Tag Archives: survey

Tackling the Mold Monster

Mold is a dreaded word amongst boat owners. Mold is insidious, and sitting in a wet environment doesn’t help a boat’s chances.

Violet Hour had some minor mold on the headliner of the berths. Sitting idle in Vancouver for a few months in the fall and winter while it was for sale hadn’t helped. The surveyor noted it as minor, and I agreed. When we stepped onto the boat, it didn’t smell mildewy or damp like other boats we visited (a couple of which had really bad mold problems!) – Natalie has a sensitive nose, so she was our mold detector, and Violet Hour passed.

But, I discovered I have a sensitivity to mold – a mold allergy. Sleeping on the boat resulted in bloodshot, watery, itchy eyes and a runny nose. Within 8 hours I’d have the symptoms of a cold, and it would last for a couple days. So this minor mold presence became top priority to clean up.

After exploring the boat more we found mold in a few other places, deep inside hard to reach lockers and crevices that are rarely viewed. Many boats in the Northwest probably have some mold and their owners don’t even realize it.

Paper towels after scrubbing mold washed with a bleach water solution

Paper towels after scrubbing mold washed with a bleach water solution

Cleaning up mold is actually really simple.

Steps to Tackling Mold:

  1. Clean + kill the mold.
  2. Reduce moisture in the air.
  3. Fix sources of water being added to the boat interior (leaks).


  • bleach
  • sponges
  • paper towels
  • dust mask for nose/mouth
  • clear safety eyeglasses (optional)
  • dehumidifier (I used this one – the Eva-Dry, which is very compact for storing on the boat)
  • Damprid (optional)

Other Options I haven’t tried:

  • Borax
  • Tea tree oil – some say this is a natural mold fighter, but I’m skeptical – it sounds just like the hippie natural supplements store version of Clorox.
  • Ozone machine – this is the Big Bertha of mold treatments, and something I would consider a last resort.
Minor mold on the headliner

Minor mold on the headliner

After two months gradually working on this problem, I’m happy to say the mold is conquered – or at least as much as it ever will be on a boat.

We scrubbed the surfaces with a sponge coated with Clorox or a bleach water solution (about 1 cup per 3 gallons), wiped down surfaces below the headliner that mold might have fallen onto while cleaning, and then ran a dehumidifier. The dehumidifier was run in various sections of the boat for 2-3 days at a time once per week for 3-4 weeks, usually collecting about a ½ cup of water each time.

I also deployed Damprid to 5 or 6 locations around the boat – mainly in galley, cabin and head cubbies that have reduced air flow. I fashioned individual Damprid containers out of leftover plastic food containers because I figured it’s cheaper to buy one 4-pound Damprid bucket rather than 5 or 6 of the individual sized containers.

Damprid 4-pound tub

Damprid 4-pound tub

Homemade Damprid container - inner container with drainage holes in the bottom, inside an outer holding container.

Homemade Damprid container – inner container with drainage holes in the bottom, inside an outer holding container.

One thing I would do differently next time – wear gloves when working with bleach solution! I stuck my hand in the cleaning bucket each time I wrung out the sponge, and this made my hands a little red and irritated. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?

Other resources:

Survey and Sea-Trial of “Lone Star” in Vancouver

Last week I drove up to Vancouver for the survey and sea-trial of a C&C 38 Landfall named “Lone Star” that I’m working on buying.

Crossing the border with my NEXUS pass

Crossing the border with my NEXUS pass

This was only my second time seeing the boat, and in the first visit in December the deck had been covered with snow/ice. So I was a little nervous – would this still be the great boat I thought it was, and was the deck in decent shape now that I could see it uncovered?

Buying a boat is kind of like buying a house – you pick the one you want, and then wait a month or so, hoping you picked the right one and no deal-breakers arise.

Arriving at the boat on Granville Island, the owner was there to skipper during the sea-trial, which was excellent since he knows the boat best and could answer questions I had.

First we took it to be hauled out for the out of water survey (the in-water survey had been completed the week prior when I was sick with the flu).


Trevor from Aegis Marine Surveys (partner of Tim, who was also at the in-water survey last week) did the survey, and did a tremendous job. I have a list of close to 40 things to fix now. But that’s what happens when you hire a good surveyor – the better the surveyor, the more issues they find. That can make it seem like you’re getting a worse boat – but no, you’re getting the same boat you would have gotten if you had hired a less thorough surveyor, but now you know about more of the issues instead of being in the dark. Knowing is always a good thing.

Next came the sea-trial. We took her out in a light rain, and were fortunate to find about 8 knots of wind out on the bay. She sailed well at a nice speed, and it was a pleasure to watch the huge genoa power up the boat.

Here’s a short video I made of the survey and sea-trial (switch to fullscreen and HD for better quality!):


I got the survey report later in the week. Most of the issues are minor things that I can fix myself. The more major things will need to be fixed at the next haul-out, which may not be till the Fall. The seacock backing plates have deteriorated / rotted and need to be replaced (may opt to replace all thru-hulls at that time). A sloppily plugged deck fill port needs to be redone to prevent leaking into the core. There are a few minor interior leaks that need to be fixed – in deck windows, deck penetrations, and a head hose. The engine survey also found a few issues, including soot in the oil analysis, which was concerning because it might be a sign that it’s burning oil.

The good news was there are no serious issues like hull or structure damage, the sails are in decent shape, and most of the systems are working.

Now there’s just a little bit more of waiting to do and then hopefully we’ll close the sale!