Bright, shiny and new looking. That was what we wanted when were shopping for our dream boat, and that is the impression our new-used PDQ catamaran gave. What was behind that spit-shine on a used boat? Besides the obvious hours of labor by the previous owner, it took two baskets of cleaning products, all stuffed in the stern lockers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.