While new finishes-paint, epoxy, or varnish-may be beautiful to look at, they are also as slick as can be when a little seawater hits the surface. You can cover your handiwork with nonskid tape; slather on a coat of bland nonskid paint; try one of the nonskid paint additives like crushed walnut shells (favored by PS Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo); or you can try an easy, age-old method that PS tester Drew Frye favors: salted varnish (or paint).
Practical Sailor has made its mark by diving deep into the boat owners rite of bottom painting. Over the years, we have slaved away, painting fiberglass samples with a multitude of formulations and placing them in harms way in various locations to gauge their performance. Weve come away with some strong ideas about what works and what doesnt for the do-it-yourselfer-and that includes the myriad ways boat owners can remove layers of bottom paint so they can start afresh.
Practical Sailor has been conducting antifouling paint trials for years, but our focus almost exclusively has been on those paints that can be bought off-the-shelf at U.S retailers or are widely available in U.S. boatyards. Nevertheless, we often receive email questions from sailors abroad regarding antifouling paints sold in other countries. A number of readers have also have asked us about certain paints that are generally used only on commercial ships. These commercial paints can sometimes be procured at shipyards in major ports both in the U.S. and abroad.
After a brief-and for testers, much needed-hiatus from testing wood finishes, we recently launched a new long-term evaluation of exterior wood coatings. Our last round of tests, a two-year death match, wrapped up in 2011. Although the test field this go-around is smaller than the previous tests lineup, it includes some new products and some that have been reformulated since the last long-term test began in 2007.
Family-owned and -operated New Nautical Paints, the makers of Sea Hawk marine paints, is operating under an environmental compliance program that requires strict monitoring and reporting requirements for the next three years. The program is one of several punishments that a U.S. District Court judge in Miami handed down in December after New Nautical Coatings, its owners, and two employees pleaded guilty to violating U.S. laws regulating the manufacturing and distribution of pesticides.
You know that youve been testing bottom paint too long when you start rooting for the slime and barnacles . . . or tunicates and seaweed, or sponges, or algae, or oysters . . . the whole lot of em. Go sea critters, go! If you ever felt an ounce of sympathy for the invertebrates that sailors spend so much money trying to defeat, then here is some news that will warm your barnacle-hugging heart. We just returned from pulling our 18-month antifouling-paint test panels, and the past year and a half has been very good to barnacles.
Shortly before this issue went to print, Practical Sailor learned that Irgarol, a pesticide commonly used as a boosting agent in antifouling paints, is in short supply in the United States. Although we have not fully investigated the ramifications of this news for boat owners, it seems likely that the supply of paints containing this pesticide will be exhausted sometime this year.
Regarding your blog post on restoring gelcoat (posted online March 18, 2014): Ive seen many similar articles over the years directed toward refinishing topsides. However, Ive seen no discussion about restoring decks. I have an 18-year-old boat, and Im beginning to see pinholes in the deck gelcoat, particularly on edges and curves where I suspect the gelcoat is thinner. Im curious what the experts would recommend.
Bottom paint? Again? Frankly, sometimes we feel that way, too. According to company lore, more than a few former Practical Sailor editors ran screaming for the exits after phrases like ablative copolymer and Irgarol began creeping into their dreams. As much as some like to poke fun at our bottom paint obsession, antifouling is a topic that deserves attention. Choosing the wrong paint can set a boat owner back $1,000 or more, but more importantly, antifouling is a fast-moving topic; paints available last spring are suddenly gone, renamed, or reformulated. This is particularly true for the newer eco-friendly paints.
Weve experimented with several different prop paints with varying degrees of success, although none of the results so far have been dazzling. Some of our testers have had better success with dedicated slick prop paints such as PropSpeed. In our testing, however, mostly in Chesapeake Bay, no prop paint had lived up to our increasingly faint hope that the paint repel growth as effectively as our hull paint.