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 Mid Season Boat Cleaning 
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Post Mid Season Boat Cleaning
Mid Season Boat Cleaning
by: M. Brandon Bissell

Wow, July already, which puts us roughly half way through peak boating season! Depending on where you keep your boat and what kind of boating you do with it, inevitably there is some wear and tear showing that happens during the season. Particularly up here in West Michigan we have a wide assortment of bugs that love to call our boats home, birds who commonly use them as target practice, and plenty of muck and yuck that tracks on board. I always like to give my boat a little mid-season "tune-up" with a serious clean and polish.

There may be a fair amount of you that cringed at the thought of spending a day of due diligence on your knees, slowly working your shoulder out of its socket while you wax. So I compiled a little help list of products I like to use as well as a small guide on how to make the situation more enjoyable.

Before you begin, properly prepare yourself:

* Consult your physician first if your idea of exercise is lifting a beer to your mouth

* Do some stretching; loosen up your back, shoulders, arms, and neck.

* Pick a sunny day, not only can it improve your attitude, but it can make it easier to see where you have waxed.

* Bring duct tape and plastic; tape your children to the dock posts and use the credit card to send your significant other shopping; its best not to be bothered when you need to be focused on this task.

* Stay hydrated; depending on the size of your vessel, make sure to keep a six or twelve pack refrigerated.

* Have fun; as difficult as it sounds, try to take enjoyment and think of how great your boat is going to look when it's done!

* When finished; make sure to feed the children, call the credit card company and tell them your card was stolen today, contact your physician and tell him you will need some Vicodin for your back, grab the rest of your refreshments, kick back and enjoy the view.

Now that you are fully prepared for your mission, below are some of the items I like to use to get the job done. Good luck!

-Capt. B,

My weapons of choice:

* The Hose

o I wouldn't suggest skimping on the hose. Buy a good solid rubber hose, the reason I like these is the ease of coiling compared to that of a cheaper vinyl. Every time I am finished cleaning my boat, I coil my hose up and either put it in my dock box or back into the transom. (A hose that coils well takes up less room!)

* The Nozzle

o I cringe when I watch boaters use standard garden hose nozzles with the big metal heads; you know what happens when you drop that onto your deck? A nice chip in your fiberglass. Any local hardware should sell spray nozzles that are rubber coated. These are your ticket.

* The Brushes

o I am a big fan of the Shurhold Shur-Lok brush system, one telescoping handle with multiple brush attachments. I have the staple three heads; a white stiff brush, the yellow soft brush, and the deluxe chamois. I wash my boat on average once a week over a 3 to 4 month boating season. I haven't replaced my stiff brush in years. The soft brush and chamois I use more frequently and replace every couple of seasons.

* The Cleaners

o Spray Nine: This is like Fantastik spray cleaner that you use at home, but for your boat instead. I spray it on all surfaces like countertops and seats; it's a great germ killer and can prevent mildew when used regularly.

o 3M: I like to use 3M polishes and waxes when the job requires a little more elbow grease.

* Rubbing compound: This is your bad boy of the waxing world, so don't use without forethought! Rubbing compounds can take away finishes and damage fiberglass if used incorrectly. It's a beautiful tool to do by hand for small scratches, but if you are looking at applying it to large areas, I suggest using a wheel.

* Cleaner Wax: Ok, so your boat has had some sun and could use some good polishing to clear up her complexion. I really like using this cleaner wax which combines a touch on compound with a mix of waxes to help rejuvenate the finish. Again, this stuff can be thick. If you know how to use a wheel to apply and take off, that would save you reconstructive shoulder surgery.

* Metal Polish: If you're going to make the fiberglass look like new, don't make the metals jealous. Over time (especially in salt water) metal can take a beating, covered with oils, salts, dirt, and maybe even begin corroding. Metal polish is a great way to bring to the glimmer back. Even if you think your railings are clean, polish one side, and you will be amazed at what comes off!

o Finishing Wax: Meguiars makes a premium flagship finishing wax. If your fiberglass is in overall good shape and you are looking to put a quick protective coat on top, this is your stuff. It's easy to apply, easy to take off, and makes your boat look like you slaved for hours.

o Boat Soap: It's hard to go wrong with boat soap. Most soap these days advertise being sensitive so as to not wash away that wax job you just slaved over and, in addition, are biodegradable, so feel free to award yourself 10 mother-earth friendly points.

o Isinglass Cleaner: It's easy to kink, wrinkle, crack, and scratch, and unfortunately most of us have some if not quite a bit of it. Isinglass needs to be treated with care. While gently rinsing it with beforehand, I am a big advocate of putting the final touches on my isinglass with a plastic protectant such as Plexus. It cleans, polishes, and protects, then the rest is up to you.

* The Applicators

o I already described my brushes to you. For waxes requiring a wheel, I would speak with a sales associate at whatever store you purchased your unit to see what they might suggest from what they have in stock. For more general waxing, there are a number of applicator pads you can pick up at any convenience store, which are generally good for several uses. For buffing off my wax, I don't use anything fancy; really, I like to use an old cotton t-shirt because it has lots of surface space, is two sided and reversible, and the miles add up. A clean one of these works well for applying your isinglass cleaner as well.

About The Author
M. Brandon Bissell is a contributing author for A United States Coast Guard Certified Captain, Brandon is a fourth generation boater living on the west coast of Michigan.

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Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:27 pm
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