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Have you ever tried to track down a smell that is a bit unpleasant, and appears to emanate from a particular area? Rebecca and I have been working on one such challenge the last couple of days. Having had no success otherwise, we even went so far this morning as to cut an “inspection hole” to see what was behind a particularly inaccessible area. As you can tell, we’re serious about this stuff!

Note: Cutting that hole would have been infinitely easier if we had the proper tool!

Once that hole was cut, it was still not super easy to see where we wanted to so we put our new GoPro Hero3 to creative use. Unlike the older models, the GoPro3 and the newer ones have built-in WiFi connectivity, and an iOS app that allows you to remotely view on your iPhone or iPad what the GoPro is pointing at. Using this feature, I was able to stick the camera into the hole and see what was inside there by looking at the screen on my iPad. Cool, eh? Coincidentally, while walking the aisles of Home Depot yesterday, I saw a $275.00 tool that basically does the same thing, albeit with a smaller camera lens.

So, what did we discover? Sadly, nothing obvious. I was really hoping to find something dramatic. Using the access that we just created though, we did do some additional cleaning with some bleach, hoping that it will do the trick. We’ll see, or in this case, smell if we were successful. I’d really rather not to have to cut any more holes!


  1. Cool trick with the GoPro camera.

    From my aviation days I picked up an inspection camera with a detachable remote screen from Harbor Freight that I could use to inspect things that were hard to access with flashlight and inspection mirror. I brought it with me to the boat figuring it would be handy here too. The camera head is on a flexible neck and contains a built-in light. One trick I found with it was the neck is attached to the base/grip unit via an s-video connector…so adding a cable in between makes it even easier to inspect in tight places.


  2. Mike –
    I have one of these:
    And it has saved my bacon many times, both on the boat and while working on cars. The camera will fit thru a 5/8″ hole, meaning that cutting large accesses is not necessary.

  3. Check this out. $99 and you can have a very small hole. Just another option.

  4. As creative as always Mike – your deductive and reasoning abilities never cease to amaze me. I agree, you have to love the remote possibilities that exist in being able to live stream video footage from the GoPro to a remote device such as the iPhone or iPad in real-time.

  5. So, what is it? Maybe a porous pipe on the black water tank? A former rodent? dirty water redolent with bugs and algae?



  6. Don’t you love the mysterious crappy smells? My Leopard 40 had aluminum waste tanks (stupid stupid stupid). The stbd one leaked and the PO did not do a good job of cleaning the bilge. I replaced both with polymer tanks from TripleM. I am still chasing down all the stink causing residue, and I too have made additional penetrations to access. I am appalled at the left over construction debris I keep finding.
    In the meantime, fabric softener sheets tucked out of the way and firmly affixed help a little bit.
    Have fun.

  7. Mike,

    my wife (liz) and i are looking at retiring in about 7 years to cruise in the BVI area. your website has been a HUGE help! how do you get around the max 6 mth stay rule? does that 6 mth clock re-start every time that you leave and re-enter?

    sorry to tag my question onto this thread, but i couldn’t find a link to just email you. we are chartering this april for ten days, and will keep an eye out for “one love”


    • When we check in to the BVI the longest stay we have ever been granted is one month, not 6 months. That’s not a big deal though as you just sail to the USVI for a day and come back, pay some more money and the clock starts over.

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