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Why is it necessary to wash/wax the exterior of your boat?

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Why is it necessary to wash/wax the exterior of your boat?

Old 04-18-2018, 09:48 PM
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Default Why is it necessary to wash/wax the exterior of your boat?

I know I will probably hear some BS about this but there is a reason I am asking......I have an older 1988 Baha 277 Hardtop that I haven't washed or waxed the exterior the past 2 seasons and I don't plan on doing it this season either. The exterior of the boat is an off white color and has some heavy oxidation and I have in the past spent hours washing and waxing the boat but it doesn't look any different after I am done. The vast majority of the freshwater boat owners I know that dock their boats for the season give their boats a good cleaning and waxing first thing in the spring and that's it for the year. Other than appearance what is the difference if you wash/wax the boat once at the beginning of the season or not washing/waxing it at all?

I have the interior detailed by a boat cleaning company at the beginning of the year and I do clean the floor and the seats several times a year, it's not spotless but I keep it relatively clean. I am a nut about maintenance and I hate things that don't work or don't work right so I am meticulous about taking care of anything and everything immediately. Some of my boating and fishing buddies make fun of me because I fix stuff as soon as it needs to be fixed even if it's not a big deal to let it go. Then when I tell them that I don't do anything to the outside of the boat they really tease me about being so anal about fixing stuff yet don't do anything to the outside of the boat.

Do any of you guys not wash/wax the exterior of your boats? What would I gain by doing the exterior once at the beginning of the season -vs- not doing it at all?
Old 04-18-2018, 10:23 PM
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Not sure if this is a serious post, or not? If you already have severely oxidized gelcoat, then I'm not sure how you can wax it, or why.

waxing cleans and protects a nice finish. Not sure what it does for a heavily oxidized finish. Depends on the condition of the finish, I suppose, but I would guess that you may need compounding (or maybe wetsanding) and polishing first....
Old 04-18-2018, 11:10 PM
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It is not "necessary" to wash/wax your boat any more than it is "necessary" to wash/wax your car. However, doing so to your boat will offer similar protection as you get for your car. You'll protect the finish and keep it shiny longer if you wash/wax it. Depends if you care about that or not. I wash my boat after use in brackish or salt water, to get the salt off. But I haven't waxed my boat since I got it. Not something I care about.

FWIW, my car gets washed when it rains. I also drive my cars 'til they drop (15-20 years) and then donate them, so I don't care about resale value.

My car/boat, my choice.
Old 04-19-2018, 01:39 AM
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It's a matter of how much pride you take in a major investment, how much you care about resale value.washing the fish parts off is a plus just to keep the flies away.
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:46 AM
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It's just for personal satisfaction - if you're the kind of person that likes to keep your car clean and shiny, you're probably the same with your boat - if it doesn't bother you, don't sweat it - a dull matt boat isn't any safer nor does it perform better than a clean and shiny one.

The only time it might benefit you to bring it back to being clean and shiny is when you want to sell it.

(I do keep my boat clean and shiny by the way, but I'm not fanantical enough to wash it every time it's used)
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:54 AM
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Bought my boat new in 2008. It's safe but not pretty. I would venture a guess that It's had more fish flopping on the deck than most others dedicated to fishing.
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Old 04-19-2018, 02:59 AM
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It sounds like we have some common ground...we're utilitarian. I also maintain my stuff in working order and not overly emphasize appearance. Like shaving, I'll knock the nubs off with a razor, but don't use moisturizer, creams, lotions or GQ items. Flushing the engines, keeping pumps and mechanical components functioning well, service and maintenance items addressed are top priority. Having a mirror finish and looking pretty takes a back seat. I have compounded the boat a few times and knocked the turds off, but I'm not anal about having a showroom shine.
I will say that that a smoothe finish will allow funk to slide off instead of adhering to the surface. It also conveys to others to respect your stuff and take care of it, as you would. Instead of dropping Cheetos on the floor and not being careful, they may be dismissive and also add Oreos to the mix.
Rock on Russ.
Old 04-19-2018, 03:26 AM
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Russ, For Me it's an Anal thing! I have always tried to keep My stuff as new as possible. I think it stems from growing up with not much of anything. Been working My A$$ off for 50 yrs,since I was 12 to have the little bit I have. Have a 2002 Duramax I bought ,Never kept inside, looks almost new. Sold My 1995 Hydra-Sport I owned for 15 yrs. Never covered except in the Winter time...Looked like New! My 2005 Grady I've had for 4 yrs. Looks new. Everything I have owned, people can't believe how nice they are. Sure it takes a lot of time and effort, But I'm also proud of My Work. My Motto......EVERYTHING gets Waxed!!!! Even storage compartments, Live Wells,etc.I even Buff the Bottom of My Boats. Not as frequent anymore as Work and age are catching up to Me.
Old 04-19-2018, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by RussH View Post
I know I will probably hear some BS about this but there is a reason I am asking......I have an older 1988 Baha 277 Hardtop that I haven't washed or waxed the exterior the past 2 seasons and I don't plan on doing it this season either. The exterior of the boat is an off white color and has some heavy oxidation and I have in the past spent hours washing and waxing the boat but it doesn't look any different after I am done. The vast majority of the freshwater boat owners I know that dock their boats for the season give their boats a good cleaning and waxing first thing in the spring and that's it for the year. Other than appearance what is the difference if you wash/wax the boat once at the beginning of the season or not washing/waxing it at all?

