Boat Care Shorts

Boat Care Shorts

November 1, 2001

By Scott Smith, Marketing Manager

A trio of maintenance and operations tidbits you’re sure to find useful!

Welcome back to “Formula Boat Care” You’ve been reading these articles on the back page of the Formula Action for the past five years! Since this is a biannual publication, that means we’re now on the 10th edition of this column. Sometimes it’s not so easy to come up with all these columns. I’m to the point of sending e-mails around to see what others here suggest! What I mostly received are suggestions that are either “short subjects” or ones that have been covered before. So, let’s go with a trio of topics that could help improve your boating outlook and enjoyment!


Good canvas can be a real life saver-the cockpit cover protects your upholstery from dirt and the elements, and a Bimini top makes for a much nicer cruise when the sun is beating down- but canvas can also be difficult to put on! In my case, I put cockpit covers and Bimini canvas on photo shoot and dealer meeting boats when the canvas is brand new. We know that canvas will naturally stretch once it’s been in use for a while, and canvas needs to be fairly taut to shed rain. Therefore, our canvas people really bear down when they fit it here at the factory, and so the first few times you use it, you’ll be putting some effort into it!

Here are some things you can do to make your encounters with canvas more successful:

  • Remember that your canvas will stretch as it ages and becomes weathered, so it will become easier to work with.
  • If your thumb is stressed from forcing the snaps in place, a bit of petroleum jelly will provide some lubrication as well as a corrosion barrier.
  • Using a mechanical tool such as The Top Snapper will give you a little better leverage. Formula includes this tool with Bimini curtain canvas.
  • Since it’s much easier to pull down and snap the canvas from the outside of the boat, having the boat on a trailer or hoist makes the job go more smoothly.
  • Wash off any salt that accumulates on your canvas as soon as possible. Your canvas will remain more pliable, and your Bimini’s plastic windows will remain clear much longer.
  • When you take canvas down in the morning shake the dew off and let it dry thoroughly before stowing. Damp canvas in a confined space tends to mildew and stain.
  • When stowing canvas, a cockpit cover can be folded as you remove it. Bimini curtain sets need to be rolled, smoothing the windows as you go. Folding and jamming the carelessly into the storage bag can ruin your Bimini windows.
  • Learn to recognize where the different pieces go and how zippers line up together. For example, the Sunbrella® tag on your cockpit cover goes right in the middle- laterally- of the windshield. And if necessary, make up some of your own tricks. Maybe you need to get a few different colors of permanent marker and make some small dots where the Bimini curtain corners meet. Mark lightly on the inside of the Velcro® tabs so the color does not soak through.
  • Maintaining canvas is easy! Lay it out on clean concrete, or whatever, and use a soft bristle boat brush to clean it with warm (100°F or so), soapy water. Rinse with freshwater and hang dry. Where practical, clean canvas while installed on the boat. Use plastic, not glass cleaners on Bimini windows, if necessary.
  • Have strong, eager-to-help children- or at least an energetic first mate. As in lawn mowing and garbage toting, relying on family is a lot easier on the captain than doing all the physical labor yourself.

Stereo Operation

You want to enjoy premium sound on board your Formula, but have difficulty figuring out how to fully enjoy all its features. Sometimes it can even be a mystery to turn it on- or off! Your best bet is to:

  • Find the stereo manual in your Formula owners binder and read all about it.
  • Make sure you have auxiliary 12V power to the DC breaker panel in the cabin or, in bowriders, the starboard main storage compartment.
  •  Flip on the main power switch, the stereo switch and (if applicable) stereo amp breakers.

Or reward your grandchild who seems to have born with the innate ability to figure out your VCR, to get it to work. The drawback to this method is that you must have your grandchild aboard every time you want to fire up your Jimmy Buffet CDs.

Stainless Deal

One of the most common misunderstanding of those new to boating is that stainless does not mean the same thing as stainproof- at least not in stainless steel. The “stainless” moniker has always implied resistance, not immunity, to corrosion, and that is especially true in the marine environment. Formula uses 316L stainless in all possible hardware applications, even including cockpit upholstery fasteners and staples. This is a very high-grade stainless that, due to its expense, is not universally used by boatbuilders. 316L stainless is cast under extremely controlled conditions and performs marvelously.

Still, there is the possibility of rust.

Yes, stainless steel can rust, as do most others metals, given the right conditions. Those of you boating in saltwater environment will be much more affected than those who boat in freshwater due to the salt acting as an ever-present electrolyte. Stainless steel’s main advantages are its relative toughness, workability and affordability.

Here are some simple and fairly painless maintenance rules to follow:

  • If you are in a saltwater environment, hose off your boat after you run it! And if it’s going to sit for more than a day or two, get out your brush and boat soap and go over everything on the outside of the boat- including your cockpit. Your cockpit is self-bailing, and your seat cushions will dry out. Even if the boat just sits, whether in salt water or on some sort of storage near it, you really ought to check the stainless out at least once a week. If you notice any salt buildup, rinse it off!
  • You can wax your stainless, but if it’s cleaned well, it should remain in good shape. Part of what makes stainless stainless is an electrochemical reaction that creates an oxide “skin.” The outer later actually reacts with the oxygen in the environment and forms a barrier that prevents further reaction with the metal.
  • Be on the lookout for corrosion. Even a bit of corrosion can lead to pitting if left untreated, and that will ruin your day. Usually, all it takes is a bit of rubbing with a metal polish such as Flitz®, and any minor surface corrosion will come off, the stainless will create its magic barrier, and you’re good to go.
  • Don’t try to remove corrosion from your stainless with sandpaper or steel wool. The sandpaper will cut grooves that will trap dirt and other foreign substances that can react with the metal in the stainless, and the steel wool will embed itself in very small crevasses in the stainless, which will then form a galvanic cell, which will then lead to… corrosion!

Well, there they are: three short subjects that can be very important to your boating enjoyment. Perhaps you’ll find it good food for thought until our paths cross here in the spring, and you’re itching to get in your Formula for the new season! Until then, good boating, or at least good dreaming of boating.

Previous ArticleFormula Extreme! Next ArticleGood for You?