PRO BOAT CLEAN - Boat & Yacht Care Worldwide

Boat Maintenance Tips

Selling your boat

A clean, well maintained boat will sell sooner and for a better price than one that appears uncared for. Tips for showing your boat and appealing to the buyer.


  • Your fibreglass boat should appear clean and welcoming. Do-it-yourself or call in a professional boat detailing company such as Pro Boat Clean.
  • Potential buyers may like to sit comfortably in the saloon area with their broker so make sure there is space to sit.


  • Use light to show off the interior of your boat.
  • Open blinds, curtains and hatches in the daytime and turn on saloon and cabin lights (day and night) to promote a bright, cheerful atmosphere.
  • Remove unnecessary clutter and personal possessions from view.


  • Consider playing soft background music while people tour your boat.
  • Work with your broker to schedule showings around any noisy times of day, such as nearby boat or marina maintenance.


  • Grinding fresh lemon can add a clean, fresh scent.
  • Accessorise with pot pourri and fresh flowers to create an attractive environment and ensure good ventilation to eliminate lingering odours of strong-smelling foods, smoke or pets.
  • Refrain from cooking prior to a showing.

Common Sense

  • For security, remove keys, jewellery and other valuables from the boat during showings.
  • Share all necessary information with your broker and potential buyers.
  • Compile a file of manuals, warranties and invoices for equipment in the boat. Most purchasers will want to have your boat surveyed by a qualified marine surveyor. He is likely to produce a better report if you can prove a regular and recent maintenance record with a full service history (invoices etc.).
  • Make a list of items to be excluded from the sale of the boat and whenever possible, remove them from the yacht. (For example, a BBQ may look as though it is part of the boat, but you may plan to take it with you when you sell.)
  • Keep in mind how new boats are presented at boat shows: gleaming, shiny, tidy, tastefully decorated and accessorised – copy a proven formula.


Your boat’s exterior is the first thing a potential buyer sees, when visiting your yacht. The following tips will help you increase your boat’s “dockside” appeal and create a strong first impression to potential buyers.


  • Replace damaged warps and fenders.
  • Repair broken guardrails and damaged stanchions if necessary.


  • Clean, shine and tidy the deck. For the best results call in a professional boat cleaning company.
  • Clean and remove rubbish from lockers.
  • Provide an unobstructed view of your deck and hull from the pontoon by mooring dinghies, windsurfers, kayaks alongside or laying them on the pontoon.
  • Clean and polish the shiny features of your boat, such as stanchions, pulpit and/or pushpit, anchor rollers and dorade guards.
  • Clean teak decks, gratings, cappings, flagstaffs and handrails, removing splinters and replacing missing screw caps.
  • Have gel chips professionally repaired to match the existing gel coat.
  • Remove any unnecessary items such as temporary cupholders.Ensure visible items, such as barbecues, are clean and uncluttered.

Biminis, companionways and hatches

  • The bimini sides and companionway hatch must open freely.
  • Ensure deck hatches and portlights open and close properly.
  • Remove windscreen, window and hatch covers to allow light into the interior.
  • Clean around hatch and portlight coamings.
  • Clean and polish washboards, hatches and portlights.
  • Repair or replace the hood or bimini/canopy if needed. (They are usually a customer’s first impression of the boat).
  • Repair or replace missing or damaged canopy or cover button and twist studs.

Hull topsides

  • Have the hull topsides cleaned and ensure dirty marks are removed.
  • Get gel chips professionally repaired to match the existing gel coat.

Mast & rigging

  • Remove debris such as old tell tales and damaged sail savers. Remove tatty burgees.
  • Replace frayed sheets and halyards.
  • Clean the mast and boom and ensure the sails are neatly stowed/furled and that they can be hoisted/unfurled easily and without excessive effort.
  • Clean the sails and exterior canvas.
  • Ensure sail covers are fitted correctly and repair damaged securing lines/eyelets.

Creating a warm feeling inside your boat increases its desirability. View your boat with a critical eye. Clean, complete minor repairs, and add finishing touches.

Companionways, hatches and windows

  • Clean chrome and brass fixtures.
  • Oil or grease door, hatch and portlight hinges.
  • Keep companionway steps clear of equipment and ensure handrails are secure and accessible.
  • Clean windows, tie back curtains and ensure they are in proper working order.

Floorboards and carpets

  • Repair or replace missing or damaged floorboards and carpets.
  • Steam-clean or shampoo carpets.
  • Secure loose floorboards and carpeting.
  • Be conscious of odours caused by dampness, fuel, galleys, high-traffic areas or pets.
  • Remove anything stored in the bilge and clean it paying attention to those hard to reach areas.

