Wash the Deck
Boat ownership means much more than signing paperwork and turning a key—boats need proper maintenance. Batteries, pumps, curtains, cushions, and more all require regular care, but one of the easiest yet most important steps in maintaining a boat is a proper washdown.
Keeping your vessel washed and waxed will protect it from the toll that its surrounding environment will have on it. Sun, salt, water, and other elements begin to conspire against a boat the moment it comes home with a new owner, and proper washdowns are a necessary step to keeping that investment looking as good as possible.
Not just the boat’s appearance is at stake, as the fiberglass, gel coat, metals, and other materials need to stay clean to last and maintain the vessel’s value. After all, while in the market to buy a vessel, how much attention did you pay to a boat that was in poor condition?
Only a few simple items are needed to give a boat a proper washdown. They include a dedicated boat soap, a 5 gallon bucket, a deck brush, a sponge, and a shammy.
In the stores there are several types of boat soap available. My personal choice is Meguiars Boat Wash, as it’s not too expensive, lathers well, isn’t harsh on vinyl or gelcoat, has a pleasant scent, and leaves a great shine. Be sure to read the directions listed on the back of whatever soap product you choose for the correct water to soap mix ratio (a capful to 4 gallons of water with Meguiars). Over-mixing soap can leave a residue behind after rinsing that’s more than a cosmetic issue—over time it can actually damage the gel coat, curtains, and other surfaces of the vessel.
A hint: fill your bucket with water first, and then add the soap (you will get a lot less bubble overfill this way). Spray the boat down as you go along in the sections you are working, and then apply soap and scrub with the deck brush. A medium deck brush is ideal for most of the boat, but anglers may need a stiff brush to remove stains and dirt from the non-skid on decks. Be sure to spray down the sections after you have completed your wash. Washing the boat in sections allows you to fully rinse the soap off before it’s had a chance to dry and form a residue (particularly in the 90+ degree heat of NC summers).
The sponge is to be used on your curtains. You will want to be careful when washing your curtains; they can be very easily scratched, particularly by rings, watches, and other jewelry.
After you have washed your boat and thoroughly rinsed it from bow to stern, use your shammy to dry off the remaining water leaving no water spots behind. Water droplets act as miniature magnifying glasses and concentrate sunlight, leading to damage to the gel coat and especially the “glass” of curtains and enclosures.
You should never use household cleaners or dish soap on your vessel. These types of cleaners can cause damage, for they were not designed for boats. Dish soap in particular leaves a much more substantial residue after rinsing than soap designed for marine applications, especially at the heavy concentrations mixed by many boaters. Also, many marinas ban boat owners from washing with Dawn and other dish soaps out of water quality concerns.
The washing and waxing of your vessel will help to keep the appearance and value up. Neglect to do so will cause irreversible damage and costly repairs. Swab the Deck Marine Detailing Service encourages you to call us today to discuss the upkeep of your vessel and to help protect your fishing investment.