Getting Rid of Mold and Mildew Onboard

Among the marine maintenance products Practical Sailor evaluated recently were 14 pump-spray mildew cleaners to find out which one was the most effective at removing severe mildew stains. We tested chlorine bleach cleaners, chlorine-free cleaners, hydrogen peroxide cleaners, and ammonium chloride cleaners on a variety of materials, ranging from mildewed shower curtains to moldy vinyl seat cushions and moldy life jackets. We also used them to clean a mildewed sail and mildewed Sunbrella. All products were effective at removing the mold mildew from the shower curtain, but the cushions, life jacket, Dacron sail, and Sunbrella were more of a challenge. One product stood out as a more effective mildew cleaner: Klean-Strip Mildew Stain Remover. Klean-Strip is a highly concentrated product with 19 times more sodium hypochlorite than common bleach, and we do not recommend it for cleaning sails or fabrics. Other products tested include 3M mildew stain remover, Boat Armor mildew stain remover, Boatlife mildew remover, MaryKate mildew stain remover, MDR Amazons Amazing Mildew Stain Away, MDR Moldaway, Naturally Clean Mildew, Nautical Ease Mildew Stain Remover, household Spray Nine, Star brite Mildew Stain Remover, Sudbury Mildew Cleaner and Stain Remover, Thetford Mildew Stain Remover, and West Marine Mold and Mildew Cleaner.

The Great Stickup: Practical Sailor Tests Marine Adhesives, Caulks, and Sealants

Practical Sailor rounded up seven readily available marine sealants and adhesives, including products from 3M, West Marine, BoatLife, and Sika Corp. The test included four polyurethane-based products, one silicone product, one polysulfide caulk, and one polyether caulk. Testers found that not all caulks will work for all applications. For example, the versatile polyurethane 3M 4200 was fast drying but didn't adhere well to wood, and all polyurethane products have to be kept away from acrylics and Lexan surfaces. Products tested were: 3M 5200 Fast Cure, 3M 4200 Fast Cure, West Marine 8200, Sikaflex 291 Lot, 3M Silicone, BoatLife Life-Caulk, and West Marine Multi-caulk.

Batteries, Cleaners & More

As a subscriber, you have free access to our back-issue archive-more than 2,000 articles. Here are a few topics you might find relevant this season.

Mailport: August 2010

Letters from the August 2010 issue of Practical Sailor. Subjects include: Shore anchoring, feathering props, earth-friendly cleaning products, staying hydrated and dink repairs.

The DIY Track Cleaner Digs Deep into Groove

The simplest cleaning tool is a two-foot section of luff tape or prefabricated bolt rope. Place a grommet in each end, close to the tape but not so close that it can bind in the groove (3/16-inch clearance).

Mailport: June 2010

The June 2010 issue featured letters on subjects such as: spiders, addition of color to handheld electronics, DIY boatyard recommendation and propane fridges.

Mildew-resistant Caulks for Boats

We recently tested shear strength of many caulks on many different materials and delivered a few tentative recommendations (See Marine Sealant Adhesion Tests, December 2016). Here is the two-year follow-up focusing on resistance to weathering, dirt, and mildew, as well as the ability to maintain a good bond above the waterline when flexed. This is one of nearly a dozen similar tests that weve done in recent years. Be sure to see the online version of this article for links to previous reports covering other key characteristics (underwater bonding, sealing teak decks, sealing hatch glazing, etc.).

Liquid Wax Test Reaches Six-month Mark

Practical Sailor applied dozens of liquid boat waxes to fiberglass test panels in 2009 to determine which was easiest to apply and was the best for long-term protection of a fiberglass boat. The panels were set out to suffer in the Florida weather for six months, when testers checked in on them to see which waxes still had a gloss and which could still bead water. Topping the marine wax test field in their respective categories were products from Star brite, Cajun Shine All, Collinite, 3M, Nu Finish, Yacht Brite, and West Marine Pure Oceans,. Testers’ top picks for a shiny hull that lasts and is protected from UV damage were the 3M Scotchgard Marine Liquid Wax and Star brite’s Premium Marine Polish.

Sodablasting 101

When deciding on a process for clearing antifouling paint and coatings off the bottom of your boat, first define your goals and try to be as minimally invasive as possible. If your boat bottom needs more than a scrubbing but less than a full peel, sodablasting is a technique that will strip bottom paint but leave gelcoat intact. The unique softness of the calcium carbonate powder in sodablasting is effective, and the tented setup keeps the old coating contained. This report outlines the sodablasting process, calculates the cost in time and money, and compares its performance and cost-effectiveness to other bottom-stripping techniques we've tested.

Exposure Test Results: Varnishes, Teak Oils, and Other Exterior Wood Coatings

Exterior wood finishes-including one-part varnishes, two-part varnishes, synthetics, sealers and stains, and teak oils-were evaluated one year after application. Testers rated the wood finishes on ease of application, the integrity of the gloss and appearance, and how they fared over the 12-month period during which they were exposed to Florida sun and weather. Testers looked at color retention and gloss retention. After a year, 20 of the original 22 one-part varnishes were still performing well, and all six of the original two-part varnishes remained in the running. Varnish alternatives like teak oils and teak sealers struggled to make the 12-month cut, but the Cetol-coated panels still looked good. Products that were doing well 12 months after application included Interlux Cetol Marine and Cetol Marine Light, both with the clear gloss overcoat; Pettit Clear High Gloss and Pettit Wood Finish; Interlux Perfection; and Nautiking NautiThane.

Hot Water Heater Installation Tips

To keep pipe joints from leaking, use Teflon tape or pipe joint compound, and remember that hose barb-to-hose connections are much easier to make drip-proof with a hose clamp than the same connection made on a threaded pipe stub.