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Forever Young

Hide your boat's real age.

February 24, 2009
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Forever Young 387

You can’t give your boat hair plugs, Botox injections, or liposuction, but you can give it a face-lift. Want to float Mom’s Mink in the Fountain of Youth? Following this list of dos and taboos will shave years off your boat’s appearance and prevent premature aging.

MAINTAIN A YOUTHFUL APPEARANCE

Bald Ain’t Beautiful. Think of canvas, clear plastics, and vinyl as your boat’s hair. Without it, your boat will look older than it is. Make your boat look years younger by replacing all of its canvas and cushions.

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Wax to the Max. Keep your boat’s skin-its gel coat-looking young. How? Start with a double coat of wax every spring; this is your boat’s sunscreen, which will protect its skin and make contaminants wash away easily. Follow up with thorough washdowns after every outing-use a boat soap that contains carnauba wax for extra shine. If the gel coat looks old, chalky, and dingy, rejuvenate it with an anti-oxidation agent such as Meguiar’s #49 heavy-duty oxidation remover ($13; www.meguiars.com). Yellow water stains and discoloration can be removed with Davis FSR stain remover ($13; www.davisnet.com). If your colored gel coat is screaming for rejuvenation, contact the manufacturer and ask what brand of gel coat was used and if it can be helped. In many cases, colored gel coat can be wet-sanded until it shines like new, but some brands will just be harmed more if you hit them with sandpaper.

There’s the Rub. Replace your boat’s rubrail insert to get rid of its scuff marks. This job is simpler than you’d think. A hair dryer can be used to heat most rubberized rubrails. As they become flexible, they easily pop out of their slots. A new insert can then be pushed into place.

Hit the Deck. The older your boat’s deck is, the more it cracks, and these cracks show a boat’s true age. Spiff it up by coating the deck with a liner, such as Rhino Hide’s Flexible Tuff Hide II ($159/50 sq.ft.; www.rhinohide.com). We used this stuff to rebuild an old Boating project boat, and the liner looked better than the boat’s original gray-and-white speckle finish. Plus, the coating contains rubberized beads that make a surface completely nonslip.

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AVOID PREMATURE AGING

Burn Baby Burn. The sun isn’t the only thing that causes skin damage-caustic cleaners or products containing bleach age gel coat fast. Minimize the use of these cleaners. If you must use them, make sure you rinse your boat well afterward.

Cowl Abuse. Sitting an engine’s cowl on the ground upside-down is the number one mistake made by outboard owners. Even on wooden dock planking, the cowl’s finish will get scratched or scuffed, instantly aging it.

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Cloudy Vision. Clear plastic curtains and windscreens can also dull with age, which will be worsened if you use ammonia-based glass cleaners on them.

Easy Does It. Abrasion makes any boat look old, too. The main culprit is that innocent-looking scrub brush. Using a stiff-bristle brush on glossy surfaces, such as gel coat, outboard finish paints, and vinyl decals, will eventually scrub their gloss away. Use a soft-bristled brush, sponge, or rag to clean anything aboard your boat that’s smooth and shiny.

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