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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
June 03, 2009
Volume 20 � Number 6


Salt Lines
by Steve Byrne

The following discussions were taken from our website. By now, most boaters are in the water and the first trips of the year have left their mess on your deck. Some cleaners do a great job on boats - but do they cause damage? Our first discussion has some answers. Next up is a conversation about driving on our beaches in the rain. Please remember to air down those tires! You can find these and hundreds more new discussions daily at .

Does Soft Scrub Make Older Gel Coat Brittle?

Last season I put a new motor on a 1986 hull. It was in need of a good cleaning and soap and water didn't quite do it. My buddy who has had a boat for a long time said he used SoftScrub on his hull and it cleans it up real good. So I used the product several times inside and out during the season and it cleaned up nice. After one trip last fall when there was bluefish blood everywhere I used it again and gave the interior a coat of West Marine wax.

November timeframe while launching at the ramp my buddy let the stern bang the dock pretty hard and I lost a quarter size chip of gel coat. Could the SoftScrub cleaner have made the gel coat brittle? Perhaps it's brittle because of its age? Before dunking it this season I was thinking of a good compound job and then a good waxing. But I'm wondering if a compound job might not be a good idea if the gel coat is brittle? Will a good wax job add some life to the gel coat or is that just one thing that when it's gone, it's gone? Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Compound and wax will prevent any further degradation of the gel coat. Whatever damage that has occurred, mostly due to UV, temperature extremes, and maybe improper application, is done. The Soft Scrub cannot hurt the product, but can leave it more prone to damage if it's not waxed, or protected in another way.

Capt Paul

SoftScrub contains an abrasive which is meant to scratch the surface of what you are cleaning. It is possible that it caused enough damage to the surface of the gel coat to allow water to penetrate it. Compound will act much the same way, but then the wax seals the surface.


When your boat banged the dock maybe it hit a protruding nail or something very hard, and that may be why it chipped the gel coat.


Compounding and waxing will not hurt your brittle gel coat. I just did a two step compounding on my 9-yr-old black gel coat. It was chalky and brittle but when I was done, it looked like new. SoftScrub has abrasives, if you use it; make sure you wax the area real good afterwards.


Driving On the Beach in the Rain

I was out early this morning doing a little fishing... was considering going out to Demo but decided not to because of rain and I am unsure of how it will effect driving.... question is, is it alright to drive on the beach in the rain, or directly after the rain? Is there anything special/different about driving out under those conditions... This is my first year driving on the beach, and I didn't want to end up getting stuck or worse because of something that I should have known... Thanks


Driving on sand that has had or is getting rain is IMO preferable to dry sand. In fact, when it has not rained for awhile the sand becomes like sugar and you will find it much harder to drive on it. I've driven in a few good downpours and never had a problem and actually want it to have rained recently when I know I'll hit the beach. Yesterday with the fog all day, it made driving on Demo good. It kept the sand moist and firmer. Just remember, Moist sand - good, Ultra dry sand - no good .

One thing I never do is drive below the high tide mark. I just don't need the headache of getting stuck... even if I know the tide is in my favor.


That's good to know...that was what I figured... sand being more packed making for easier driving. I don't think I would have had a problem anyway since the job I'm on now is a huge mud pit with puddles about a foot deep, and my jeep handles that like a pro. I just wanted to make sure my assumption was right before heading out. Thanks guys.


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