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Cleaning bird contributions off of canvas (warning: content may not be suitable for all audiences)

Jul 26, 2009
227
. . .
Hopefully this post will help others in the future.

Miserable season relative to our feathered friends (pictures below). The cormorants and osprey were relentlessly prolific in their activity all Summer long. Not just bird droppings but half eaten fish, guts, etc. If I had to guess, we spent more than half the season cleaning off the boat vs. sailing her. In over 10 years of having the boat, we've never had to deal with anything like this before (maybe we've just been lucky). Ended up trying wire above the spreaders, flags, bird spikes, decoys, etc. Didn't seem to matter. We'd go out to sail on a Saturday only to find the boat covered so we'd spend 3-4 hours cleaning it as best we could. Come back Sunday to sail and it would be a mess all over again. They destroyed canvas throughout the mooring field. And the smell...

Prior to this season, our canvas looked as new as the day it was installed ~6 years ago. As of 3 days ago we thought we were going to have to toss all of it. We tried everything we could think of to clean it, but to no avail. It was still stained and had a funk that we just couldn't get out. One of the launch drivers (our new hero) suggested we try this Iosso product. I was hesitant at first as it just looked like another 'oxy' sodium percarbonate product which we'd already tried.

Mold-Mildew-Stain-Remover-10900_c0dabb85c634529ad08deccc3489a29b.jpg


We finally gave up sailing and took the canvas off the boat and brought it home. Used our utility sink to soak the canvas over night in hot water and this Iosso powder. Agitated it every couple of hours or so by hand. Results were remarkable. Maybe using hot water with the other cleaners we tried would have given similar results, but I'm sticking with this stuff for now. No affiliation, just a relieved customer.

Still have to address some remaining stains on the decks, so if anyone has suggestions for that please chime in.

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Last edited:
Jul 7, 2004
7,130
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
So that stuff works eh?:thumbup:

The PO left a jar on the boat we bought. Haven't had to use it yet. You definitely want to retreat the fabric with a repellent while it's clean. I use the 303 sealer
 
  • Like
Likes: BigEasy
Oct 22, 2014
13,442
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
OMG.. Always wanted to use that euphemistic initialism ...
It seems to fit here. Some folk are photo bombed... You have been bird bombed in a serious way.

I'd be thinking... Where is a shotgun when you need it. - (Dont worry Audubon Society, a passing thought from a misspent youth).
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,347
Hunter 40.5 East Greenwich, RI
We have had terrible bird deposits similar to the OP's story. Including half-eaten fish and guts. I still have blood stains that I can't get out. I understand the issue of spending hours cleaning only to have it re-occur.
So my question is: Our bird deposit experience has been on a mooring. Do you people on a dock have the same experience? More? Less?
 
  • Like
Likes: Rick486
May 1, 2011
1,780
Pearson 37 Lusby MD
Do you people on a dock have the same experience? More? Less?
Knock on wood, I've never had ospreys or cormorants bomb the boat in the slip. However, when the temps begin to fall, various other birds like to land on the spreaders to warm themselves in the sun. The berries they eat make a real mess.
 
  • Like
Likes: shemandr
Jun 21, 2004
1,610
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Only solution on mooring is lots of elbow grease with medium bristle brush & your favorite cleaner. At a dock, I would use a power washer. Might want to use a deck sealer like Woody’s wax after thorouly cleaning; the sealer would prevent the crap from adhering to the deck so tenaciously.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,283
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I never had a Comorant problem at my dock - less than a 1/3 of a mile from boats getting bombed in the mooring field. I guess too much activity or the birds couldn't see as much bait there. But just so the audience knows Comorants crap out half digested fish and squid. It stinks and it's disgusting. And their crap is more like a spray than dropping.
The fall birds would tank up on berries in local fields and sit on my spreaders to crap it out before their trip South. Red, blue, black colors which if I didn't get after would become stains in the deck which were hard to remove. When ever I was on the boat I would give the rig a shake whenever I could, and three or four birds would fly off the masthead. Obviously when I wasn't on board, the birds had their privileges with my speaders. Neighboring boats got bombed too. Then the marina would turn the water off. So many times I had to put the boat away with a crappy deck, which I didn't like. My parents were birdwatchers - me, not so much.
 
Oct 1, 2007
1,585
Hunter 44DS Pt. Judith
We have had terrible bird deposits similar to the OP's story. Including half-eaten fish and guts. I still have blood stains that I can't get out. I understand the issue of spending hours cleaning only to have it re-occur.
So my question is: Our bird deposit experience has been on a mooring. Do you people on a dock have the same experience? More? Less?
No. And I have "Bird B Gone" on my spreaders which was quite effective on the mooring.
 
