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Old 03-12-2010, 13:09   #1
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Boat Smells like Cat Urine

Embarrassing topic, but we just got back to our Tayana 42' after about 3 weeks away. The second I opened up the companion way I started to smell an odor that I can only relate to as cat urine. We do not have cats.

The smell seems to be coming out of the bilge area, but we can't trace it down. We washed down as much as we could under the floor boards today (the parts we could get to). We couldn't really find anything that would make that smell. I thought at first an animal got in through our cowl vents and died somewhere, and that may be possible, but we couldn't find it anywhere. We have not cleaned out the bilge for quite some time, and I am wondering if the area at the bottom of our bilge that had about a couple of inches of water in it when we got back somehow hit some chemical breaking point and turned into that smell.

We saw a cat on the boat next to us when we got back, but I really doubt it could have gotten inside our boat. I doubt marking it's spot on top of our boat would make the whole inside smell.

Any ideas where that type of smell might come from?
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Old 03-12-2010, 13:20   #2
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Is there any wet plywood down there? Subfloor maybe?
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Old 03-12-2010, 13:26   #3
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G'Day all,

HEre's a grim thought for you: I suppose that the smell could come from mouse urine (little buggers do stink). Mice can get in through impossibly small holes. If this is the case, you may actually NEED a cat. A hungry cat!

Good luck with your interesting quest, mate.

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Old 03-12-2010, 13:42   #4
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Thanks for the responses. I don't think we have wet plywood anywhere but there are definitely areas we can't really get to. I think almost everything down there is thick fiberglass. I am guessing the smell of wet plywood is similar then, so I will check that closer.

As for the mouse, I guess we should put a couple of mouse traps out just in case it is that. We checked our areas that have food and did not see any specific holes.

Both are possibilities, but I think we have some type of problem other than the bilge water since I don’t think that was the smell.
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Old 03-12-2010, 13:57   #5
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You stated that there is thick fiberglass down there. Insulating fiberglass ( mainly pink stuff) smells like two day old urine, especially when wet!
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Old 03-12-2010, 14:19   #6
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It smells like it's in the bilge -- my first guess is that it's in the bilge.

I've been astounded by the variety of smells that can come from stale bilge water - especially when the water is mostly fresh (as from rain seepage). Perhaps this is the primordial stew where life originated

I would turn off the bilge pump and put a fresh water hose in the bilge. Fill it quite high. Add a cup of bleach. Let sit a few hours and then pump out. Flush with clear water several times.

Note - be very careful with even dilute bleach in a closed space like a bilge. Breathing concentrated fumes can cause permanent lung scarring.

After cleaning, PureAyre is the best odor killer I've found by far.

When leaving the boat for several weeks, I put a cap full of bleach in the bilge.

Carl
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Old 03-12-2010, 14:24   #7
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USE A GOOOD BILGE CLEANER . RINSE AND FOLLOW WITH NATURE'S MIRACLE. STUFF IS GREAT AT GETTING RID OF ODORS.
NATURES MIRACLE IS FINDABLE AT PET STORES..PETCO, PETSMART. ETC--PLEASE PARDON CAPS==STOOPIT MACHINE HAS A MIND OF ITS OWN. has nothing to do withmy gross inability to typo.....

dont use bleach. it will make a bad gas you do not want to be near.does not agree with any kind of boat cleaners.... doesnt help stink-- i have a male cat-- i know what works on that smell....even if not from kats..LOL
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Old 03-12-2010, 14:26   #8
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I hate to even think about it, but have you checked your holding tanks and all related fittings for any signs of seepage?
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Old 03-12-2010, 14:38   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harryrezz View Post
I hate to even think about it, but have you checked your holding tanks and all related fittings for any signs of seepage?
another good reason for bilge cleaner then natures miracle. the enzymes in that stuff make the odors disappear so you can trace back to find where the smell is coming from is you have a leak....
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Old 03-12-2010, 14:46   #10
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Thanks for all of the advice! I don't think it is the pink stuff, I have not seen that anywhere on my boat.

I did check the holding tank areas and there was nothing was no seepage anywhere.

I guess we will also try letting the bilge sit in some type of cleaning detergent (nature's miracle or bleach if we are careful).

We will see how it smells tonight. We got back to the boat late last night and we smelled it every time we woke up... I don't think my clothes smell yet...
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Old 03-12-2010, 14:46   #11
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Check out

spotshot.com

Works great for dog and cat urine.Removes stain and odour completely.Just trained a puppy and wouldn't be without it.
Also works for food stains on clothing.I seem to have a lot of those lately.............

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Old 03-12-2010, 14:57   #12
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I have a similar issue when I have left my boat for a few weeks. I always leave the bilge dry so I can ascertain how much water gets in from leakage in rainstorms etc so I know its not that. Turns out to be the head, even though I clean everything, pump out and put a special head sweet smelling product in and flush to as near dry in the bowl as possible, after a few weeks it smells mildly (but noticeably) of pee throughout the boat.
Open hatches, flush with water, problem gone.

In a nutshell, if it smells like pee, its probably pee. I don't see it as a problem or precursor to something worse, it just is what it is.
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Old 03-12-2010, 15:20   #13
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We normally leave the sink hull valve drain in the head closed. And normally only use the boat on the weekends.

For a couple of weeks we came to the boat and it smelled like pee. I thought it was the head hoses and planned to replace.

But found out that there was water in the sink drain line that had been in there a while and that was the smell. A flushing fixed it and now we flush that line regularly. So I can believe that bilge water could be the cause and would wash down again with maybe a mild bleach or peroxide mix.

So; just because it smells like pee it isn't necessary pee! In this case it probably isn't.
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Old 03-12-2010, 15:26   #14
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If it's pee, then an enzyme odor killer like Natures Miracle or PureAyre is your choice. I'm guessing that it's not pee but algae that's growing in an inaccessible corner of the bilge from fresh water that sat. You need to first kill it -- then followup with an odor killer.

It doesn't take much bleach to kill algae and there's no gas danger at these low levels. Otherwise you couldn't swim in a chlorine treated pool. Put plenty of water in the bilge first. If a cup of bleach worries you, then just use a few capfuls.

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Old 03-12-2010, 16:00   #15
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We had a mouse in our boat one winter. He chewed up a roll of paper towels, and chewed a big hole in knit watch cap. Made himself a comfy little nest on a shelf. But we didn't smell him -- he (or she) probably didn't have enough time to really pee a lot. I think if you had a mouse producing that strong a urine smell, you would see other signs of its existence in there.
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