303 High Tech Fabric Guard
Capt. Bill’s Pick
$26 (16-oz. bottle); www.303products.com
I’ve enjoyed owning the Betty Jane for a little over eight years now. And one of her most distinctive and aesthetically pleasing features—the wraparound weather cloths that protect her flying bridge from spray, wind, or a mixture of the two—is perfectly matched to another bit of grooviness, a fold-up bimini top over the upper helm station that offers considerable shade from the North Florida sun. Both items are made of navy-blue Sunbrella acrylic fabric and, except for some stitching in the cloths that I had to have repaired a couple of years ago, both look just about as good today as they did when I bought Betty up in Maryland way back when. Certainly, the Sunbrella fabric itself is in large part responsible for all this sweetness and light. But I’ve got to also credit a product I’ve used regularly (every six months or so) over the years too—303 High Tech Fabric Guard, the only fabric treatment that the folks at Sunbrella recommend for their products. The stuff comes in a spray bottle, is available at West Marine and most other chandleries and marine stores, and requires virtually no expertise for application. I start—typically on a warm, sunny day—by thoroughly cleaning both weather cloths and bimini, meaning I blast them with a washdown hose (and toss in a little soap sometimes if stains are an issue) until they are soaked through and clean. Then, after I’ve let everything dry completely, I go to town with the 303, making sure there’s plenty of overlap, until all the fabric is obviously wet through. The final step entails merely waiting a few hours for the treatment to totally cure. By all reports, 303 High Tech Fabric Guard restores water and stain repellency to like-new levels. After all these years, I’ve got to agree. Moreover, it seems to keep mildew formation at bay as well.