PS Advisor: 07/15/02
Foul Freshwater Tanks
My freshwater tanks have become contaminated. The water smells foul. What can I flush the tanks out with to kill whatever is in them? Someone suggested Clorox bleach. I'm wondering is this is a good idea. I also want to install a water filter. Do you have any suggestions as to which ones I should consider?
Sorry to hear about the water tanks. Happens all the time. We did an article on water purification in the December 1998 issue. The gist of today's message is that you need to empty your tanks, then pour in a solution of non-sudsing detergent and Clorox. (We're assuming you have no way of actually getting your arm inside the tanks to scrub them.)
If the smell is really strong, you could use a stronger solution than was mentioned in that article. Try about a quarter cup of Ajax dishwashing liquid and half a cup of Clorox, mixed with 10 gallons of hot water per tank. Pour it all in, then rock the boat hard (or take it out in waves) for an hour. Then open all the freshwater taps and pump the mixture until you see it at the taps. Shut everything down and let the solution stay for a couple of days. Then pump the whole thing out, then flush at least twice with more 10-gallon doses of fresh water (rock the boat more). That ought to help.
While you're at it, you might as well replace the soft delivery hoses, which tend to absorb the stuff that makes the smell.
Once the tanks are clean and hoses replaced, add about a tablespoon of Clorox per 20 gallons when you refill the tanks. Or you could try any of the store-bought water treatments sold by the chandleries. (We'll get around to evaluating some of these pretty soon.)
As for filters, you can add an in-line filter in your boat, like the ShurFlo Waterguard, but really any household pure-water filter will do. Or you could avoid the plumbing and just decant water from one of those carafes that have replaceable filter elements in them.
Of Verdigris and E. Grease
I have many bronze items on my boat that have a good coating of green. How can I remove this stuff?
The green stuff is called verdigris, which is, according to Merriam-Webster... "a green or greenish blue poisonous pigment resulting from the action of acetic acid on copper...a green or bluish deposit especially of copper carbonates formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces."
It will come off eventually with elbow grease. Wash in hot water and soap, then use any combination of rubbing compound and store-bought metal cleaner (like Flitz). Teak cleaners with oxalic acid also seem to take the stuff off pretty well.
We haven't tried them, but two traditional solutions are made from vinegar and salt, or baking soda and lemon juice. Mix enough of either solution to make a foamy paste that you can brush or rub on and leave alone for an hour or so. Then rinse off and keep polishing.
Tillers and Tables
My wife and I own a Wauguiez Gladiateur 33 with tiller steering. We've searched for cockpit table options but only find options for steering pedestals. Any suggestions?
It's nice to be able to lift a tiller out of the way and get a nice open cockpit, so don't do anything too permanent. You could get a folding teak table that will stand on your cockpit sole and stow in a locker (available from the chain chandleries). Or you could make a table yourself from a teak plank (or any kind of wood you like) that would span the cockpit well and rest on the seats, with strips of wood (cleats) that would lodge against the seats under the plank to keep it from sliding sideways or diagonally. Twenty minutes to build the basic table and a couple of hours to finish nicely—but if you wanted to keep going, you could add fiddles around the edges, maybe a cork center section, drink holders...