BOTTOM PAINT GUIDE 6: CARING FOR THE BOTTOM OF YOUR BOAT
So far, we have been looking at ways to protect the bottom of your boat by using various types of anti-fouling paints. However, if your bottom paint fails, it cannot do its job. In this article, we will examine ways to care for your bottom paint, as well as methods of taking care of your boat-bottom without using paint.
Maintaining Bottom Paint
Bottom paint can fail for many reasons. Among them are:
1. Improper prep and/or application. If the surface of the boat is not properly prepared, anti-fouling paint can peel right off. A too-thin application of paint will result in anti-fouling paint that has a short life, and launching your boat before the paint is completely dry will cause the paint to wash away.
2. Slime. If the bottom of your boat gets covered with slime, the anti-fouling properties of your paint will be greatly reduced or stopped altogether.
3. Damage. If your boat touches bottom, scrapes against a rock, or even brushes against a pier, and you have no structural or hull damage, don’t assume that you have no damage at all. If your anti-fouling paint has mud stuck to it, or has been scraped away in spots, growth can start in that area.
4. Heavy-handed cleaning. Clean slime off of ablative paint on land using a soft cloth or pressure washer set at minimum. With hard paint, use the least abrasive cleaning material possible.
5. Improper grounding. Electricity in the water around the boat can neutralize the antifouling paint. Make sure your electrical system is in good working order and properly grounded, otherwise your anti-fouling paint will waste away just like your zincs – only faster.
Alternatives to Bottom Paint
Want to avoid dealing with anti-fouling paint altogether? There are a few ways that you can do that and still keep the bottom of your boat clean.
1. In-the-water boat lifts, such as the ones available from Sunstream. This type of boat lift is moveable and can go into any marina (with the permission of the marina, of course). Kevin Raymond, Caribbean representative for Sunstream says that a boat lift protects more than just the bottom of a boat. “By getting your boat completely out of the water, you prevent wear and tear on seals, zincs, props, shaft, rudders and drives. Every part of your boat is protected from fouling, yet the boat can be easily launched.”
2. Boat Bunkers offers a new in-water mooring system that can be secured at a dock or mooring. A Boat Bunker consists of an inflation collar, a shield that goes underneath your boat, and a gate. You pull your boat into the Bunker and raise the gate to create a closed environment. Critters that like to live on the bottom of your boat will be deprived of food and oxygen, which will cause them to die. According to Boat Bunkers, they also have an “environmentally friendly water treatment agent” that will prevent plant growth in this closed environment. As a bonus, the collar will protect your hull from fuel spills and floating debris.
3. A third alternative is land-based storage. If your boat has a trailer, and you (or your marina) have a vehicle that can haul them both out of the water, you can store your boat on its trailer at either a yacht club, a marina, or on your own property, depending on zoning laws and the tolerance of your neighbors. Some boat parks offer a multi-story racking system. A forklift will raise and lower your boat to and from your “slip.” A specific number of “splashes” will usually be included in your monthly storage fee.
If you do decide not to use anti-fouling paint, Interlux recommends that you seal the gelcoat with an epoxy barrier. After that, keep the boat waxed, and if you are hauling it after each use, wash it down to keep it gleaming.
Maintaining our boats while protecting our environment is a balancing act. With some research, you will be able to determine the best way to take care of your boat without damaging your playground.