A Generic Approach to Specific Stains

For general deck cleaning, unless there is a specific stain, always start with a relatively mild, biodegradeable surfactant. Not strong enough to remove wax or corrode metal, but enough to loosen what the birds left, hard water spots, and atmospheric dirt. One possible remedy is a little spot cleaning with biodegradable laundry detergent. Today, most detergents are biodegradable.

Boat Spring Cleaning

We frequently receive suggestions for new cleaners from our readers. Here are a few suggested products that came over the transom that we haven't reported on before.

Making an Anodized Mast Look Like New

Have you done any research on the best means of cleaning an aluminum mast? Im having other work done to mine and thought it would be a good time for a cleaning.

Spiffy Teak Tips for the Penny Pincher

Most teak cleaners don't just clean; they also remove weathered woods surface fibers and expose new wood. As much as 0.010 inches of surface teak can be removed in a single cleaning when using some common teak-cleaning products. Regularly cleaning with these products will shorten a teak decks life. Some also contain strong alkalis that can harm paint, caulk, and aluminum.

Treating Vinyl for Long Life

Vinyl protection is about the long run. In the Practical Sailor January 2014 issue, we reported on the performance of a host of clear-vinyl waxes and cleaners, as well as several different clear-vinyl window materials, after testing them for four months on panels. This report is the two-year update on the long-term test of those products, and already the first failures have appeared.

Long-term Testing Clear Vinyl

Our long-term test of clear vinyl and clear-vinyl treatments includes environmental outdoor tests with controls, as well as some real-world testing on one of our test boats.

Cleaning the Holding Tank

Weve noticed an odor and a buildup of caked-on solids in the holding tank. My thought is to fill the holding tank with fresh water and the right additive, then let that slosh around underway, and then pump it out. What do you suggest for an additive?

Fighting Mildew, Mold, and Lichen

Most boat owners regard their boat as a living, breathing thing, but when real living things-especially the microscopic variety-move aboard and start occupying large swaths of damp real estate, its time to draw the line. Weve done a series of reports on mildew in past articles, but those black spots on the deck, lines, and canvas probably arent mildew. Mildew and mold require darkness, and even the shaded areas on deck are too well lit. Those spots are more likely black algae and lichens, the latter a symbiotic combination of algae and fungus.

Searching for Spray Shine

Is there a quick, easy way to get a glossy shine on the deck and topsides between the grueling wax-and-buff efforts? To find out, testers launched a search for affordable spray waxes-liquid waxes designed for speedy touchups rather than full-tilt compounding-and-waxing jobs. We specifically sought out spray-on products that offer a glossy finish and some surface protection and that are applied after rubbing compounds, fillers, waxes, and polishes.

Restoring Clear-vinyl Windows

Clear vinyl dodger windows, through which we keep watch, are annoying tattle tales, recording and announcing every bit of rough handling and neglect. They burn in the sun. They bleed plasticizers, turning yellow and sticky. And unlike mildew in the cockpit or an upholstery stain, we cant simply ignore their flaws by turning our heads.

What is the Best Keel for A Shoal Draft Boat?

We think the best bet is the modern keel/centerboard. Unlike centerboards of 20 years ago, the new ones are very efficient going to windward with the boards down and not all that bad with the boards partially raised or withdrawn into a stub keel.