Practical Sailors May 2008 issue looked at green practices in marine maintenance outside the hull. This spring, we look at eco-friendly products and techniques for the boat interior. We focus on areas belowdecks where we can reduce our impact on the environment. Proper disposal of petrol fluids used in most inboard engines-fuel, lubricant oil, and transmission fluid-is paramount. Preventing engine fluid spills by using careful filling techniques is key, as are careful preparation for a possible spill and proper cleanup should a spill occur. The best products we found for preventing oil spills and cleaning up oil spills include 3M Sorbent Pads and MDR Oilzorb Engine Pads; Jabsco Oil-Changing System; and the Vetus Bilge Water/Oil Separator. We recommend RydLyme Marine and Barnacle Buster for a green descaling of a boats heat exchanger.Eco-friendly bilge cleaners that we recommend include CRC Industries Big Bully Natural Orange Bilge Cleaner, Clean Water Solutions Microbial Powder, Star brites Sea Safe Biodegradable Bilge Cleaner, and Star brites Super Orange Bilge Cleaner. Eco-friendly soaps and detergents recommended for green cleaning include Dr. Bronners Sal Suds and some cleaners in the Simple Green, Spray Nine, and Thetford Marine lines. And, don't forget plain old blue Windex.
For those of us living, working, and playing on the water, rust can show up all too often, as the trailer for one of Practical Sailors test boats recently reminded us. Testers tried four aerosol products marketed as penetrating oils-WD-40, Liquid Wrench, PB Blaster, and CRC Freeze-Off-on the rusted U-bolts, and seized nuts and bolts of the neglected trailer to determine which is the best rust buster.
While world leaders and presumed financial wizards set to work trying to right the global economy with some very expensive bailers and sponges, Practical Sailor has taken the time this month to dig through our recent collection of Chandlery submissions to see if we can find anything more useful. Given sailors capacities for innovation (aka "jury rigging"), were holding out hope that the next great invention-the ultimate stimulus package-lies somewhere in our growing stockpile of Chandlery items.
Over the years, Practical Sailor has tracked the evolution in marine antifouling paints. Shaped by government regulations, environmental concerns, and industry innovations, the shift started with tin-based paints in the 1980s. After tin-based paints came under fire for the harm they cause marine life, copper-based paints grew in popularity. Now, concerns about the impact of copper on the environment have led to the development of copper-alternative paints, such as zinc-biocide and water-based antifoulings. We continue to sort through the data to help you find the best bottom paint for your boat. This report offers an update to our panel tests after six months and 18 months in the water as well as the head-to-head tests under way on our test boat fleet. Some of the best performers (out of 72 paints tested) at six months were hard paints and specialty antifoulings such as Copper Shield 45 Hard made by Blue Water, VC Offshore by Interlux, Copper Guard by Pettit, and Sharkskin by Sea Hawk. The best ablative paints at six months included Copper Shield SCX 45 by Blue Water, EP-21 by Epaint, and Hydrocoat and Vivid Free by Pettit. The top long-term bottom paints-those appropriate for multi-season antifouling protection-included Interlux Micron 66, Pettit Trinidad SR, and Interlux Epoxycop. These extensive tests also included marine bottom paints from Awlgrip, Flexdel, and Microphase Coatings. The lineup also covered re-branded products from West Marine.
Practical Sailor Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo sets out to remove a few layers of bottom paint and the underlying Interlux InterProtect epoxy barrier coat, which was applied to his boat hull in 1982. While non-toxic, eco-friendly paint removers work well on removing antifouling paints, one-part enamels, and varnish, all bets are off with epoxy coatings. With a good selection of chisels, a penchant for keeping them sharp and no aversion to hard work, Naranjo battles the pock-marked, blistered barrier coat. His arsenal included three chemical strippers-Peel Away Marine Safety Strip, Peel Away Smart Strip, and Franmar Soy Strip, an array of sanding disks, and random orbital sanders. His report offers how-tos, tool tips, and a rundown of the costs associated with the DIY barrier coat removal to answer the question: Is it really worth doing it yourself?
