumbing to spray the woodwork.

The best boats for disposal of male micturate are those with a transom-hung rudder and a transom with locker in front of it.  That allows safe peeing over the rail, with no risk of dropped jugs.   (I have painful memories of dinghy sailing with boys who pissed into the wee plastic bailer, and then dropped it).

Boys: just stand astride the tiller, lock an arm around the backstay and then both hands can be used to aim the hose.  It's out of the line of sight of the other crew, who have no way of seeing the wee hose even if they do glance astern.    #HowToTrainboysToBeCivilisedOnBoats

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My Dad always took the backstay approach after a race. During a race, we had a semi rusty coffee can that he would use, but he would kneel in the cockpit for some reason…strange method, but dry cockpit sole when he was done. Me, I have a gallon Poland Spring bottle for emergency use. It has a large enough lip to accommodate the tip, so everything stays dry. If no one is around I use a side shroud and hips forward! 
 

We had a lady that sailed with us on a J/24. When it was time for her to go, we’d be hiking and all of a sudden, her pants are waaayy down and she’d let loose over the side-no wipe-and back to hiking. I was the forward crew so I never got splashed

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Peeing off the rail at night at anchor is a guilty pleasure. 

 

Under sail you need to clipped in and whoever designed my stern arch - genius - it is the perfect shape to lean securely against and relax without fear of backsplash...just dream of white vitreous. 

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In rough deliveries I've told the (male) crew to just pee in the cockpit (aim for the drains) 'cause there was enuff water sluicing down the decks to flush it all away on the next wave. Every one's already wearing foulie pants, so no chance of cross-contamination.

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11 hours ago, Jim in Halifax said:

I remember reading in some English periodical (Yachting Monthly?) that a study of pleasure boat drownings determined that ~30% of the male victims recovered had their flies un-zipped. :o (how's that for a scholarly citation - must be true). No one pees over the rail on my boat. I keep a jug at hand when I'm sailing by myself.

I've seen stats way higher than that for all male drownings - more like 60% have their zippers down.

Cross indexing it with blood alcohol would be interesting.

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My shrouds are too far inboard to be of any use and I have a reverse transom so that's not so great. Luckily, I also have a head with fiberglass around the toilet so it's an easy (and frequent) cleaning job.

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Seal that wood with epoxy....

Then you can matte varnish over it and nothing will soak in, and the smells will stay in. 

Mines head is all painted surface, so I installed a handheld shower and wash everything down at the end of the day.

And do a final flush of fresh water into the bowl- as dead salt water stuff is usually what people think of as head-odor.

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  • 1 month later...

Cheap.

Natural.

Wont damage surfaces.

Environmentally friendly.

And it works.

Concentrated Vanilla extract has an amazing ability to absorb odours and leave a subtle, pleasant smell. A teaspoon or two in a 9 litre  bucket of clean water and usa damp cloth to wipe down all the surfaces.

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On 11/4/2021 at 11:56 PM, Elegua said:

Peeing off the rail at night at anchor is a guilty pleasure. 

Totally agree looking at the stars is awesome, I did that a couple of years ago in Nara inlet in the Whitsundays, looked down and it was all iridescent where it splashed, then looked and I could see the iridescent shape of huge fish swimming under the boat, absolutely breathtaking, in the morning I watched a guy on a SUP hooking the fish on his fishing Rod and getting towed all over the inlet

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 11/2/2021 at 6:16 PM, SloopJonB said:

What is the smell?

Head odors?

Engine odors?

Bilge odors?

Mould odors?

What's the boat? How old?

Could be permeated hoses.

Take the cushions home & see if they stink there.

Use this stuff - it's great and before you say it, it is not just spray bleach. I've been using it for several years and it's the best green slime (mould) killer I've found.

All Purpose Cleaner with Bleach | Clorox®

This stuff is incredible. Great recommendation, thanks. 

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