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Old 02-13-2022, 08:36 PM   #1
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Smelly Boat? - One more place to look!

Greetings,
Although I have seen this topic referenced in several indirect postings (COMODAVE and Ttsaang), I felt it was worth attaching to the "Smelly Boat" search as this is truly a new "place to look".

My wife and I found a well worn but reasonably good shape GB32 a few years back and after a season of reading "smelly boat" books and postings, (thanks Peggy!) we had some pretty spic and span bilges, (all the potions....) new head hoses, sealed off head raw water intake, pulled up shower pan, bottom of hanging locker (a bear), chain locker and scrubbed every below deck surface, ultimately still ending up with a consistently REALLY SMELLY boat... kind of that seawater, diesel fuel, head discharge combo that could be a dead animal.... When we purchased the vessel, it was in cold weather and on the hard. Contingent sea trials in the spring noted a few mechanical elements that were quickly remedied but also a faint odor that would need to be pursued..... we also noted a variety of "odor eater" type approaches around the cabin... various and many "air fresheners".... after a season, we were contemplating the approach; "if you cant find it..... sell the boat".... it was most ghastly after being out on the water and once we pulled into our, or a transient dock...pheeew!!!!! I upgraded our bilge blower but the odor being removed did not make us popular with our neighbors...... So.... in the pursuit of eliminating standing water as an odor source, as the GB32 has a flat bilge pan, I figured I would sink a shoebox sized "sump" just under the driveshaft, aft of the engine (good access). I do recall the moment, with grinder in hand, I plunged the first cut into the flat bilge floor and ended up cartoon style, with a stripe of black slime, from my knees to the top of my head..... I immediately left the boat, found my wife and as I got within 10 feet of her, she exclaims..."You found it!" The hidden sludge tank....... On many vessels, apparently the keel area can be solid with ballast, meant to fill with seawater in some cases, or in our case, meant to be dry, but sealed from access.... after cutting my access hole, I pumped approx. 10 gallons of this evil sludge from my hollow keel (it was filled to the top), followed by 3-4 hot water rinses... and topped off with a 3" access port (I still installed my sump).

The smell is gone, especially with all of the prior cleaning of the search process! This area must have gradually filled through the years via various channels, but still without any really access. When we went out for a spin, it would just create such pressure in that below area, fumes would rise into the bilge and remainder of the boat. Had we not found this location, it would have been tough going. Apparently this is not uncommon... but with a sealed space like that, I would think that access would be available... now there is.... Thought worth sharing...
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Old 02-13-2022, 08:43 PM   #2
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Excellent Recap

Thank you for making me smile!
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Old 02-13-2022, 08:59 PM   #3
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Great work, I am currently doing same thing, only my area is forward of the engine. I will do a new thread when I'm done.

Do you have any pics of it completed? I was planning on doing sump but wasn't sure if I should put I water tight access from the bilge to the keel.
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Old 02-13-2022, 09:16 PM   #4
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I am sure you are relieved as well as a feeling of accomplishment for not giving up. I have a GB copy and it also has a flat bilge floor. So far no smell but I had thoughts of what might be below. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 02-13-2022, 09:21 PM   #5
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We used to have an F32 Trojan that had a hollow keel. The trapped water smelled worse than a holding tank. Cut the top open and cleaned it really well and smell was gone. Congrats on finding your smell.
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Old 02-14-2022, 12:04 AM   #6
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In the mid '90s I had a call from the owner of a steel hull trawler who'd attended one of my seminars, asking me for help getting rid of a persistent odor in the boat...not strong, but enough to be really annoying. They'd already ruled out hoses...the bilge was dry and clean enough to eat off of...ran every possible source I could think of by her, she ruled out every one. Finally here was only one possibility left: trapped water in an inaccessible area somewhere. She assured me there was nowhere water could be trapped. I had to admit I was stumped.

A couple of months later she called me again. "You were right, it was trapped water. We'd seen some corrosion in the keel and had the boat hauled to investigate. When the yard drilled into the keel to find out how deep the corrosion was, about 20 gallons of water poured out that was so foul everyone had to leave the area." It seemed that the keel bolts had allowed any moisture in the bilge--even humidity, condensation, etc--to seep by them into the keel, keeping the bilge dry, and was almost certainly the source of the corrosion. Once all the foul water was gone and the keel bolts sealed, so was the odor. Had they not needed to investigate the corrosion, they might never had found it.

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Old 02-14-2022, 12:14 AM   #7
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It is surprising how bad stagnant water can smell.
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Old 02-14-2022, 05:05 AM   #8
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Thanks for sharing this story!
My current boat does not have a keel -- but if a keeled boat ever pops into my future, I will never forget this!
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Old 02-14-2022, 08:17 AM   #9
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Great info Patience - thanks for this. I, too, have been wanting to make a sump.

