PropSpeed in the Field

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Mahina Expeditions' Capt. John Neal PropSpeed coating

We first reported on PropSpeed (www.propspeed.com)-an expensive two-part etching primer with a silicone-based top coat designed to prevent propeller fouling by being super slick-in the November 2006 issue and gave an update on our field tests in the July 2010 issue. A recent field report from PS contributor and bluewater voyager Capt. John Neal of Mahina Expeditions (www.mahina.com) confirmed our past findings: While the coating is intact, PropSpeed works. However, we’ve had mixed reader and tester reviews with regard to the durability and longevity of the PropSpeed coating. It seems that when PropSpeed is professionally applied, it lasts longer than do-it-yourself applications. It’s also important to note that for PropSpeed to keep its slick quality and repel fouling, the prop needs to see regular use.

For our original test, we applied PropSpeed to our test boats prop in March 2008. After six months, the coating was fully intact and clean. However, for the following year, the test boat was used very little and the prop was cleaned only once. A year after application, testers noted some hard growth on the prop, and by October 2009, only about 85 percent of the coating remained and a re-application was necessary.

Our recent report from Neal came about a year after he had his 18-inch MaxProp professionally coated with PropSpeed in 2012.

We are real sticklers for a clean bottom and prop,” Neal explained. As you can see in the photo (above right), there is some erosion of the coating near the prop tips, but overall, I was extremely pleased. The grease from greasing the MaxProp before launching and underwater mid-season didn't seem to hurt the coating. We generally motor at around 2,200-2,400 RPM and have a 1.97-to-1 reduction gear. In 9,000 miles, we motored in-gear for about 300 hours.

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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