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rios01 03-06-2011 09:24 AM

Could this be a problem?
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I'm looking to buy a sailboat that has black stains on the topdeck. I have concerns that this maybe mold and is an indication that there is a bigger problem from water leaking into the cabin. I have included a photo. Please advise before I make a mistake w/ the purchase of this boat.
Sincere thanks for any help!!!!


Ajax_MD 03-06-2011 09:29 AM

It certainly looks like mold, but that doesn't mean that it's growing from inside the core or the cabin and spreading to the outside. Mold spores could simply land on the cabin top and grow from there.

The only real way to know the condition of the decks and cabin top are to get a moisture meter and read the content of the core. At the very least, you can walk around topside, and feel for spots that give way under your weight, and you can gently tap around with a screwdriver handle or a phenolic hammer and listen for sound changes.

Sailingdog has written a buyer's checklist around here somewhere that will tell you what to look for. Use the site search engine to find it, it's mentioned about 100 times.

paul323 03-06-2011 09:57 AM

Good advice from Bubblehead - and read Saildog's post. Surface mold can generally be removed with a mild bleach solution, and *could* simply be the result of being left outside untended for a long time. However you are quite correct to treat it as a warning flag; sailboats don't like being left outside untended.

Final thought - the boat looks a reasonable length - once you have given it a look over to eliminate a clearly bad boat get a survey done. Somebody once said if you can't afford a survey, you can't afford a boat. Even if you know work will be required, a surveyor will be able to tell you what work....

Good luck!

Minnewaska 03-06-2011 10:00 AM

I would bet on mold, but I've also seen black boats that are stored outside over the winter without a cover and are located near smoke stack manufacturing towns. That happens in the summer as well, but not to that degree. Where is the boat and how was it stored before you found it like this?

omaho5 03-06-2011 10:34 AM

I go for mold/mould. 25% bleach and water w/ garden sprayer. Let t do ts work by sitting on surface a few minutes. Scrub down with brush. Rinse.
THEN re-apply a second helping of solution, let sit and keep from drying by spot spraying. rise.
Do not try to remove with power washer as it just forces H2O into areas that
it should not go.

rios01 03-06-2011 10:50 AM

It's stored outside uncovered amongst the pinetrees in the seller's backyard. with penlty of sunlight

rios01 03-06-2011 10:57 AM

thank you guys, this is a very big help.'check list was a big help also. this is not something to do by yourself.

svHyLyte 03-06-2011 11:08 AM

Mold is less of a problem than discoloration from soot. Some have the impression that cold prevents or slows the growth of mold but we have found some of our worst mold problems develop during the winter rather than the summer. If the discoloration is from soot, that can be very damaging to the gel-coat. Soot necessarily contains more or less sulfer which, when combined with the humidity in the air, forms Sulfuric Acid (think acid rain). Lingering on the deck, trapped in place by the particulates in the soot itself, this stuff will quickly eat into, and through, gel-coat. That can be remedied but not easily nor inexpensively unless its very minor.


mitiempo 03-06-2011 12:30 PM

It looks like mold which isn't a great problem by itself. But it is also an indication of neglect. I would check the whole boat for possible issues, buy or borrow a moisture meter and determine how the cored (most likely) decks are. I hope the price is very low as the owner didn't exactly prep it for sale.:)

Let us know the results.

Here's a link to the purchase and use of a moisture meter by MaineSail:
Understanding the Moisture Meter / Electrophysics CT-33 Photo Gallery by Compass Marine at

sawingknots 03-06-2011 01:44 PM

ahha,pine trees,its mold or mildew pine trees give off lots of sap,i've saw cars that have been sitting under them,same result,soap and bleach will have it looking spiffy again,but ofcoarse one should always check for soft spots,mildew or not

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