BOATTECH TIP: CLEANING AND POLISHING FIBERGLASS
1.the first step in restoring the gloss to dull gelcoat is always a thorough cleaning. Add a cup of detergent to a gallon of warm water, and use a sponge to wash the surface with this solution. For mildew stains, add a cup
of household bleach to the mix (wear rubber gloves).
2.next, before you polish or wax your boat, degrease it with MeK or acetone (keep the gloves on for this).
3.remember, polish is an abrasive, not a coating, used to sand off a pitted surface. in some cases, the gelcoat may be weathered so badly that you
need the stronger abrasives of a rubbing compound. Make sure to remove all wax first
and don’t rub too long in one place.
4.once you’re finished polishing, apply a coat of wax to protect the surface and improve the gloss. An electric buffer can take a lot of the work out of waxing and
polishing, but don’t substitute an electric drill with a buffing bonnet attached. you’ll
either ruin the surface or the tool.
For more fiberglass care and repair tips, www.BoatUS.com/Boat TECH A buffing tool, like this Shurhold dual- Action Polisher makes applying and buffing wax easier.
is better off on the hard than in the water,
whether at a marina, on a mooring, or
anchored in a hurricane hole. The exceptional storm surge from Sandy complicated
the situation. In this storm, boats tied to
floating docks with hurricane pilings higher
than the storm surge were most likely to
survive with the least damage. Anchoring in
a hurricane hole might have worked, but it’s
all but impossible to say for certain because
there are so many variables: How protected
is the particular anchorage and what winds
does it experience? What ground tackle do
you have? How is the boat set up? How
many other boats are there and how are they
set up? BoatU.S. doesn’t recommend staying
aboard during a hurricane, so the boat would
have to be able to ride out the storm without
any additional assistance. Early indications
are that even in Sandy, boats were more
likely to survive on the hard than in the
water unless they were on well-engineered,
relatively new floating docks with exceptionally high pilings. We are in the process of
debriefing our Catastrophe Teams, and we
will be sharing our lessons learned with all
Judging by the wide range of prices and
weights for supposedly equivalent zinc
anodes of the same type and shape, zincs are
not created equally. What are the chemical
differences that might explain this and what
are the most important specifications to
check with manufacturers?
don CASey: Anodes intended for boat
protection typically come in three general
types: zinc, aluminum, and magnesium.
Traditionally, zinc was for saltwater, aluminum for brackish or mixed use, and magnesium for fresh water. Recently, however, zinc
anodes have become suspect because they
also contain small amounts of cadmium, a
toxic heavy metal, which the decaying anode
releases into the water. In response, anode
manufacturers have developed some aluminum alloys that so far seem to be as effective
as zinc in saltwater.
These aluminum anodes also last longer,
which may or may not be a good thing,
depending on whether longer life equates to
less sacrifice and, therefore, less protection.
In any case, I strongly suspect that all
of us will be using aluminum anodes
exclusively in the near future, with
the exception of freshwater boaters
There are alloy differences in the
aluminum anodes provided by different manufacturers, and even with
zinc anodes I’ve heard anecdotal
grumbling about some imported ones
having an abnormally short life. I’ve
had this experience but can’t say
whether the shorter life was due
to the anode or the environment.
I’ve never seen published specs that
would allow informed discrimination.
As long as the alloy is less noble
in the galvanic series than the metals it’s protecting, and you monitor its decay, it should
perform as represented. Excepting the premium for these newer aluminum alloy anodes,
which have been priced higher than zinc
(but the difference has started to fade), I’d be
disinclined to pay extra for “better” anodes.
My 28-foot Bertram was safe in a New Jersey
boatyard for Sandy. However, the surge and
spills from other sources coated the bot-
tom paint on the windward side with a
mix of diesel, oil, and fuel. It seems to have
soaked into the layers of bottom paint. Can
I just degrease the surface and repaint next
season, or will I need to do more to get my
boat clean? Eugene Viereck
John Adey: I had the opportunity to
speak to several paint manufacturers at a
recent trade show, and the common answer
was degreasing. Using any commercially
available solution that cuts grease and oil
degrease to get your
bottom sparkling again.
is fine. Two pros mentioned a light 80-grit
sanding. No one recommended a full bot-tom-stripping job (whew!). I’d definitely do a
light sanding. The yard I use talked me into
this practice with every repaint and I’ve had
excellent results, worth the effort and the
Tyvek suits. They also mentioned that this
was similar to the Gulf oil spill and, depending on your paint manufacturer, you may find
more info on their websites. I’m glad you and
your boat made it through OK.
PHOTOS: MEL NEALE, SHURHOLD
APRIL | MAY 2013