Mildew, Moisture, and Winterization? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 2 Old 04-15-2007 Thread Starter
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Mildew, Moisture, and Winterization?

I am looking at by my first "large" boat. The boat I am interested in fits me (I am 6' 6") and appears to be in overall good condition and attractively priced..

I went to see it first with the listing broker, liked it and then went to see it again with my wife.

The second time that we looked at the boat, my wife noticed somethings that I did not see the first time that I looked at it.

1) Evidence of a 2' x 2' outline in the starboard side of the bow gelcoat above the waterline. Only way to see if it is at a off angle in low light. Looks like a patch or repair to me. Ran my hand over it and it was smooth, so if it was a patch/repair, whoever did it did a very nice job of blending it in.

2) Below deck, my wife noticed a very musty/humid smell that was strong. There were many Dehumidifier cans on out. I wasn't as taken aback by it and thought it was just becausue the boat has been sealed up for extended periods. Within the 10 minutes, my wife said she had to get out because hear eyes were watering and very itchy. She is particularily susceptible to mildew and mold and upon closer inspection of the walls near the Q-berth, the fabric may have been damp and starting to grow mildew. Or, there could have been other chemicals (cleaners/winterizing agents) that she could have been sensitive too. The boat has been out of the water all winter and it has been fairly wet over the past few weeks.

3) One of the bilge sections above the keel had very dark, almost blackwater in it. Maybe it was something else, but a week before we looked at another boat and it had clear water in it.

4) The listing broke made a comment about the owner may or may not have antifreezed something before the winter. (Engine?), but wasn't sure. I live in an area where it freezes during winter.

5) Finally, there was supposedly a cursory insepction on the hull with a moisture meter and it showed moister in the hull near the stuffing box. A small core was taken and supposedly no moistre was found in the lay-up cross-section.

Looking for opinions on whether or or not this boat is worth pursuing. The mildew thing, if it is, is a big issue for me with my wife's sensitivity. She has been on a lot of boats and never had this reaction before. Assuming it is, if is is surface only and cleans up with a weak bleach solution, that may be okay. However, I have heard from some people that if the mildew is on/in wall fabric, you'll never be able to be able to be rid of it unless you reomved the fabrice and backing foam, which can get expensive.

However, the other factors come into play also; especially if the boat wasn't properly winterized

I don't want to go ahead with a survery at a cost of $500 if it isn't worth it. The boat is well priced, but if I get it and then have to repair stuff becasue either the surveyor couldn't detect it or the mold thing is an issue, it will be a very expensive mistake.

Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 2 Old 04-15-2007
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IF the bilge had that much water in it, and the boat was out of the water, with dehumidifier cans in it... it has some serious deck leaks by the sounds of it. Serious deck leaks usually lead to core delamination problems, if the boat has a cored deck.

The blackish water is probably due to mold/mildew growth.

Most well-found, well-kept boats are going to be pretty dry, especially if they're kept on the hard and if they've got dehumidifiers aboard. The fact that this one was on the hard, and still had a lot of moisture on the inside speaks of an underlying problem IMHO. My boat is usually so dry that I can see the dust floating in the bilge.. All of the water that I've gotten in my bilge was captain induced...

Mold and mildew, once they get a foothold are exceptionally hard to get rid of. It is probably all throughout the bilge, and in all the nooks and crannies on the boat... many of which you'll have no way of cleaning. If the boat has a hull liner, the space between the hull and the liner will be covered.

If there isn't a deck leak, the other source of water could be saturated laminate... If the boat is heating up during the day—solar heat does a lot there, the air will tend to pull the moisture out of the hull and anywhere else that is saturated,... then when the hull and boat cool off at night, it will condense out and drip along the interior of the hull. That is probably how the fabric and cushions got damp, and the cause of the mildew/mold.

I would recommend bailing on it...there are plenty of boats out there that are going to be in much better shape.


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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 04-15-2007 at 10:05 PM.
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