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Old 22-09-2017, 19:57   #1
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White-collar work from an old boat

Hi all,

It looks like I will be living aboard and working from the boat soon. One of the things that has me stumped is how to manage the clothing demands of white-collar office work.

I tend to work in fairly informal offices, no ties or suits, but I can't go into an office smelling of old-boat. Later I will be a school teacher in the classroom and clearly smelling faintly of mildew and diesel is NOT going to help.

Aside from slowing getting the boat to smell fresher , does anyone have any tips on keeping office worker clothes on board in a state that they can be worn without freaking out fellow workers? The car is parked reasonably near by, in a gated car park where there is also a shower block and toilets. So I guess I could always get changed in the change rooms at the car park, but I figure there might be a better way.

Any ideas or tricks you'd like to share?

FWIW, the smells on the boat are of the old diesel, mildew variety. The head is fine. It looks like the Peggy Hall Boat Odors book focuses mainly on head odors, so if anyone is aware of any other go-to resources for getting a boat smelling fresh I would be interested in recommendations.


Matt
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Old 22-09-2017, 20:07   #2
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

have you scrubbed your bilges and lockers and overhead?
sounds like you need to do that. if there are storage lockers available, rent one., keep work clothing there.
1990-2005 i worked while living on board, critical care and emergency and pacu nursing. smelling like mildew and mold would have killed some of my patients, and i made sure my stuff was good.
you will want to clean a fg boat with vinegar everywhere except bilges. there is a bilge soap that works nicely in bilges with brush and elbow grease, and then rinse with vinegar to make sure no mold, and if you are blessed with a dry bilge, dry it,. also. if you are dry bilge fortunate, paint the sucker.
if you have wood interior use orange oil to clean and treat that wood. vinegar wont hurt it either, followed by orange oil.
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Old 22-09-2017, 20:40   #3
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White-collar work from an old boat

I keep my work clothes in zip lock bags and I get them dry cleaned about once every other month. Honestly, itís not been much of an issue.

-Some spritz with febreeze and you are fine.
-The important part is to keep the boat dry and if possible keep it aired out.
-We spray KO in the bilges and that helps a lot.
-We put fabric softener sheets in the bag with the clothes.
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Old 22-09-2017, 21:30   #4
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

A pair of solar powered mushroom ventilators (with built in batteries 4 night time) do wonders for airing out smells, as well as dampness. When I put the 1st on in my 33' boat one fall, it immediately felt 10 deg F warmer due to everything below being drier. Thus when my wallet was ready I added a 2nd one, along with 2 cowl vents. Never had a problem with mold or condensation, & the boat was uninsulated but for the deck.
Note that I didn't use dorade boxes for any of the above, as I wanted the maximum airflow available. So I just put the deck plates in the holes when going sailing.


EDIT: Insulation is one of the key factors in preventing mold, as it stops condensation from forming, even when living in quite small boats. And good dry heat, such as from a Refleks diesel heater is good for driving away moisture too. Get a thermally powered fan to place atop it to circulate the warm air for free. The rising warm air from the heater causes the blades to spin.
That, & make hatch covers out of canvas or sail cloth which allow you to keep your hatches open or cracked when it's raining. And have a dedicated spot for wet gear to dry out.

Another inexpensive trick is to cedar line your closet, & also put cedar pieces into all of your other clothes storage spaces. And you needn't fully line a closet. I just did the side of the closet formed by the hull. Plus you can saw decorative items out of cedar using a band saw or jigsaw. For some reason ducks seem popular. And then you hang or place them wherever you need some nice aromatics. Lightly sanding the cedar from time to time to reinvigorate it's scent emissive properties.

I know plenty of liveaboards who keep their work clothes in their cars, or a storage locker near the marina showers. You can also rent locker space at a classy (non-smelly) health club, & use their showers, etc. Whether you exercise there or not. Usually you can negotiate for prices on various privledges there.

I've yet to run across a workplace where there isn't somewhere you can store a few days worth of clothes. And I've always kept a few changes of things at work; in case of a last minute date or party invite, or spills on clothing, etc. And at a school there's bound to be space to store things, & probably a shower too. You may have to negotiate for it, or get creative, but... Even if you have to spring for a fiberglass stall yourself, or split the cost with some other teachers, it's possible. Most of the plumbing's already there.

Some folks even lobby for alocating space for a shower & some lockers at work, based on the premise that more folks will ride bicycles to work, or excercise at lunch or after work. And that better employee health benefits the company.
Drag your boss or a friend with you on regular lunchtime walks, or to the pool for a month "to lose 5lbs", & when they do, & their energy level & mood is better, you've now got another advocate...

Heck, you can even work out a deal with local dry cleaners for cleaning & storing some of your clothes, if their hours match yours.

Oh, & zeehag's tips about cleaning the boat are spot on. Also some folks prefer Lemon Oil, Tea Tree Oil, or even Murphy's Oil Soap. And Simple Green is often good for bilges & low lying lockers. But once the boat's good & clean, with a healthy air flow, you shouldn't have much problem. Knock on wood.