Engine compartment

  • Have your bilge, engine and its compartment cleaned and dried.
  • Make sure the engine runs properly, that batteries are charged and there is ample fuel for a demonstration. Most buyers will want a demonstration before they complete a purchase, so it is vital to ensure the engine will not let you down at the last moment.
  • Check that all electrics and mechanical gear are in working order.

Storage Areas

  • Show off empty and ample storage space which increases the desirability of the boat.
  • Keep lockers tidy and uncluttered.
  • Discard any unnecessary items and consider storing ashore those you do not use frequently. Show only the minimum to create a lived in but uncluttered “shipshape” atmosphere.

Cabins and Saloons

  • Keep cabins and saloons clean and inviting and free of personal possessions.
  • Arrange loose furniture to allow a spacious atmosphere.
  • Make beds, arrange couch cushions, dust shelves, clean floors, vacuum carpets, tidy shelves and racks.
  • Cushions should be clean and secured to seat backrests.
  • Look at adding some warming finishing touches such as flowers.

Galleys and Heads

  • Clear worktops, drawers and cabinets of unnecessary items.
  • Clean soap dishes, mirrors and faucets (inside and out).
  • Clean toilet bowls and washbasins.
  • Clean and air the ice box/refrigerator.
  • Be conscious of odours caused by dampness, garbage and various foods.

Make good any damage if you remove fitted equipment (e.g. VHF radio, electronic instruments, etc.).

If winter approaches, have the engine(s) and domestic services winterised. Put a label on the steering wheel to indicate the re-commissioning procedure.

The Bilge
“Rubbish” talk among sailors was referred to as bilge. Legend has it that some unknown sailor was sent to inspect the deepest, darkest, part of the ship where water and residue collect. After a brief time in this black hole, the sailor was convinced that this area was also rubbish. From that day on, the area where water collects in a boat has been referred to as the bilge.

Tip – Keep your bilge clean

The most important reasons to keep your bilge clean are:

  • to prevent growth of bacteria.
  • to eliminate foul odours.
  • prevent rust and corrosion of equipment that lies in the bilge.

You can buy bilge cleaner in most marine chandlery stores, however, it can be expensive. Professional cleaning services are often more cost effective and less effort for you. They should use biodegradable products which cut through grease and dirt and leave a clean smell. If you are going to do it yourself or use large amounts of cleanser choose a natural cleaning product. All liquids and residue should be sucked up or bailed out into containers and disposed of ashore into proper facilities NOT DISCHARGED INTO THE WATER.

Some products require good ventilation whilst in use DO NOT SHUT HATCHES AND DOORS WHILST USING BILGE CLEANERS.

Some boats take in more water than others. It is normal for small amounts of water to be in the bilge since it can leak in at the stuffing boxes and rudder posts. However, if you find an unusual amount of water make sure that you don’t have a leaking through-hull fitting or pipe. If your boat usually has some water in the bilge just add some cleanser to it and let the rocking of the boat do the cleaning for you. Most grease and dirt can be removed with cleanser and perhaps a little elbow grease.

Limber holes are found in the ribs or partitions in the bilge which allow water to pass through them and flow to the lowest bilge points usually where the bilge pump is located. This allows the water to be pumped out either automatically or manually. These holes must be kept clear of rubbish to prevent blocking the water flow.

Most newer model boats have drip pans installed under the engines to prevent oil from dripping directly into the bilge. Whether you have drip pans or not it is a good idea to put absorbent pads under the engines. They not only absorb the oil that could drip but provide a quick way to find leaks. Each time you do an engine check, which should be every time prior to starting, check the pad to see if any new oil spots have appeared. If there are some, try to track down the source immediately.

You should inspect the bilge and its surroundings with a flashlight at least once a month. Look for the following:

  • Lift the float switch on your electric bilge pump to make sure it starts the pump automatically.
  • If you find unusual amounts of water, track down the source.
  • Check all through-hull openings and fittings.
  • Make sure that all fittings below the waterline have double hose clamps.
  • Check the seacocks to make sure that you can turn them off. Your boat could sink if a hose comes loose from a seacock and you can’t stop the flow of water because the valve is corroded.
  • Look for corrosion and rust.
  • Check for unusual growth or mildew.
  • Check all pipes, hoses and clamps.
  • Check limber holes.

As above remember that it is usually illegal to pump oily discharge overboard. If you find oil in your bilge water turn off the bilge pump and find an alternative way of disposing of the oily water. Don’t think just because there is only a little bit of oil it is okay. The test for illegal pollution is simply a “visible sheen” on the water.

