Maintaining your boat's shiny finish involves taking care of more than just the gel coat. If you have an outboard engine, the casing needs washing down and buffing up in much the same way has the paint on a car. But why bother? Well, when it comes time to sell your pride and joy, looks count for a lot in negotiations and in the all-important photographs on the listing. So if you want to know more about keeping your outboard engine looking brand new, check out this how-to video, filmed by USA editor, Lenny Rudow.




One way to keep your engine looking great which we didn’t address in the video is simply by keeping it covered. As we mentioned, long-term exposure to UV radiation is just about the toughest thing on your engine’s finish (excepting impacts that cause chips, cracks, and scratches, of course).

If it’s possible, keeping your boat and outboards in a garage or under a cover will go a long way to keeping its finish like new. Dedicated canvass engine covers can also be purchased, to keep the sun off your outboards. But beware—poorly fitting covers can be worse than no cover at all. On windy days an ill-fitted cover can shift back and forth, rubbing against the outboard’s finish, slowly wearing it away.

The danger is greatest when you cover your engines with a polypropylene tarp, which can actually do a lot more harm than good. The light polypropylene can whip back and forth in a breeze, and ruin an outboard’s finish in a matter of hours. If you cover your boat with one of these tarps, you need to first wrap the outboards in a cotton sheet or a non-abrasive blanket, to protect them.

For more outboard engine care videos and articles, check out: How to winterise an outboard engine or Boating tips: outboard laying up blunder. For tips on cleaning and maintaining the rest of your boat, take a look at: Boat cleaning: how to care for your hull or 5 ways to protect your boat over winter.

Or check out USA for more maintenance tips including:

Getting tough stains out of gelcoat

How to restore slightly faded gelcoat on a boat

Sea Ray 250 SLX

The gel coat on this Sea Ray 250 SLX is utterly gorgeous. The question is, will you keep it looking that way?


Written by: Lenny Rudow
With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld,, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.