Scoring A Clean, Lean Dream Machine

Published: Fall 2013

Most boat owners like to sport a clean rig. The trick is to get the cleaning and maintenance finished so you can maximize your time on the water.

The Hull Truth

Photo of scraping the barnacles off the bottom of a boat

If you boat in saltwater, barnacles are your number-one enemy. Sure, bottom paint slows them down, but they still grow, especially on unpainted underwater boat hardware. With the boat out of the water, first scrape and/or power wash as many barnacles off as possible. Next, apply a marine product called On & Off (by MaryKate) and stand back and watch the remaining crustaceans dissolve. A clean boat bottom equals better performance on the water.


Photo of a Woolite bottle

Fresh Water & Woolite

Eisenglass (clear flexible vinyl) should not be cleaned with an ammonia-based glass cleaner because the ammonia breaks it down and will dry it out. The best approach is to wash eisenglass with fresh water, add some Woolite for a second wash, then rinse. Dry the eisenglass with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth and apply 210 Plastic Cleaner or Plexus for long-lasting protection.


Slow The March Down

Wondering why you have so many ants or bugs aboard? Chances are they're using your docklines or shore power cord like corridors. Spray your lines with bug repellant or bug killer (but not over the water) and watch your onboard colonies depopulate.


Keep Chemicals Out Of The Water

If you must resort to using stronger chemical cleaners like Lysol Mildew Remover to get tough stains out, wiping them off rather than hosing them off the surface will keep these harsh, nonbiodegradable chemicals out of the water.


Waterline Wars

Nothing's worse than leaving the boat ramp with a dingy waterline stain, but there's no reason to let that nasty stain linger. After hauling the boat, soak a sponge in vinegar and wipe down the water stains. Some will disappear immediately; usually what remains will be gone by the time you get home. Some stains require other products.


Road Rage

Few things are as upsetting as road tar and asphalt marks on your pristine white hull. And these can be extremely difficult to remove. At least, they are if you don't know that oven cleaner will eat them right up. Be sure to rinse the hull thoroughly after using this stuff, and don't get it on vinyl pinstriping.


Skin Deep

Surface rust can be taken off metal and fiberglass with a paste made of water and baking soda (50-50). Rust that's more than skin deep, however, requires a potent cleaner containing oxalic acid. Find several to choose from at West Marine. Always remember to thoroughly rinse it away after the rust disappears because the acid can damage metals and fiberglass if left on too long.


Rain, Rain, Go Away!

I use Rain-X on my boat's exterior glass. Once Rain-X is applied, I find the glass doesn't attract or retain hard water spots as easily, and unless I'm in a downpour I don't need to run my wipers because the water simply slips off the glass.


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