Offshore Log: A Crude Problem


A week before we reached Singapore, a tanker ran aground while transiting the strait, dumping 7,000 tons of light crude oil. This oil coated Indonesian and Malaysian fishing areas near Singapore, as well as fouling the shore for miles around. 

Approaching Singapore, we spotted a debris-coated slick about a mile long and 50 yards wide. Had we known about the oil spill, we would have immediately realized what we were looking at. Concerned about sucking debris into the engine raw water intake, we gingerly picked our way through a narrow gap in the spill. When we arrived at Raffles Marina in Singapore there was a big black splatter of crude oil gracing our stem at the waterline. Too tired to deal with it in the darkness, we left it for the following morning—a potentially bad mistake.

The next morning we scraped as much of the thick, gooey oil—almost the consistency of liquid tar—from the fiberglass as we could, using a flexible plastic spreader. This was followed by a hard scrubbing with undiluted Simple Green, which is one powerful degreaser.

The oil had penetrated the gelcoat, leaving brownish-yellow stains. Two treatments with Davis FSR acid gel cleaner got rid of about 95% of the staining. The rest will have to wait until our next haulout.

These are two cleaners we would not do without. Simple Green in various concentrations can be used for anything from degreasing to general purpose cleaning. We use FSR for oil, rust, and water stain removal from gelcoat and white polyurethane painted surfaces. Simple Green is available in most grocery and hardware stores in the US.


Contact- Davis Instruments, 3465 Diablo Ave., Hayward, CA 94545; 510/732-9229.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here