Skip to main content

Scruffy Smells

Cat Fraser of Colchester, Vermont, asks:"How do I get rid of what I call 'boat smell?' I’ve tried baking soda, a dish of vinegar and many commercial products. Somebody told me that coffee grounds are the way to go. A friend of mine made her husband change to stainless steel water tanks, but that’s not an option here." Don Casey replies:To
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Cat Fraser of Colchester, Vermont, asks:

"How do I get rid of what I call 'boat smell?' I’ve tried baking soda, a dish of vinegar and many commercial products. Somebody told me that coffee grounds are the way to go. A friend of mine made her husband change to stainless steel water tanks, but that’s not an option here."

Don Casey replies:

To solve this problem, you have to find the source of the smell. Very often it is the toilet plumbing. A toilet hose is supposed to pass effluent, but if there is a horizontal run, it often winds up holding some waste onboard. Eventually the odor will permeate the hose wall and when that happens the whole boat will stink.

To test your hoses, put a clean rag in boiling water, then put on a pair of rubber gloves and wring most of the water from the rag. Vigorously wipe down all the hoses running from the toilet and holding tank then quickly sniff the rag. If it has picked up any odor you should replace all the hoses: the best odor-resistant hose is SeaLand’s OdorSafe (sealandsanitation.com). You can also use a hot rag to test the status of the holding tank’s permeability.

There’s a chance the smell is coming from the toilet’s fill water, because when critters die in the inlet hose they will make the toilet stink when it’s flushed. Adding chlorine bleach into the fill line and letting it sit for a few minutes should cure that problem—until more decaying matter accumulates. The spray deodorizer Febreze (febreze.com) is good at eliminating general odors.

Regular cleaning and deodorizing of specific areas in the boat is always a good idea, but I might also suggest renting or buying a small ozone generator. After you have run it for a couple of hours aboard the closed boat, the results will astound you.

Related

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more

bermuda

How to Spectate on the Newport Bermuda

The biannual Newport Bermuda Race starts on Friday with the first warning signal at 1 pm. Whether you’re tracking a loved one’s progress or just spectating an event that draws pros and weekend warriors alike, there are plenty of ways to stay up to watch. The starting line will ...read more

03-Hyeres-220429_SOF2022_SAILINGENERGY_1933_3184-copy

US Sailing Strikes Gold in Hyères

After being skunked or nearly skunked at multiple Olympiads, could the US Sailing Team (USST) now under the direction of Olympic veteran Paul Cayard, be finally turning it around? If its performance at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyères, France, where the team posted ...read more

P1480042

New York City’s Newest Fleet

120 children enrolled in Brooklyn Boatworks’ STEM and life skills-focused program launched their hand-built optimist prams on June 14 from Pier 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The launch is the culmination of years of student work, with boats in process before the pandemic caused the ...read more

AdobeStock_197518370

Charter: Off the Beaten Path

So, you like to charter in the Caribbean with its warm waters, swaying palm trees, steady trade winds and strong rum drinks. What’s not to love? It can be easy, though, to get stuck in a rut when chartering year after year in the same place. Sure, the British Virgin Islands are ...read more