Preserving a clear view through clear plastic on dodgers or enclosures is one of the most challenging tasks in boat maintenance. Restoring a vinyl window is almost impossible, but that doesn't stop the tide of products that claim to make this job easy. Practical Sailors eisenglass cleaners test looks at 27 products touted primarily as cleaners or treatments for vinyl windows. The test products were divided into type: cleaners, scratch repairers, polish protectants, and UV protectants. After a week of testing, we found Imar Strataglass Protective Cleaner and Imar Strataglass Protective Polish, distributed by Defender Industries, to be the Best Choice. Collinite No. 845 Insulator Wax and Mer-Maids Plexiglass Plastic Cleaner and Polish were the Budget Buys. The test also included products from the following manufacturers: 303, 3M, Aquatech, Armada, Davies, Marykate, Meguiars. Mothers, Novus, Plexus, Sailors Solutions, Star brite, Turtle Wax, West Marine, and Yacht Brite.
Practical Sailor last tested metal polishes in March 2007, and the best choice for most jobs was the Miracle Cloth. The treated cloths best feature is its ease of use. Since that test, Practical Sailor has come across a couple other products: another impregnated cloth product called the NautiKlean, two cloths that are meant to be used together; and Mothers Power Metal, a polish that can be used with the drill-mounted Powerball, a foam ball that allows power polishing around curves and in tight spaces. Theres also a smaller mini-Powerball. Testers pitted the NautiKlean cloths and the Mothers mini-Powerball and Power Metal Polish against the Miracle Cloth on a variety of metals, including anodized aluminum, stainless steel, and bronze. Testers also included a one-year-old tub of Prism Polish, a conventional polish that did well in the last test.
Over time, chafing from lines can actually wear away gelcoat. Likewise, chips will appear where hatches or ports bang. While eliminating chafe is the best course of action, in some cases, a protective patch can be a viable solution. Faced with a chafe problem on his own boat, sailor Andrew Grogono developed the Wear and Tear Pad, an ultra-thin (.002 inches) piece of 301 stainless steel backed by an all-weather double-sided tape. To use, just peel off the backing paper and stick the patch on the hull at the point of friction or impact (making sure the hull is clean and dry, first).
Practical Sailor finds the Alado Nautica headsail furler to be easy to install and a worthwhile sail-handling tool. One feature that sets the Alado apart from other jib or genoa furlers is its staggered slotting of five-foot foil sections that slide together and interlock over a conventional wire or rod headstay. This design allows the do-it-yourselfer to fit each foil section over an attached headstay, and simply push the formed furler up the wire or rod. Mainstream headsail furlers tend to be assembled on the ground and installed with the mast horizontal. The Alado furlers design uses integral halyards to place a compression load on the foil, eliminating the need for Loctite, set screws, and a top swivel. We tested the Alado over five months of coastal cruising and daysailing.
Practical Sailor tested a field of 10 tubs of paste waxes for ease of application, gloss, texture, finish, and price. Most of the products did a fairly good job of producing initial shine. The two waxes with the most glossy fiberglass test patch were not the easiest to apply nor were they the least expensive. The boat wax test included marine paste waxes and car waxes-some with carnauba-from Meguiars, Turtle Wax, 3M, Collinite, Kit, Mothers, Nu-Finish, and Star brite. You need only dip a toe into this topic to realize that there are almost as many recipes for a glossy hull as there are sailors whod rather do anything than wax their hull. As long as marketeers keep alive our hopes for a glossy finish that will last forever, there will be people who will plunk down hard-earned money for the latest and greatest gelcoat elixir. We generally define gloss as being the surface ability to reflect light. Gloss, along with ease of application and the ability to repel dirt and water, are the features that Practical Sailor focused on for this report (see "How We Tested," page 32).