Also, it pays to well insulate & seal the engine compartment too, to aid in this. Not that with proper care things in there should get overly pungent. Though sometimes it takes some experimenting to find an air filter which prevents any back flow/leakage of small amounts of diesel "mist". Otherwise, you can try the cedar trick with them too. Including things like cedar shavings in very permeable cloth bags. Or maybe activated charcoal? That or a room air filter with same.
No one thing cures it all, but it is possible.
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Old 22-09-2017, 21:53   #5
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

You have to get rid of the smell first, there is no way around that. On my boat, I fixed the head hoses, then eliminated leaks to the bilge (fridge, a few other places) so no it is dry, used vinegar and bleach where ever I could reach, then used an ozone generator (run it every 2-3 months).

Another issue that needs to be addressed is dust inside the boat (it just seems to accumulate in Los Angeles) and humidity. I use a desiccant wheel dehumidifier that is nearly silent with a carbon filter. Once I put in the filter the boat is less dusty and smells better. You can do even better with a Hepa filter but that requires a dedicated, high suction fan. Try to keep the boat below 60% humidity most of the time.

Lastly, ask someone else to test your boat for smell (kids are great). Boaters typically get used to the smell of the own boat and do not notice the subtle variations.
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Old 23-09-2017, 01:04   #6
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by zboss View Post
I keep my work clothes in zip lock bags and I get them dry cleaned about once every other month. Honestly, itís not been much of an issue.

-Some spritz with febreeze and you are fine.
-The important part is to keep the boat dry and if possible keep it aired out.
-We spray KO in the bilges and that helps a lot.
-We put fabric softener sheets in the bag with the clothes.
Zboss, sounds like you have a good system. Would you please elaborate on the zip lock bags for me? Roughly how large are the bags you use?

Matt
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Old 23-09-2017, 01:11   #7
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

Hey all, some helpful suggestions, thank you.

Please be assured, I am tackling the smell issue on many fronts, and there are some ideas here that will certainly help. I was assuming I would buy Peg Hall's book, but as I mentioned, it all seems to be about head smells and I don't have that problem (yet).

The boat does not smell too bad, but I notice it when I come back to the house after a few days on board, and open my clothes bag to unpack. Just a faint hint of chateau-de-boat. I figure it would be noticeable in an office or classroom.

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Old 23-09-2017, 01:32   #8
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

I lived on my boat off and on for many years, and most of these I had positions that required professional attire.
All the above replies give correct information, in particular regarding this: Do no use your own senses to check the smells or freshness, invite others!
If your boat is on a mooring/at anchor you have the advantage that you can leave the companionway open.
I have used several of the above suggestions: shower and change at work, used the car, parked next to the shower block, as wardrobe etc.
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Old 23-09-2017, 01:36   #9
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

A friend suggested I keep my clothes in a cheap van in the car park which I thought was a clever idea.
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Old 23-09-2017, 01:39   #10
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by HankOnthewater View Post
..., in particular regarding this: Do no use your own senses to check the smells or freshness, invite others!


Yes, I am intrigued by the way we stop smelling things after a short period of time of constant exposure. I always feel the boat smells reasonably good and I am therefore quite shocked that I can smell the boat on my clothes later at home.
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Old 23-09-2017, 04:44   #11
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

If you restore the interior, the smell will go.

Get the boat clean, remove stuff that is moist / covered in mold, repaint the walls, etc. She will smell nice and fresh and so will you.

Avoid refreshers and burning sticks. These tend to make the odd smell even oddier.

When I step ashore, I smell Armani cologne. My shirt is as perfect as it was when I worked for the banking industry. My bow tie is just as perfectly tied, just a bit more fancy and the knot does not seem to strangle me anymore. My watch is discrete and expensive, my tools are top quality and perfectly clean ...

Look, listen and learn!

People I work for have no idea I live in a boat 26x9'. !!!

Cheers,
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Old 23-09-2017, 04:51   #12
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

You wear a bow tie?!
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Old 23-09-2017, 05:02   #13
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by GILow View Post
Zboss, sounds like you have a good system. Would you please elaborate on the zip lock bags for me? Roughly how large are the bags you use?
They sell storage-sized zip-lock bags. The package shows blankets and basketballs in them, to give you an idea how big. Toss in a dryer sheet.

Another source of smells on board is cooking. A lot depends on how, what and where you cook, but if you fry up a burger and onion on the galley stove for dinner, it'll linger for a while.
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Old 23-09-2017, 05:28   #14
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

Thank you. I will look for those bags at KMart.

And I hear you on the cooking thing. There are a LOT of things I won't cook in the boat, but the BBQ on the aft rail helps when the weather makes its use practical.
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Old 23-09-2017, 13:29   #15
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Re: White-collar work from an old boat

If you have shore power a dehumidifier will help eliminate mold. Just living on a boat - cooking showering washing dishes and BREATHING add a lot of humidity.
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