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Vinegar is a good germ-a-cide. Be careful mixing with Clorox, acid base reaction releases chlorine gas. Also products using ammonia mixed with clorox generate poison gas.
 

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Seems to me that the real reasons for the bilge smell is the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Most modern boats just don't have any appreciable amounts of bilge ventilation. Nada, Zilch. Having an internally ballasted boat with extremely shallow bilges has made me extremely sensitive to this issue. Subsequently I have installed in my sole, from stem to stern, from the forepeak to the foot of the companionway ladder basically an industrial poly grating 1 inch thick and 12 inch wide. My ceilings up along the hull deck joint are also open to the bilge. Continuous ventilation from bottom to top is the key to controlling sour bilge smells. The foot of my companionway ladder rests on a 36X36 inch grating that generally mimics the outline of the companionway above, so that even in downpours or hard sailing, most ingress water gets channeled directly into the bilge. An added benefit of this grating is the ability to notice any additional water sources in the bilge.
 

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If you smell diesel and have a Yanmar engine, check the crush washers, they are often a source of small leaks. They should be replaced regularly.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
These pan tablets seem to be working very well. Last week, I decided not to sponge/vac out the little bit of water that collects in the corner from pulling the speed wheel or that comes down the mast, rather just leave the tablet in it and lock up. See what happens.

Came back last week to an 80 deg cabin and no odor. That would have been a sure recipe for some mold to skim along the top of the stagant water and stink.

The tablets are staining the hull blue, where the water stands. It cleans right off fairly easily.

So far, I'm a fan.
 

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Apple cider Vinegar(not wine vinegar) by itself will work as long as its just a typical musty boat smell. If you have bacteria growing in vents or standing water that needs to be removed.

To use vinegar, get a plastic container like you like a flat box that you use to put money in at a garage sale. Drill holes in the top. Buy some small sponges that will fit in the box and cut them to fit the box. Saturate the sponges with the vinegar. Close the lid, and set in the area that is musty. Over several days it will clear out the odors.

Works in bathrooms too.
 

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Probably not be a good idea if there are stainless steel keel bolts in the bilge. The MSDS for these products seem to indicate that the active ingredient is a chloride. Reactive chlorides are a principal cause of crevice crack corrosion in stainless steels. Sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Probably not be a good idea if there are stainless steel keel bolts in the bilge. The MSDS for these products seem to indicate that the active ingredient is a chloride. Reactive chlorides are a principal cause of crevice crack corrosion in stainless steels. Sorry.
Interesting, I could have sworn they said non-corrosive. Air conditioning pans are typically metal.

Nevertheless, the collected water doesn't get to my keel bolts.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
I've tried the pellets in the bilge. I haven't noticed any difference in boat odor.
Maybe that's not where you odor is coming from. :wink

Mine does not smell, unless I leave this ingress water for any length of time.
 

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Maybe that's not where you odor is coming from. :wink

Mine does not smell, unless I leave this ingress water for any length of time.
I just spent the last 13 years in chemical water treatment and was willing to give it a chance. But to be honest I think they are being pretty "loose" in using the term "non-corrosive". I think the pellets are fine for putting in trays and pans like for an air conditioner, but just too questionable for putting in your bilge if you have keel bolts in it.
 

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On a different note... My boat doesnt smell as described, but i do like a nice air freshener. I bought a couple of scented candles in little glass jars. I think u are meant to light them, but unlit they let off just a tiny amount of aroma. My boat currently smells like Hawaii.

Cheap, at the supermarket. :)
 

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I'm a fan of cowl vents and dorade boxes. Our old boat has 3, 4" forward facing(located forward of the mast) and 2 aft facing(galley to lazerette).

We leave a large engine access door open that also ventilates the deep bilge.

As we're swinging on a mooring, tons of fresh air pours through the length of the boat interior(head - chain locker) - through the engine room and cockpit lockers - 24/7.

It smells fresh when we slide open the companionway hatch and our deep bilge always has some water in it(all that gets is occasional rinse of fresh water and pumped).
 

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Minnie- how are you moored? Like you have keel stepped mast. Unlike you have traditional slab reefing with Dutchman. Still in a squall get some bilge water. Also some from condensation. Most from AC unit. However if on a mooring or sailing it's truly trivial. It's relevant only when stern to prevailing winds in a slip.believe we get much less as we have a much smaller hole.

Now if in slip will go bow to prevailing winds regardless if this mean coming in bow or stern first. Problem solved.

Also changed out my lower bilge pump to one that runs for 15sec after float switch turns off. Decreases back flow without a check valve. Much dryer bilge.

Our AC unit drains into the bilge. Believe this is fresh water as it's condensate. Agree AC units can cause all types of diseases such as legionaries but doubt it as source of bilge smell beyond keeping bilge wet.

