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Yard Talk

Boat Sunblock  –  How do you know what boat care products really work? Why trust 303’s formulas on your boat? Simplify—let the industry test them and then take the recommendations of your trusted local chandlery. Consumers don’t need to take the risk.

Sunlight is a killer on vinyl or synthetic products, and protection, as any boat owner or charter company will tell you, is all in the maintenance and using the tried-and-tested quirky tips of other boat owners. If there is a product that works, would you trust it above the legendary tips?  Hey now, toothpaste must have taken some convincing.


According to Ramiz Abuhaydar of Golden Hind Chandlery, “303’s Aerospace Protectant is the leader in UV screening technology.” It is advertised as "SPF 40 Sunscreen … For Your Stuff," and Ramiz supports that claim.  Regular use gives 100% prevention of UV-caused slow fade.

Okay, good I say, but let us test it out, and most of all, let’s get the instructions right, and what are we applying it onto exactly?

303’s formulations are known as “the products manufacturers recommend most for after-purchase maintenance.” In talking with Ramiz, who is constantly researching the best products for boats, he trusts the findings of Spradling International, Inc (a large producer of marine vinyl) who tested 303 Fabric/Vinyl Cleaner. The results found it to be safe and effective on their vinyl as opposed to many commercial cleaners that are harmful to the material.

The ‘plastic’ windows in convertible tops, soft-tops, boat enclosures, is actually a specialized type of vinyl called “Pressed Polished Sheets,” or “pressed poly.” On clear vinyl, wear and tear and UV exposure cause brittle, decay, yellowing and failure. Like all vinyl, clear vinyl contains plasticizers (to keep it soft and pliable) and UV stabilizers (to retard UV degradation), but clear vinyl loses its plasticizers much more rapidly than top-coated vinyl.

Method One (for vinyl): First rinse off the vinyl to remove any grit which might scratch the vinyl. Then using a little real soap (Ivory) in a bucket of cool water and a very soft cloth, lather up the clear vinyl then immediately rinse with cool water. (Never use cleaners or even detergents, just soap). Spray 303 on the surface liberally; rub it around with your hand or a thoroughly saturated sponge or cloth to assure the gelcoat is thoroughly wetted with 303.  After a couple hours, if any portion of the surface is dull, apply more 303 to that portion.  Let soak in for 12-24 hours.  The entire surface will look like new, but to complete the job all the unabsorbed 303 must be wiped away. This is easily done with a clean towel and bucket of clean water.  Soak the towel in the water, wring out most of the water and wipe down the gelcoat.  If it is a large area, you will have to rinse out the towel periodically.


Gelcoat fiberglass is polyester resin with the pigment in the resin, commonly used in boats, RVs, snowmobiles, jet skis, etc. Gelcoat fiberglass rapidly fades and chalks with traditional maintenance being tedious and repetitive buffing and waxing. 303 Aerospace Protectant is an alternative to buffing and waxing. A new appearance is attempted to be maintained with periodic spray on/wipe off applications usually every 45-60 days of exposure.

Method Two (for fiberglass): Wash the surface to remove surface dirt and grit. Then use a variable speed power buffer (set not to exceed 1800 rpm) with a synthetic wool pad (or equivalent).  Spray 303 on the surface, spread with the buffer on low, and then increase the rpm and buff until dry. Professionals utilizing this method achieve a labor savings of at least 80% compared to standard buffing & waxing, while producing a more lustrous and beautiful, longer lasting finish.  In some cases, pre-buffing may be required. Be sure to use a buffing compound which leaves no wax or polymer finish. To prevent the recurrence of both UV fading and oxidation, periodically reapply 303 Aerospace Protectant (spray on/wipe dry).  This will provide continuing UV protection and keep the gelcoat surface like new.

In the BVI, we cover ourselves in SPF 30 or more every day to combat the harsh UV rays, so it makes sense to do the same for our boats that are also exposed to the penetrating, damaging light. Whether touching up your vinyl or your fiberglass, this season, don’t forget the sunblock. 

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