Q: When I bring my boat back from being in salt water, is hosing it off good enough?
A: No. If you have just arrived at the marina and only have a few minutes before you have to rush off to your dinner reservations, then go ahead and hose it off as much as you can, spending any extra few minutes you have on windows – both glass and plastic. But you are not off the hook. Go enjoy your dinner, but know that you still have work to do. If it truly is evening and the sun has gone down or it’s a cloudy day, then you’ve just bought yourself some time. But if your boat is sitting in full sun, your boat needs a lot more work than just a quick hose down. This is one of those instances where putting off what needs to be done can create permanent maintenance issues in the future.
Now that I’ve scared you into action, you really do need to give your boat a full wash after each salt water adventure. As soon as the sun hits your salty boat, it can burn those salty water spots into your gel coat and especially your glass and plastic windows. It can also start to rust your stainless, so time really is of the essence. Glass windows can show permanent water spots if they don’t get cleaned thoroughly and properly and once the water spot has been burned into a window, it is very difficult to remove. You can’t clean it away with a window cleaner and you can’t even pick it off with your fingernail. Unlike other water spots, you can actually see the edges of each spot created by salt.
So, to keep your head from spinning, wash your boat with boat soap or Salt Away and water. Hit all sections – gel coat, non-skid, glass and plastic windows and stainless. When you’re done, wipe down all windows until they’re dry. You can do the same with stainless if you have time, but the windows require your attention more than anything else.