Subscribers Only In July 2009, 61 samples of antifouling paints, including several new formulas, went into the water in Sarasota, Fla., for testing. This report and the tables above offer a 24-month update on our findings on the top paints in that field, which we last reported on in April of 2011. For sailors who value longevity over all other factors, that article, along with this report on paints that rated a Fair or better after 24 months, will serve as your best guide to choosing a long-lasting bottom paint.
Subscribers Only Practical Sailor continues its search for the best antifouling as we test a large field of bottom paints, including products from Pettit, Blue Water, Epaint, Interlux, and Sea Hawk. In this report, we rate the paints' eight-month and two-year performances. Some budget-friendly and eco-firnedly paints were still doing quite well after a season in the drink. When we last checked in on bottom paints in the March 2011 report, the ban on copper in antifouling paints was on the docket in Washington state and California. As the movement to ban copper moves eastward, the bottom paint industry is in flux, with manufacturers reducing the amount of copper in bottom paint and trying new copper-free paints. Bottom paint will probably not decrease in price, or increase in effectiveness, in the next few years.
Subscribers Only The paint samples were applied to 6-foot-by-2-foot fiberglass panels for testing. Testers follow the makers instructions for preparation and application. There were 11 samples per test panel. All but four samples had two coats of paint.
Subscribers Only Last November, we began field trials of Mussel Buster, a baked-on powder coating that relies on its slick, hard coating to prevent barnacles from adhering. After six months, the prop was surprisingly clean. A few small barnacles had appeared, but they wiped away easily with the sweep of a hand.
When deciding on a process for clearing antifouling paint and coatings off the bottom of your boat, first define your goals and try to be as minimally invasive as possible. If your boat bottom needs more than a scrubbing but less than a full peel, sodablasting is a technique that will strip bottom paint but leave gelcoat intact. The unique softness of the calcium carbonate powder in sodablasting is effective, and the tented setup keeps the old coating contained. This report outlines the sodablasting process, calculates the cost in time and money, and compares its performance and cost-effectiveness to other bottom-stripping techniques we've tested.
An easy way to compute the do-it-yourself labor commitment involved is by timing how long it takes to scrape clean two 1-square-foot patches. The first is in the center of the least well-adhered paint; the second is in the midst of an intact portion of the bottom. Dry scrape each section with a thin-bladed putty knife and a sharp drag-type scraper, noting the time it takes to remove about 90 percent of the coating.
Our foray into sodablasting follows years of testing several different ways to remove bottom paint. Although you can simply attack the bottom paint with a power sander (an 8-inch sander-polisher is probably the most common tool for this purpose), this approach is messy, back breaking, and can expose the do-it-yourselfer to various health hazards. It can also lead to dings and divots in the gelcoat caused by overzealous sanding. Many yards prohibit do-it-yourselfers from sanding antifouling, or offer specific guidelines on how it can be carried out—often prescribing a chemical stripper to help contain the paint residue.
Subscribers Only Getting your dinghy to the dock, across a beach, or down a boat ramp can be a real back-breaker, unless you have some mechanical advantage. Several manufacturers offer wheeled devices to keep you out of the chiropractors office. We tested seven of themone dolly and six sets of launching wheels: Davis Instruments Wheel-a-Weigh Boat Dolly, two sizes of Davis' Wheel-a-Weigh launch wheels, the Garelick Eez-In, Newport Vessels Launching Wheels, Defender Industries Launching Wheels, and Danard Marine Launching Wheels. Selecting the appropriate launching wheels depends on the size and weight of your dinghy or small boat and where you intend to use it. Practical Sailor tested the products on concrete, a soft-sand beach, and a rocky shore, and we found that not all wheels can handle uneven terrain.
Subscribers Only We tested each product for overall quality of construction, ease of installation, and ease of use. Each model was tested on three different surfaces that are common dinghy-transporting areas: an inclined, concrete boat launch ramp with cracks in the pavement wide enough to push some dinghy dollies off course; a sandy beach, where the sand ranged from nearly flat and hard at waters edge to more than 4 inches deep and soft above the high-tide mark; and a rocky shoreline, with some irregular stones that measured up to a foot in diameter. Each set of dinghy wheels was attached to the transom of a 9-foot, 130-pound rowing skiff. To avoid drilling a bunch of holes in our own $1,200 dinghy, we picked up a haggardbut appropriately sized$75 garage-sale skiff for these tests.
Subscribers Only Practical Sailor evaluated washdown pumps capable of performing high-pressure cleanup chores on boats ranging in size from a weekender to a mid-size cruiser. We looked at eight pumps from four manufacturers: the C-60 Deck Wash Kit from Groco Marine; two pumps from Jabsco / ITT; two from Shurflo; and three from Johnson Pumps. With gallons-per-minute ratings ranging from 3.5 to 7 GPM, the pumps were evaluated on their free-flow and restricted outputs, outflow distance and pressure, power draw, price, warranty, design, and construction quality.
Subscribers Only Most washdown pumps are plumbed to draw directly from the water youre sailing in (fresh or salt), in which case, the amount of water available for use is unlimited. The only problem with using a raw-water system in salt water is the residue left behindalthough a salty boat is often better than a nasty one. A second option is feeding the system from the boats freshwater tank. This will typically limit the amount of water you can use, but it does offer the advantage of reducing the effects of corrosion on metals via freshwater washdowns.
Subscribers Only Practical Sailor Chandlery: October 2011. This month reviews a pocket video, new mastclimber, and belowdeck comfort.
Letters to Practical Sailor, October 2011. This month's letters cover subjects such as: DIY Dingy Wheels, Infant PFD Field Test Phone Foulies, and More!
Most of todays fixed VHF marine radios come equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capability, and many high-end handheld VHFs do as well. For years, Practical Sailor has recommended that buyers select a model with this capabilityand for good reason: As the U.S. Coast Guards new marine radio network Rescue 21 becomes operational, rescue centers are able to receive instant distress alerts from DSC-capable VHF radios. However, spending the extra money to have a feature-loaded, DSC-capable VHF offers little benefit if you do not have the radio properly registered and set up. The Coast Guard recently issued a safety alert, warning that mariners were endangering their lives and those of their crew by having a DSC-capable VHF that lacks identifying information.
Letters to Practical Sailor, October 2011. This month's letters cover subjects such as: SI-Tex, Bosworth, Seoladair and More!
I just read an editorial in another magazine stating that next year, only low-sulfur diesel will be sold at fuel docks. They went on to say that you can kiss your old diesel goodbye and re-power. I really dont want to do that. Our 27-year-old M-30 Universal is running just fine. It seems to me that an additive should take the place as a lube that sulfur did for the engine. What is your opinion?
Long Island Sound, the belt of water stretching 110 miles from Hell Gate in New York City to the Race at the Sound’s eastern end, is a fitting emblem of the water-quality woes future generations will face. Today, as Tom Andersen, author of “This Fine Piece of Water: An Environmental History of Long Island Sound,” describes, the Sound is at the brink of an “ecological crisis,” a term so frequently applied today that we’ve become numb to it.
Inside Practical Sailor Blog
May 13, 2013
So, a couple of years back, you acquired a good old boat at a pretty good pricethanks to the marketbut now youre wondering how many coats of bottom paint it has. And what kind? Youve put on a few coats of ablative antifouling since youve owned the boat. It has adhered well and has done its job. But each year, the bottom looks rougher and rougherwith big recesses where paint has flaked off. You sweated out some extra prep-work this season, and thought you had a nice, durable subsurface for painting, but each pass of the roller pulls up more paint. Whats going on here?