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Boat Cover Maintenance

Boat Cover Maintenance

The replacement of your boat’s clears and covers can be costly. So we asked Dianne Katra of Classic Marine Trimming for some basic advice about maintaining boat covers, which can extend their life and ultimately save you some money.




How should you clean your boat clears?


We recommend cleaning your clears regularly with a mild detergent or Imar Protective Cleaner, making sure that all traces are washed off fully. The less salt and dirt that stays on the clears, the longer you will get out of them. Once a month, you should use a polish, such as Imar Protective Polish or Vuplex. Using a microfibre cloth makes polishing your clears much easier, but you should make sure the cloth is completely free of any other contaminants or dust. There is also a range of polishes you can use to remove small scratches.



Can you remove the “cloudiness” from the clears, or is that permanent?


Generally speaking, cloudiness or browning is an indication of the clears deteriorating. Sometimes polishing them up with a Novus #3 heavy scratch remover polish can make a difference. But it really depends on how old the clears are and how they have been maintained. (Note: Never try using Mr Sheen. It was not made for this purpose.)



What is the lifespan of the clears?


These days, the lifespan of clears is about five (5) years. The only way to extend that life is through regular cleaning and polishing. There are three grades of clears – calendared clear, extruded clear, and pressed polished sheet clear. The difference in the three grades is the clarity, but they all last about the same. There is also a range of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) threads, which have a 10-year warranty, so you never have to have your clears or covers restitched.


By ordering a custom-made mesh screen or cover to go over your clears, you can extend their life and at the same time protect the interior of your boat. Note, though, that the mesh or canvas screen should not actually touch the clear or else it will scratch or sweat.





How do you clean the bimini?


Biminis that are made from boat hooding, such as Mariner, can be cleaned with a mild detergent or an Imar cleaner for this purpose, making sure they are rinsed thoroughly. A soft-bristled brush (like a dustpan brush) can be used to remove stubborn dirt. Using Imar Protective Spray every 2 to 3 months after cleaning will help to inhibit UV degradation and maintain the suppleness of the vinyl.

If your bimini is made with canvas, a mild detergent is best for cleaning with a soft brush. You can use watered down Domestos on any mouldy spots. Note that, generally, mouldy spots are an indication that the canvas could be losing its waterproofing and should not be used regularly.



How can you avoid mould and dampness when using a storm cover over your bimini?


Any of the damp-rid type products from the supermarket will do. However, you do need to regularly air out the boat. I recommend a few hours every week if it is constantly out in the weather.



Is there something to lubricate and protect the zippers?


You should use a food grade silicone spray. Unfortunately, it does wash off so this should be applied regularly.



Should you spray the studs to protect them?


A better option for the studs is Vaseline. Use a cotton bud to apply and get right in under the lip of the durables on the cover side.



What is the lifespan of bimini/storm covers?


The two most popular fabrics to use for biminis and storm covers are canvas and boat hooding. We recommend Mariner boat hooding and Sunbrella Plus canvas for these items as we have been using them for over 16 years, and have found them to perform extremely well in our harsh weather environment. With regular cleaning and maintenance, these fabrics can give you up to 10 years, although Sunbrella will probably need re-waterproofing earlier than that. They have a product called 303 Fabric Guard for this purpose, which will re-waterproof any canvas product.



Is there any maintenance required for the bimini frames?


As you can imagine, the salt air and salt water on the frames are the biggest issue. Keeping the frames clean and wiping some food-grade silicone spray over them is the best way to maintain them.



What are the advantages of updating your bimini and clears?


It is important that you think carefully about the options when replacing clears and storm covers, and take into account how you use the boat. A new set of clears will obviously improve visibility while underway. If you are thinking about replacing your clears, you should also think about replacing your bimini top. It is far easier and more economical to create a new set of clears and bimini than it is to try and match old clears to a new bimini. A good set of clears and covers will not only add value to your boat, but will make it easier to sell when the time comes.


Interview by Andy Kancachian


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