Stuff That Works

How to keep your boat looking great!

The below ideas were captured from PGIslanders and presented to the general membership on March 6, 2008:


  1. For non-chalked areas, Nu Finish, or any other general wax.
  2. For chalked areas, remove the chalk with Soft Scrub on wet sponge, followed by wax.
  3. Thick coats of wax last longer but are harder to buff off, so use buffer.
  4. Collinite Fleet Wax
  5. Sno Bowl/Tidy Bowl takes off rust stains.
  6. FSR takes off stains
  7. Pool acid (50% diluted)
  8. Y10

Stainless Steel:

  1. Collinite Metal Wax
  2. Miracle Cloth (BoatUS/WM) Practical Sailor recommends
  3. 3M Fiberglass Restorer Wax
  4. Nevr-Dull, George Basch Co. Good on all metals.
  5. Light use of Soft Scrub will get rid of stains. Follow with wax
  6. Don’t use green pad!
  7. Mary Kate’s Metal Mate
  8. Brasso
  9. Wichard Paste
  10. West Marine sells a stainless steel cleaner in individually wrapped pads. Name?
  11. Toothbrush is helpful to get in cracks


  1. Keep it waxed to protect
  2. 3M Aluminum Restorer & Wax
  3. Be careful not to take any finish off aluminum. Abrasives will scratch/dull the finish.
  4. Protect with Woody Wax
  5. Aluma Guard (Boater’s World. Boston Whaler recommended)


  1. Mild soap & water. Dry quickly. Synthetic chamois works well. Spots come as water dries and leaves contaminates.
  2. Car wax helps keeping spots from forming, makes it easier to clean.
  3. Clean inside windows to keep clear.
  4. Rinse with distilled water. No spots.
  5. Wash with baby shampoo
  6. RainX on glass, but not on plastic.

Isinglass/Strataglass/Plastic Windows:

  1. Mild soap & water. No Simple Green, Pinesol, etc.
  2. IMAR Strataglass Protective Cleaner. Works well, restores polymer.
  3. 303
  4. Car wax
  5. Toothpaste to remove scratches
  6. Scratch Out (Kit) Use care on Strataglass.
  7. Pledge – Can cause to get hard after time
  8. Don’t use RainEx!


  1. Hose off regularly.
  2. Mild soap & water: Gal water, ¼ c mild soap (Ivory, Deft, Woolite)
  3. Add ¼ c chlorine for mildew. Try to keep off thread. Chlorine rots out thread, except Tenera.
  4. Treat with 303 Fabric Guard
  5. Don’t get canvas too tight! Stretches thread holes and causes leaks


  1. 303
  2. Zippy Cool
  3. Chapstick
  4. Bees Wax
  5. StarBrite Zipper Lube
  6. Spray Silicone


  1. Exterior Natural finish:
    1. Don’t scrub with stiff brush, especially with grain
    2. Soft scrub with bleach
    3. Teak Oil (except deck surfaces)
    4. Spic & Span to clean deck surfaces
    5. TSP-Tri sodium phosphate works well
  2. Exterior Protective Finish:
    1. Everyone has a different technique and favorite product
    2. Cetol is popular, especially Cetol Lite
    3. Varnish
    4. Key is to keep moisture from getting under surface
  3. Interior:
    1. Teak Oil
    2. Don’t use Liquid Gold – promotes mildew

Non-Skid Deck Surfaces:

  1. Soap & water
  2. Woody Wax
  3. Mary Kate’s On & Off

Dock Lines/Rope:

  1. Wash off with fresh water. Keep salt out of lines. Salt promotes mildew, wear.
  2. Soak in water & fabric softener.
  3. Store in dry location, if possible
  4. Hose down anchor line after use


  1. Keep covered/out of sun when not in use
  2. Soft Scrub w/bleach
  3. Acetone
  4. Westley’s Bleach White/Tire White
  5. 303
  6. 3M Vinyl Cleaner & Restorer
  7. Spray Nine (Practical Sailor)
  8. 3M Marine Outdoor Vinyl Cleaner, Conditioner & Protector
  9. Magic Eraser

Seat Cushions:

  1. Soft Scrub for vinyl surface
  2. Same as Sunbrella for cloth
  3. Test any use of chlorine/bleach
  4. Amazon for spots

General Cleaning:

  1. Salt Away
  2. Remove 5200 with Anti Bond
  3. Small electric 1200-1500 psi pressure cleaner
  4. Keep small dishes of vinegar around to keep mildew from forming
  5. Keep fans running to reduce mildew
  6. Paint thinner/mineral spirits will clean shore power cables, so will acetone.

Gadgets' and Gismos' That Work!