I have the interior detailed by a boat cleaning company at the beginning of the year and I do clean the floor and the seats several times a year, it's not spotless but I keep it relatively clean. I am a nut about maintenance and I hate things that don't work or don't work right so I am meticulous about taking care of anything and everything immediately. Some of my boating and fishing buddies make fun of me because I fix stuff as soon as it needs to be fixed even if it's not a big deal to let it go. Then when I tell them that I don't do anything to the outside of the boat they really tease me about being so anal about fixing stuff yet don't do anything to the outside of the boat.

Do any of you guys not wash/wax the exterior of your boats? What would I gain by doing the exterior once at the beginning of the season -vs- not doing it at all?
Chalky is how a blackboard should feel not a boat..........
Old 04-19-2018, 05:53 AM
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The smoother the hull, the easier the boat moves through the water. A protective coating of a polymer polish (polymers last 8+ months vs maybe 3 months for a wax) helps prevent waterline stains from setting and provides some degree of protection against UV rays that lead to fading & chalking (oxidation). It also eases/speeds up cleaning of the boat.
As noted above, you can't polish a severely oxidized surface. It needs to be restored 1st (probably via compounding). Polishing it will help protect the gelcoat/fiberglass and extend its useful life.

Washing the boat regularly helps prevent stains from setting.

When you have a ton of money tied up in the boat, it seems to make sense to maintain and protect it.

Do whatever makes you happy. It's all good.

Last edited by Fueldoc; 04-19-2018 at 05:59 AM.
Old 04-19-2018, 06:04 AM
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I'm no expert, but I think you answered your own question. You haven't washed and waxed it in years and now you have heavy oxidation. Mystery solved. Once it's oxidized, a simple coat of wax won't return the nice glossy sheen. The paint itself has been damaged. You will probably need to wet-sand the top coat to remove the oxidation then wax and polish it.

So, if you are OK with oxidation, then you don't need to wash and wax...but your boat is going to look like crap.
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Old 04-19-2018, 06:07 AM
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I'm Chairman and CEO of the OCD Association of America, so I'm not the right person to ask... With that said, if it doesn't bother you, and you're not concerned with resale value, then there really is no reason to wash/wax a hull, other than to remove salt from the fixtures by rinsing. Keeping it shiny and waxed, as Bill said, aids in keeping UV damage at bay, prevents staining, and makes cleaning easier. It also gives the boat a "new" appearance, which some admire, and some don't.

I will say this, if I were in the market for a boat, a badly chalked/stained hull would lead me to believe the owner didn't care, so what other items were skipped? You may have service records to prove your impeccable maintenance routine, but one look at the hull would turn me off and my interest would be lost immediately with no additional discussion. I've known folks with very expensive rigs that would use them hard, and put them away wet, literally getting off the boat and walking without so much as a rinse. I guess to some in matters, and to some it doesn't.
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Old 04-19-2018, 06:10 AM
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Well the sun is slowly cooking everything. The wax helps block damaging UV light. So in your situation (and mine) I would say its more to prolong the exterior than for appearances.
Old 04-19-2018, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by RussH View Post
I know I will probably hear some BS about this but there is a reason I am asking......I have an older 1988 Baha 277 Hardtop that I haven't washed or waxed the exterior the past 2 seasons and I don't plan on doing it this season either. The exterior of the boat is an off white color and has some heavy oxidation and I have in the past spent hours washing and waxing the boat but it doesn't look any different after I am done. The vast majority of the freshwater boat owners I know that dock their boats for the season give their boats a good cleaning and waxing first thing in the spring and that's it for the year. Other than appearance what is the difference if you wash/wax the boat once at the beginning of the season or not washing/waxing it at all?

