Ask the Experts: How do I protect my boat from the sun?

You protect your skin, but what about your boat?

Ken Duke
Patrick Pierce poses with some of the products he uses to keep his boat safe from the sun.

About the author

Ken Duke

Ken Duke

Ken Duke is the Senior Editor of B.A.S.S. Publications. To get your daily dose of bass information, history and trivia, follow him on Twitter @thinkbass.

If you're like most modern bass anglers — and especially if you're smart — you start each fishing day by lathering on a heaping helping of sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. The tans that we all coveted not so long ago have been mostly replaced by the desire to avoid skin cancer.

But your skin isn't the only thing that needs protection from the sun. What about your boat? What are you doing to protect it from the sun ... to preserve its showroom luster and maintain its resale value?

If you're like most of us, the answer is "Not a lot."

Patrick Pierce is a Bassmaster Opens pro and pro staffer for Star brite, a marine industry leader in waxes, polishes and cleaners for your boat. Like most of us, Pierce puts on his sunscreen before he launches each morning, but that's after he's made sure his Triton is ready for the rigors of the sun.

"For most of us, our boat is one of the biggest investments of our lives and almost certainly the biggest investment in our fishing," Pierce explains. "And whether you plan to keep your boat for 10 more years or trade it in this winter, it makes sense to take care of it and keep it looking good."

Pierce's boat sun care plan is an easy three-step process that anyone can follow (plus a fourth step to avoid).

Step #1: Get a clean start

Whether you're putting sunscreen on your face or protectant on your boat, it's important to start with a clean surface. Pierce takes that to heart by making sure to give his boat a thorough cleaning with one of Star brite's boat washes. His favorite is the Super Orange Citrus Boat Wash. That takes care of the gel coat.

"The protectant can't be properly absorbed into the boat or its components unless the surface is clean," he says, comparing the process to cleaning your skin so pores can better receive sunscreen. "That applies not just to the gel coat, but to other surfaces as well, especially vinyl."

 

For the vinyl, Pierce gives the seats and dash components a thorough going over with Star brite's Vinyl Cleaner & Polish. It not only protects these elements from the sun, but keeps the vinyl soft and flexible, which ultimately prevents cracking, flaking and the need for expensive replacement.

Step #2: Add protectant

Once the boat's clean, it's time to add protectant to the gel coat. Pierce uses Star brite's Premium One Step Heavy Duty Cleaner Wax. It not only makes the boat shiny, it removes the oxidation that can cause the boat surface to appear hazy. Polymers in the wax seal the finish and guard against UV rays.

This step is the most time-consuming and labor-intensive. Applying the wax and buffing it requires some elbow grease, but the results are worth it to protect your boat.

"I'll do this a couple of times a year," Pierce says.

The more often you use your boat, the more often it demands waxing. Carnauba wax — popular with car care aficionados — will make your boat's surface shine, but it lacks the polymers that protect the gel coat from the sun.

Step #3: Maintenance

Once your boat is clean and protected, keep it looking good and safe from the damage of the sun with some basic maintenance. For that, Pierce uses Star brite Boat Guard.

"Boat Guard does three things," he explains. "First of all, it's a light duty cleaner that will remove the dirt and grime buildup that occurs when we go fishing. Second, it's a light wax that replaces what you lose on the water. Finally, it has polymers that bind to fiberglass, plastic, rubber, vinyl and other surfaces to protect them from the sun. It's really easy to use, too. Just spray it on and buff it off. I use it after every trip — usually right after I pull my boat out of the water — and I use it on everything except my electronics screens."

There's actually another thing Pierce likes about Boat Guard: "It smells just like blueberries."

Step #4: Never do this!

"A lot of guys wash their boats with dishwashing liquid instead of a true boat wash," Pierce notes, "but that's a big mistake. Dish soaps are made to cut through grease and wax. After you've gone to all the trouble of waxing your boat, the last thing you want to do is strip it all off with dish soap."

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