Prepping Your Pontoon For Spring Launch

An ounce of preventation goes a long way on the water.

Pontoon Spring Cleaning

Anyone who has owned a wood boat knows the craft must be soaked for a few days after launching to allow the hull to absorb enough moisture to swell and seal its seams. Although built of aluminum, I soak my pontoon boat each spring as well, primarily topside using a trio of spray-on applications to help protect what’s on deck.

The month or so between ice out and launch time is a busy one around our local pontoon owners’ boat club – at least for those members who realize that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Once I remove the winter covers and brush a fall and winter’s worth of accumulated leaves off the deck, while the family pontoon boat is still up on blocks, I spend half a spring day at the club tackling tasks that will save me a week’s worth of work – or worse -- over the course of the season if I let them slide.

I go through at least one bottle of Gold Eagle's 303 Aerospace Protectant, a can of WD-40 and more Mildew Stain Blocking spray than I care to admit simply getting certain surfaces ready for a season of boating.

The 303 Protectant is my go-to spray for anything made of plastic, rubber or vinyl and I’m still amazed at the colors the stuff brings back to some plastics. I discovered that attribute when I bought an old BMW motorcycle and was treating the rubber throttle grip when some 303 overspray got on some colored plastic control switches that were so faded that I could hardly discern their different hues. I didn’t notice the Protectant on the switches when I wiped down the grips, and the 303 remained on the plastic switch covers overnight. When I saw the bike the next day, the colors on the switch covers had returned so vividly it looked like a traffic light on the handlebar. Since then, I’ve used 303 on all kinds of stuff in the bike, boat and tow vehicle, and the stuff’s amazing. On the pontoon boat, from the plastic trim around the throttle control to the bow mounted motor, and rubber gasket around the engine cover; it all gets a pre-season coating of 303. A touch up to select areas that are out in the sun in mid-season and a thorough coating again in the fall and the surfaces and accessories I treat with the 3M products remain remarkably new-looking. I even soak the spools of monofilament on my fishing reels a couple of times each season to protect and lubricate the line.

For the motor and most metal surfaces, I do the same with WD-40. And yes, I realize the W and the D stand for Water and Displacing and make no claims for the formula’s lubrication abilities -- but the stuff has been keeping linkages slick, electrical panels protected and fasteners rust- and corrosion-free on my boat, motor and trailer rigs for years, and I use it for about everything I don’t douse with 303. The only thing I can’t quite bring myself to soak with the stuff is my fishing bait. There are some old timers at the boat club who swear by the stuff as fish attractant, and spray “WD” on baits both fake and natural. But I just can’t wrap my heard around applying a petroleum-based product to something I want fish to be attracted to.

The Mildew Stain Blocker from Star brite is a more recent find, and I found it when seeking something to keep mold from forming n my boat’s furniture during the humid summer months. My wife and I used to have to dedicate a couple of afternoons each season scrubbing the vinyl down to remove the mildew that had built up, but once I started (liberally) applying the Mildew Stain Blocker before and after each six month block of boating time we enjoy each season, the furniture has remained mildrew-free.

This is the time of year to attend to the preventative measures you can take to make your upcoming boating season better – and is a productive way to “mess about” with your boat before it gets launched for the season.