Fresh From The Salt

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Feature Stories 2012

Volume 2, Issue 8, February 2012: Spic 'N Span Skiff Simple Ways To Keep Your Boat Looking New

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In this issue of FRESH FROM THE SALT, Volume 2, Issue 8, February 2012:  Spic ‘N Span Skiff – Simple Ways to Keep Your Boat Looking New, we take a look at a few simple and easy ways to clean and maintain your boat after each use on the saltwater.  Beyond the routine flushing of the motor and spraying down your boat and tackle, there are a few great products out there that can help you to not only lengthen the life of your boat, but give it a cosmetic shine that will keep you happy with your skiff for years to come.  Metal, rubber, vinyl, plastic, etc., are all materials that saltwater can eat through quickly.  We've all experienced that.  But with a few additional steps you’ll be amazed at how much better your boat performs and how much better it looks the next time you hitch up and head to the ramp!

This story is also featured in my monthly column, Angler Xtras, in the February 2012 issue of our local Saltwater Angler Magazine, pg. 8.

Joshua W. Broer (pondfisher)




Spic ‘N Span Skiff – Simple Ways To Keep Your Boat Looking New
By Joshua W. Broer


My 12 year old 17 foot flats skiff looks almost as new as the day it hit the showroom floor.  Admittedly, I keep it garage-kept in order to shield it from Mother Nature’s harsh elements.  Nevertheless, a properly cleaned boat kept under a custom cover or carport can keep your skiff looking like the day you bought it.

I’ve developed a strict routine over the years that keeps my boat in near-mint cosmetic condition even though I use it almost every weekend.  There’s nothing like hitching up a boat you can be proud of every time you take her to the ramp.  That friendly old “nice boat, man!” comment can make your day whether you end up putting fish in it or not.  And the beauty is, you don’t have to own an $80K tower boat to feel good about your skiff and to impress your fellow anglers.

Whether your love affair is with your 12 foot skiff with a modest 25 hp kicker on the back or with a 24 foot speedster that boasts 250 ponies, the condition in which you keep your ride can make your boat stand out or not.  The following are a few routine, post-saltwater clean-up steps I take every time I float my own pride and joy in the bay or in the gulf.  Some of these are well-known cleaning techniques but there are a few more tricks of the trade that can make the difference between just getting the salt off your boat versus keeping it looking shiny and new.

The first and most important step is obviously to spray down your boat and flush the motor’s lower unit with fresh water.  This is the minimum.  I know plenty of guys who do this and this only.  But for a deeper clean, a good deck brush will help you to scrub away dirt, deep-down salt, blood, sea grass, chum, etc., that a spray-down only might not get.  I use a medium texture brush on my hull and a soft texture brush on the deck.  You can use a high-quality boat soap (organic for those who are washing their boat over the water or on a lift) or regular dish soap if in your driveway.  Both work well.

When your motor has been flushed for 5-10 minutes and your hull and deck are scrubbed clean, you can always stop there as those are the most important steps for a clean, salt-free boat.  That’s when I take it to the next level.  Keeping my boat in the garage where there’s little to no air circulation, I then use an assortment of fans to dry it as quickly as possible.  This eliminates the risk of mold and mildew build-up and is certainly less taxing on the body than wiping the entire boat down with a towel.  You can leave your boat drying like this and walk away until the next day or move on to your detailing steps.

I sometimes wait for a weekday evening to come back to the boat for detailing.  When I do, I use three products I consider indispensable for each cleaning.  The first is something I simply could not live without, and that is the wonder product called 303 Protectant.  This spray, first developed by NASA, will add years to the life of all your rubber and vinyl products on the boat.   It will in fact work on just about any surface on your boat.  My vinyl seats, rub rail, Seadek, rubber and plastic housings, trolling motor and Power Pole, push pole, lid gaskets, etc., all get a healthy coating of 303 after the boat is dry.

The second area I target is my stainless steel steering wheel, rod holders and prop, which all get polished.  Most inexpensive metal polishes will work.  Third, I use a quick-wax spray which you can apply to either a wet or dry surface, on my hull, motor cowling, and powder-coated poling and casting platforms.  These quick waxes go on easy and come off just as quick.  With an application after every use of your boat, these products help to keep saltwater from sticking to these surfaces and keeps your boat looking like new. 

Last, every couple of years I use an outstanding product called FSR (Fiberglass Stain Remover) to clean the bottom and sides of my boat.  After a few years of using your boat in either fresh or salt water, your hull will develop a yellowish stain which FSR will quickly and easily remove.  This inexpensive gel goes on like a wax and comes off just the same.  It will truly make your paint or gelcoat look brand new!