There is a saying that two happiest days in the life of a boat owner are the day when they buy it and the day that they sell it.
And that is quite true. I know this from a personal experience.
You sell your used boat and you buy a new one. And a new boat is without any doubt better.
However, there is something beautiful about a perfectly maintained used boat.
In this post I am going to explain the tips and tricks on the rib boat maintenance. And save some money while doing it.
My RIB boat (sold) had a plastic bow. So this post is going to cover the plastic and a RIB boat as well.
This guide is mostly written for the responsible boat owners. Meaning, you plan to take care of your boat. Pull it out of the water when the season is over.
Unlike my father who keeps it in the water the entire year. Pulling it out of the water only for anti-fouling.
This would make your boat look like a boat that has been used by a military in the world war 2. No matter the brand.
So let’s get started:
RIB BOAT MAINTENANCE
CLEAN THE ANTI-FOULING
First things first. Let’s say the season is over.
Prepare your mini-wash. Call the crane.
Once the crane lifts it up clean the underwater area with a mini-wash. This is a must.
It is much easier to do it when its not dried out for months on the dry dock. So do it right away. And do it thoroughly.
Why? The better you clean it now, less work you will have later. And it is much easier to work with a mini-wash than hone the anti-fouling.
Also, you can clean the engine area from the shells with the hydrchloric acid.
MAKE THE LIST
Everything starts with the list. Your rib boat maintenance should as well.
So, start from the bow and go slowly towards the stern of the boat while inspecting everything and writing it down on a peace of paper what is wrong and what is broken.
Or whatever system suits you.
My RIB had a plastic bow. So I wrote down:
1. Fix gel coat scratches.
2. Hone the teak wood floor.
3. Clean and restore the rubber.
The list may sound stupid and you can do it without it. However, I believe it is a must have. It is the only way to make sure you will not forget something.
You simply write down everything that needs to be fixed or replaced. And after you get into it. Simply scratch of the completed thing from the list.
Once the list is completely scratched, it means you are finished.
GET INTO IT
It is time to roll up your sleeves and GET INTO IT.
I suggest taking on the dirtiest jobs first.
I like to start with gel-coat.
First I inspect all the gel-coat parts of the boat and mark every scratch that needs to be repaired with a waterproof marker. Just make a wide circle around it or whatever.
After that you will need a Dremel Tool or something similar. Or as we like to call it “The dental grinder”.
You will need to deepen the scratches with a Dremel tool so the gel-coat can have some “grip” to hold on. So it does not fall off.
Once you deepen all of the scratches, you need to clean them with acetone to remove all the dust from it.
It is time to fill the scratches up. For this you will need a gel-coat and a thickener (paraffin). I recommend getting the original gel-coat for your boat. It should cost cca. 1kg = 100€.
But it will last you for years, or at least until it goes bad. In case you can’t get the original gel-coat for your boat, just go to the paint shop and get the common one that they recommend.
Of course, the color must be same or similar. You can also get a thickener in the paint shop as well.
For the needed tools, I usually take a small container and a finest painting brush I can find.
I mix a bit of gel-coat with a few drops of thickener. And that’s it.
Now all you need to do is carefully fill up all the holes and scratches. (Note: Some holes or scratches may be too deep. But worry not. Deeper holes will usually need to be filled twice. Just wait till the first layer drys off then simply fill in the next one.).
Another trick you can do to make your life a bit easier is to put a scotch tape over the gel-coat fillings. This will flatten the fillings a bit so you will have less material to hone.
After it dries of, remove the scotch tape and start honing.
Get the waterproof honing paper and start from a small granulation to the highest (Note: Once you get to 600 you should use water while honing.)
I recommend doing the honing in circles with your hand. If you are not experienced and you decide to use a honing machine you might press to hard and do more harm than good.
Therefor, get a small wooden block, place your honing paper over it and start honing. The roughest granulation paper is simply to flatten the surface. After that, you need to go wider and wider with each next granulation paper so the scratches from honing don’t show.
For example you can use: 200 – 240 – 280 – 320 – 400 – 500 – 600(User water from now on) – 800 – 1000 – 1500 – 2000.
Once you finish it and polish it, it will look like it’s factory made.
TEAK WOOD FLOOR
I decided to do this next, since I think the rubber is the most delicate part and it needs to be finished the last.
So, firstly I grabbed the mini-wash and clean the teak wood floor. No need to worry, your mini wash is not going it dig out the grouting. Of course, unless it is a professional one.
