How to Care for Your Boat’s Surfaces
During the boating season, caring for your boat is an ever-continuing process. Nature doesn’t seem to care about the fresh wash you just gave your boat. Acid rains will come and leave stains on your boat, birds will fly over dropping smelly gifts behind, marine wildlife will even make it’s way in your boat making large messes for you to clean up. Despite all of this, there are some things you can do to leave your boat looking like the newest one on the dock.
When washing your boat it would seem like a logical choice to use soap and water, however, be cautious why the soaps you use as some that are not intended for marine use can actually cause negative effects to the waters around you. Some soaps produce large quantities of algae as they feed off of the phosphates that are found in commercial solutions. The algae then pull all the oxygen out of the water harming much of the other wildlife left in the water. If you are looking to use a commercial grade soap to clean your boat, make sure to find one that is specifically intended for marine use, one that doesn’t use microbeads which can be mistaken for fish eggs. Your local boat sales shop should be able to provide you a high quality soap that will not only leave your boat spotless, but will also be eco-friendly for the marine wildlife. If for any reason they do not carry such a product, then you can definitely find the right product online.
As for surfaces, fiberglass is one of the easiest to clean surfaces found on a boat. Luckily, it is also one of the most common surfaces as well. Much like the material your car is made out of, the same level of care is needed on your boat. A good paint job, regular washes after some heavy use and a good wax job in steady intervals and your coat should last you a long time. Since your boat is constantly submerged into water, you will need to refinish the coat of paint on the top of the boat roughly every 5 years or so. if you don’t, your paint will become very dull and brittle, it will look as if you can flake the paint off which is a very undesirable sight. The bottom of the boat will definitely need refinishing much more often. Especially if your boat is located in salt water you may need to do a complete paint job every 12-24 months.
Wooden boats are some of the nicest boats on the water and are also a very common material used for very obvious reasons, it’s very buoyant and durable. Wooden boats, however, are higher maintenance, but if treated the right way, they can last a very very long time. They key to keeping a wooden boat last a very long time is to keep the wood’s porous surface very tightly sealed to prevent water from causing it’s harmful damage. If water is allowed to enter the pours, it can permanently damage the structure of the wood by raising the grain. Be sure to replace oils and stains regularly to help keep water from entering the wood. The sun’s harmful and damaging UV rays can also be a very destructive element to wood. Be sure to keep your boat covered when possible and out of the sun’s direct sunlight when possible.
Carpet and upholstery are also commonly found on a boat. Though they tend to be of a more durable grade, they are still a fabric and they tend to absorb moisture, salt and sand which cause breakdown very quickly. Sand rubbing together can act like a knife tearing through fabric at a very quick speed. Since it tends to be an area full of moisture, the carpeting, upholstery and pillows tend to collect moisture leading to mold. When possible, leave them in contact with direct sunlight to allow them to dry off as quickly as possible. When you need to, use an upholstery cleaning service to dry clean your carpeting, upholstery and pillows. You’ll want to make sure to use them especially before you store your boat for the winter.
Boats are an extremely fun and romantic way to spend a day or weekend together with your family or significant other. It may seem like taking care of a boat is not worth it, but its really about understanding what the maintenance cycle is like and then making a plan around it. When something needs to get done, just figure out a way to quickly make sure it gets checked off your list then get back to enjoying your boat. Cheers!