• The Mobile Boat Guy

Best Management Practices and Boat Detailing

As we get closer to boating season, a lot of boat owners are debating whether to hire a professional to assist with the maintenance on their boats. So I decided to offer some assistance in that area whether you decide to do detail your boat yourself or hire a professional I think this will be of some value to you.


How many of you know some one that has that bucket of items on their boat and swears to it? ( the picture is a screen shot from a boat detailers group I'm a part of on Facebook). I can't count how many times I have encountered a boat owner that has these items on their boat. I recommend not keeping these items on your boat, especially, if you are moored at a marina, Soft Scrub is not approved by The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Consequently, most marinas and boat yards are governed and adhere to EPA regulations and you can get a hefty fine if you are caught contaminating the marine environment with products that aren't environmentally safe. I recommend, whether you are subcontracting a professional or performing work yourself that you get familiar with the Best Management Practices (BMP) for your local marina or boat yard. You can get a copy of the BMPs from your harbor master at your marina.


However, every marina is different when it comes to enforcing policy, some are more stringent while others may turn their head if they say you doing work you aren't supposed to do. For instance, a few summers ago we were washing a boat at Fishermans Terminal in Ballard and were told we could not get boat soap in the water. Now that causes some serious complications for a professional trying to clean a boat and for the boat owner. I was confused and to top it off the gentleman wasn't very nice about it. I'm thinking how would you charge people to moore their boats at your marina and then not allow them to maintain the appearance of their vessel. Some of the stuff I hear from harbor masters baffle me. I some times wonder If theirs a sign on my back that says, "come say stupid shit to me?" I explained to the harbor master that our soap was EPA approved but he still insisted that we stop washing the boat and pack up our equipment. So I asked him for a copy of their BMPs which he was obliged to share with us, but he was not able to locate them at the time, so he let us proceed with washing the boat. Just like I thought he would. Can't argue with policy.


Another incident was last summer while detailing a heavily oxidized boat at marina out north, at a marina I won't name, we were told we had to build a plastic containment around a 25 FT boat in order to restore the boat. Do you know how much visqueen/plastic that would require? Again, I went to the office and asked for their BMPs and as I already knew that was not in the policy nor is it stated in any code of federal regulations. I was later asked to produce insurance for the work being performed which I was happy to produce; however, there is no law that states you have to have insurance to detail a boat. They didn't know that I'm well versed in EPA and OSHA regulations and I was ready to go to bat if need be in order to get the job done and at that point for me it was just a matter of principal. On the other hand, it would be wise to make sure any company you have performing work on your boat has insurance because accidents do happen.


It's important to know the BMPs at your marina. Some marinas don't allow you to do any work that will be performed with a sander. On the one hand, boat yards will allow you to do some sanding if you have a HEPA Vacuum (EPA approved vacuum) to reduce hazardous particulates from getting in the air. I haven't had a job shut down yet for not complying with EPA regulations but I have heard several stories about them showing up to boat yard and marinas unannounced to do inspections. As a boat owner, you got your boat so you can enjoy the water, not worry about laws and keeping up with policy, right? Well looks like we can't escape policy, its being enforced every day and everywhere, even on the water.

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