How to get rid of Musty Smell in Your Boat and get a Bottle of Whisky for free

Disclaimer: I do not take responsibility for any damage when you try this on your own! AC-current can be deadly, there is a risk of fire and ozone is very poisonous when inhaled!

Now to the post on how I managed to remove moldy smell from a boat for very little money:

As long as I can remember, our family boat had this special smell to it. A little bit like the basement of your grandparents, mixed with fumes from the alcohol stove and the kerosene lamp.

For me, that smell always had a somewhat positive connotation, as it was related to my holidays on the water. However, even I noted that everything I had on board for a day or more adopted that smell. My whole wardrobe smelled like “boat” even long after the vacation.

After I moved the boat to Konstanz, friends told me that the boat was just smelling bad. I guess they were lacking the conditioning of “boat smell” = “sailing vacation”… But even I realized, that it is probably not healthy to breathe the mold spores over longer periods of time.

So I searched for solutions to get rid of the smell without having to completely remove all lining from the walls and replacing the cushions. I finally found an article in the German sailing magazine “Yacht”, praising the effectiveness of an ozone generator.

I wanted to give it a try, but the price of those devices (200-500 Euros), depending on the amount of ozone produced held me back. I found a few rental services, but they also started at 30 Euros a day and normally required a minimum rental period of a whole week.


Finally, I found an extremely cheap ozone generator. The problem is, that it is only the generating unit, without case, cable, vent, timer etc. At first I was skeptical, but I thought I’d give it a try and build my own case around it.


For the case, I used the solid cardboard-box of a VERY nice whisky that I got from a friend (the box, not the whisky, unfortunately…). I also bought a vent for cooling and distribution of the ozone. I connected everything using some old cables that I had already laying around.

Ozone GeneratorWhisky-BoxFanCables


Preparing the BoxGenerator installedCables ReadyDone

After spending an evening of putting everything together, I tested the system on board the next morning. Since it is important to have warm air and low humidity, I first ran a 1000 Watt electric heater in the cabin for an hour. Since the humidity was still quite high, I placed the heater directly behind the vent to make sure the air around the ozone generator is as warm and dry as possible. I then closed the hatches except for a small gap through which I led the cable and plugged in the whole thing in (form outside the boat of course…).

Ready for action

After a few seconds, I could already smell ozone coming out of the gap of the hatch and after a few minutes, even at the dock it smelled like a swimming pool. I kept at a safe distance, and after 30 minutes I pulled the plug to stop the ozone production.

After a few hours, (it takes a while until the oxygen dissolves back to its normal state) I went back to check the result. I was stoked! The smell was completely gone! The air inside was fresh, and only a little hint of “swimming pool” smell was noticeable (which did not bother me, but actually increased the feeling of freshness).

The conclusion is: There is no better way to remove odors than an ozone generator. If your boat smells moldy, you have the following three choices:

  • Buy a commercial ozone generator for 300 Euros
  • Buy a cheap one plus a vent plus an excellent bottle of whisky for 150 Euros
  • Buy a cheap one plus a vent and use something else as case for 35 Euros

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