Fight the Funk with Kanberra Gel

Relying on the mold-destroying power of tea tree oil, this specially formulated goo will rid your boat's cabin of foul-smelling odors.
Sailing World


Courtesy Kanberra Gel

A few years back, Indoor Air Professionals, an air-duct cleaning company based in Buffalo, N.Y., was looking for a way to keep mold and mildew from returning to freshly serviced ventilation systems. They hit upon a gelatinous, tea-tree oil formula that, when placed in a duct, would evaporate into the air, attach itself to mold-causing spores, and physically dissolve the foul-smelling odors.

The formula worked extremely well in the HVAC industry, providing relief to asthma patients sensitive to harsh chemical cleaners. Discovering more and more uses for their miracle goo, Indoor Air Professionals developed it into a retail product, Kanberra Gel.

Sold in self-dispensing jars ranging in volume from two to eight ounces, Kanberra Gel first entered the marine industry via the megayacht market. “We were contacted about three years ago by a company in Ft. Lauderdale that deals with megayachts,” says Kanberra’s Mike Robinson, whom I met while crewing aboard Ted Johnson’s Damn Yankee at the 2010 LYRA Regatta. “They were having a lot of problems with odors in megayachts, which tend to be very compartmentalized, and thus very susceptible to mold and mildew. We sent them some samples, and they just loved the stuff.”


For smaller boats, Kanberra Gel is just as effective. “A lot of sailors seem to think that that funky boat smell is unavoidable,” says Robinson, an avid racer who spent time as a boat captain in California. “Even if the head is totally clean, on most boats, the lines to the head are porous; they allow gas to flow in and out, which is where the smell comes from.

“Kanberra Gel doesn’t mask odors,” he continues. “Products like Febreeze and Airwick simply confuse your nose by introducing a new fragrance. Tea tree oil actually attacks airborne mold spores, and when it gets into the air, it lands on surfaces and attacks the mold there. It’ll penetrate the porous surfaces of your boat—the cushions, the lines to the head, the wood—and physically break down these single-cell organisms.”

In order to reap the full benefits of Kanberra Gel on your raceboat, you need to institute something of a mold-fighting regimen, since each jar lasts about two months (longer if the boat’s in storage). “For the interior volume of a sailboat up to about 40 feet, I’d advise using an eight-ounce jar,” says Robinson. “You simply take off the lid and let the gel evaporate throughout the boat. When you’re first using the product, it will evaporate quickly. But as you use it more and more and get ahead of the mold problem, you’ll find it begins to last longer. If the product is working effectively, you may not be able to smell the Kanberra Gel, but you’ll notice the air is much cleaner.”


The summer sailing season is right around the corner, and you’re probably feeling guilty about all those boat projects you were going to tackle over the winter. Here’s one project even the laziest DIYer can accomplish. Grab a jar of Kanbarra, unscrew the lid, and place it down below. By the time your crew comes aboard for the first race, your cabin will be free of its former funk.

From $19.99,

Sailing World_ readers can get a special rate on Kanberra Gel. Use discount code sail111 at checkout._