Topside Boat Maintenance and Cleaning

Use of solvents, paints and varnishes for in-slip boat maintenance can contribute to pollution entering the water. The best way to protect the water is to perform only small maintenance jobs in the slip. Use of a variety of boat cleaners, such as detergents, teak cleaners and fiberglass polishers can also contribute to pollution and nutrients entering the water and should be discouraged and minimized.

Encourage marinas and yacht clubs that have maintenance areas, to educate the boaters of these locations, to prevent wash off going back into the facilities waters and to make sure that sanding is done in an area that traps any material from entering the water as well.

If the facility has a designated maintenance area, display signs with rules to prevent wash off of contaminants into marina waters, including the requirement to clean up any debris on a daily basis.

Ensure that paint drippings, sanding and paint chips are collected immediately and disposed of in a manner consistent with state policy.

Boater Best Management Practices

  1. Ask your marina or yacht club manager what types of maintenance projects are allowed in the slip.
  2. Tackle boat projects in the water only if they involve less than 25% of the surface above water line.
  3. Ask marina manager or yacht club about rules for do-it-yourself work, contractors or vendors working in the marina
  4. Drape vessel with tarps to catch wastes from projects.
  5. Cover the water between boat and dock with visqueen or tarps.
  6. Use a dust-containment bag with sanding equipment.
  7. Sweep or vacuum all residual sanding dust and put in the trash. If varnish dust is not a hazardous waste it can be disposed of in facility trash receptacle. If the residual sanding dust is hazardous, then it must be disposed of in the proper manner such as in a Hazardous Waste Disposal Site.
  8. Plug scuppers to contain dust and debris.
  9. Ventilate your space to prevent the accumulation of flammable or noxious fumes.
  10. Use eye protection and a respirator when there is the possibility that dust and debris could damage eyes or lungs.
  11. Remove oil, debris and clutter from your immediate work area.
  12. Keep oil absorbents handy.
  13. Do not sand with steel wool.
  14. Do not sand in a heavy breeze.
  15. Mix all solvents, paints and varnishes over a tarp or on land.
  16. Avoid spills in the water of all solvents, paints and varnishes. Keep all open containers of liquids (e.g. paints, solvents, fuel) that could spill to the water, scuppers or storm drains in secondary containment. Unattended open containers of these types of liquids should be prohibited.
  17. Use or ask your topside maintenance service to use environmentally friendly cleaning products. Carefully read labels to ensure the products are phosphate free and non toxic. Use products in moderation, since more of the cleaner product does not automatically mean your topside is cleaner.
  18. Avoid cleaners that contain ammonia, lye, sodium hypochlorite, chlorine or petroleum distillates.
  19. Consider allowing teak to fade to gray and rinse it occasionally with salt water to remove the dirt; or, for the look of freshly sanded teak, scrub teak decks with salt water and let the sun bleach them.
  20. Use teak cleaners sparingly and avoid spilling them or fiberglass polishers in the water.

Score Sheet – Page 3: Topside Boat Maintenance and Cleaning


Sidebars represent changes incorporated in CMP Manual_revised 2_28_12.