5 Tips for Cleaning Up Your Boat

The end of the boating season always brings about mixed emotions. Knowing that we’re going to haul our boats and get them ready for storage means we’re not heading out on the water any time soon, and that just stinks. There is also the routine maintenance that goes into winterizing engines, removing electronics, and fixing any of the hatches, railings, or canvas that experienced, well, heavy use. Every cloud has a silver lining, and handling those issues now means that when the next season rolls around we’re set-to-jet. The part that I hate the most, though, is the general clean up and scrubbing.

When I was younger I’d get out the brushes and the cloths with some generic cleaners like liquid detergents or Comet. I didn’t spend much on the cleaners, but with a lot of time and a heck of a lot of elbow grease, I’d remove most of the dirt, stains and grime that came from fishing, hunting, and family activities. Trust me, it took an incredible amount of time, and I still didn’t get it completely clean.

I like to think that age makes me not just older but also wiser, and several years ago I looked for ways to cut-to-the-chase. I wanted to get done with the cleaning, and as my Maritime Skiff aged I wanted to keep it looking as new as possible. So here are some products I personally recommend that will save you time and effort in cleaning up after a season of fun in the sun.

1. Black streak remover is for all of the folks that climbed aboard your white boat with black soled footwear. While you probably made sure they wouldn’t show up with black soles again, the damage is still done. As you know, those marks are difficult to remove, so wet a rag, add some black streak remover and wipe those tracks away. A simple rise with water from a garden hose makes the deck look good as new.
2. Algae strip is a bottom cleaner that removes algae, barnacles, and those pesky zebra mussels that cling to the bottom of your boat. It’s simple to use. Use a pressure washer or a brush to remove the loose debris. Pour some algae strip into a paint pan, and apply with a roller. Allow the chemical to sit for about a half hour and wash off with a garden hose.
3. Boat shine is a wipe on/wipe off boat polish. After you remove the scum, get the shine without having to buff or polish. It’ll seal gel coat and can be used on painted or unpainted hulls.
4. Don’t forget the bilge, it’ll get stinkier than last week’s trash left in the sun. Here’s an easy one that you can do on your last trip of the year. Pour bilge bath into the bilge, and go out on your boat. The rocking movement swishes it all around and when you drain your bilge it will be clean, neat and tidy.
5. And if you’ve got an aluminum boat or a pontoon boat, here’s one to make it shine. Alumabrite. Spray or brush it on and wash it off. Use it on aluminum railing, too.

There are a lot of other similar products on the market that will do a great job, too. So if you haven’t used any of them, give ‘em a try this fall. It’ll make the cleanup go faster and take some of the sting out of the end of the season.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.