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Old 02-14-2022, 08:20 AM   #10
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The Green boat had foam in the keel covered with fiberglass. It too had the most disgusting odor from water leaking in but not able to get out.

The recurring theme seems to be it must be dry!

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Old 02-14-2022, 08:23 AM   #11
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Reading this thread makes me feel lucky... My boat has a keel, but it's not ballasted and not overly deep. Because it's not overly deep, they didn't cap off the top but just left it open, so the keel just serves as a sump for the bilge (with nowhere for water to get trapped).
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Old 02-14-2022, 10:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
It is surprising how bad stagnant water can smell.
Apparently you've never been near a swamp when the weather is hot. "Pond scum" on the surface seals the water,. Or smelled a wet bilge or sump that's in need of a serious cleaning.

Odor is the result of organic breakdown in anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions...it cannot occur in an aerobic (oxygenated) environment. That's why running streams never stink and the reason why sewage treatment ponds always have a big fountain in the middle of 'em and decorative water elements in malls and office buildings are always running water.
And why venting that allows a holding tank to "breathe" or aerating it is essential to eliminating odor from it...it prevents odor from occurring.


I discuss all this in detail in my book, btw.


--Peggie
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Old 02-14-2022, 02:06 PM   #13
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My lowest bilge can get stale; some water gets in but not enough to run the bilge pump very often. My solution is to toss a couple of bromine tablets down there. The kind they say to use for my hot tub. Apparently they're better for the components in the tub, like pumps and heaters, than chlorine.
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Old 02-14-2022, 03:58 PM   #14
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Thanks all for the positive feedback here and identification with this issue. As there is a noted interest in the sump concept, I'll get out a few photos in the next few days (Zipper door is frozen shut!)
Regards, Bruce
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Old 02-14-2022, 04:06 PM   #15
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Thanks all for the positive feedback here and identification with this issue. As there is a noted interest in the sump concept, I'll get out a few photos in the next few days (Zipper door is frozen shut!)
Regards, Bruce
This is the first year we have had our boat in heated storage, it is wonderful.
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Old 02-14-2022, 04:12 PM   #16
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Apparently you've never been near a swamp when the weather is hot. "Pond scum" on the surface seals the water,. Or smelled a wet bilge or sump that's in need of a serious cleaning.

--Peggie
I try not to let my bilge get in that condition. The F32 was a new boat to me and I don’t know how the PO lived with the smell. My wife certainly would not have.

Our new boat, a Formula 41PC, has a huge sump that is fed by the shower, 2 A/Cs, 2 sinks. It is falling apart. Today I started ripping it out, what a PITA. The bilge is dirty and greasy, not too bad but way beyond what I like. So tomorrow I will break out the Extreme Simple Green to get the heavy grease cleaned up. I had a new sump box made out of 1/2” plastic welded together. It will have 5 inputs and I will be using a Whale Bilge IC pump to evacuate the water. It is the last big job for this winter. I still have several other jobs to finish up. Then we will be ready to launch!!!
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Old 02-14-2022, 05:37 PM   #17
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Why do the sinks drain into a sump, Dave? Gray water can legally be discharged directly overboard in all US waters and the Canadian side of of the Great Lakes except for a very few closed inland lakes and the FL National Marine Sanctuary.


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Old 02-14-2022, 06:28 PM   #18
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Why do the sinks drain into a sump, Dave? Gray water can legally be discharged directly overboard in all US waters and the Canadian side of of the Great Lakes except for a very few closed inland lakes and the FL National Marine Sanctuary.
.

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My 1981 IG36 had an OEM grey water tank around 10L capacity serving shower,sink,washbasin, fitted with a flipper type switch prone to gumming up and an OEM US made pump capable of suck starting a Harley Davidson. No idea why. Happily my Integrity 386 (based on IG36) drains overboard direct,though the shower has an easy to access pump out box set directly under a grille in the floor of the shower.
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Old 02-14-2022, 06:48 PM   #19
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Why do the sinks drain into a sump, Dave? Gray water can legally be discharged directly overboard in all US waters and the Canadian side of of the Great Lakes except for a very few closed inland lakes and the FL National Marine Sanctuary.


--Peggie
From what I've seen, Formula likes to reduce the number of discharge thru hulls. Either via manifolding or sumps depending on the situation. They probably figured it was easier to just plumb them to the shower sump vs routing to another thru hull for overboard drainage. Being an express style, it's also possible some of the sinks aren't much above the waterline.
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Old 02-14-2022, 07:58 PM   #20
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Yes, Formula went to a lot of extra effort to reduce the through hulls. They have a unique discharge for the bilge pump and A/C cooling water. They have one big through hull with 4 inputs to it. I think it is a custom bronze fitting. But I am adding a 1.5” vent for the holding tank on each side so the holding tank will not be anaerobic and a 1” discharge for the sump box. The sump box is 20”x8”x8”. I am going to put a Whale Bilge IC pump in the sump.
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