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Old 18-01-2011, 20:55   #1
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Question Help with Boat Odor . . .

I purchased my 1971 Catalina 27 approximately six months ago. Once in her slip, I removed everything that was not screwed down and commenced a month long cleaning regiment with spray nine (West Marine recommended for disinfecting). I cleaned from top to bottom, including all compartments, but I cannot seem to get the musky smell out of the boat. It was recommended to me that I flush the septic with vinegar, which I did, but the smell seems to come back. I forgot to mention, all the covers were dry cleaned and new foam was installed.
Can anyone help? Please........ Wife refuses to stay on the boat, not a bad situation for most, but I get the guilt trip when I go at it alone.....

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Old 18-01-2011, 21:17   #2
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bi carbonate of soda,sprinkle it around,leave some in tubs works great and cheap

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Old 18-01-2011, 21:19   #3
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Originally Posted by victory598 View Post

.... but I cannot seem to get the musky smell out of the boat. It was recommended to me that I flush the septic with vinegar, which I did, but the smell seems to come back.
Musky/moldy? or typical marine sanitation device smell?

Since you mention what you have tried, I will assume the latter.

Try here.
Which Toilet to Buy ?

Not being one to ever have tolerated conventional MSDs (to start off with this very reason), I will include what others have said. The hoses get permeated with the offending smell. "Simply" changing them out is one answer.
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Old 18-01-2011, 21:20   #4
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Two ideas:

Rent an ozone machine designed for cleaning houses that have been flooded. Stick it in the sealed up boat for a couple of days. I have seen this do wonders. The negatives are that ozone in high concentrations is dangerous so air out the boat for 30 minutes after turning off the machine. Ozone also attacks rubber and some plastics (such as hoses). I was assured that this is only a problem with long term, repeated use - but there's the warning.

The second is PureAyre. A spray deodorizer that seems to do better on boat smells. Better, you can buy it with an electric "fogger" that will blast it into every crevice of the boat.

PureAyre Odor Eliminator - Marine

Which ever solution you try - after the treatment, use your nose to find still smelly things that will just smell the whole boat up again.

"Musky" usually means mold or mildew. Make another search through the lockers and bilges. Unscrew things. I once traced a nasty smell to mold and mildew on the underside of a shower sump. You couldn't see it until you unscrewed the sump from it's mounting board.

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Old 18-01-2011, 21:23   #5
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If the lines feeding your holding tank are old they get permeated. I pulled mine out all together and put a composting head in. New lines or many other fixes may be possible. I did a search using the custom google tool so you can see the results of many previous discussions if you like:
holding tank smell - Google Search
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Old 19-01-2011, 03:14   #6
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Since the prospect of septic smells has been well covered, I'll pitch in the major alternative that I am aware of: bilges can get funky. In your cleaning did you pull up the floor boards and scrub the bilge?
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Old 19-01-2011, 03:27   #7
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Is one area smellier than another? Can you close off sections and see where the smell is worst?
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Old 19-01-2011, 03:52   #8
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Check any mattresses for signs of previously being wet, during my search for the right boat I came across numerous instances where boats had had there hatches left open during storms and mattresses had been saturated and left to dry out on their own. In most cases the only way to deal with that is to get rid of the mattress and buy a new one.
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Old 19-01-2011, 04:10   #9
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We find that the water that stays in the bilge tends to get a bit
funky... so we add a bit of PineSol once a week or so... nice fresh
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Old 19-01-2011, 04:24   #10
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We seem to have a different odor that drives me crazy. It's the DDFS - Dreaded Diesel Fuel Smell....when the boat is closed up for a few weeks, it always smells "boaty" or just has those lingering traces of diesel fuel smell. We keep our engines super clean and have no leaks or traces of fuel anywhere. I really don't know that there's anything we can do to eliminate it. Our boat is in Florida where molds and mildew abounds...but that's under control. Just the darn DDFS.....

Our engines are under the two aft berths so that's probably part of the problem.

Any tricks for the DDFS?
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Old 19-01-2011, 04:34   #11
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I eliminated the same by sprinkling powdered tide under the engine onto the bilge surface. Cleaned it up once a month with a shop vac. Smell was gone after the first week.
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Old 19-01-2011, 05:19   #12
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Take this with as many grains of salt as you wish but its simple cheap and worth a try.. Get a kilo of strong onions, cut them in half and scatter them around various parts of the boat, close it up and leave it for a few days.... its a great trick for deodourising fridges half an onion solves it overnight...
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Old 19-01-2011, 05:38   #13
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It's quite simply the holding tank and hoses.
Remove them and disinfect or replace with new.

How about a plugged msd through hull air vent?
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Old 19-01-2011, 07:11   #14
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Hi all: lotsa good advice here,but I am appalled at the number of boaters who keep their craft sealed up .It's not just wooden boats that require excellent ventilation but all.Of course security is an issue that must be considered ;but if you seal up a boat in the hot summer sun with any moisture inside you are creating a steam bath resort for molds that you will never get rid of. Your boat may seem sparkly fresh for a season or two, but in the end the molds will throw a party.I'm extremely allergic (asthma) to mold and have never seen the boat that can keep some water from getting below even at the dock or in settled weather;just check your bilges,are they always bone dry?
Salt is a major contributer to this problem, it's hydroscopic and gets below from the ocean enviorment , not just spray but bathing suits (lines ,sails,equiptment) that are then worn below and sit on fabric coverd cushions which then will be a constant source of spores.
Are you sure your wife really likes sailing?
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Old 19-01-2011, 08:00   #15
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Thanks for all the replies.
Although my boat is closed up, I have one vent aft and a solar vent forward, in addition to a west marine air dryer dehumidifier that runs when I'm not on the boat. The bilge is dry and was scrubbed out as part of my major cleaning.

How do you go about checking if the vent is clogged?

As for the wife, we have owned our Catalina Victory 21 for almost six years and the family loves to sail on both boats, she just will not camp on the Catalina 27, summer is coming and our club has many events I'd like the family to participate in, so now is my time to get this odor issue eliminated.

Again, thanks for the replies, this was my first post on the site, it's nice to see a positive forum, instead of a bunch of idiots posting replies like, "maybe it's you that smells", etc...

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