Boat SANK (not mine!) cleaning tips

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Joined: 4/1/21
Posts: 23
Boat SANK (not mine!) cleaning tips

Coming back from a fantastic 3 day cruise with the family, I got the dreaded call from a friend with a Catalina 30. His boat sank at the marina :(. Thru hull....

photos attached of the inside. It is a mess. Oil everywhere. 

Any thoughts on how to clean it up? I was thinking a ton of detergent and degreaser, then a pressure washer, but that will make a bunch more oily water that has to go somewhere. It cannot be simply pumped overboard. There has to be a better way than buckets? Help me out team, how would you tackle this?

Lastly, go check you thru hulls people!

Ben Lobaugh
s/v Shadow
1987 MKI #724
Tacoma, WA
Cruising and Racing

Siler Starum's picture
Siler Starum
Joined: 4/20/18
Posts: 84

This is not just a matter of giving it a good rinse and clean. I hope that there is a good insurance covering this incident and I presume it is salt-water. If you want to do a good job and you want to minimize consequences in the future, you should strip and bin everything, including the electric wiring, have professional air-dryers running for several weeks and make a new rebuilt. Else you will face the rest of the life-time issues with mold and fungi, continueing facing damages of carpentry because of the moisture, electrical issues / failures / shortage because of the salt in the cabling and components. Consequences will follow for-ever if not attacked in a good way. This is something you wouldn't face.

Durk Nijdam
Catalina 36MKII - 2001 / hullnr. 2013
Stavoren - Holland

dlincoln3's picture
Joined: 4/24/16
Posts: 108

I agree with this.  I don't know how you can deal with the water that is still in there.  Maybe oil absorption pads can soak the oil up and the rest can be pumped out?  Regardless, once the water is out, everything has to be removed from the boat, and they will need to dry it out thoroughly.  Once it's dry, rent a fogger from Home Depot and fog the entire boat with Concrobium to try to stop the mold and mildew before it begins.  As the owner of a previously sunk vessel, the war against mildew is a long-term effort.  You will hear people recommend things like tea tree oil, Fabreeze, I even heard someone recommend dryer sheets.  These are all things you use when you don't have a real problem.  This will take industrial grade chemicals and lots of them.

Don Lincoln
"Nancy Lynn"
1993 Catalina MK1.5, Hull 1238
LaSalle, MI (Lake Erie)
Universal M-35AC

pkeyser's picture
Joined: 5/18/13
Posts: 514

I recently found a factory related issue that could have created a problem with our C36. I read some posts on the refrigerator taking in sea water- which ours started to do last season (when the sink seacock was left open). I removed the pump  and cleaned out debris in the backflow valve.

The pump uses 1/2" hoses. The refrigerator drain outlet is 5/8". The factory ran a 5/8" hose from the refrigerator drain to the pump and rather than using a 5/8-to-1/2 adapter, they silt the hose to make it a smaller diameter to fit the foot pump nipple. It had been leaking for some time, and allowed the foot pump to take in air and loose suction which explains why we had difficulty pumping the refrigerator dry. The hose slit also contained some adhesive to seal it, and that had deteriorated and created a leak whenever the sink seacock was open.

Paul & Wendy Keyser
"First Light"
Newburyport MA/Rye NH
2005 C36 MKII #2257
Wing, M35B

Chachere's picture
Joined: 10/27/10
Posts: 795

One way to eliminate this risk, vis-a-vis the refrigerator drain, is to eliminate the direct connection to the seacock, as (apparently) a prior owner of our boat did:


Matthew Chachère
s/v ¡Que Chévere! #466
1985 C36 MKI tall rig fin keel M25
Homeported in eastern Long Island, NY

Joined: 4/1/21
Posts: 23

The boat was in fresh water. Good call out.

Fogging with concrobium, that would never have occurred to me. I love that stuff! 

Semi-luckily, the owner had all the cushions out prior to this happening, and was actually prepping to pull the motor and replace it with a fresh build that is sitting at his house. The electrical was already fairly shot and he was replacing all that as well. 

Oil absorption pads on the water will surely help a lot. I am not sure how effective they would be in the cleaning. This is probably something that if the boat was hauled at a yard that could handle oil spilling out (we do have some of those) it might be the best bet. 

My buddy is waiting to hear back from insurance. If they will total the boat and cash him out he may go that route. Sad, this boat has been his baby for a couple decades.

Ben Lobaugh
s/v Shadow
1987 MKI #724
Tacoma, WA
Cruising and Racing

KevinLenard's picture
Joined: 1/28/15
Posts: 192

Interesting.  We had a powerboat sink on our dock at the club.  There seemed to be no debate: once a boat has sunk and the diesel and oil have risen up under the liner it cannot be cleaned effectively and it is a write-off.  His boat had the engine and all re-sellable parts removed and then it was crushed by an excavator and carted off to landfill. 

Kevin Lenard
'91 C-36 Mk. "1.5" Tall Rig, Fin Keel, Hull #1120, Universal M-35 original (not "A" or "B")
CBYC, Scarborough, Lake Ontario, Canada

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