by Donald Gasaway –
A survey done by Boat US marine insurance found that most damage done to boats in storage is done by four legged vandals rather than two legged one.
Bass boats are likely to be damaged by critters during the off season. This is probably due to the fact that they are put away uncleaned. Carpets, live wells and upholstery hold smells from the many fish that have been landed. They smell like lunch to a hungry raccoon, squirrel or mouse.
Most bass boats are kept in backyards or other locations that are attractive to critters. Once the four legged vandals get on board they find that fabrics used in upholstery, life jackets and seat foam make excellent bedding. They are inclined to just set up housekeeping for the winter until evicted by the owner in the spring.
Squirrels will use the fiberglass as chewing material which they need to maintain their dental health.
What can you do about this? Begin by giving the vessel a through cleaning before putting it in storage. You can take it to one of those spray car wash places or give it a pressure wash at home. Take all your gear out and remove the drain plug. Spray the boat inside and out. By the time you get home most of the water will have blown off the boat and the plug can be replaced.
Place all gear removed in a warmer dry storage area. The family garage is a good location but so are rental storage places. This includes batteries, trolling motors, PFD’s, emergency gear, outboard motors, removable fuel tanks, etc. This not only protects them from the elements but also from theft.
During storage make frequent visits to the boat to evict any critter than has taken up housekeeping. There are commercial repellants available. You can make your own by placing a large jar of ammonia in the boat. Just punch holes in the top of the jar to let the scent come out. Mothballs also make a good repellant.
If all else fails, try one of those low voltage electric pet fences that you can get at the pet store.
No matter how careful you have been, the gelcote finish of most bass boats does get nicks and scratches. Lee Robertson, Event Support Manager for Skeeter boats has some tips for repairing the damage prior to winter storage. “As far as fiberglass goes I like to have it real clean” he maintains. “I use products that most people probably won’t use.” He uses a McGuires product called Quick Wax. The reason is because it is easier to apply and does not turn white when you get it on the rub rail or some of the rubber parts on the boat.
Wax is good because wax it is a protecter and helps protect against UV damage.
Gelcote is just like it has been for the past 20 or 30 years other than some changes in chemicals and some added chemicals to help UV resistance. It is the outer layer of a fiberglass boat that gives it the shine and color. Gelcote is a hard resin that is more durable than just paint. It will last quite a long time and can be refinished.
You can buff it out. Small scratches and imperfections can be removed with a good compound for buffing and sanding with a very fine grade of sandpaper. That can be done until the point where you clear off the top of the metal flake. When you get to that point your basically into the paint. Get through the flake and you are basically done refinishing the boat unless you want to go have it clear coated.
With a little care and elbow grease, you can put that boat away this fall confident it will be looking good in the spring. It will also save you some time in the spring when the fish are waiting to be caught.
This article originally appeared in the Don Gassaway Blog
About Donald Gasaway
Donald is a writer, photographer, social worker, big game hunter and angler. Don’s life is and has been one of overcoming challenges. Something that he finds makes life sparkle. When not writing about hunting and fishing, Don spends countless hours participating in these two field sports. He has hunted extensively in Africa, Mexico, and Canada as well as most states in the U.S. He is also an avid hiker and wildlife photographer. This Marion, Illinois resident became a full time freelance writer following a 30-year career as a social worker and probation officer with the Circuit Court of Cook (Chicago) County. Don’s work has appeared in many national and international magazines. He is a regular contributor to: MidWest Outdoors, Heartland Outdoors, Outdoor Guide, Labor Tribune, Illinois Game & Fish Magazine, Southern Illinois Sports Connection and River Country Outdoors magazine. His work has been awarded a number of prizes from national and regional professional writers organizations. Between hunting and fishing trips, Don makes Marion his home. He is a frim supporter of outdoor recreation in southern Illinois and is sponsor of the Don Gasaway Youth Goose Calling Contest at the Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting & Fishing Days in Carterville, Illinois.
He can be reached by email to: DonGasaway@aol.com.