I have the interior detailed by a boat cleaning company at the beginning of the year and I do clean the floor and the seats several times a year, it's not spotless but I keep it relatively clean. I am a nut about maintenance and I hate things that don't work or don't work right so I am meticulous about taking care of anything and everything immediately. Some of my boating and fishing buddies make fun of me because I fix stuff as soon as it needs to be fixed even if it's not a big deal to let it go. Then when I tell them that I don't do anything to the outside of the boat they really tease me about being so anal about fixing stuff yet don't do anything to the outside of the boat.

Do any of you guys not wash/wax the exterior of your boats? What would I gain by doing the exterior once at the beginning of the season -vs- not doing it at all?
So......you have the interior detailed, keep the floors and seats in good shape, your a nut about maintenance, and meticulous about taking care of anything immediately but...........don't care what the outside of the boat looks like? Got It !!!!!!!
Old 04-19-2018, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Commocean View Post
I'm Chairman and CEO of the OCD Association of America, so I'm not the right person to ask... With that said, if it doesn't bother you, and you're not concerned with resale value, then there really is no reason to wash/wax a hull, other than to remove salt from the fixtures by rinsing. Keeping it shiny and waxed, as Bill said, aids in keeping UV damage at bay, prevents staining, and makes cleaning easier. It also gives the boat a "new" appearance, which some admire, and some don't.

I will say this, if I were in the market for a boat, a badly chalked/stained hull would lead me to believe the owner didn't care, so what other items were skipped? You may have service records to prove your impeccable maintenance routine, but one look at the hull would turn me off and my interest would be lost immediately with no additional discussion. I've known folks with very expensive rigs that would use them hard, and put them away wet, literally getting off the boat and walking without so much as a rinse. I guess to some in matters, and to some it doesn't.
I'm the President...
Old 04-19-2018, 08:44 AM
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we wax the exterior so we can spend more money on the boat and bitch about the cost and effort required to own a boat

On a more serious note, in addition to the above comment about a waxed hull moving through the water easier, I believe fiberglass reinforced plastic and gel coat are porous, and waxing helps seal. However, the obvious question is: what happens when the wax strips off - like when you take a few runs in the water with at newly waxed hull bottom and the wax is gone? Suggests that waxing is almost purely for cosmetic purposes.
Old 04-19-2018, 08:51 AM
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So did modern chemistry come up with any magical compounds that keep the hull nice and shiny without constant waxing? Contemporary cars deal with lack of washing/waxing much much better than cars from, say, 30 years ago.
Old 04-19-2018, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Drako View Post
So did modern chemistry come up with any magical compounds that keep the hull nice and shiny without constant waxing? Contemporary cars deal with lack of washing/waxing much much better than cars from, say, 30 years ago.
You can thank modern clear-coats for that. I don't think gelcoat has evolved the way automotive paint has, but I could be mistaken. What prevents oxidation and deterioration of the surface is actually the "reflectivity" of the surface, not an applied coating. With that said, in the case of gelcoat, a top coat (wax or other) helps "fill" the porosity, making the surface more reflective. I simply don't believe there's a coating available that has "UV inhibitors" in it. What a wax does is improve the "reflectivity" of the surface, so the surface reflects the UV rays rather than absorbing them. Keeping a coating on the surface merely enhances its gloss, which in turn helps to reflect UV rays, it's as simple as that. If the surface itself isn't highly polished prior to the wax being applied, the performance of the wax is reduced considerably. Even fine swirl marks will absorb UV rays and cause increased deterioration of the surface. Some products are formulated to "fill" the swirl marks, which in turn enhances the gloss of the surface. Again, it's all about reflecting the UV rays.
Old 04-19-2018, 10:01 AM
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Don't have to wash your ass either....
up to you .
Old 04-19-2018, 10:26 AM
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Frequent waxing helps slow the oxidation of horizontal surfaces pummeled by the sun. I wax it every spring before going in the water, but you're right - it doesn't really change the appearance much. I just figure I'll start the season out clean, so every spring I flush the engine, sweep the floor, and wash & wax the boat.

I'm not sure how "worse" it would be if I gave up waxing the boat altogether, but I'm only doing it once a year so it's not like it takes a lot of my time.

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