I am on the road again, right now handing over a sailboat in the Swiss Alps (those Alpine Lakes in Switzerland are one great location, you can look forward to a great article about that!) and as such there was an occasion I´d like to talk about. When we receive the new boats from the shipyard, apart from the normal commissioning works which usually consume two to four days, depending on the ship´s size, cleaning the boat is a big issue.

The whole boat is one heavy mess!

Especially cleaning the non-skid parts (the diamond-shaped deck surface areas) is a real issue. As those boats are often parked outside, the boats are subject to rainfall and wind which can blow all sorts of dust and dirt onto the deck areas. And sometimes this is more than just sand. Like on this particular boat where we had to cope with an unusually tenacious black nasty mess. Unacceptable for the owner, of course!

Pain in the ass: Residual Glue

A second annoyance is residue from the protective foil. The boats come wrapped in heavy plastic which, apart from the environmental aspect and producing large amounts of plastic waste, is also a big source for trouble. Because the hull windows and deck hatches are additionally protected by yet another adhesive foil. You have to take off this foil immediately after arrival of the boat transport because if you don´t do, strange things will happen.

Residual glue. Grande merde!

Apparently, the UV-light components and maybe also heat from the sun will somehow make the glue of the protective foil stick to the boat. This is a mess! Residue glue will collect dust, turn to a nasty mixture, sticky, ugly and – that´s the worst – it won´t come off with traditional cleansing agents. I tried a whole day all sorts of boat shampoos, high pressure cleaning and all sorts of brushes and scrubbers. Nothing worked. In fact, it made the stains come out even nastier.

Isopropyl Alcohol: The Magic Bullet

Telling my frustration into our business whatsapp-group of the company, one of our technical guys replied I should try Isopropyl. “But be careful!”, he texted: “This stuff is heavy duty!” So I went t buy two litres and try it out. To make a long story short: This is the new kid on the street and one bottle of this magic potion is now a set part of my commissioning equipment: Never again without!

Isopropyl – the magic fluid

What is Isopropyl? It´s an alcohol, also known as 2-Propanol. Heavy flammable and therefore nothing to have sticking around at large if you have kids. The odor is acrid and reminds heavily of hospitals or your local dentist. This is because Isopropyl is usually used as a detergent and disinfectant, due to Covid-19 this stuff had been mass-produced and used even for hand-disinfection. But, apparently, Isopropyl is also a cleansing agent.

One swipe – stains gone!

You take a clean rag, preferably made of microfiber, pour some drops onto it and start wiping. And here´s the magic thing – and I am not exaggerating here! – most of the stains which take hours of heavy scrubbing and futile attempts to clean, will go away with the first swipe of your hand! It really is like that! I was puzzled and amazed to see the heavy black stain residue dirt come off so easily, I couldn´t handle at first. Amazing!

My new hero

Also, the residual glue went off just like that. Where I scrubbed my ass of for one and a half days before screaming my frustration about the incompetence of our chemical industry onto the water, it took me less than two hours to clean the boat and achieve a perfectly white surface. All dirt, all of the stains, the glue … gone! At an instant. That´s a wow! Nevertheless, every pendulum will also swing into the other direction. You have to use Isopropyl with caution.

This is one clean boat indeed!

This cleaning agent will also, if not applied properly or used in heavy doses, damage the boat. Especially Sikaflex or Pantera seams, all softer surfaces. You can clean the Sika-joints with Isopropyl indeed, but use it in very, very little quantities – it has the power to dissolve a whole joint! Other than that I thank my dear colleague Stefan who hinted this stuff and now a bottle of this very helpful agent is part of my standard handover equipment. Try it out, it really works.


You might also find interesting:

Teak Wonder: The real wonder for your deck

Talking yacht insurance

First Aid Kit for sailboats