What’s That Smell? And Other Worrying Issues

Before I explain the horrors of a 30-year-old boat, I just wanted to lay out a view for you and say “this is why.”

View of Lake Texoma. Our home for the next few weeks.
View of Lake Texoma. Our home for the next few weeks.

As we were moving things in we noticed the smell saturating the main salon, master cabin and second cabin. What is that smell? Rick thinks it is a little like cleaning products or fuel. I think it is sort of mildewy but not quite. With the air running full blast throughout, the smell dissipated but was still lingering. When the guys came for the furniture, we asked them. “No, it’s not fuel. Not any engine smells.” That was a relief, but what was it?

I set about cleaning by starting on the kitchen sink with the idea of wiping down the refrigerator which the previous owners had left a mess. Turned on the water. It came out full force, then dwindled, then sputtered to a stop. “Rick! No water!”

He assumed the tanks were empty and hooked up the hoses from the shore. I waited. He washed his hands and the same problem came about. Great. No water. Can’t clean. Can’t shower.

We both went to bed with things on our minds and by 11, Rick was still reading and I sat up. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Can’t sleep. I’m exhausted, but I can’t sleep.”

“That’s why I’m reading.”

We both alternated between dozing and wide awake. Around 4:30 I felt Rick get up. I heard him above me and then the CRACK of thunder. I joined him on the aft deck. We watched the fireworks in silence and listened to the rumbles until the rain came. It was a downpour. Rain hitting a tin roof is absolutely deafening. It’s a sound like no other and it surrounds you with its power.  We listened until it died down.

“I think I know what the smell is.” He said. “The stairs to the master cabin area are damp. I think something major was spilled and with no one on the boat, the air wasn’t running. Given the humidity, I’m guessing it just never dried.”

“Guess we’re ripping up the carpet today instead of next week.”


“I hope the water tanks are full. Otherwise we’re driving to a truck stop and paying for a shower. I NEED a shower.”


Since then we have determined we also need someone to clean the air ducts because there is a smell with the air on in certain parts of the boat. It was a trial finding all the light switches but we prevailed. But there are other things that are bothersome. Our washer/dryer doesn’t seem to work so that’s another issue and last but not least someone (me) clogged the toilet because the TP we bought (Rick) was the wrong type. Although it said on the package it was good for septic tanks, we apparently can use only marine TP. We asked at West Marine what we do about that plug (can we use a plunger?). He said he calls a guy to do a messy job like that. So we will let the marina dudes work their magic.

And I was worried we’d be bored. Huhn.


8 thoughts on “What’s That Smell? And Other Worrying Issues”

  1. It will all come together. RV sales carries the correct tp for boats and RVs. Walmart even has a supply of the right kind. It takes some getting used to because it is thin and disintegrates rapidly. Of course that is why it doesn’t clog the system. lol

    1. Oh, we bought stuff for septic tanks at Walmart, but it still clogged. As we went through cabinets, we found lots of packages of the right stuff so we are set for awhile. Apparently, the lady before us took a page from my mom’s book. She always had TP squirreled away everywhere to be sure not to run out. 🙂

  2. Ohmigosh this is so you two . Good thing you’re both smart and willing to do all this (it will so be worth it). I bet that storm was fabulous!!!

    1. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing (ha! ha!) The storm WAS fabulous! We will eventually get up your way. Want to see you and meet Miss Cutie Pie!!

    1. In part. ALL the carpet was bad. Plus the air conditioning hadn’t been run in a long while. The guys at the marina are coming to clean out the ducts and in the meantime, they suggested putting dryer sheets in the vents. Its working!

  3. Oh my gosh! Just getting used to sleeping on the boat would take me awhile, never mind all that stuff to worry about. Take heart. The other boat would probably have been worse.

    1. We were talking about that. The other boat would have been SO MUCH WORSE. I love the gentle rocking. Its actually comforting when you sleep.

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