Baked-on Prop Coating Still Repelling Barnacles


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. The coating must be applied at a professional facility, which will require removing and shipping your prop to the patent-holders, Matrix Engineering in West Palm Beach, Fla. The cost is about $175 (including shipping) for a three-bladed, 20-inch prop. There are much cheaper options, such as a quart or spray can of conventional antifouling ($30-$50 plus primer) or Pettit Barnacle Barrier, but we’ve yet to find an inexpensive product that lasts more than a season. Matrix claims its coating is effective for two to three years—we’ll see. For a more detailed report on previous prop-paint tests, see the March 2011 issue.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. Darrell is booking speaking engagements in Colorado, Idaho, California, the Pacific Northwest, and British Colombia this summer. You can reach him by email at