Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 01-10-2019, 09:53 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Dave_E's Avatar
 
City: La Conner, WA
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Agnus Dei
Vessel Model: 36' Shin Shing
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 201
The Science of Smell

Hi All,

After have owning the good ship for about a year and a half, it' time to talk about the science of smell. As you may recall, I asked about the "old boat" smell I thought I had and the white dusty appearance on all the shiny woodwork in the cabin. Since that time, I have replaced all the floorboards in the engine room (which were diesel soaked), washed down the walls several times, replaced all head plumbing and have a new holding tank (never did have the nasty head smell) and generally keep her ship shape and clean. I presently have fixed all water leakage into the cabin of the vessel. I'm in the Pacific Northwest (very wet), we have heaters and a dehumidifier on all during the winter months.

So... here are some questions I ponder and wonder if anyone else has these symptoms or can explain the science.

When I open the back door, that "old boat smell" is very prominent. After I'm in the boat for 5 minutes, I don't smell a thing. I smell the galley towels... OK. The pillow cases... OK. Hang up my coat and stay for the night. The next day when I leave the boat, my coat smells like that smell when I first walked in. Anything I take out of the boat has that smell; clothes, and even plastic bags! Baggies smell worst of all. What is in the air that can turn a baggie into an "old boat " smelling plastic thing? I can hang my jacket in the garage and 3-4 days later the smell is gone. The plastic bags are ruined for life. Perplexing to say the least. My wife thinks I may have a nose problem as the smell doesn't affect or bother her like it does me.

Before you suggest all manner of cleaning scenarios... I've read them all and tried many. I thought for sure after I yarded out the soaked flooring and the head systems that would do it.

Discussion? - Dave
__________________
Advertisement

__________________
GOD, Family, career
Dave_E is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2019, 09:56 PM   #2
Guru
 
alormaria's Avatar
 
City: Trenton
Country: USA
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,052
Yup.
__________________

__________________
Al Johnson
34' Marine Trader
"Angelina"
alormaria is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2019, 10:19 PM   #3
Guru
 
Lou_tribal's Avatar
 
City: Quebec
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Bleuvet
Vessel Model: Custom Built
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 3,080
First, you get used to a smell so why after 5 min you don't smell anything. Beyond that not sure what your smell is. On my boat I know that the smell comes from water in bilge and being closed for a week under the sun, if I vent the whole boat and clean the bilge smell is gone. But yes, when I open the door after a week away, there is that smell that bother me.

L
Lou_tribal is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 12:11 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
ssobol's Avatar
 
City: Leesburg, VA
Country: United States
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 439
Most people get used to a smell in a few minutes and then their brain sort of stops registering it. This is mechanism that allows you to detect new smells or if the original smell changes.

If you go out of the boat for a few minutes and then back in, you will register the smell again, but the sense of it will likely fade more quickly.

Do you clean the surfaces with an anti microbial solution (i.e bleach)? Are you bilges dry?

Women usually have more sensitive sense of smell than men. Something to do with protecting their children from pathogens.
ssobol is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 12:22 AM   #5
Guru
 
Comodave's Avatar
 
City: Au Gres, MI
Country: US
Vessel Name: Never Say Never
Vessel Model: President 41 DC
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 2,837
How much ventilation do you have going on while the boat is closed up? Maybe put a couple of solar powers vents in. One sucking in air and another at the other end of the boat exhausting air. We had a 46í trawler that had a bit of smell, not bad but annoying, the 2 vents took care of the problem. Of course I did all the cleanup stuff like you have done first.
Comodave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 01:39 AM   #6
Guru
 
BandB's Avatar
 
City: Fort Lauderdale
Country: USA
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 15,653
Consider both angles to the smell. It's either some smell you inherited on the boat that is from the boat itself or it's some product used to try to rid the boat of the smell. The fact that every item you take on the boat picks up the smell is really disturbing because of the worst case things it might be.

