Ok, so it’s probably just me, but I know you know that smell that some boats have. Kinda musty, sorta stale, a little stuffy, overall malodorous. Some houses have it too. Sometimes the source is just plain filth; sometimes it’s more specific, like a litter box that isn’t cleaned out every day, a bathroom with poor ventilation, or a smelly head/hoses/holding tank. While boat shopping last year I must have smelled “that” smell a dozen times. I must confess that I’m a bit of a stink Nazi. I hate stink. Cleanliness-wise I rank below “clean freak” and above “normal clean person.” I fall somewhere in the range of a “clean enthusiast.” And though I like things clean, I’m not a germ-a-phobe. I don’t use anti-bacterial soap, I follow the 3-second rule, expiration dates on food is for suckers, and if yogurt in my lunch is only slightly cooler than room temperature, I eat it anyway. Rich rarely detects stink, except when it comes to cat poop. I’m usually gagging and turning green before I see a thought bubble pop up over his head (“hey, something smells weird in here”).
Our Sunday started off at a peaceful nay banal pace. Just before lunch I decided to guilt Rich into helping me clean the boat. You can probably see where I’m going with this. He started off stripping the bed and turning the mattress cushions up to let air circulate when he saw…da da dummm…white mildew on the bottom of his mattress cushion (mine was in the clear). Then he pulled back the Hypervent and found wet, black mold on both the sides of the hull. Whomp whomp. To say we freaked out would be an understatement. We went ballistic. We took everything out of the V-berth. We stripped the covers off the cushions and doused them in Sporicidin Cleaner (I love this stuff). We sprayed the mildew area of his mattress cushion with Sporicidin Disinfectant (I love this stuff more). We took the Hypervent outside and sprayed it with Sporicidin too. Then I cleaned the mold off the hull and disinfected everything (not easy because mold was growing behind the wood strips on the hull). The rest of our Sunday was spent at the Laundromat, washing everything on the super-hot setting, then putting it all back together just in time for bed.
When we bought our boat it didn’t really have a stink, it had a smell. It smelled like wood (a nice smell), oil (not that nice of a smell, but not rank) which I’m attributing to the gunk and grime in the bilge, and dampness. There was evidence of mildew in the V-berth, but once we removed the moldy mattress it never smelled musty. When we bought our mattress we put Hypervent under it to prevent moisture from collecting there. This summer the boat was open nearly every day and night so no smell.
When fall set in and we routinely had the boat closed up every day, all day a musty smell started to pervade the boat, especially when we were away from the boat all day. We didn’t see any mildew or mold, but we did have humidity issues, hence the dehumidifier. Since we’ve been running the dehumidifier, the boat has smelled great. All our stinky, damp problems were solved, except in the V-berth where we noticed moisture collecting on the sides of the hull where our mattress, mattress pad, sheets, and comforter rest. Our solution has been to pull back the comforter to expose the hull and run the fan to dry it out. What we failed to notice was the moisture collecting a little lower down on the hull behind the Hypervent. We thought we were so smart to run the Hypervent up the sides of the hull so the mattress wouldn’t rest directly on the hull. Our botch was not putting the Hypervent farther up the sides of the hull and assuming air would flow into that area even with a bulky mattress pad and comforter blocking off the top. Dumb! So. Dumb.
So now we’re stuck with the task of finding a solution to our moldy problem.
Solution 1: Stop sleeping in the V-berth. Not really a viable option; we didn’t spend a ton of money on a really comfortable mattress for it to go unused while we sleep in the main salon on thin uncomfortable cushions.
Solution 2: Stop breathing while we sleep. Also, not an option, though Rich breathes about twice as much as I do (I know this because I’ve lain awake many nights listening to his loud breathing), so maybe he can sleep in the main salon and I’ll sleep in the V-berth.
Solution 3: Deconstruct the bed every day to air it out. An option, but one that will be solely Rich’s responsibility…so not really an option.
Solution 4: Add another layer of Hypervent under the bed and farther up the sides of the hull.
Solution 5: Install a second fan at the forward bulkhead in the V-berth.
Solution 6: Trim down the mattress cushions (they’re a pretty tight fit) so they’ll allow more air to circulate.
We’re going to try Solution 4 first. If that doesn’t work, we’ll try Solution 5 and Solution 6, then Solution 3 (for the winter months at least). Winter has never been my favorite time of year and now I have another reason to hate it. The sooner we get this old boat ready to head south, the better!