How to Protect the Gel-Coat on Your New Boat
That shinny surface on your new ski boat is called gel-coat. It is a compound that makes a high-quality finish on the top of the fiberglass. Gel-coating makes for a smooth and durable finish, strengthens the hull and protects it from water intrusion and ultraviolet light. But the gel-coat is prone to dings, gouges, scratches and deterioration that can make a new boat look used in a hurry.
Gel coat repairs cost a lot and are unnecessary if you properly care for your new boat. The threats to gel-coating come mostly from improper boat storage. Parking a boat on the driveway or a vacant lot invites extreme heat and ultraviolet light that can cause the gel coat to develop spider cracks that radiate from joints or intersections on the hull and expose weakness in the fiberglass. The heat and sun also creates blistering caused when the water gets under the heat cracks.
But the threat from water and ice exceeds the heat and sun. Leaving a boat out in the elements results in water penetrating the gel-coat through gouges, cracks and bubbles, which then freezes in the winter months when the boat is not in use. This will weaken the gel-coat and the fiberglass under it or at least take the shine off the gel-coat, making the boat grow old before its time.
To protect the gel-coat and keep the boat looking new requires maintenance and protection. The best method is storing the boat in a climate controlled boat storage unit where it is protected from the elements and under 24-hour security. The monthly cost is worth protecting an investment worth more than $100,000.00 and will keep the boat looking new beyond the warrantee.
The next best is indoor warehouse or rack storage. This also provides the climate-controlled environment and 24-hour security, but it isn’t as easy to access the boat for repairs and storage of wave runners, camping gear, skis, wake and surfboards require an added expense.
Boat wraps protect the gel-gel coat during the winter months at a much lower cost, but you have to remove the wrap to do any repair work and have less access to your boat. You need to make sure the boat is properly washed and completely water free before storage, because the boat wrap will not protect from freezing temperatures.
Finally, if you decide to park your new boat in your driveway or side yard make sure you invest in a quality boat cover. Make sure to buy a cover designed for your boat, it must fit snugly and cover all the areas sensitive to the elements. Buy a cover made from quality material. Two of the most popular, durable and practical choices are urethane coated, solution-dyed polyester fabrics such as Ultima™ or solution-dyed acrylics like Sunbrella™. Both are breathable, shed water, are stain and UV- mildew-resistant. I would recommend Trailerite® Semi-Custom: Hot Shot™ polyester fabric.