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Old 20-07-2017, 15:17   #1
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Smelly Boat

I wasn't sure where to post this, so I'm going to try here first.

We sailed/motored our 1985 36' Hunter from Ft Pierce to Jupiter. Upon getting into our home marina, we buttoned up the boat and didn't return for 3 days. When we got back on the boat today to check some of the major systems, the boat just STINKS. It's not the head. It smells like diesel. It smells like every other boat we went to look at. How do I get rid of that smell?! It makes my eyes burn and I stink!
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Old 20-07-2017, 15:27   #2
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Re: Smelly Boat

If it's Diesel, find the leak.
My bet is on old fuel lines
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Old 20-07-2017, 16:04   #3
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Re: Smelly Boat

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If it's Diesel, find the leak.
My bet is on old fuel lines


Hmmm... wouldn't the survey have noted a leak like that? Are fuel lines an easy replacement?
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Old 20-07-2017, 16:12   #4
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Re: Smelly Boat

I've found leaks are easiest to spot if I search in the dark and use a powerful flashlight. Liquid drops on hoses and thngs pop more to my eye this way.

I would start at the deck fill and follow my nose... tracing the fuel path all the way back to the motor.
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Old 20-07-2017, 16:13   #5
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Re: Smelly Boat

Oh, and find it fast if possible over time that smell gets into the cushions I believe and is tough to get out
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Old 20-07-2017, 16:16   #6
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Re: Smelly Boat

First, assume a survey is a cursory look. Also, any leak could have started under way. If diesel smell is that intense then you have a leak. Check your bilge for oily water... the diesel floats on top. Look under the engine, look at fuel lines. Get familiar and do this often just because. Touch things so you know if it's wet.
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Old 20-07-2017, 16:25   #7
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Re: Smelly Boat

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
First, assume a survey is a cursory look. Also, any leak could have started under way. If diesel smell is that intense then you have a leak. Check your bilge for oily water... the diesel floats on top. Look under the engine, look at fuel lines. Get familiar and do this often just because. Touch things so you know if it's wet.
+1.
Also make sure that the boat is well ventilated when you are absent, those solar powered vent fans, although of variable quality, can work wonders.
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Old 20-07-2017, 16:45   #8
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Re: Smelly Boat

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+1.

Also make sure that the boat is well ventilated when you are absent, those solar powered vent fans, although of variable quality, can work wonders.


And additional 12v internal fans. Keeping the air moving is one key to a fresh smelling boat.

Also keep the drip tray under your engine spotless. Stop by an auto parts store for absorbent pads. These will help you detect a class 3 leak in that area. Keeping the engine area clean makes it easier to spot a problem.Click image for larger version

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Old 20-07-2017, 16:52   #9
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Re: Smelly Boat

Clean the bilge. Several times. Clean the engine. Yes, several times. Now put lots of pads down and watch them. You are looking for where the diesel might be leaking. Check all the fuel lines - tighten them (don't over tighten). The good news is that there are a limited number of ways that diesel can leak. Keep after it, and you will solve this problem. By the way, I speak from experience on this particular issue.
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Old 20-07-2017, 17:43   #10
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Re: Smelly Boat

Is there diesel in the bilge ? Any leakage SHOULD find it's way to the low point, the bilge, it'll stink and make a "sheen" on any water in there, it'll feel greasy also.
Fuel filters are a logical place to check first, lots of leak potential at gaskets etc. and it's probably the only part of fuel system someone has touched recently.
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Old 20-07-2017, 17:53   #11
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Re: Smelly Boat

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Originally Posted by SecondBase View Post
And additional 12v internal fans. Keeping the air moving is one key to a fresh smelling boat.

Also keep the drip tray under your engine spotless. Stop by an auto parts store for absorbent pads. These will help you detect a class 3 leak in that area. Keeping the engine area clean makes it easier to spot a problem.Attachment 152344


We had the stuffing box repacked prior to us purchasing the boat. It drips in the engine compartment like once every 10 seconds or so. We've been told it's supposed to drip. Hubs first Hunter did the same thing. I can't keep the area dry. Thoughts?
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Old 20-07-2017, 17:54   #12
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Re: Smelly Boat

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Originally Posted by flblowfish View Post
I wasn't sure where to post this, so I'm going to try here first.

We sailed/motored our 1985 36' Hunter from Ft Pierce to Jupiter. Upon getting into our home marina, we buttoned up the boat and didn't return for 3 days. When we got back on the boat today to check some of the major systems, the boat just STINKS. It's not the head. It smells like diesel. It smells like every other boat we went to look at. How do I get rid of that smell?! It makes my eyes burn and I stink!
What did you mean by the bolded text? It is unlikely that all the boats you looked at had a strong diesel smell to a normal nose. Maybe yours is particularly sensitive?
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Old 20-07-2017, 18:03   #13
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Smelly Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by flblowfish View Post
We had the stuffing box repacked prior to us purchasing the boat. It drips in the engine compartment like once every 10 seconds or so. We've been told it's supposed to drip. Hubs first Hunter did the same thing. I can't keep the area dry. Thoughts?


Your right, it's supposed to drip, has to as water is the lubricant.
You can haul the boat and install a dripless, but with haul fees and all it may be close to a grand to fix something that really isn't broken, and then as you have a keel stepped mast I believe some rain water will find its way to the bilge anyway.
You can buy a tube, looks sort of like a sock stuffed with rags that will float in that water and magically only absorb oily substances and not water, then in a couple of years remove it and put another down there.

Myself I will clean my bilge every so often and flush it out with fresh water, I'm not cleaning out any oil as I have no oil leaks, just cleaning out old stagnant water and dust etc.
I put pine sol down there as long ago I guess I leaned to associate that smell with clean, so a slight pine sol smell is not bad to me. You may not like pine sol of course
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Old 20-07-2017, 18:07   #14
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Re: Smelly Boat

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
What did you mean by the bolded text? It is unlikely that all the boats you looked at had a strong diesel smell to a normal nose. Maybe yours is particularly sensitive?


Nope... it was diesel. Looked at Morgan down in the Keys that stunk so bad I gagged. Told the boatyard and they sent guys over immediately. I have found that most older sailboats have a pretty distinct old diesel smell.
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Old 20-07-2017, 18:11   #15
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Re: Smelly Boat

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Your right, it's supposed to drip, has to as water is the lubricant.
You can haul the boat and install a dripless, but with haul fees and all it may be close to a grand to fix something that really isn't broken, and then as you have a keel stepped mast I believe some rain water will find its way to the bilge anyway.
You can buy a tube, looks sort of like a sock stuffed with rags that will float in that water and magically only absorb oily substances and not water, then in a couple of years remove it and put another down there.

Myself I will clean my bilge every so often and flush it out with fresh water, I'm not cleaning out any oil as I have no oil leaks, just cleaning out old stagnant water and dust etc.
I put pine sol down there as long ago I guess I leaned to associate that smell with clean, so a slight pine sol smell is not bad to me. You may not like pine sol of course


Ok, so the dripping is normal. DH says the drain from engine compartment is plugged; on purpose. Better to open it up and let it drain to bilge area? I know it would be wayyyy easier to clean out. The bilge is pretty dry; just some clear water and not much. I will definitely add something down there. Any concern that something added could clog the bilge pump?
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