Simple Steps to Maintain Any Type of Watercraft

There’s nothing more pleasing to the eyes than a well-kept watercraft that shines and glistens in the sun. Getting and keeping your boat clean can be difficult, particularly if you’re a first-time boat owner. Don’t worry; we’re here to dispel all the secrets surrounding the best approach to keep your boat looking beautiful. Read on for simple steps to maintain any type of watercraft. 

Polish and Gel Maintenance 

Do you own a fiberglass watercraft? You’ll have gelcoat upkeep to deal with, including both decks and on the hull sides. What does a proper gelcoat look like? 


In good condition, it is a durable, glossy outer coating. Guarding the base fiberglass against salt, sun, and anything else Mother Nature may throw at it. 


It’s generally a foggy, chalky mess when it’s in bad shape. The good news? With the right ingredients and strong elbow grease, expect to bring that fading gelcoat back to life.


If your gelcoat is in great shape, you should spend time preserving it throughout the season. Waxing and/or polishing are the first steps in gelcoat upkeep. What is the distinction between wax and polish? Waxes preserve and seal gelcoat by repeling water, grime, salt, and the sun’s damaging rays. 


Polishes, on the other hand, contain a cutting agent to remove rust and polish the gelcoat. Other products, known as cleaner-waxes, have both a polish and a wax. These combination solutions perform effectively on gelcoat that have light to medium oxidation. As you might expect, the variety of waxes and polishes available at your local maritime supply store could be overwhelming.


Once your gelcoat is in good condition, protect it with a coat of wax at least twice a season. Try doing this before releasing your boat out in the spring and before putting it away for the winter. This approach will avoid being burdened by maintenance labor. As well as make the most of your boat during the season.


Wipe away salt and dirt using a mild but high-quality boat soap after each and every trip. While stronger detergents and cleansers will remove difficult stains, they also remove the top wax, resulting in a poor gelcoat gloss. Use them cautiously and only when absolutely required.


Canvas Maintenance 

Not to be confused with the traditional heavy, rough cloth of the past. “Canvas” is the generic name for the long-lasting materials used to make cockpit and console enclosures. Also formulated in Bimini tops, boat and sail coverings, line and gear pockets, and other boating accessories. You may have also heard the term “Sunbrella” used to describe some of these materials. 


“Eisenglass” and “Strataglass” are brand names for transparent polyvinyl chloride, which is used to make transparent panels in maritime canvas components. 


One pro tip we want you to know is don’t wash or dry your canvas in a regular washer or dryer. This can ultimately ruin the material. To remove grime, salt, bird droppings, and other gritty elements, use a soft brush, mild soap, and plenty of clean water. 


This helps to preserve the fabric’s UV and waterproofing components while also preventing mildew from populating the weaving. If your marine canvas has lost any of its water-resistant characteristics, consider using a solution like 303 Fabric Guard to revive it.


Dealing with any transparent PVC used to form windows in enclosures, coverings, or Bimini tops is a difficult aspect of care for marine canvas. These components are an issue since many boat owners use unsuitable cleaning agents, oftentimes damaging them in the end. 


Whether your canvas is made of Eisenglass, Strataglass, or another PVC material. Never clean it with an ammonia-based chemical like Windex. Over time, the ammonia will break down the plastic, discolor it, and make it frail.


 Alternatively, use 210 Plastic Cleaner and Polish, a high-quality spray polish made exclusively for use with clear PVC. These PVC screens should remain visible and survive for years if cared for properly. 


Upholstery Maintenance 

There was a time when most boats simply had a few stray pillows onboard, strategically placed around the deck for comfort. Even tiny boats nowadays are outfitted with comfortable sitting cushions covered in high-tech fabrics and materials. What’s the best method to take care of these pricey handcrafted comforters?


Vinyl, which has been around for decades, is the most often used material for external seats and furniture pieces. It’s a robust and long-lasting material, but incorrect cleansers may damage it. A scheduled cleaning should be done regularly. We advise using a sponge and a pail of soapy water finished with a deep rinsing. 


Never use harsh cleansers that include bleach or ammonia, even though they can offer quick and appealing effects at first. Notably on vinyl with mildew stains, these chemicals can wear down and destroy the vinyl over time. Once your vinyl has been recovered, repeat the preceding gentle cleaning and protection operation once a month. Mainly for vinyl parts that are regularly exposed to the weather.


The simplest approach to extend the life of vinyl is to keep it covered or packed away. If you have removable external cushions, store them in storage or belowdecks at the end of the day. Canvas coverings shield permanently exposed vinyl fixtures. While these customized covers can be costly, the coverage they give is well worth it in the long term.


The zippers and snaps that keep everything together require maintenance too! Zippers and snaps should be oiled with a solvent developed particularly for them. Finally, purchase a snap puller. 


A tiny affordable gadget that decreases damage on your marine canvas every time you snap or unsnap it from your boat. It is available at any respectable maritime supply or canvas shop.


Want Us To Handle Your Boat Maintenance? 

Bilbo’s is a reputable and competent boat detailing business. Providing programs ranging from weekly washing to full gel-coat repair. We will revitalize your boat and use mild, high-quality materials to assure its lifespan and long-term preservation. We devote all of our resources to giving the finest service possible.


Our clients are very important to us at Bilbo’s Marine, and we are delighted in our ability to serve you. 

10 thoughts on “Simple Steps to Maintain Any Type of Watercraft”

  1. Owning a boat would be fun, but to keep it well maintained also needs care. I will share this post with a good family friend. They own a boat and I know they’ll be out on the water again this summer.

  2. Good to know the difference between waxing and sealing. I’d love to have a water vessel, just a little one I could manage, but not too little (I don’t want to be too close to the water level).

  3. I don’t have a boat, but if I did, I would likely pay someone else to do the maintenance. Better to be safe and have it handled by someone who knows what they’re doing.

  4. Myyellowapron

    I don’t have a boat but our close friends do. I’m sure he will benefit from this information. Will share the link with them.

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