  1. Use a Power Pole to anchor your boat in shallow water. It works really well to anchor the boat with no noise and it does not disturb the bottom like a traditional anchor would. Remembered to lift the Power Pole back up when done or you will wreak havoc with the Power Pole, not to mention the ecosystem in Charlotte Harbor.
  2. IR Thermometer, can be purchased at Sears, or anywhere on-line.
  3. Shrink Towels, can be purchased at Laishley Marine Supply
  4. Refrigerator Fans, can be purchased at any RV Supply
  5. Siphon, can be purchased at Bass Pro
  6. Bill Light, can be purchased at Fourwinds Enterprises
  7. Horn, can be purchased at West Marine
  8. Boarding Ladder, can be Homemade
  9. Battery Charger (AA, AAA, C, D, 9V), can be purchased at Anywhere
  10. Line Clamps (quick way to make a loop in line), can be found at
  11. Locking Tweezers, can be purchased at Garrett Wade
  12. Extra Long Needle Nose Pliers, can be purchased at Garrett Wade
  13. Dental Picks, can be purchased at any Flea Market
  14. Arno Straps, can be purchased at
  15. Libman Mop, can be purchased at Publix
  16. Locking nut driver for 1/4” and 5/16” nuts on hose clamps, can be purchased at Garrett Wade or Tools Home Improvement, Home Garden items on
  17. Use a Milwaukee power drill, together with a special adapter bit, to raise the mainsail. This is especially useful for (aging) sailors who have back or neck (spinal) problems since the mainsail can get pretty heavy for the final 20 feet or so. This invention is not unique and there is an adapter bit called “The Cranker” available via the WWW, but the choice of an appropriate power drill is crucial. It’s especially important to pick out a power drill that is high-power, right-angle and reversible, since this enables using both the low and high gears of a marine winch while raising sail. Picking a drill with a suitable (lightweight, highly portable) battery pack also makes it a breeze to raise a partner (or be raised by your partner) up the mast in a bosun’s chair. Of course, this also results in “electrifying” all of the winches on an older boat in a single step and greatly reduced cost. These items are available at Lowes
  18. LED headlight
  19. Auto battery filler can
  20. Bungs can be purchased at West Marine
  21. Dinghy outboard lock  can be purchased at West Marine
  22. Multi-bit screwdriver comes in handy for small quick fixes, and saves you from bringing out the big, heavy, tool bag. Sears item #00947380000 is a good one.
  23. Siphon hoses. You will find that the ball valve part being the same diameter as the hose is best. This way it is less likely to get hung up inside a tank you're trying to empty. You may also want to have one for water and one for fuel. They can be purchased at Lowes.
  24. A hand mirror lets you see around corners, and behind things to see what's broken, or find thing you drop.
  25. A dive flash light. Dive lights are typically much brighter than conventional flash lights. One manufacturer now has LED lights that they claim are brighter than the ones with the expensive xenon bulb. You can find them at the following link:
  26. Multiplex headsets. They are great for anchoring, and going up the mast.
  27. A bucket. It helps take messy things like shower sump pump filters, fuel filters, etc. off the boat for cleaning without dripping water and foul smelling things inside the boat.
  28. A small LED light that attaches to you forehead with an elastic strap. It is really handy for keeping both hands free when you need a light.
  29. A portable 4:1 gear ratio winch gearbox which makes it much easier for a weaker person to trim the sails. They can be found at the following link:
  30. Put plastic cable ties at a specific spot on each of your dock lines (which are kept attached to your dock pilings) so that when you are coming in at night, you can easily feel where the line is supposed to be cleated off. Works in the daytime too, of course.
  31. Wind scoops which magnify the amount and velocity of air moving through the forward hatch.
  32. Put bright colored reflective tape on strategic locations on the boat (lifelines are good) to allow us to identify our boat in a crowded anchorage at night when we come back in our dinghy.
  33. Fabricate a large table top out of UHMW plastic sheet that fits over the smaller, folding cockpit table. The large table top allows you to accommodate 4 comfortably for dinner or games.
  34. Install cargo nets (often sold for SUV trunks and pickup beds) inside your boat to maximize stowage space for light items (extra towels, linens, etc.)
  35. Solar shower bags really work well if you have sun and don't have any economical way to make warm water for showering when at anchor for a while with no engine use. Plus, it works best if one person holds the hose/nozzle while the other showers, so that's a bonus.
  36. Canvass snapper tool. It gives leverage in pushing on the snaps when trying to install the enclosure or a side window in heavy seas. The cost is high, but it is worth every dime. They can be purchased at West Marine for about $25.00.
  37. Tomato catsup is good for removing rust & tarnish on metals, especially copper.
  38. Waterproof bag.   They can be found at the following link: This is an REI web page. The above has 5 pages of bags. The best four bags are:
    1. Page. 1 on the above site: Seattle Sports Expedition Compression Dry Bag
    2. Page. 3 Seato Summit Event Bag
    3. Page 4 Sealine Boundary Pack
    4. Page 5 Seattle Sports Supper Latitude Stuff Sac

    There are many sizes, and there is no one right answer. However, a shoulder strap is important, also if the bag is too large, you will fill it with too much stuff and it will get heavy and you may not use it.

  39. Most boat owners don't have detailed wiring diagrams of their boat. Industry uses a tone generator and probe to trace unknown wiring. A small tone generator is connected to the wire then a handheld probe with its built in speaker can follow the wire's path from several feet away, even though the wire may be behind a wall. Home Depot sells the Fluke Pro3000 for $69 or you can go to Flukes Website.
  40. Speedseal is a quick change cover for raw water pumps. As you know, removing a water pump gasket and cleaning both the cover and the pump face must be done with care and can be slow and tedious. Speedseal’s cover uses an o-ring and eliminates the gasket. In addition, Speedseal’s knurled cover screws don't require a screwdriver.  You can find them at SpeedSeals Website.
  41. Make a spray wand to rinse the side of the boat on the side away from the dock and allow you to get good pressure low down (without falling off). Construction is simple:
    1. A piece of 3/4" heavy-wall PVC pipe, cut to a length to allow reaching near the water-line from your deck (smaller or thinner-walled pipe will bend too much from water pressure.
    2. At one end, a hose adaptor for connection, consisting of a pipe coupler with a female thread at one end and a BRASS male hose adaptor with male std. thread to connect to the coupler and female hose thread at the end. (PVC hose connectors break quickly). Ace, for one has the brass adaptors.
    3. At the other end, a "street el" (90 degree elbow with male threads at one end & slip fit at the other), plus an internally threaded cap.
    4. Drill a vertical series of holes in the cap to create a slightly fan-shaped (vertically) stream of pressurized water. You can use 7 (3/32") holes, but you may want to buy some extra caps to experiment with.

    Use a waving motion with the end of the wand over a comfortable area, working your way up or down while standing in one spot till you have rinsed the area.