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Is Covering My Boat in the Fall OK or Do I Need to Wax?


Art Newberg asked:

Do I need to wax my boat in the fall before I put it away? I store it outside and cover it with two poly tarps. One is dark green and the other light blue. Also, why does my boat get chalky in the spring, mostly on the deck.

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Art, your system reduces a lot of UV damage, but not all of it. The shrink wrap materials and translucent Poly tarps allow the passage of Ultra Violet light from the sun and that is why most boats have chalky decks in the spring. You will notice that most of the chalking or oxidization occurs on the decks rather than on the hull, even though the hull may be more exposed and that is because the deck is perpendicular to the sun and absorbs more of the suns rays.

On average, more UV degradation occurs to boat decks in the winter than during the summer. That’s because we polish our decks with UV protective polishes in the spring and summer, but very few boat owners have learned that it is just as necessary to get a good coat of polish on their decks in the fall for the long hibernation. Translucent tarps and shrink-wrap keeps dirt and bird poop off the deck, and also prevent ice damage that helps reduce stress cracking, but does little to stop UV damage.

Unless you’re keeping ALL the sunlight off the deck, you are going to get UV damage. A good coat of polish, with UV inhibitors is just as important as keeping your boat covered. Even if you can’t polish you hull, at least do your deck before de-commissioning your boat. A heavy black tarp is better than a light blue one and light blue is better than clear. Believe it or not, I actually saw a boat shrink wrapped in clear plastic. Yes, it was badly oxidized. I think the original color was a deep red, but the deck looked pale pink.

I recommend using a synthetic boat polish like Premium Boat Shine that will not yellow, rather than a Carnauba based wax. It has been proven that Carnauba waxes can cause, difficult to remove, or indelible, yellow stains, to fiberglass and paint, when exposed to UV light. In addition Premium Boat Shine is anti-static and not greasy like waxes, so it won’t attract and hold dust and dirt. Of course, use Sure Step on non-skid surfaces, otherwise your non-skid surfaces will become slippery.

If it is inconvenient to properly clean your decks before polishing, your can give it a quick wash with Boat Clean Plus (1:10 solution with water) before applying the polish. I recommend that you strip off all old polish in the spring with both Boat Clean Plus and Boat Scrub before re-polishing so that you have a clean substrate to protect.

Thanks for your question,
Captain Aurora

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