This stuff works, and it smells great too.
The problem we’ve had with effective boat soaps is that they strip off the protective waxes we so carefully apply (or pay a professional to apply) at the beginning of the season to combat the persistent grey acid-rain buildup on nonskid surfaces and the streaks down the topsides and other vertical surfaces. A good scrubbing with an aggressive pine or citrus-based detergent leaves a bright and clean boat, but the work doesn’t last very long. Alternatively, the less-aggressive soaps used on cars and RVs don’t clean gelcoat very well. It’s a waste of time and effort.
Last year, in mild desperation, we acquired samples of Smoove “Purplelicious”, a marine soap/wax formula from Jeff Beane who operates the Alliance Marine Group, a first-class yacht detailing and yacht sales business on Kent Island. First off, the stuff smelled like grapes, and it cleaned as well as our standby Simple Green cleaner or the tried-and-true Dawn detergent. The question remained, will the infused wax, which is actually a protective polymer intended for gelcoat, persevere to the next wash and beyond?
We were encouraged to see the rinse water sheet off the nonskid surfaces in the rinsing process. A month later, rain and rinse water continued to bead up and sheet as accumulated greyness and dirt disappeared.
Circling back to Beane, we learned that the product is a result of his frustration with repackaged car and industrial products that didn’t do a very good job on boats. So, he set about developing something for the unique demands of gelcoat and the harsh marine environment. The resulting boat wash is PH-balanced to protect existing wax while being biodegradable, phosphate-free and polymer infused. After a year and counting, we can attest that the stuff works. It’s highly concentrated with a dilution rate of 1:600 (1 ounce in 4-5 gallons of water), and it smells great.
There’s more. Beane and his crew were not happy with the standard waxes and polishing materials imported from land-based applications for use on yachts. Unlike paint, gelcoat is quite porous, and it’s as hard as granite. It needs more tenacious sealants and protectants than the high-end, plant-based (carnuba) waxes used on precious painted cars. Furthermore, routine gelcoat restoration to remove oxidation and surface scratches requires a user-friendly system of products to preserve the magic of boat ownership. (See the Smoove YouTube gelcoat compounding demo at chesapeakebaymagazine.com/smoove.)
The result is a suite of refined products including “Bubble Gum”, a micro-polish/high-gloss protectant that smells like Bazooka Gum, “White Cloud”’, a high gloss polymer/sealant that smells musky like something Old Spice might be marketing, Pro-Cut 1000, a medium to heavy polishing compound with no wax, silicone, or discernible aroma, and a set of wool rotary polishing pads tailored to the specific uses. They also offer a cool, yellow “Smoove Noodle” polish application sponge for six bucks featuring a non-scratching scrubbing surface for gelcoat and stainless steel. We love the noodle.
All of the products are safe on painted surfaces except the Pro-Cut 1000 compound, which is formulated to get down to business on substantial gelcoat oxidation removal with a rotary machine.
Viking Yachts treats every new yacht with White Cloud polymer protectant as the last touch before delivery. Meanwhile, professional mate Cody Williams, who handles the daily maintenance on Singularis, a stunning 90-foot Bayliss sport fishing boat says, “The products are user friendly, so I can hand it to anyone knowing they can’t mess it up. We use the Bubblegum micropolish to clean and protect the tough places like the cockpit and bridge that get a lot of traffic and dirt and fish blood. We use White Cloud on the topsides to keep saltwater spots and dirt off. Smoove is all we use.”
The crews at Chesapeake Bay Magazine and the Annapolis School of Seamanship echo that.
AllTackle.com, located online and in Annapolis and Ocean City, Md., is currently the largest Chesapeake Bay-based source for the product.