Are you feeling any symptoms after smelling it? Have you found anywhere on the boat you can go and get away from it?
BandB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 05:17 AM   #7
Guru
 
twistedtree's Avatar
 
City: Gloucester, MA
Country: USA
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 4,230
I have encountered something similar in my shop at home. It's used primarily for car and other machinery repair and restoration, and has a bunch of old car parts on racks, and a couple of cars. It used to smell a lot when you would first step in, but that has diminished over the years. But the part of your description that caught me is how the smell sticks to clothes. I can be working in the shop for several hours, but not working on a car or otherwise doing anything messy. But at the end of the day, my tee short will always smell like the garage. So it's picking it up from the air.


My assumption has always been that it is fumes and out-gassing from the old greasy parts. I have also found that any spilled diesel will smell forever if you just wipe it up, even if there are just drips. You have to clean it up with cleaner to get rid of the smell.


Wouldn't it be great to have a smell meter that you could use to locate the source? Or better yet, a FLIR smell imaging camera?
__________________
www.MVTanglewood.com
twistedtree is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 06:10 AM   #8
FF
Guru
 
FF's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 18,252
An Ozone generator should clean up the smell, even if it is wood rotting somewhere.
FF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 06:46 AM   #9
TF Site Team
 
Pack Mule's Avatar
 
City: Paris,TN
Country: USA
Vessel Name: William
Vessel Model: Outer reef 32
Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 3,091
Have you tried replacing the cushions in the cabin? They can hang on to old smells.
__________________
Marty
Pack Mule is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 08:08 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Westiculo's Avatar
 
City: Boston
Country: US
Vessel Name: Rose Mary
Vessel Model: 42 Grand Banks Motoryacht - 1985
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 145
We solved ours with ventilation.
Turns out, the bilge and the engine room are what cause most smell: the moisture, the diesel, the oil, holding tank, etc.
We installed a quiet ventilation fan that runs continuously, pulling air out of the engine room.
We blocked all external vents into the engine room, so the only way air can get in is through the living space.
Air is pulled into the salon through a small hole above the helm, this fresh air then moves down into the cabins and enters the bilge below the berths and through openings we made to the engine room near the heads. The air then moves through the engine room to the ventilation fan and is pushed out.

It works amazingly. The hard part is figuring out where all the openings are to the outside. We wanted the fresh air only to come into the salon near our heater/A/C. This meant we had to install traps on all the sinks because air was coming in the drains, and find a bunch of other random openings from the PO. There were six engine room vents, so we had to make covers for five of them that we put on when we're not moving. We can control where air enters the engine room by making or blocking holes between the living space and the ER. For example, we have larger holes near the heads because that's the air we want to get rid of.

We used a fantech 110 CFM ventilation fan because it's quiet. We installed a variable control so we can turn it up or down if there's moisture we want to get rid of.

A bonus of the system is that it keeps the engine room at a perfect temperature in the winter because the tempered air from the salon ends up moving through there.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	boatVentilation.jpg
Views:	140
Size:	89.9 KB
ID:	84146  
Westiculo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 09:12 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Dave_E's Avatar
 
City: La Conner, WA
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Agnus Dei
Vessel Model: 36' Shin Shing
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 201
Thanks for the replies! I am considering a fan from the engine room to outside. My bilge is dry and clean. In fact when I go down there, I smell ... engine. Iím an old car/ heavy truck garage mechanic, love that smell! 😁
Dave_E is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 09:38 PM   #12
Guru
 
BandB's Avatar
 
City: Fort Lauderdale
Country: USA
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 15,653
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_E View Post
Thanks for the replies! I am considering a fan from the engine room to outside. My bilge is dry and clean. In fact when I go down there, I smell ... engine. Iím an old car/ heavy truck garage mechanic, love that smell! 😁
I would consider an air check as at least you can then narrow it down to type of cause.
BandB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2019, 09:55 PM   #13
Guru
 
LaBomba's Avatar
 
City: Beaverton, Ontario
Country: Canada
Vessel Name: Looking Glass
Vessel Model: Carver 370 Voyager
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 1,047
Quote:
Originally Posted by FF View Post
An Ozone generator should clean up the smell, even if it is wood rotting somewhere.
X2 on the ozone generator. It will kill all the bacteria mole etc then you can start from a clean slate. Should not be used regularly or while inhabited.
__________________
Allan & Ann
The Arc was built by amateurs
The Titanic by professionals
LaBomba is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2019, 08:47 AM   #14
Guru
 
firstbase's Avatar
 
City: Jupiter, Florida
Country: United States
Vessel Name: Black Eyed Susan
Vessel Model: Grand Banks 42' Classic
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 1,134
Wow. 13 posts and no Peggy? I know OP said he read everything but in case...The New Get Rid Of Boat Odors...