I don’t recommend using that one.
But I use a Karcher K7 mini-wash. It is their strongest unprofessional mini-wash and it is perfect.
Just set it to straight (Not rotate) and clean the teak wood going along with the mini-wash.
Once it drys of you can grab the circle honing machine. I use metabo honing tools. Also follow the wood line and go along the wood.
For the first granulation paper you can use 80. After that you can use 120 for finishing. Once you get near the sides of the boat, use your hands. Don’t do it with the machine or you might scratch your boat.
After you finish, clean it again with the mini-wash.
Note: There is no need to hone the teak wood floor if it is not coarse. Just clean it with a mini-wash. With each honing session the teak wood layer get’s thinner.
FIX THE ELECTRONICS AND THE EXTRA EQUIPMENT
Now it’s time to fix and replace everything that is not working properly. That speaker that doesn’t work. The navigation light or a broken sounder. The corroded safety fuse.
Whatever it is, it is time to replace it. Same goes for the lost or damaged cushion. Cup holders, bimini top, etc.
Sure, it might be just a small peace of something that you think no one cares and no one would notice. But once you add up all of those small broken parts together, after a few years it makes a difference between a good looking boat and an old junk. If you are not good with wiring, I recommend calling an expert to do it for you.
It might cost a bit more, but SIMRAD GO 7 costs 1000€ so it is better to be safe than sorry.
POLISH YOUR BOAT
Now it’s time to wash your boat once using a simple sponge and some shampoo. After you wash it and it dries off get your polishing machine. I use a Skil polisher.
It may not be the best one, but it is light on the hands and it gets the job done. I use 3m paste for polishing. The green one.
Polishing process is simple. Just put a 3m paste on your polisher sponge in circles and with a turned off polisher spread it over a cca 1.5m of gel-coat.
Now start the polisher, put it on the lower speed (2), and spread it all around. After that turn it up a notch (3) and start polishing.
For some parts on the speed 3 it might be enough. But you can also use it for the third time on the number 5.
After you are finished with the part, wipe it with a dry rag to remove the excess polish paste.
Note: If you have parts to polish near your water line, you need to put the crep tape over the anti-fouling. If you go over your anti-fouling with your polisher by accident, it will dirt your gel-coat.
For the engine cover, I use the purple (finer) 3m paste. Also, you need to get a special polisher sponge for the purple paste.
CLEAN THE TUBES
It is finally time to clean the tubes. Reason why I like to do this the last is because to put the wax on the tubes, the tubes must be perfectly clean. And if you clean the tubes and polish or hone afterwards, the tubes will get dirty again and you will not be able to wax them.
For cleaning and restoring the tubes I use Gommo Strip. The manufacturer is I think Veneziani, Euromeci. Something Like that.
And it works perfectly. The instructions to use it are on the labels.
After you clean it all with Gommo Strip, it should restore your tubes to the original condition.
Once they dry off completly, put on the Gommowax. Same brand.
It will protect your tubes from the dirt and the sun radiation.
I usually put on Gommowax few times per season.
Here in Croatia, during the summer the sun is pretty strong.
POLISH THE STAINLESS STEAL
This step is quite simple. Just put some 3m paste on the peace of rug and start rubbing.
Wipe it again with a clean peace of rug once you finish. This type of finishing really lifts up the general look.
Wash the boat once more (Yes I know, I know. But it’s needed because of the dirt from the tubes.).
After it drys, grab a pint of teak oil and a brush.
Put on the teak oil and let it soak up. There are usually instructions on how to use it on the container.
You can also use a teak sealer. Teak sealer is a bit better than the teak oil as it provides a better protection from the sun.
But be careful when buying the teak sealer. Some of them have pigment in it and it might give your teak wood an unnatural color.
I don’t like that.
Once everything is completed, cover your boat for the winter. Don’t leave it uncovered as all the work you’ve done will go to waste.
Also, if you are planning to get the mechanics to do inspect the engine and winterate it, I recommend doing it before you start the repairs.
They have the tendency to dirt everything 😉
Here are some pictures of my RIB boat, Maestral 745, before and after.
You can always rent a boat. Especially on vacation.
But even though boat ownership and boat maintenance is not easy nor cheap. It is an amazing feeling to have a boat. To take it out for the first time.
Also, if you do a lot of things by yourself, you can save up a lot of money.