Your Maintenance Regime Should Include Detailing: Here’s How & Why

Boating season is in full-swing here at Port Annapolis Marina, but here’s a quick thought before you hit the open water: Have you adequately maintained your boat this summer? Many boaters think they’re doing everything right in terms of maintenance—but are ignorant of the finer aspects of boat maintenance that can greatly impact the longevity of their vessels. One such oft-neglected detail is the detailing process. Here are a few tips on how to incorporate both engine and all-around detailing steps to ensure you are doing the utmost to keep your boat looking and performing great for years to come.


Like most avid boaters, your boat is most likely one of your most prized possessions–but remember it’s the engine that makes all those cool boating adventures possible. A clean engine makes visual inspections more effective. And the process of detailing your engine will make you more familiar with and force you to examine every inch of your engine. So treat your engine right by caring for it with these maintenance tips that incorporate engine detailing measures.

Clean: Use paper towels to remove big globs of grease. Then apply a solution of soap and water with a rag or sponge: Dawn dish detergent is an effective and inexpensive degreasing soap. Rinse thoroughly with a light spray of water. Allow to air-dry.

Paint: Color-matched engine paint is available from your dealer or the engine-maker’s website. This includes paint for inboard and sterndrive engines, as well as for the gear cases of sterndrives and outboards. Painting staves off corrosion and can also enhance the resale or trade-in value.

Lube: Be sure to lubricate all control linkages with grease, remembering that a little goes a long way. Also apply grease to outboard cowling latches. Check your owner’s manual for the location of any grease fittings (Zerk fittings) specific to your engines. Spray the entire engine block with a silicone-based aerosol lube.

Replace: In the process of cleaning, painting and lubing your engine, you might discover some fasteners that have corroded. This is especially true for coastal boaters. Remove and replace (or clean) these now, before you need to remove them and can’t because of corrosion.


Here are some tips gleaned from the pros on how to make your boat look great by taking the time to detail.

Remove the Old Wax: Wipe the hull down with acetone or a dedicated product like Pettit’s D95 Dewaxer. Use several rags, and turn them frequently so you don’t reapply the wax you remove.

Use a Machine: Save the “hand-rubbed” finish for woodwork. A polisher makes quicker work using less material and does a better job of removing compound and wax. And it’s in the removing that these products achieve the fine finish. We recommend using a rotary polisher, which is quicker, spatters less and doesn’t “kick” when working around transom rings, rub rails, vent fittings and other obstructions. But if you’re inexperienced, consider a random orbit polisher, like Shurhold’s Dual Action model, which is more forgiving and doesn’t allow you to goof and create swirl marks.

White-Glove Treatment: There are many areas aboard that require you to apply compound and wax by hand. The areas between gauges and instruments, the narrow borders surrounding hatches and companionways, and beneath cleats and grab rails are some of these. Instead of using a rag, don a pair of clean cotton gloves and use your fingers like custom-conformable polishing pads.

For most, a boat is a major investment that pays back through years of fun and memories. To realize the greatest return on your investment, and optimize your experiences, take care of your boat by detailing. Clean, paint, lube and replace fasteners for engine detailing, remove old wax, machine polish, and give the white-glove treatment for all-around detailing. If you need a detailing boost, contact the Service Department (410) 269-1944 x18 or (410) 269-1944 x11.

Post by Port Annapolis

On an impeccably landscaped 16-acre site, Port Annapolis Marina features over 250 deep-water slips in the shelter of Back Creek, conveniently located, just off the Severn River.

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