I had "the smell" and chased everywhere as a new owner...the strange solution to my exotic problem was to clean, REALLY clean the bilge and then do it more often
dummy. Smell gone. It did take a month of use and good airing out, putting cushions in the sun for a few hours, to really get it out but not an issue after that. As long as I clean the bilge. Smells like that nice mixture of old boat smells now...32 years of wood, machine, etc. Not much smells better to me.
__________________
Hal
BLACK EYED SUSAN
Grand Banks 42 Classic
firstbase is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2019, 09:46 AM   #15
Veteran Member
 
City: South Louisiana
Country: United States
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 57
I had that problem in a hunting camp this year. The camp was closed up most of the summer except for a few weekends.
It was so bad it would soak in your clothes and the deer would smell you anytime they got within 100 yards. I ended up getting an ozone generator.
Set it several times before I went hunting. Within a couple of weekends the smells were gone.
Worth a try for 100 bucks
https://www.amazon.com/Airthereal-MA...enerator&psc=1
latravcha is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2019, 10:29 AM   #16
TF Site Team
 
City: Westerly, RI
Country: USA
Vessel Name: N/A
Vessel Model: 1999 Mainship 350 Trawler
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 1,275
I have a theory that what some folks are calling "old Boat smell" is actually rotting wood. Everytime I smell that smell, I almost always find a small leak and/or a soft deck nearby.
Shrew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2019, 11:42 AM   #17
Guru
 
BandB's Avatar
 
City: Fort Lauderdale
Country: USA
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 15,653
I'd still recommend talking to a professional odor detection and removal service. Although they specialize generally in buildings, some of those near the water do have boat experienced. Just google "Your town odor detection and removal." I have used such services over the years and all but one time they were very successful and that one time they came back at no charge and solved the issue then. I have not used them on a boat, but did talk to someone who did successfully. Problems I've encountered have included mold, air conditioning systems, plumbing, dead animals, termites and rotten wood. Once you've tried, unsuccessfully, then it just seems wise to turn to someone more experienced. Remediation of this type isn't cheap but then what's the cost of a long term smell and continuous unsuccessful searching for it?
BandB is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2019, 01:04 PM   #18
Guru
 
City: gulf coast
Country: pinellas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 2,572
West did you consider your engines air requirements?
bayview is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2019, 01:04 PM   #19
Senior Member
 
jungpeter's Avatar
 
City: Everett
Country: US
Vessel Name: SPIRIT BEAR
Vessel Model: PACIFIC TRAWLER 40
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 175
Hi Dave_E and Firstbase,

My guess is Peggy Hall is simply bored with responding to this question for the bozillionth time. Yep, buy her book, do as she suggests, and "old boat smell" is gone. No mouse milk, no magic elixirs, no ozone generators, nothing but sound cleaning and continuing maintenance practices to banish odors for good.

While everyone has a different tolerance for odor, in my opinion, the only way for a boat to smell is not at all. Just as I won't own an ugly boat, I won't own one that smells of ANYTHING. Get rid of odor, and I'm a happy boy.

Regards,

Pete
jungpeter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-15-2019, 04:43 PM   #20
Guru
 
HopCar's Avatar
 
City: Miami Florida
Vessel Name: Possum
Vessel Model: Ellis 28
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 4,000
On Peggie’s recommendation I started selling Pureayre in my store. Got a couple of positive comments from customers. The trick seems to be to really soak the surface. A light mist isn’t enough, at least not for cat pee.��
__________________

__________________
Parks Masterson
HopCar is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off





All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:22 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0
Copyright 2006 - 2012