Boat Hull Maintenance and Cleaning Tips

Boat Hulls

The hull has the most important role in your boat: to ride in and on top of the water. If the hull is in excellent shape, you can count on years of boating fun. If not, you may find yourself pulling the boat out of the bottom of the ocean. Boat hull maintenance is vital to your boat’s look and performance. Maintenance can range from a basic cleaning after every trip to major repairs or leak fixes.  

Below is a brief guide to boat hull maintenance and how to care for your vessel underneath. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact Pensacola Shipyard. We offer full boat storage for mid-size to larger yachts. Our friendly staff can also help you find a boat maintenance professional who can care for your boat’s hull. 

Know the Hull Maintenance General Guidelines 

Whether your boat is stored inside or outside, you need to check with the marina to determine what type of maintenance is allowed. The staff can go over the guidelines and connect you with an independent contractor who can perform professional maintenance. You are also free to perform DIY maintenance under the marina’s guidelines. 

When it comes to yacht maintenance, make sure you discuss servicing schedules with the marina. If possible, try to stick to your vessel’s maintenance schedule. Also, consult a professional yacht mechanic to ensure that the yacht is properly cared for and that you are adhering to manufacturer specifications.

Stay Clear of the Water and Mudflats 

You should lift your boat out of the water and place it inland in the marina before you attempt any maintenance. The main reason for this is that your boat may already be full of holes below the waterline. These can include holes for a drain plug, mounting bolts, transducers, sensors, through-hull valves and other items.  

Ideally, hose clamps, fittings and strainers would all be properly fastened, sealed and/or clamped to keep water out. However, age, use, water movement, thermal cycling, corrosion and other factors can loosen clamps and bolts and even cause structural cracks around fittings. By pulling your boat out of the water, you can identify these problems and prevent more water from getting inside the boat. 

Prevent Chemicals from Getting in the Water 

Some of the chemicals you use to clean, maintain or paint the hull may be filled with harsh chemicals toxic to animal and plant life in the water. So, never clean your boat bottom when it is in the water. Instead, pull the boat away from the loading dock far enough so that the chemicals do not contact the water.  

On a side note, try to choose cleaning and maintenance chemicals that are environmentally safe. In the possibility that runoff may occur, the products will not hurt the surrounding wildlife. If you have questions about chemicals, talk to the marina or consult a boat hull cleaning professional. 

Use a Dust-Free Sander 

Responsible boatyard work requires dust collection. Whether it’s toxic bottom paint or ordinary sanding dust, it still makes a mess and can ruin a neighbor’s paint job-in-progress. Dustless sanders have hose connections leading to vacuum cleaners. However, even with a multi-stage, dust-filtering vacuum, there may be some drawbacks.  

All work stops when the shop vacuum is full. Cleaning or replacing dust filters can be a major expense and irritation in the marina. If you’re sucking up bottom-paint dust or bilge filth, you will have to transport the heavily loaded, bulky shop vacuum to a disposal site in the back of your car, where it could tip over. If possible, try to create a dust-collection system that is more efficient and allows you to transport the dust easier.

Keep Your Work Area Clean 

Nobody likes to see a dirty work area around a boat. It can be an eyesore in an otherwise nice marina. So, when you are finished with your maintenance or paint job, make sure and clean up your work area. Clean up chemicals immediately with absorbent materials, paper and/or rags. Since liquid paints are classified as hazardous material, dispose of paint brushes and paint properly.  

 Consult the marina staff to properly handle the products and disposal of unused materials. Keep covers and caps on paints, thinners and solvents to minimize the release of VOCs. Outside contractors working in the marina must adhere to the same cleanup standards established by Florida law and adopted by the marina. 

Consult a Hull Cleaning/Maintenance Professional 

Most boaters leave annual boat care and maintenance chores such as changing engine oil, lubricating fittings and painting the hull bottom to professionals. Professionals have the experience, skill and equipment necessary to handle any boat hull maintenance or cleaning job. Plus, you will likely be satisfied with the result much more than the results of an attempted DIY job. 

Don’t know any boating professionals? The best place to find a reputable contractor is to ask your local marina. The boatyard staff can connect you with a contractor in the area who can get the job done. Once you find a local professional, you can set up a cleaning and maintenance schedule to keep your hull in excellent condition all year long. 

Contact Pensacola Shipyard Today 

Conveniently located on the protected waters of Bayou Chico, we are the Emerald Coast’s premier shipyard. We have everything that you need to take care of your vessel. Whether your vessel needs in-water or out of the water service, we have the boatyard capabilities and resources to get the job done.

Contact Pensacola Shipyard at 850-780-8441 to schedule service or find out more about our facilities.