How to prepare and maintain the freeboard

Of course, there are many ways to polish and clean the freeboard, and many ways to spend a lot of money. But you really should consider spending some effort on this part of the boat, every year.


I do not care much for looks, but on the freeboard, I would prefer mirror-gloss because it repels dirt and grime and makes the gelcoat last longer.

Time consumption

I spend two-three days every spring on the freeboard alone. These are not full days, because my arms get too long from manual labor. Before I became sick, it could probably be done on a good long day.

Cold wash

  • The first step is to wash the freeboard thoroughly. I use a high-pressure cleaner – the cheapest Nilfisk is not so powerful and is sufficient for this job.
  • Boat Shampoo is a must to get rid of the grease and save on the slightly more expensive rubber. Several products recommend rubber before shampoo, but that’s how I do it. I use a soft car brush with a handle to apply the soap and to scrub the dirt off.
  • I like to use the high-pressure cleaner to rinse the shampoo off. It’s fast and most comfortable. It must be rinsed off before the soap dries in, so I take a maximum of a quarter of a 28-foot boat at a time.

Washing the boat must be done quite meticulously, as otherwise it will affect the final result.

Remove streaks on the freeboard

In my opinion liquid rubbing is the best kind of product to use to remove streaks. There are several who write on the internet about toilet cleaner, but it does not work as well, in my opinion.


The rubber should usually sit for about 10 minutes before polishing, but it is in the application itself that most dirt comes off. I, therefore, put a lot of effort into getting the product applied properly, even though there is nothing about it in the product’s instructions.

I use approx half a bottle of 250mL for the freeboard on the Contessa, which is 28 feet and not very high in the freeboard. I also give the whole freeboard rubber and not just in the exposed places.

For polishing, I use a very cheap polishing (image) machine and polishing caps – In my opinion, it is distinguished by being light, having a large polishing surface, running slowly as it should, and then it lasts much longer than the price guarantees for. Mine is 6 years old now and seems like when it was new.
I do not understand that people stand with elongated machines in metal with a small polishing surface unless that way you save the fitness subscription.

There are many that polish by hand and have a nice effect from it, but for me it is too hard to stand with for many hours.

First polishing


Marine Polish may have slightly different names, but the purpose of this polish is to both clean and polish. It is usually also applied with a dry cloth, and should then sit for approx. 10 minutes before polishing. It is important to wait until it is dry, as otherwise it will fill up the polishing cap and make it damp, so polishing is not possible.

If applied in direct sunlight, “cakes” such as lint can appear, which must be removed before polishing. The polisher cannot take these sticky masses.

After using this product, the freeboard looks finished, but it is not.

Polishing with wax


The last step is the application of wax, and again you usually have to wait approx. 10 minutes before polishing. Be careful again with sunlight, but check what is written on your bottle. I have only tried to use Hempel’s wax, in different versions (some old bottles came with the boat).

Treating with wax is equivalent to applying a layer of abrasion. On the one hand, the smooth surface is repellent to most dirt, and on the other hand, the wax protects against the sun’s degrading rays. I therefore think wax is a very important product that I would never skip.

Once I have been around the boat these six times, the freeboard may well hold two years before it is processed again.
It is also very satisfying labor, as you can really see the difference between before and after, and the neighbors come with positive surprised comments about the result.

40 years old freeboard looking wonderful
Author profile

Ane Boa was born in 1971 and has been sailing ever since. She got her license in 1984 and her first boat in 1989. Today she owns a Contessa 28 from 1980
Ane is a creative soal who also likes to play music and holds two degrees as an architect and a nurse.