Every cruiser has a list of their favorite things. Things they wouldn’t want to be without on the water or dockside for safety, convenience, comfort or just plain indulgence. From time to time we’ll be posting some of the items, boat-specific and otherwise, that have really enhanced our life on board.
We’ve never done the precise calculation but all boat owners know that the amount of time spent on maintenance exponentially exceeds the amount of time spent cruising. It’s simply an ongoing process that must be accepted as part of the ownership experience. And it is certainly something that has gotten the better of people who are now former boat owners because of it. So when we identify products that really work for us with any project or process we tend to stick with them and spread the word.
Keeping up with the appearance of our boats has always been important to us. Separate from pride in ownership, structures and materials simply last longer when they’re cared for. “Take care of your things and they will take care of you” is a mantra we live by and it generally pays off. Plus it’s always nice to hear someone occasionally comment that they thought your fifteen year-old boat was new. We could fill many pages describing the myriad cleaning products that fill OLOH’s lockers, each dedicated to specific tasks. But for this entry we are highlighting three of the basics that we find to work very well for their intended uses, particularly when some quick sprucing-up or detailing is needed. As always, we paid for these items and only write about them to share the love…
When we bought our first cruiser, a 26′ Sea Ray Sundancer from Hutchinson’s Boat Works, a wonderful dealership in Alexandria Bay, NY, we wandered through the ship’s store with HBW’s owner to pick up some essentials for the care of Soggy Dog II. When he handed us a bottle of Yacht Brite’s Serious Shine, we’re not sure if he said something as specific as, “this will change your life,” but he was enthusiastic about the product and, indeed, we quickly came to understand the small miracle of a great spray detailer for keeping fiberglass shiny and have kept them on board ever since. With a couple of squirts and a microfiber towel, areas that have a good finish to begin with can be quickly shined-up to a just-washed look. Of course as our boats have gotten bigger, the way we use spray detailers has changed, but it’s still the kind of a product that gets used daily to great effect. I cringe every time I see someone using household spray cleaners on fiberglass and if I could, I’d hand them all a bottle of a quality marine cleaner.
We still like the Serious Shine product which is now under the Shurhold name and also like 3M Marine Clean and Shine Wax very much. We have used Meguiars Rinse Free Wash and Wax which works well although it has a smell that Tim likens to baby aspirin and its use is prohibited when he is on board.
Rub Rail Restorer
The rub rail on OLOH is typical of many boats, a strip of stainless steel surrounded by black rubber trim. Like any black rubber that sits in the elements, it had lost its luster and become quite cloudy. It’s one of those details that can drag down the overall appearance of a boat so we were thrilled when the awesome Captain Michele Clark, Dockmaster at Port Royal Landing Marina in Beaufort, SC turned us onto StarBrite’s Rub Rail Restorer with PTEF. One easy application (you just rub it on) and our rub rail had a luster it probably hadn’t seen in years. The restored finished lasted for a few months and regularly adding a protectant to the rubber will surely aid in its longevity. A lot of “marine” products are simply other mainstream products that have been repurposed with different packaging – and that may be the case here (we haven’t dug that deep) – but a little goes a long way and it’s relatively inexpensive to begin with so we’re staying with it.
In the same way that we hope this post will turn you on to a product or two that perhaps you didn’t know about, many of the products we use come from a recommendation from a fellow boater. What seems to be universally true is that professional boat captains and crew have the best recommendations. It makes sense considering it’s their job to know how to best maintain a boat. This product came to us from “Doc” – one of the friendliest captains we’ve met in all of our travels. Separate from being a great dock neighbor in Key West who we now consider a friend, he is a consummate professional and really knows his stuff. When he saw us lamenting the finish on our old tender just as we were selling it, he said, “have I got just the product for you.” You’ve gotta watch him sell it. Billy Mays would be proud…
This stuff is truly great and it just works. While its description states it is environmentally friendly and safe for your skin, you should wear gloves when using it. The biggest test we’ve given it so far was restoring our Boston Whaler One Love’s aged and moldy seat cushions. For months we tried a variety of cleaners and methods with no luck. With some Marine Strip from Restoration Technology on a rag and a bit of elbow grease, the cushions looked better than we’ve ever seen them and it even got off what seemed to be paint splotches that were there when we bought the boat. It did a great job on one of our shorepower cables and does not appear to break down the material you’re working on or leave a sticky finish.
For more of our favorite things, please click here. Got some favorite gear of your own? We love to know what other people love so please tell us about it.
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And that concludes your OLOH instructions. M/Y OLOH back to 1-6.