Rating Paint Panels

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New panels are prepared for launching on Sarasota Bay

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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.

Prior to rating the paints, testers sluice the panels with a bucket of salt water. Paints were rated Excellent (no growth), Good (light soft growth), Fair (moderate to heavy soft growth), and Poor (hard growth). Any paint rated Fair or better is continuing to meet its designed purpose.

A Recommended paint performed best overall or rated best among its specialized peers (best aluminum-safe paint, best water-based paint, best racing paint, etc.). The Budget Buy paints are the least expensive among Recommended paints.

Any antifouling test is subject to a number of variables, and we recommend supplementing our data with local knowledge from independent sources. How and where you use your boat, as well as the maintenance regimen, can have an effect on longevity and performance.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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