Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thinking of Buying A New Boat?

If you own a boat you will at some time, want a new one - different, more suited to you or whatever. Usually, this occurs after a major trauma - engine problems, electrical or electronics issues, plumbing or whatever.

I am looking for a new boat, or new one to me. But part of the process is selling my boat. Part of that process is cleaning it up by removing all the stuff I don't want to sell with it and getting into all the nooks and crannies to clean them up.

There is a point to this discussion even if you're not selling your own lovely craft. First, you will be amazed at the crap you've accumulated. I mean, you'll find stuff you never knew you had. Or things you've been missing for years. Things you thought you threw out or wish you had.

For example, in cleaning out the head, I found a brand new tube of toothpaste that I actually needed at home preventing, or at least delaying a trip to the local Wal-Mart for same. How long had it been there? Could be up to five years. I don't remember putting it there. Not that that's any criteria to go by.

To clean your boat properly, though, means removing everything. I mean absolutely everything - all your glassware, cookware, personal items, books, videos, CD's, clothing, tools, little bits of batten material, screws, washers, spare parts, rags, flares, first-aid kits, and whatever else you have on board. As you might surmise, this is best done at a dock.

Doing this is not only fun, in that you get to see everything, but helpful because you get to throw stuff out (if you don't you're not being honest with yourself) and you find things that might be unidentifiable and moldy.

Next, you need appropriate cleaners - I use either Clorox wipes for interior gelcoat fiberglass liners or Fantastic or some other home cleaner. Where there's mold, Clorox or anything like Tilex will work, too. But nothing too strong or you'll make your life worse. After cleaning it, I usually use some detailing wax, like Meguiars or Turtle Wax spray on to seal the surface.

Naturally, you'll want to dust - with the bilges closed, dust down to the sole. Make sure you get all the horizontal surfaces, including under the stove - that collects the most gross stuff you can imagine. It may even be worth the effort to lift the stove out of its gimbals to clean underneath, but mostly you can swing it and reach everything.

Inertia has oiled teak and mahogany interior wood - the entire cabin is almost entirely wood. There are two products I use on unfinished wood - once every couple of years, I'll wipe it down with Penetrol and then buff it quickly. That seals the wood below the layer you see. Twice a year, however, I'll wipe it down with teak oil. Follow the directions for both.

An interesting tidbit about Penetrol: If you buy a quart of 'Marine' penetrol it will set you back nearly $13.00. If you go to Home Depot and buy a quart of regular Penetrol, then it's about $7.00. You may think to yourself, "Hmm, the marine stuff must have something interesting about it." You'd be wrong. A call to the company that makes Penetrol by Herb garnered the following fact: It's all the same. The line that cans 'marine' Penetrol is exactly the same one canning the standard stuff. What changes? The label. And the price.

Another surface in the boat is Formica - the bulkheads in the head and the surfaces in the galley and work table are all laminated. For that I use Clorox to remove stains and then wipe it with Fantastic. Finally in the galley where all sorts of cleaners have attacked the surfaces, I'll use the spray wax again to help seal it.

If you have Lexan or acrylic windows or ports, DO NOT use chlorinated cleaners on them - they won't affect the structural strength but they'll destroy the surface and make it look all crazed. Windex is chlorinated. Most cleaners are, but you can use specialty cleaners (check to make sure they say they're for plastics). I'll use soapy water or vinegar.

My final job is cleaning the bilge, since that contributes to the overall 'boat smell'. Some people like it, some don't. I don't. I've found a pine oil based bilge cleaner, and since mine is gelcoated or epoxied (I don't know which), a sponge, water and this cleaner does a terrific job.

Now is the time to put everything back - if you can, vacuum the cushions and rugs if you have them. Personally, rugs on a boat are a breeding ground for damp, moldy, sticky, smelly stuff. I don't use them. More to the point, in a seaway a rug can slip with you on it.

Before you put something back on the boat, think about whether you need immediately, need it occasionally so it doesn't have to be aboard, or don't really need it at all. In the first case, put it back aboard. For the second, store it at home or in a storage locker. For the third, sell or toss it.

Next, is it moldy? If it is, if it can be cleaned, clean it. If not toss it. Bringing moldy things on a boat virtually guarantees a continuous fight with it.

Is it something that can expire? Is it expired or will it soon? If not, back aboard, but note somewhere (ships log?) when it needs replacing. If it is, toss and replace. Flares are a big thing. Police and fire departments usually will take expired ones. What you don't need is expired, non working flares when the seagull poop hit's the fan.

Finally, bedding and clothing that need washing should be washed.

Everyone cleans the outside of the boat during the summer. Herb has come up with a once-a-season wax mixture that really works - it's a little harder to put on, but, boy, does it work like a champ.

Before I tell you what's in it, I'll have to make sure he's not going to trademark it!

I can do Inertia in one day. Two days if I wax the hull.

What's the point and what does it have to do with a new boat?

When you're finished with this project, you will find you've bonded more deeply with your vessel. You'll also see it the way you did when you first bought it - just like the new boat you wanted.

I'll be seeing you on the water!