row2k Features
Rigger Tricks
Rowing Hack: The Portable Boat Power Washer
February 8, 2024
John FX Flynn, row2k

Spotted in San Diego: a Rowing Hack in the wild at the Crew Classic

We're on a bit of a cool-power-tool kick to start the year, so as a companion piece to the Better Boat Pump Hack, here is a great idea we saw Texas boatman Spencer Kales using at the San Diego Crew Classic last year: pack a Portable Boat Power Washer when you hit the road.

We all hose down our boat after practice to keep them clean and fast, but that can be tricky when traveling. Some regattas have boat-washing stations, but you could get stuck just wiping your boat down with a wet rag or, worse, skipping the rinse-down altogether when you are on the road.

This cordless power cleaner we spotted Kales using makes giving the boats a good spray and wash a breeze. Kales gets his cleaning done with Ryobi 18-volt version, there are a bunch out there that will do the job.

All you need after you pick one of these up is a bucket of fresh water and a bit of hose. Then you can spray your boats down in a jiffy, giving them just as good a rinse as they get back home--and bonus points, of course, if your bucket has your state flag on it like the one that travels with Texas.

"One 5 gallon bucket should be enough for a few eights inside and out," says Kales. "I mix in some dish soap, Salt-Away, and vinegar for hard water stains." He also replaces the plastic quick release connectors with more substantial brass fittings when the boats are headed out in brackish water.

Investing in this cool tool is particularly worthwhile if you row on salt water, or have brought a fleet of fresh-water boats to a salt water race venue like many in California, or to one of the many winter-time snowbird spots in Florida that college crews flock to between semesters.

Salt water can really do a number on a shell--just ask any team that rows in it all the time--so having a way on those trips to give boats as thorough a washing down as you would at home is crucial.

Don't forget to spray inside the boat, too, especially after a salt water row.
Don't forget to spray inside the boat, too, especially after a salt water row.

If you do have boats heading out in salt water, even for a handful of rows, we can suggest a few resources to go along with this Hack:

This row2k article from a few years back has some great tips for protecting your equipment in salt water, and this one from 2020 about maintaining your fleet starts with some great tips in general on cleaning your shells from a few of the big boat makers out there.

But the Portable Boat Washer helps make sure you can always take that first step towards a clean boat no matter where you land: a good hosing post-row.

Heck, combine this trick with some other Rowing Hack travel tips--like the Rock Climbing Hack to strap boats down faster, some Blade Bags, or the Bungee Bank--and you can hit the road like a pro this spring.

Do you have a slick trick in your travel toolbox? If so, share your ideas--and hacks--in the comments below.

If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us and we will feature your idea in a future column.

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