One of the most important parts of boat maintenance is keeping your boat clean. An occasional simple wash down does not quite cut it. Let’s break it down to the specific areas. Exterior Anytime you cruise in salt water, you get salt spray on your boat. If you live in areas where the roads are salted for snow removal, you know the damage that salt does to your car finish. It is the same with a boat. Salt breaks down polish, gel coat and paint if left on the surface. In addition to the actual damage the salt does, it also dulls the finish. It is important to wash down your boat with a good soap that is formulated to remove salt after every cruise. Of course, any detergent that that is strong enough to remove salt will also attach your polish – even if it says it won’t! When your boat begins to lose it’s shine, you know the protection has gone as well. It is important to keep the protection on to maintain the integrity of your gelcoat. I have already done articles on maintaining your teak decks, but to reiterate, don’t use harsh chemicals here. Grey decks look fine – a natural nautical look. A good fresh water rinse after every cruise and a washing with a mild teak deck cleaner once a month should be sufficient. Engine Room I have also covered a lot of engine room topics, but again, can not stress enough the importance of keeping your engine room clean. This includes keeping bilges clean and dry. Any moisture in the engine room will start the rusting process on machinery, equipment and fasteners. Even stainless hose clamps will rust if left in a moist environment – clamps are not usually made from the highest quality stainless. If you have any rust now, remove it – it will start creeping. In addition, it will start staining the gelcoat or paint nearby. Once you start getting rust on your engine, the value of your boat drops dramatically. It is easier and cheaper to attack small rust spots that trying to derust and refinish an entire engine. Here, you will see the “rust creep” more so than anywhere else. Once it begins to travel, it will attack any adjacent metal on the engine, getting under the paint and destroying electrical connections. It will also travel along the inside of wires meaning things will eventually need to be rewired. The perils of Dirty Bilges Oil and diesel fuel left in the bilges will permanently stain your gelcoat. Needless to say, this will require repainting your bilges at some point. Plus, water left in the bilges for extended periods will eventually lead to moisture wicking into your bottom. It is to your benefit to keep bilges clean and dry. At the first sign that something is amiss, diagnose and repair immediately. Any money spent on cleaning is just a good investment.икони
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