Detailing your Boat

Boats ready for maintenance

Boat Detailing 101: Knowing how to properly wash your boat can save you money and keep your boat looking like new!

A couple of months ago we featured an article on the importance of maintaining your boat’s zincs in order to protect the bottom part of your boat (see A Bit on Galvanic Corrosion). In this month’s feature article we will focus on maintaining the top part of your boat – in essence, the entire exterior of the structure. Boat Detailing 101!

There are a few main things to remember when it comes to detailing your boat. Some of these important rules are: Rinse often especially when you’ve been in saltwater, never let salt OR soap dry on the surface, don’t use towels (opt for microfiber), and don’t scrub too hard or you’ll scratch the surface. And, of course, wax/polish!

Here is a step-by-step guide on washing your boat (yes, you’ll want to read this!):

1. Rinse the boat down – This way you can dislodge the big particles of dirt that can scratch the gelcoat when you start cleaning. Start at the highest point of the boat – the arch, for instance, if you have a bridge cruiser- and from the bow toward the stern.

2. Wash the boat down with a soft sponge – Same order as above: top to bottom, front to back. Please use marine-grade soap. Why, you ask? Soaps made specifically for boats have a neutral pH which will not strip your boat’s gelcoat. The same cannot be said about regular dishwashing soap!!

Also, don’t let the soap dry on the surface as it can dull the finish. Keep a hose handy and rinse often as you go.

3. Brushes – You’ve made a big investment in buying your boat, so invest in the proper tools to maintain it. Recommended are the premium brushes with rubber around the edges for when you bump the brush against the boat. You should have at least two: a soft brush for cleaning the outer gelcoat, and a stiffer brush for washing the canvas and nonskid surfaces. Use the contact form here to buy brushes from us, if you’d like.

Follow same cleaning order as #1 and #2.

4. Rinse your boat – Keep the hose handy and here’s a tip: choose a plastic nozzle instead of a metal one because it won’t chip the paint when you drop it.

You may want to take the nozzle off for the last rinse and just let the water sheet off of the coating so that there is less drying time because the next step is…

5. Dry your boat – Always dry your boat after washing it. Fresh water contains residues of chemicals and lime, which will dull the gelcoat. When drying, it is much safer to use microfiber cloths than regular towels.

6. Wax/Polish – There is a lot of debate on how often and in what order you should handle the polishing and waxing of your boat. Basically, the polish is more of a light compound that removes scratches and such, and the wax is a protective cover on your gelcoat. If you do nothing else at least make sure to wax your boat twice a year. Contact your Service Provider to discuss your different options.

*A special note regarding saltwater:
If you are lucky enough to live near the ocean, it is of the utmost importance that you always wash the salt off your boat after a day on the water. The sea salt will corrode the metal in your boat and, if left to bake in the sun, can result in a condition known as the “pretzel” – and that is, when your boat is completely encrusted with sea salt. At that point, the salt has to be chipped off and the surfaces pretty much redone.

And there you have it- six steps to maintaining your boat’s exterior to make sure it stays looking brand-new. Of course if you really don’t want to do all this, you can bring it in to your service provider and have someone do it for you. You can contact Rick or Tony P. here at Intermarine at 954-894-9895 if you are in the Fort Lauderdale area. Otherwise you are all set to do it yourself.

Happy Boating!

Question for our readers: What are your thoughts on the wax/polish issue?

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