You can always tell a boat that has spent time traveling on the Intracoastal Waterway by its unsightly brown bow stain. The tannins given off by the mangroves and decaying vegetation along the canals turns the water in the ICW a murky brown, and the stain it leaves on your boat develops so fast that we never bother trying to keep our bow clean while we’re actively cruising. It would take a daily wash and wax to keep the stain from forming, and who’s got time for that. But removing this ugly brown stain from our bow is one of the first things we try to tackle when we return home for hurricane season.
The usual boat soap, water and a scrub brush won’t touch this discoloration. Even so-called super cleaners like Amazing Roll Off that brag about their deep cleaning ability won’t phase it. In the past, we’ve had to resort to a product called Mary Kate’s On and Off to remove our bow stain. But On and Off is basically muriatic acid, and it’s a real hazard to use. Forget to wear your rubber gloves or fail to rinse it off your leg when you spill some and you can be looking at some nasty chemical burns. It’s pretty unpleasant to inhale it, and safety glasses are a must to protect your eyes from splashes.
But we heard a tip recently that seemed so good that we thought it couldn’t possibly be true. We were told that simple lemon juice would wipe that stain right off. At only a couple of bucks for a quart bottle, we thought it was worth a shot.
Here’s a three word review of our results: best idea ever! The lemon juice cleaned off the stain better than anything we’ve ever tried. I poured some into a trigger sprayer, and then I just sat in the dinghy and wiped the hull with a wet sponge, sprayed on the lemon juice, let it set a few minutes to work, and then wiped the hull clean. No concern about accidentally getting some on me, no worry about accidently splashing some in my eyes, no need to have to use rubber gloves and a scrub brush. Cheap, effective, and environmentally friendly. It even made the boat smell good!
I wish someone had mentioned this to us years ago.