We were recently on an assignment detailing a boat in Dunedin. It was a nice bow-rider that had been sitting out in front of the house for a while. The boat showed signs of neglect, but not too much to significantly damage the upholstery and gelcoat.
There was some mildew staining on the cushions and they were extremely dirty in some areas. The gelcoat showed signs of oxidation and some streaks from rubbing against unknown objects.
We got to the Dunedin location bright and early at 8am and it was time to get to work.
Degreasing And Loosening Up Deep Stains
The first order of the day was lightly coating the boat with a degreaser and washing it off with a hose. This begins the process of breaking down the grease and grime on the boat and making the soap wash more effective. While we were applying the degreasing spray, we applied some mildew and mold remover to the upholstery. This part of the job is an iterative process. We spray, pause, rinse a few times to see the results.
While this was going on we applied the magic eraser to the really dirty upholstery at the stern of the boat. This had been exposed to the elements and gotten really grimy. You can see from the photo below that the magic eraser did a great job of removing some deep staining.
After the degreasing spray has had a little time to soak, it is rinsed off. This boat had been sitting for a while, which allowed mold and mildew to penetrate the upholstery, so after rinsing off all the degreaser, we gave the upholstery an additional spray from some mildew and stain remover and let it sit while attending to other areas of the boat. In Florida, you need to constantly attend to mold and mildew, and few boats get that much attention.
During this part of the process, we are using some of the chemical sprays to attack specific problems and then rinsing off. It takes time, but improves the results.
Rusty Propeller Gets Some Love
For boats that have polished stainless propellers, we go over the propeller with a anti-rust solvent and polish the propeller. The propeller spends a lot of time in the water, but there is no reason why it should not get some attention during the detailing process. It is generally the things you don’t take notice of too often that make the difference in the job.
After the degreasing and anti-mildew spray, we wash the boat with a soap wash. This gets the outer layer of dirt off the boat and reveals the more difficult items, where more aggressive steps need to be taken.
After the soap wash comes the pressure wash. The pressure wash does a good job of rinsing off the soap and any of the chemical treatment that may have been left behind. It is the final part of the washing part. After the pressure wash, the boat is ready for the final stages of the detailing, which usually means compounding, buffing, and waxing.
Interior and Top
One thing about boats and upholstery in Florida, the sun beats down relentlessly and will over time permanently damage anything short of stainless steel, and even stainless wears down and rusts. If you cover, your upholstery, you need to worry about mildew. There is no respite in the tropics.
The best thing to do is to always cover the upholstery. This is the only solution. This boat did not have an interior, just a cockpit exposed to the elements and a front area for guests.
After the top was looking good, it was time to get the topsides back into condition. You can see from the pictures that there was plenty of oxidation. This called for compounding. We used a medium compound and carefully went over every inch of the topsides and nooks and crannies where there was paint. One of the main problems on boats is oxidation, so a careful compounding is a must for boat detailing.
Here is a picture that shows the oxidation problem that is common to boats. On the darker gelcoat you can really see the oxidation well, but it dulls the shine on white gelcoat as well.
This is a shot of the same area after compounding. You can see how nicely the shine comes back. Compounding does a great job of removing the oxidation and restoring the gelcoat to its previous luster.
After compounding we applied a final coat of wax and the job was done. Take a look at the nice reflection on the gelcoat.
Dunedin, Florida is a nice little town and great marina for residents. There are lots of boats in yards just like this one waiting to be detailed. The bow rider we worked on is now ready to get in the water and jam around on the inter-coastal waterway.