Feb 3, 2015
290
Marlow Hunter 37 Reefpoint Marina Racine, WI
But just so the audience knows Comorants crap out half digested fish and squid. It stinks and it's disgusting. And their crap is more like a spray than dropping.
And it dries like concrete. If you hit it while fresh, it washes right off. If not, concrete. We had one incident where we left the boat to walk to a restaurant and left a hatch open below the spreaders. A cormorant landed on a spreader over the open hatch. A dock mate scared it off before it bombed us thankfully!!
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,610
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Wow! I thought I had problems with seasonal influx of purple martins.....that’s nothing compared to the mess you’re dealing with.
 

CarlN

.
Jan 4, 2009
504
Ketch 55 Bristol, RI
This Starbrite cleaner does a remarkable job on most bird crap (but not all)
And this mini power washer will run off an inverter on the mooring and uses 1.5 gallons/minute. Gets 80% of them off. Works great getting into the non-skid Amazon.com : Sun Joe SPX201E 1350 PSI 1.45 GPM 10-Amp Electric Pressure Washer, Green (Renewed) : Garden & Outdoor
 
Nov 24, 2014
114
Catalina 310 Staten Island
We have had terrible bird deposits similar to the OP's story. Including half-eaten fish and guts. I still have blood stains that I can't get out. I understand the issue of spending hours cleaning only to have it re-occur.
So my question is: Our bird deposit experience has been on a mooring. Do you people on a dock have the same experience? More? Less?
Having kept my boat at both the dock, as well as on a mooring, I can attest to the fact that in the same harbor, the problem will be much worse on a mooring than on a dock at a marina. The noise and commotion of a busy marina is a deterrent to some extent
 
Nov 24, 2014
114
Catalina 310 Staten Island
Hopefully this post will help others in the future.

Miserable season relative to our feathered friends (pictures below). The cormorants and osprey were relentlessly prolific in their activity all Summer long. Not just bird droppings but half eaten fish, guts, etc. If I had to guess, we spent more than half the season cleaning off the boat vs. sailing her. In over 10 years of having the boat, we've never had to deal with anything like this before (maybe we've just been lucky). Ended up trying wire above the spreaders, flags, bird spikes, decoys, etc. Didn't seem to matter. We'd go out to sail on a Saturday only to find the boat covered so we'd spend 3-4 hours cleaning it as best we could. Come back Sunday to sail and it would be a mess all over again. They destroyed canvas throughout the mooring field. And the smell...

Prior to this season, our canvas looked as new as the day it was installed ~6 years ago. As of 3 days ago we thought we were going to have to toss all of it. We tried everything we could think of to clean it, but to no avail. It was still stained and had a funk that we just couldn't get out. One of the launch drivers (our new hero) suggested we try this Iosso product. I was hesitant at first as it just looked like another 'oxy' sodium percarbonate product which we'd already tried.

View attachment 185816

We finally gave up sailing and took the canvas off the boat and brought it home. Used our utility sink to soak the canvas over night in hot water and this Iosso powder. Agitated it every couple of hours or so by hand. Results were remarkable. Maybe using hot water with the other cleaners we tried would have given similar results, but I'm sticking with this stuff for now. No affiliation, just a relieved customer.

Still have to address some remaining stains on the decks, so if anyone has suggestions for that please chime in.

View attachment 185818

View attachment 185819

View attachment 185820

View attachment 185821

View attachment 185822

View attachment 185823

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View attachment 185825
As is often the case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Open bimini tops are the proverbial welcome mat for birds. I fold up my bimini top after each use. It takes less time to fold and unfold than to clean up the mess. As to the sail cover, that is a different matter. I have in-mast furling, so that is not an issue for me. If you have a traditional sail cover, it might pay to simply remove and bag the sail after each use; but only if you have a small boat. Perhaps you should string a series of wire, netting, wires, or purpose built bird spikes above the boom and along its entire length
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,347
Hunter 40.5 East Greenwich, RI
View attachment 185869
You can get these at Amazon. Not a drop since installed.
How and where do yo install them? I have been thinking about some bird deterrents, but one of my goals is to have a system that can be installed and removed in under 10 minutes. Some kinds of spikes can be installed permanently but other deterrents are in the way for sailing.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,283
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
When I bought my Mark 25 keelboat (I just learned today that there were only 17 built so I understand no one knows the boat) it came from Mt. Sinai Harbor, on a mooring, where there was a Comorant problem. The rigging above the spreaders had wires with cotton T shirt ribbons tied to them. It looked like someone had put their dirty torn underwear up there to dry. But I think it must have worked pretty well because the boat was free of bird poop when I picked it up. The Blond rejected the system instantly.
 
Sep 25, 2008
1,072
CS 30 Toronto
I cable tied them on to the spreaders and the top of mast. Doesn't seems to affect much airflow. In the winter, cable tie them on the rails.