Environmental Concerns

Petroleum products in or on the water is harmful and, in some cases, fatal to aquatic life. Gasoline contains benzene, a carcinogen. Oil contains zinc, sulphur, and phosphates.

Once petroleum is introduced into the water, it may float to the surface, evaporate into the air, become suspended in the water column or settle to the sea floor. Floating petroleum is particularly noxious because it reduces light penetration and the exchange of oxygen at the water’s surface. Floating oil also contaminates the micro layer. The micro layer refers to the uppermost portion of the water column. It is home to thousands of species of plants, animals, and microbes. The abundance of life in the micro layer attracts predators: seabirds from above and fish from below. Pollution in the micro layer, thus, has the potential to poison much of the aquatic food chain.

Note. A single pint of oil released onto the water can cover one acre of water surface area.

Tip – Don’t spill oil or fuel.
Because of the harm associated with petroleum, the discharge of oil is typically prohibited.

Gas or diesel may be spilled during fuelling: as backsplash from the fuel intake or as overflow out the vent fitting. Spills harm aquatic life, waste money, and can result in stains on the fibreglass and damage to the gelcoat and striping. Follow these tips to avoid problems:

  • Fill tanks to no more than 90% capacity.
  • Fill portable tanks ashore where spills are less likely to occur and easier to clean up.
  • Use oil absorbent pads to catch all drips.
  • Slow down at the beginning and end of fuelling.

In Case of a Spill:

  • Stop the flow.
  • Contain the spill.
  • Call the relevant Marine Pollution Reporting centre – B.C. and Yukon – 1 800 889 8852

The impact of recreational boating on aquatic ecosystems is significant. Fish, shellfish, sea birds and other forms of aquatic life require a balance of nutrients, oxygen and clean water to survive. Even small quantities of toxic products in the water can disrupt this balance, with lasting harmful effects.
The volume of hydrocarbon and oil pollution entering North America’s waters every year from recreational boating is estimated to be more than 15 times the amount of the Exxon Valdez spill (up to one billion litres per year). An estimated 30 percent of all fuel and oil used in two-stroke engines ends up in the water. We can reduce these threats to the ecosystems by careful attention to routine boat use and maintenance.

The Sun

The short term effects of a day out on the water can be alarming; heatstroke and dehydration can lead to headaches and stomach upsets. Sun burn can be serious enough to blister your skin and if really sore it can make it difficult for you to perform well particularly when handling your boat.

Tip – Watch out for the sun’s potentially damaging and dangerous effects.

There are some simple precautions you should take:

  • Seek shade during the middle of the day but for boaters this isn’t always possible. So cover-up and use a high factor sun protection cream in all exposed areas. A high protection, mineral based sun cream is a good choice.
  • Sun Protection: Get someone to help you apply sun cream before you go out. Concentrate on all the hard to reach areas and those vulnerable areas that get intense exposure to the sun – back of your neck, calves, tops of feet, hands, face, ears and of course the tip of your nose. It should be part of your morning routine and with a good quality cream it should last 8 hours so you won’t need to re-apply unless you are in and out of the water a lot.
  • Traditionally Zinc Oxide has been acknowledged by dermatologists as the most effective ingredient to provide broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays and is very safe and highly stable in sunlight unlike some chemical sun blocks, which can break down and be absorbed into the skin has been acknowledged by dermatologists as the most effective ingredient to provide broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays and is very safe and highly stable in sunlight unlike some chemical sun blocks, which can break down and be absorbed into the skin.

Tip – Try to keep sun protection creams off your boat. They make decks slippery and therefore hazardous and some will stain fibreglass, teak, canvas and upholstered furnishings.

  • Cover up: Wear stretchy comfortable t-shirts – not too loose as this may impede your ability to sail well. Shorts in light cotton or quick drying materials are recommended.
  • Wear head gear at all times on land and if you can manage to keep a hat on while out on the water – do. Keep your sunglasses on; make sure you buy good quality lenses which will offer good protection – they’re not just so you look cool they will also keep your eyes safe from UVA/UVB damage.
  • Sailing gloves will help protect your hands when handling lines on board and will protect your hands from burning too if you’re out all day.
  • Drink water – don’t get dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to feeling tired, cloudy-headed, unfocussed and headachy as well as just thirsty. Make sure you stay hydrated, keep a large bottle of water with you and make sure you take time to drink it. Adults should drink 2 litres of water a day under normal circumstances – if you’re active and it’s hot, you need to up this amount substantially to keep yourself alert and maintain your performance.
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