Washdown 101

Washdown 101

An expert lesson in how to keep your boat looking good-no prerequisite needed.

By Eileen Murphy — April 2006

Jeffery Salter

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Washdown 101
• Part 2: Washdown 101
• Washdown 101 Photo Gallery

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• Feature Index

A crowd gathered around us at the promenade overlooking the docks in Beaufort, North Carolina. PMY associate editor Elizabeth Britten and I had just finished the second leg of our company-boat delivery, and we were getting ready to transfer her over to the next crew. A full scrub-down was in order, and we had all our cleaning gear out and ready to go.

The fact that two women were operating a 41-foot sportfisherman had already sparked some interest in those passing by. But it wasn't catcalls we heard as we began to wash her down. Rather, we heard, "I'd do the windows first," or "I'd use a sponge on that part," and everyone's favorite, "You missed a spot."

It is no secret that we boaters are a loquacious bunch. Bring up any topic regarding our favorite pastime, and we'll talk your ear off for hours. By the time the scrub-down in Beaufort was complete, I'd been given so much advice-most of it contradictory-that I thought I'd better go to the experts to find out what is the best way to keep your prized possession in tip-top shape.

The first step is to thoroughly rinse the boat down from top to bottom, explains Steve Rausch, co-owner of Miami-based American Yacht Maintenance (AYM), as I join him aboard a 65-foot Viking Sport Cruisers that his crew is working on. "Crusty salt water gets in absolutely every crevice, so you have to make sure you rinse it all off first." Once the boat is wet, it is time to get out those cleaners and brushes.


Rausch says the job should proceed logically: "top to bottom, bow to stern." As most of the boats AYM works on have been waxed, the crews use soft soap containing silicon for most of the surfaces. Rausch warns that you should use a legitimate boat-cleaning product, like AYM's Super Yacht Wash & Wax: "Don't just use anything out of the kitchen."

He also suggests using a medium to soft brush on a telescoping handle to get to those hard-to-reach spots and advises choosing brushes and attachments (like a chamois mop head) that can mount to the same handle. After all, why purchase and stow handle adapters when there are companies out there like Shurhold, creator of the "One Handle Does It All"? (And speaking of stowage, make sure you clean all compartments and livewells. If overlooked, those areas will quickly give off nasty odors.)

Although you'll be using a medium brush on most parts of your boat, you'll want to have a hard- bristle brush for those spots that scrubbing just won't get rid of. Rausch says Marykate Cleaning Detail Deck Cleaner works best on black streaks and that on top of removing the mark, the chlorine in the product brightens the deck. And if diesel has spilled out of your fuel vents, leaving pink drip marks, Rausch recommends immediately applying a degreaser, then rewaxing the area before drying the boat with a chamois.

Next page > Part 2: Washdown 101 > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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