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mtruc 07-30-2009 09:41 PM

Cigarette smell

This is my first post on sailNet, so please let me know if this is not the right place to ask that. This seems like a maintenance question so here I go...

I am looking to buy a (my first) used sailboat. I visited one last weekend that seemed in good shape, but the first thing I noticed when I entered the cabin was not a moisture smell... it was a strong cigarette smell. I soon noticed 2 emptied ashtrays hidden n a corner. Looking at the 2 owners, I can conclude that both were smokers that did not bother smoking outside.

How permanent is a smell like that in a cabin? I would hate recognizing this smell each time I open my boat after it was closed for a couple of days...
Is this something that can be completely removed?

Mel T.

brak 07-30-2009 10:00 PM

When I bought my current boat, she was used as a liveaboard. PO was quite unclean and smoked cigars. The smell was terrible.

I removed all internal wall covering battens and washed the hull from inside - and that got rid of most of the smell (but what bear of a job that was, never again, I had to take apart the *entire* boat).

The cushions still smelled for a while, but after being stored for a winter in a location where they were reasonably aired - the smell is no longer there.

So - it can be removed, but it may not be easy.

hellosailor 07-30-2009 10:47 PM

Mel, if there are areas of unsealed wood, etc. it may take great effort to get the stench out.

Start by removing everything in the cabin. Any upholstery gets laundered, and cushions go out for steam cleaning--the stink will be IN the foam. Any electronics? There's a film of tar and nicotine inside them all, you can wait a long time for it to cook off, or use solder flux remover or circuit board cleaner to hose them down. This is not for the faint of heart.

Check on the web--any home can be de-stenched from ciggies but it takes some effort. The other "Hail Mary" pass is to rent an ozone generator and oxidize the hell out of the cabin, turn it on, seal it up, air out and repeat a few times.

Oh, and every non-porous surface like the countertops, sealed wood, bilge, hull sides, needs to be cleaned just like you were trying to clean up after hosting plague victims.

The good news is that you'll have a real clean boat when you're done.

A couple of solar vents will help keep the fresh air coming and the residual stink from building back up again.

smackdaddy 07-30-2009 10:53 PM

78 Attachment(s)
truc - welcome to SN dude!

My advice - varnish everything in sight. There is no smell that can stand up to that. Except of course for the head.

WinterRiver 07-30-2009 11:18 PM

Unless the boat is otherwise spectacular at a great price, I suggest you pass on this one. Besides the smell, all the surfaces are likely to have yellow nicotine stains. Yes, you will eventually be able to clean it all and get rid of nearly all of the smell, but it will be a lot of work and take a lot of time. That time is better spent sailing.

JiffyLube 07-31-2009 01:09 AM

I love the smell of cigarettes in the morning. :p

patrickrea 07-31-2009 08:01 AM

Febreeze on the fabrics. Keep all of the hatches open to air out the boat and invest in some solar fans. Clean everything with a TSP and water mix or even just straight white vinegar. It works for me as a smoker.

bloodhunter 07-31-2009 08:16 AM

How much is your time worth? You are in for a very hard and time-consuming job. One suggestion -- depending on how deperate the sellers are you might make removing the tobacco smell and condition of sale. Otherwise, unless this is the boat of your dreams, I wonder if it's worth the effort.
I can tell you that getting the stench from our old head out of our boat was a miserable job and that only involved deodoring the he and and couple of cabinet areas where the old hoses went to the holding tank. BTW Enchantress was the boat of our dreams.

merc2dogs 07-31-2009 10:07 AM

I guess I'm the odd one out, I'd rather have a boat that smells of cigarettes, than one that smells of what some people consider 'food'.

For the most part smoke smell can be removed with a good cleaning, no more strenuous than your average 'smelly' boat.
As mentioned, white vinigar will get the smell out.


Donnie631 07-31-2009 10:12 AM

I worked at a car dealersip for a few years and we used Ozium Glycolized
Air Sanitizer Spray to get rid of all the smells that came with a used car

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