Looking for a Game Plan

Posted: April 1, 2014

Ken Bligh, Boston, Mass.

By: Zuzana Prochazka

I’m getting ready to launch my center-console fishing boat but have only one weekend to get the hull and deck clean. Where should I focus, and what should I have on hand so I can at least avoid multiple trips to the store?
Hopefully you thoroughly cleaned and waxed your boat before you put it away for the season last year, but if not, be sure to include the following at the very least.

The hull should be free of salt before you start any work, because it is abrasive and will scratch delicate surfaces when rubbed in. Give the hull a good wash with boat soap rather than a general soap, and then rinse with lots of water. Be careful that your old hose doesn’t make more marks as you drag it across your deck. If it’s crud-covered, invest in a new one. Also, get a new spray nozzle, because that the one from last year is probably either broken or lost.

Get to the root of rust marks around metal attachment points, waterline yellowing and exhaust stains with FSR gel and a good brush. This is also a good time to eliminate those racing stripes, the tell-tale marks of imperfect dock landings, with a black streak remover. Many brands are available.

Scuff marks on deck can be eliminated with BoatLIFE’s Fiberglass Powder and Stain Remover or Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean (a cheap option that works). Non-skid surface has a way of inviting mildew, moss, fish guts and just about everything else. Thetford’s Ultrafoam Deck Cleaner gets into the uneven spaces to tackle the life forms. Spray it on and scrub in a circular motion with a plastic bristle brush.

For teak trim, use chemical brighteners to bring back the golden glow or use Cascade gel dishwashing detergent, which cuts the dirt without being too harsh. For gelcoat, many manufacturers’ cleaners take care of stains. Do not use one with added bleach.

Finally, a good wax not only keeps a boat shiny and protected, it makes it easier to clean and maintain. Bird poop, fish goo and other stains tend to stick less to a slick surface, so be sure to replace the layer of wax your cleaning removes. For quick touch ups, one-step cleaner waxes will work to remove gelcoat oxidation and seal the surface. If your boat is small and your ambition great, you might do the whole treatment with Shurhold’s Dual-Action Buffer. The oscillating head prevents burn and swirl marks, and you can push it against the surface without stopping the rotation like on some lightweight consumer styles.

Other cleaning supplies you will need include a bucket, a deck brush, rags, a squeegee, a chamois, glass cleaner, canvas/vinyl cleaner and sponges. Don’t forget gloves — some of this stuff works great on fiberglass but can be bit tough on your skin.

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