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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Mel,
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.
 

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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.

Ken.
 

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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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I will post my opinion - run away.

I bought a house (a house, I know, not a boat but still somewhat comparable) from a smoker. It took YEARS to get that smell out. I ripped out the sheetrock, repainted, ripped out flooring, had ac ducts cleaned several times, all fixtures, windows, replaced flooring with tile and new carpet after super cholonating and washing repeatedly, etc.

Never, never, never again. We (as non smokers) are very sensitive to that smell. Small amount of it anywhere will stink forever. This is especially apparent when it has been shut up for a while (or even shut for not a while). And how do you get that film and smell out of the millions of unaccessible areas in the bilge or behind cabinets, or hidden in cabinets, or in the upholstry (inside), etc.

There are a million boats on the market right now and it is a buyers market. You will still have to really shop for a GOOD boat (and will probably still pay close to top dollar for a really well cared for boat), but if you are a non-smoker, avoid smoked-in boats like the plague. Let a smoker buy that one. They won't hardly smell it. And no offense, but if they were insensitive enough and thoughtless enough about resale to smoke in their boat in the first place, what other things have they neglected to care about? Maybe, maybe not... but the thougth would cross my mind. Most of the smokers I know smoke outside of their house and moke outside of their boats for that very reason.

I realize there are a LOT of smokers on this forum. My comments were not meant to frustrate any of you. I just think smokers have a difficult time comprehending how much of a turn-off the old smoke smell bothers non-smokers. So please take the comments as something to consider if you do smoke and how you may actually lose 50% of a potential buying audience if you smoke in your boat/house.

My opinions.

- CD

PS When you put clothes or any items on that boat, all of those will smell like smoke. We would leave the house smelling like smoke. It made our car smell like smoke because the clothes absorbed the smell. That crap gets everywhere and on everything. NEVER AGAIN.
 

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Some car dealers use Ozone Generators to get the smell out. It's kind of like one of those Sharer Image magic air cleaners. They just put it inside the car with all the windows up and let it run overnight. On a boat it may need a week but I think it will get the job done, that's what they're designed to do.
Here's one- Residential Ozone Generator Rental - ozone generator rental residential
$79.00 for a 2 day rental, does a whole house.
I know nothing about that company or that generator, googled it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all replies. I ended up finding one with zero smell that looks very promising. Will do the inspection soon.
 

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Good luck with your new boat! I bought a used car that smelled of cigarettes. My mechanic suggested that I use fabreeze on the fabric and put fabic softener dryer sheets under the seats. The smell was gone in three days. Can't say it will work on a boat but it sure worked on my car!
 

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Good luck with your new boat! I bought a used car that smelled of cigarettes. My mechanic suggested that I use fabreeze on the fabric and put fabic softener dryer sheets under the seats. The smell was gone in three days. Can't say it will work on a boat but it sure worked on my car!
This works surprisingly well. Febreeze and anything that absorbs. Charcoal, baking soda, dryer sheets, etc. Ask the owners if you can spray down the boat and drop off a few dryer sheets, then come back in a week and check the smell again?
 

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I just light my pipe and after a few minutes I don't smell the cigarettes anymore. I've also heard that sea-sick passengers can help in acclimating one to the smell.
 

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Tip of the day - Use Vodka, place in a spray bottle. Spray the areas or in the air - it kills the bacteria, kills mold, and when done is orderless.. Have a few russian friends and you have non-stinking party to boot.
 

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Most realtors have access to a smoke eater - when selling a home that has been smoked in they place the smoke eater in the home for a” time" to rid the home of the smell prior to viewing. The smoke eater runs extremely high voltage across small wires - when the air is pulled or pushed past it splits the 02 (oxygen) atoms into 01 atom (ozone) the 01 atom is unstable and will attach itself to a carbon atom and oxidize the carbon atom - remove it permanently. This is the best way to remove the smell of smoke from anything. Look to a realtor or fire Restoration Company to rent a machine - it really does not take much time to clean anything inundated with smoke
 
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