Freshwater Worries Page 2

Maintenance Q & A — September 2004
By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Freshwater Worries
Part 2: Keeping Sunbrella canvas clean and waterproof, and more
 More of this Feature
• Problems with water tank
• Keeping Sunbrella canvas clean and waterporof, and more
• PMY Tries... Swobbit’s Cleaning Cloths

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Q&A Index

The boat I recently purchased has a Sunbrella soft top. In a heavy rain the moisture penetrates the fabric and it leaks. Is there something I can apply to make it more moisture-resistant? M.M., via e-mail
Sunbrella fabrics are treated with a fluorocarbon finish to make the fabric water-repellant. While good for several years, this finish must be replenished. However, before doing this you must thoroughly clean the fabric.

You can clean the fabric while it is still on your boat or remove it and place it in a washing machine. Either way, the water should be cold to lukewarm and never more than 100ºF. Use an antibacterial dishwashing liquid and allow the fabric to air dry. Do not use detergent or place the fabric in a dryer.

When cleaning aboard, first brush off all loose dirt, then hose down the fabric with fresh water. Use a mild mixture of warm water and liquid dishwashing soap applied with a soft-bristle brush. Allow the soap to soak in for a few minutes before giving the fabric a thorough rinsing and letting it air dry. (For spot cleaning, Glen Raven Mills, manufacturer of Sunbrella fabrics, recommends the following mixture: four ounces of chlorine bleach mixed with two ounces of natural liquid soap and one gallon of water. Work the stain with a soft-bristle brush and allow it to soak for about 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and air dry. Repeat as necessary, and protect surrounding areas as the bleach may stain carpeting, furniture coverings, and the like.)

Once the fabric is clean, Glen Raven recommends replenishing water repellency by applying its 303 High Tech Fabric Guard. Brush on the liquid in two light, even coats, allowing the first coat to air dry before applying the second. (You can get 303 by visiting the company’s Web site at An application will last up to five years.

I have an old RIB that is still in good shape, but it needs a bit of sprucing up. Do you know of any way I can paint this kind of boat? G.B., via e-mail
According to the company, All Inflatables’ SRC (synthetic rubber coating) restores damaged inflatable boats to like-new condition. It is a relatively laborious base-and-topcoat system that is applied in layers, which must be allowed to dry and cure between coats. The company says that with proper surface preparation, SRC will bond to the surface of any boat constructed of Hypalon or PVC.

For complete information, visit the company’s Web site at

Need help with a maintenance problem? Write to Maintenance Q & A, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: Or visit the forum at No phone calls, please.

Next page > PMY Tries... Swobbit’s cleaning cloths > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the August 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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