A Clean Bilge is a Happy Bilge!


As mentioned in my last post, I have been finding many little jobs to do before cleaning out the bilge on my lovely boat. But, having finally decided on a name for her, it felt like time to tackle this most “delightful” task.

Saoirse has been sitting up for a year or more, and she had her engine removed, but all her hosing left in place. While this will make it easier for me to put a new engine into her, it also meant that plenty of oily sludge has made it way into the bilge. Couple that with paint flakes, leaves and the other general gunk that calls the average bilge home, I had a lovely Sunday afternoon ahead of me.

Challenge number 1 was to pump her out, a mixture of brown water and semi solid gunk was sucked out via a manual bilge pump. While it was hard enough work pumping her out by hand, a manual bilge pump doesn’t have a strainer on it and has a 19mm intake, so it was able to deal with the semi solid, oily mixture housed in my lovely boat.

Once she was somewhat dry, I had to start removing the larger lumps of mostly solidified oil by hand, heavy duty work gloves were my best friend at this stage.

Now I was left with a bilge that was slick with oil residue and similar. Boat Buddy Interior Deodoriser and Cleaner had been recommended to me as being very good for cleaning out bilges and cutting through grease and oil. And it did not disappoint! I started using it straight on to a sponge and scrubbing at the layer of water and oil in the bilge and it immediately started cutting though and lifting the residue. After wiping down the whole bilge (with about 5 sponges) like this, I then diluted it to the recommended 1:50 ratio, poured a couple of litres into the bilge, mixed it around to lift any further residue and started pumping again.

While it was not the most fun Sunday I have ever had, it was very satisfying! Unfortunately due to worn paint the photos do not do her justice, but let me tell you, there is a major difference. While she will need another wipe down before she is ready for some bilge paint, she is no longer in a state where I won’t let anyone see inside her, which coincidentally happened the weekend before my parents were coming to see her for the first time.

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