Lastly strongly agree with Rich. We smell. We shed hair, skin, oil, and dirt. We rapidly habituate to smells. We are the worse judge if our boats smell after we've been on them for a very few minutes. A wipe down of all surfaces with weak vinegar/water solution and one ( yes just one) drop of dawn keeps the boat smell free. Best purchase we made was a very small but powerful hand held plug in vacuum. The battery ones just don't cut it. Vacuum everything then wipe safe surfaces, a bit of chlorox followed by immediate water flush down the drains= no smell.

Do bilge cleaner once a year. Stuff's nasty. But leave oil absorber in there always.
 

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Probably not be a good idea if there are stainless steel keel bolts in the bilge. The MSDS for these products seem to indicate that the active ingredient is a chloride. Reactive chlorides are a principal cause of crevice crack corrosion in stainless steels. Sorry.

All of the products are quaternary amines, like benzalonium chloride, and are non-corrosive and do not contain reactive chlorine in the sense we are concerned about. These are closely related to the algae control chemicals used in pools and anti-bacterial soaps.

On the other hand, I've tested BAC and not found it to be very effective on this sort of odor. But this could be different.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Minnie- how are you moored?
Good question. We are at a slip, with the aft furling slot of the mast facing the prevailings. However, I'm not sure the big rains really come with prevailings. I will have to think this one over.

Also changed out my lower bilge pump to one that runs for 15sec after float switch turns off. Decreases back flow without a check valve. Much dryer bilge.
We have a small lower sump in the bilge with a diaphragm convenience pump. There is always about a pint of water in the 8"x8" section of bilge, but it turns over frequently, since all condensation is hosed directly to this sump and I do scrub it out occasionally. I do not believe this is a source of odor.

Our AC unit drains into the bilge. Believe this is fresh water as it's condensate. Agree AC units can cause all types of diseases such as legionaries but doubt it as source of bilge smell beyond keeping bilge wet.
I agree, and this isn't the stagnant source of water for us either.

Lastly strongly agree with Rich. We smell. We shed hair, skin, oil, and dirt. We rapidly habituate to smells. We are the worse judge if our boats smell after we've been on them for a very few minutes. A wipe down of all surfaces with weak vinegar/water solution and one ( yes just one) drop of dawn keeps the boat smell free.
Totally understand and agree with this point. We clean surfaces pretty well, I believe.

I'm convinced the odor is from two specific sources. I believe I mentioned the odor is slight and occasional.

First is mast water that finds its way to corners, where it either lies beneath the lip of a limber hole or collects at the intersection of a rib/stringer. These places can be below tankage or other obstructions, where it's very difficult to vacuum out or keep clean of dust, etc.

The second is the cup or more of sea water that enters each time I remove or replace the speed wheel. It's an awkward spot, which is difficult to dam up, so I can keep the ingress water in one spot. One of these days, I will have to disassemble all the furniture/cabinetry in the area to dam it. It disappears under the sole and not until we go out sailing/heeling, does much of it finds its way to a place that I can clean it out.

When either of these two sources of water collect and stand for any length of time, I can shine a light on them and see the mold on the surface. Odor. These tablets seem to be preventing the mold from forming.

Best purchase we made was a very small but powerful hand held plug in vacuum. The battery ones just don't cut it. Vacuum everything then wipe safe surfaces, a bit of chlorox followed by immediate water flush down the drains= no smell.
I think we have the best of both worlds. I bought a Dewalt wet/dry vac that can both be plugged into 110v, as well as run on 18v batt. We almost always plug it in. I use it to vac water I can reach.

[quite]Do bilge cleaner once a year. Stuff's nasty....[/QUOTE]

Me too, sometimes twice. I've liked TufEnuf bilge cleaner. It's also an enzyme and it seems to foam less, when I vac/pump it back out. Some bilge cleaners foam like a washing machine, which is nasty.
 

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Last thought. We .have four bilge pumps. Electric high/low and whale from inside the boat and another in cockpit. Like you use tuufenuff but make sure to pump it through all four pumps. The hoses sit empty. The bilge end is open. Maybe that's a contributor?
 

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Discussion Starter #39
Zero water ingress = zero odor. Eg. when we are on the hard, with the mast pulled and deck hole covered, this is a non-issue. Bone dry.
 

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Discussion Starter #40
Two month update.....................

I'm pretty convinced these are working. Along the way, I decided to stop using them for a couple of weeks and let the ingress mast water sit for 4 or 5 days. The slight odor returned, right on schedule. More noticeably, when opening bilge hatches. So I vacuumed it out and put the tablets back. Next storm, more water down the mast.

By this time in August, it would take a couple of days for unattended bilge water to grow mold. I was coincidentally a$$ over elbows in the bilge, doing some work, and found one of the hiding places that water likes to collect. First, I noticed the water (which had to have been there at least a week) looks perfectly clear. Old stagnant bilge water usually looks gross. Then it occurred to me that, while my head was deep in the bilge, there was no odor. The bilge itself always had a trace, even when dry.

I'm slightly concerned over the references to corrosion in the posts above, although, the product clearly states it's non-corrosive. None of my water collection points are in contact with metal anyway.

I'm a fan and ordering another bottle. I put these around in several places and have gone through the bottle already. It's about a $5 per month habit. :)
 
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