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:
Publish date:
Updated on

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

01-Lead-show

France’s Annual Multihull Show

If a boat show could be described as intimate, the annual Salon International du Multicoque in La Grande Motte, on France’s Mediterranean coast, is it. Held in the latter part of April, the multihulls-only in-water show is a boon for builders, because the people who attend come ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Check the waypoint  Most errors with GPS and paper chart navigation are caused by the operator punching in the wrong numbers or plotting the lat/long incorrectly. The surest way to double-check a ...read more

Furlex-Electric

Gear: Seldén’s Furlex Electric

Furl Power Seldén’s Furlex Electric offers an easy path into the world of sweat-free headsail furling. The compact unit can be retrofitted to an existing manual Furlex unit or installed as a replacement for whatever you’ve got now. Its DC-DC converter accepts your boat’s 12V or ...read more

11_DSC8423Tom-Zydler

Cruising: Nova Scotia

There’s a unique cruising ground that combines access to urban locations with easy escapes to wilderness and nature. Its native people may be the friendliest on the east coast of North America. Its coastline runs 250 nautical miles in a straight line, but that should be ...read more

01-LEAD-shutterstock_727849660

Boat Monitoring System

Boat Oversight In a world where you can track your friends’ locations in real time and stream yourself live on the internet, it should come as no surprise that you can also keep a close eye on your boat from the comfort of home. In fact, not only is there a plethora of options ...read more

pilot_saloon_42-_en_navigation_11

Boat Review: Wauquiez Pilot Saloon 42

Old salts grouse about modern aesthetics. It’s just what they do, and the hard lines and spartan interiors of today’s production boats give them many reasons to complain. French builder Wauquiez, however, seems to consistently be able to marry contemporary elements with ...read more