For some reason people bring us 30 year old boats that have never been waxed. If it has been at all, its been at least 10 years since the last time the boat has gotten wax in the pores of the gel-coat. We aren't complaining a bit. Being the new guys in the maritime industry we had to find a way to fit into the detailing niche'. We have a few friends that own boat detailing
companies and they have been in the industry for up to 18 years. They are to the point that all they do is wash and wax jobs at the major yacht clubs and marinas (i.e., Seattle Yacht Club, Elliot Bay Marina and Westlake Union). If you didn't know, it's highly competitive in those markets and starting out as a newbie in the business I wasn't willing to deal with those politics. I discovered that Washington has boats everywhere besides the just tourist attraction; we have beautiful lakes, rivers that are full of salmon, small yacht clubs, boat yards and a lot people have boats in their drive-way. This is truly a boating community.
Well those areas have a lot less competition and since a lot less competition a lot those boats aren't maintained like the boats at Elliot Bay Marina. So in most cases we are removing years of oxidation. That's how the Mobile Boat Guys became the experts or your go to guys for heavy oxidation removal. In a very short span of time we have made a name in the industry. All of your local marine stores know who we are and refer boat owners to our services. Even other boat detailing companies call us up for consultation on how to remove oxidation from a particular vessel. We're always happy to share our expertise with our friends in the industry.
Recently, we encountered a 42/FT Carver that hadn't been waxed in over 10 years.
The owners were livaboards and to their credit the boat was exceptionally clean; however, it was chalky and highly oxidized. I gave the couple a bid for compounding, as I never try to bid a boat without giving it some serious thought of what all is going to be entailed in a restoration. I also learned my lesson bidding boats I have never seen. As a general rule, if I have not seen the boat I will not bid the boat. People call me all the time and ask me, "how much would it cost to detail my boat?" I tell them, "I don't know." First, What kind of boat is it, how big is it, is fiberglass or aluminum, is it all grip, does it have colored hull, is it sailboat, is it open bow, center console and most importantly when is the last time you had a detail? I think some boat owners are embarrassed when you ask that question. I have never gotten an accurate answer. I have trusted a customers word and blind-bidded a few boats only to show up to the boat not prepared for the job. People will tell you the boat is clean and its been well maintained. Here's the one that gets me, "It hasn't been detailed in the last two years but I just pressure washed it." Folks, listen, pressure washing your boat does not and never will remove oxidation from your boat." A lady just today whose boat is 30 years old, never been detailed, said, "I just want my boat to be protected." I had to explain to her very kindly, there is nothing to protect, your boat is oxidized. After we remove the oxidation, we will protect your shiny new finish.
So this makes me wonder (scratching my head). There must be a lot of boat detailers out there that take peoples money and run, or they don't know what they are doing, and the boat owners don't know much how about how to preserve the life of the gel-coat. Either way I blame it on your previous detailer, that's why you called a professional in the first place, right? Again, you can't put wax on oxidized fiberglass. Now lets move on.
Back to the boat with 10 years of oxidation (I tend to go on tangents). After bidding the boat we agreed on a price and we went out to execute our plan. We had extra course compound, variable speed buffers, polish, wax, stain removal; we were well equipped for the job. Well, after taking a few passes on the topside we discovered we were able to produce some shine, but underneath the oxidation there was brown stuff. We never encountered anything like that! Truthfully, I was scared, I thought we screwed up. I knew we didn't but I am always willing to take responsibility; one of my short comings. At any rate, this boat had brown film underneath the oxidation. I made a few calls up to a friend of mine in Canada who owns detail company and he helped me problem solve. The bad part was I had to contact the boat owner. I hate upselling people; however, this was a case where we could move forward and the customer not like the outcome this wasn't a case where we were trying to sell the boat owner and item that was not necessary. Thus, we shut the job down, contacted the customer, explained the situation and waited for authorization to move forward with wetsanding. Yes, we ultimately had to wetsand the topside of a 42/ft Carver with a flybridge. Actually this what the process really looked like:
1. Compound Extra Course
2. Wetsand (1000 grit)
3. Compound Extra Course
4. Polish Fishish
5. Wax/UV Protection
That's four processes before you get to protecting. We aim for perfection. And most of all, we like when a customer doesn't recognize his/her boat. We ended up getting stuck on this dock for few weeks. We restored two more after that and have a couple people on the schedule to get their boats detailed as result of doing some kick ass work.
Are we the best boat detailing company? Well, I bet you don't recognize any of the bottles in the pictures above. We don't really use the materials you get from the marine store. We've spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on products and we have perfected what we do. I really don't know too many detail companies that are able to deliver the quality of work we do. We don't get swirls all over your boat from the buffing pad, your brow and flybridge will look flawless, we are professional, we are knowledgeable, we do bottom paint, blister repair, monthly washes, car detail, and we can just hold a conversation we are down to earth people. And you know what? We enjoy being on the water!