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Whether you have a brand-new boat or a classic, you need to keep it in shape to keep it running. Boats, like cars, need regular maintenance to prevent breakdowns, look good, and stay afloat. And with the rise in boat sales in 2020, many new owners are out on the water. If you’re one of them, you might be wondering what boat detailing includes, how much it costs, and how you can find a good detailer.

What does boat detailing include?

Boat detailing involves cleaning, waxing, and polishing your vessel to keep it looking new and prevent problems. Regularly polishing metal surfaces is important to remove salt and prevent corrosion. Yep, rust is bad for boats. In fact, on the sitcom Friends, Rachel’s father declared rust “boat cancer.” If you find rust, a good boat detailer can help remove it and restore shine.

Boat detailing might also include barnacle removal and cleaning bilges. You must regularly clean the vinyl seats and boat covers and apply a waterproof protectant with strong UV blockers. It’s also important that the service includes washing the hull in addition to the top and interior. 

How can you find a good boat detailer?

Because boat detailing requires intricate work done mostly by hand, it’s important to find an experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable company. It’s also good to find one that won’t overcharge you. Websites such as Yelp and Angie’s List are usually good places to look. You can also look on boat enthusiast forums or even boating Facebook groups.

Beyond checking out other customers’ reviews, you can also get quotes from multiple companies to see how prices and services compare. Other things to consider include experience and specialty services. For example, if you need barnacles removed, ensure whoever removes them knows what they’re doing and not causing more damage to your boat.

How much will it cost?

Boat detailing prices are usually per foot, mobiletechRX explains. Depending upon the size and condition of your vessel, the price can range from $8 to $40 per foot. As with most things, the bigger the boat, the higher the cost. A basic cleaning package usually runs around $8 to $10 per foot, with a premium package costing around $16 to $20 per foot. Other services are usually more expensive.

For rust removal, it might cost anywhere between $25 per foot for a smaller vessel and $70 per foot for a larger boat. Barnacle removal can be as low as $1 to $5 per foot, but it is largely dependent upon how extensive the barnacles are. Cleaning a boat bilge is usually a set rate based on size and can range from $100 to $350. And if your boat is extra-dirty, expect to pay more than regular cleaning packages.

Regularly detailing your vessel is important to keep it looking good and preventing irreversible damage. Boats are expensive investments, and maintaining and detailing your boat can be expensive. But with regular maintenance, including detailing, boats can last many years and provide tons of fun and adventure. Just watch out for that “boat cancer” Dr. Green was talking about. 


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