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post #1 of 40 Old 05-19-2016 Thread Starter
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Boat odor

What we all know to be "boat odor", even if very slight, is usually a function of a wet bilge that grows molds and bacteria, mixed with dirt and oil. Boat odor.

With a keel stepped mast, our bilge is impossible to keep bone dry. Everyone considers our boat to be essentially odor free. It's often mentioned. Truthfully, it's slightly there, we know it. Very subtle, but sure.

The issue is, we have water that comes down the mast and it's too much to keep up with every time. Further, we are typically home Tue-Thu and water will sit if it rains during that period. It's that first opening of the companionway that reveals the fact that we aren't odor free, even if it's subtle.

So my latest discovery. I was servicing our air conditioners, which have pans that collect condensation to divert it to a hose to be sent to the bilge or overboard. There is a product called a Pan Tablet, that you put in the pan to control odor from that pan. It is some sort of disinfectant that says it is non-corrosive.

So I decided to toss one in the spot that would collect water in the bilge, while we're away. We come back the next week and both my wife and I were amazed that there was no odor.

I will report back if this becomes a single occurrence, but so far, pretty pleased.

A bottle of 30 tablets (probably an entire seasons supply) is about 10 to 12 bucks.
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post #2 of 40 Old 05-19-2016
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Re: Boat odor

Can you point to a supplier?

Is this the stuff?

$14 at Home Creepo
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post #3 of 40 Old 05-19-2016
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Re: Boat odor

The odor from AC condensate pans is usually bacteria, sometimes very pathogenic bacteria such as Legionella. These bacteria are, and multiply, principally on the COILS of the AC unit, not just in the condensate collection 'pan'. Clean the AC COILS (fin-tubes) on a routine basis. Cleaners for AC coils are available in most HVAC supply shops. Do the same for your HOME AC unit.
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post #4 of 40 Old 05-20-2016 Thread Starter
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Re: Boat odor

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Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
Can you point to a supplier?

Is this the stuff? snip pic

$14 at Home Creepo
There are several manufacturers, but that happens to be the exact bottle I have. Bought mine on Amazon.


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Re: Boat odor

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Originally Posted by RichH View Post
..... Clean the AC COILS (fin-tubes) on a routine basis...
Good point.

My find, just to be clear, was to use the pan tablets in the bilge itself, unrelated to the AC. Cleaning my unit was just the inspiration.


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post #6 of 40 Old 05-22-2016
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Re: Boat odor

Tablets are routinely put in condensate pans when HVAC folks are doing preventive maintenence.
Using them in wet bilge is out of the box thinking Minne, pretty cool!
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Re: Boat odor

Most of the 'stink' that develops inside boats (and houses, etc.) is probably from putrefying human exfoliated (skin, etc.) cells; this includes the airborne dead and decaying cells that get stuck on/in AC coils and condensate pans, shower sumps ... and bilge, etc. etc. surfaces. These 'putrenes' also supply microorganisms with their 'nutrients' and the microorganisms also eventually putrefy at the end of their lifecycle.

Hygiene - an occasional cleaning/soaking with mildly caustic detergents will remedy and control the problem instead of using compounds that only temporarily 'mask' and 'perfume' the underlying problem.
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post #8 of 40 Old 05-22-2016
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Re: Boat odor

i throw some stinky fresh scent antibacterial liquid soap into my bilges. fixes odors with whatever smell of the day i desire and cleans bilges as the water sloshes a tad in wakage and winds. cheap and easy.
so far, i like the roses and the lavendar scents best.
plentiful in mexico, where bilge cleaner is prohibitively priced.
bathing also helps, btw, as much of our boat smell is from our own hygiene preferences.
it also helps to occasionally scrub the bilges and use running water and pumps to remove the old stink. never fails.
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Last edited by zeehag; 05-22-2016 at 10:49 AM.
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post #9 of 40 Old 05-22-2016
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Re: Boat odor

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
What we all know to be "boat odor", even if very slight, is usually a function of a wet bilge that grows molds and bacteria, mixed with dirt and oil. Boat odor.

With a keel stepped mast, our bilge is impossible to keep bone dry. Everyone considers our boat to be essentially odor free. It's often mentioned. Truthfully, it's slightly there, we know it. Very subtle, but sure.

The issue is, we have water that comes down the mast and it's too much to keep up with every time. Further, we are typically home Tue-Thu and water will sit if it rains during that period. It's that first opening of the companionway that reveals the fact that we aren't odor free, even if it's subtle.

So my latest discovery. I was servicing our air conditioners, which have pans that collect condensation to divert it to a hose to be sent to the bilge or overboard. There is a product called a Pan Tablet, that you put in the pan to control odor from that pan. It is some sort of disinfectant that says it is non-corrosive.

So I decided to toss one in the spot that would collect water in the bilge, while we're away. We come back the next week and both my wife and I were amazed that there was no odor.

I will report back if this becomes a single occurrence, but so far, pretty pleased.

A bottle of 30 tablets (probably an entire seasons supply) is about 10 to 12 bucks.
Please try to consider that whatever you put in the bilge is likely to get pumped into the water at some point. Are these tablets compatible with the marine environment? Almost certainly not.

Bristol 31.1, San Francisco Bay
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post #10 of 40 Old 05-22-2016
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Re: Boat odor

Quote:
Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
i throw some stinky fresh scent antibacterial liquid soap into my bilges. fixes odors with whatever smell of the day i desire and cleans bilges as the water sloshes a tad in wakage and winds. cheap and easy.
so far, i like the roses and the lavendar scents best.
plentiful in mexico, where bilge cleaner is prohibitively priced.
bathing also helps, btw, as much of our boat smell is from our own hygiene preferences.
it also helps to occasionally scrub the bilges and use running water and pumps to remove the old stink. never fails.
Antibacterial soap contains triclofan, which is an emerging environmental contaminant - it is showing up in shellfish in SF bay now. It really should be banned as an additive to soap - it will be eventually, but only when lots of damage has been done.

What I do to clean the bilge is put a bucket of water in there, with a little added deck cleaner. That stuff is formulated to be relatively harmless to the marine environment. Turn off the bilge pump, go for a sail to get it all agitated. Turn on the bilge pump again.

Bristol 31.1, San Francisco Bay
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