Part of my job as marketing manager at Formula is to make numerous trips throughout the year to venues-performance trials, evaluations, photo shoots and our annual dealer meeting-where it's imperative not only for our boats to perform at their best, but also to leave a lasting impression in appearance. This requires paying attention to every area of the boat, both inside and out. Marine publications give the boat a thorough once-over, so we're very particular about our Formulas being in pristine condition.
Experience has taught us that supplying the boat with the proper equipment, cleaning and otherwise, is paramount in showing off the famous fit and finish that is expected of a Formula. While it's important to have the proper cleaning tools, it is impractical to travel with the equivalent of a fully-stocked boathouse. Therefore, our staff has developed a list of items we pack into our boats for our own cleaning and upkeep. I present to you the Formula "bare-bones" kit for cleaning and maintenance.
First Things First—Once the boat is offloaded from the trailer and placed on a rack, the mission is to remove the shrinkwrap. If you've ever taken on the task of removing factory-applied shrinkwrap from Formula, you know our priority is to protect the boat from the dust, dirt, mud, snow and other highway hazards the boat encounters on its journey, and the wrap and tape are both extremely heavy-duty. The first tool to pull out to start the process is a nice, sharp blade, so a utility knife, good pocket knife or shrinkwrap cutter specially made for the job is used to cut the plastic above the tape. Taking care not to nick the gelcoat or Imron®, remove the shrinkwrap and dispose of it properly. Then the fun starts! Find a tape end and start peeling. Believe me, it will take some effort, because that is some aggressive tape. Once removed, you'll find you have a line of residual tape adhesive remaining around the boat. The solution? Lots of cloth towels and the old standby, WD-40®. While I wouldn't recommend cleaning your Imron with it, if you stick to the stuff on the gelcoat, you'll find that it's a very effective solvent. Keep it handy in the kit for later use in removing tarry substances that may become trapped in the non-skid, and it's also good for a quick "engine shine."
The Once-Over—Inevitably, even on a brand-new boat, you're going to get it dirty. Just getting in and out, running it and getting it ready will cause handprints on the windshield, smudges on the vinyl, dirt on the cockpit sole and so on. If the boat's just come back from a run, a good bath is the first order of business. That's when your hose and nozzle come in handy. Depending on the boat's exterior condition, sometimes a good spray-down will suffice, but if it's really dirty or salty, we use a quality boat brush with quick-disconnects for various cleaning components, spray the boat down and go at it with Boat Zoap™ (mixed with water in the bucket you can use later to store all the cleaning supplies). Lather down the exterior with the brush and the cockpit (your Formula is self-bailing, after all) with a sponge and rinse. Snap a chamois mop head on the brush shaft, and you'll find it takes most of the water off quickly. Follow up with a chamois rag -either natural or synthetic-to remove the remaining moisture.
Detailing Is Next—Glass cleaner does the job nicely on instrument gauges and windshield water spots and smudges, and of course, paper towels. For stubborn dirt, we're never without Krazy Clean™, a cleaning agent we've discovered to be surprisingly effective. If there are any stubborn spots in the non-skid, zap it with the Krazy Clean and scrub with a stiff-bristled hand brush. Finally, always have a bottle of bilge cleaner available, because no matter how careful you are topping off fluids, there may sometimes be a puddle or drip on that nice clean engine room floor.
With these supplies, you'll always be ready to impress at a moment's notice. It's a perfect kit, too, for weekend outings or quick clean-ups at the dock. Put together a kit of your own, and you'll be able to make your Formula sparkle!
If you have any other ideas for stocking your cleaning kit, send them to me at email@example.com. Attach a picture of you using it, and you might appear in a future Boat Care column!