From The Forums: Beyond Elbow Grease

July 2017 Multimedia

Recently one forum member had a question about fighting back algae:

River Runner: My boat has stayed tied up to the dock at the same location for 12 years prior to me owning it. Needless to say, there is a lot of algae growing on it. Additionally I will need to see what I can do with the cabin to bring some of the shine back to it. Obviously I won't be able to move this thing into the shade to buff it out but what is the fastest, easiest way to bring some shine back? The elderly owners lived on it prior to moving to Florida and didn't have the energy to keep it up. It is in otherwise good shape.

I do have a power buffer with a 7-inch wool pad but I hope there is an easier way. After all, this is a 47-inch houseboat. That's a lot of buffing!

42gibson: Did you have the boat pulled prior to buying it to check the bottom? At bare minimum I'd have it pulled, powerwash the bottom and bottom paint it if it sat that long.

River Runner: No. That is coming at the end of this season. 

BananaTom: In my area, we hire a diver to go down and scrub the bottom clean. He also gives reports on changes and replaced the zinc anodes. 

River Runner: I'm talking more of above-the-waterline-type growth. I guess you wouldn't call it algae. I am a certified diver and will be going down to do the bottom cleaning once the temps come up some. I have green growths on the shaded parts of the cabin, around the edges of the deck and on the swim platform. Is there an easy way to take this off?

BananaTom: Bleach, but it is not recommended to use bleach on boats, due to corrosion. When I use bleach to clean boats I use a lot of water to rinse. I also use Spic and Span 

42gibson: I mix 1/4 cup of Dawn Ultra and two cups of bleach in a three-gallon sprayer to do the decks and roof with, then I use Malco wash and wax with a car wash brush to do everything else. And then I rinse very well. I do this weekly. Also every year when I pull the boat I do a very good bottom cleaning and wax from the water line to the rub rail. It’s a ton of work but the boat looks great.

easttnboater: I would pressure wash the crap out of it with a gasoline-powered washer. That will get rid of the green stuff and also remove a lot of the chalking of the fiberglass. All that stuff will run off into the water—some marinas allow it and some don't. Once the chalking is mostly gone, you can get a better idea of the true shape of the gelcoat. If you want to do something quick to get some shine back, then rub petroleum jelly into the gelcoat and wipe it off with a towel—a little goes a long way. I know it sounds crazy, but it will make the gelcoat look better for a while. If that is too weird for you, then try Nu Finish polish. If you are intent on buffing it, then try Shurhold Buff Magic.

What tips do you have for fighting algae on your houseboat? Jump on our forum page at and post away.

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