25 Paints Make it Past the 24-month Mark

In July 2009, 61 samples of antifouling paints, including several new formulas, went into the water in Sarasota, Fla., for testing. This report and the tables above offer a 24-month update on our findings on the top paints in that field, which we last reported on in April of 2011. For sailors who value longevity over all other factors, that article, along with this report on paints that rated a Fair or better after 24 months, will serve as your best guide to choosing a long-lasting bottom paint.

Bottom Paint Tests 2009 Spring Update

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.

Not All Paint Mixers are Created Equal

If you buy your paint in summer or fall, you can often save some money, but this means youll need to mix it well prior to painting. In fact most of the paint in the store has settled long enough to have separated, leaving a thin solvent-rich layer on the top and 2/3 of the paint as a sludge on the bottom. Intended for less stubborn house paint, ordinary mixers clog up with the goo, taking 15 minutes or more to properly rejuvenate a can. After a dozen layers of paint build up, they scarcely mix at all.

A Year Later: Liquid Wax Test Results 2010

Gelcoat, particularly porous gelcoat, requires a more specialized wax than what youd use on your car. And while most of the liquid waxes we tested are liquid polymers designed specifically for gelcoat surfaces, we also tested some automotive waxes to see how theyd fare against the best marine waxes. These test products are designed to be the final layer of hull protection applied to a new boat or to a boat with oxidized gelcoat that has been thoroughly compounded and polished to a smooth, shiny finish. We tested liquid waxes from Star brite, Cajun Shine All, Collinite, 3M, Mothers, Restructure, Interlux, Imar, Nu Finish, Flitz, Yacht Brite, Woody Wax, Marine Shield, Meguiars, Flagship, Glare, West Marine, Turtle Wax, Island Girl, MP Pros, and Zaino Brothers.

Sodablasting 101

When deciding on a process for clearing antifouling paint and coatings off the bottom of your boat, first define your goals and try to be as minimally invasive as possible. If your boat bottom needs more than a scrubbing but less than a full peel, sodablasting is a technique that will strip bottom paint but leave gelcoat intact. The unique softness of the calcium carbonate powder in sodablasting is effective, and the tented setup keeps the old coating contained. This report outlines the sodablasting process, calculates the cost in time and money, and compares its performance and cost-effectiveness to other bottom-stripping techniques we've tested.

A Smorgasbord of Tools and Patience Are Required For the DIY Epoxy Barrier Coat...

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?

Freshwater Bottom Paint Test

We werent too surprised to learn that Irgarol 1051, an antifouling paint additive that last year was awaiting U.S. Environmental Protection Administration certification, has received approval to re-enter the market. As we reported last spring (see Bottom Paint Update 2017, Practical Sailor April 2017), Irgarol 1051s manufacturer, BASF, had moved its manufacturing to Asia, and was waiting for its new foreign-sourced formula to be certified by the EPA. By 2016, nearly all of the major antifouling paint manufacturers in the U.S. had exhausted their reserves. Now Irgarol is back, which means there may be some confusion as to what secret sauce is boosting the performance of your top-shelf slime-resistant paint.

The Best Sailing Gear of 2010

Practical Sailor offers the annual selection of Editors Choice products for the Gear of the Year 2010 lineup. We hope the list will guide you through the dizzying array of gear at the fall boat shows, or at least help you whittle down your wishlist for Santa. The roster covers a broad spectrum of products-from gadgets for measuring speed to a performance multihull built for speed-that have bested their peers in our tests. The lineup includes gear from Spinlock, Brion Toss, Lopolight, Selden Mast, DuBarry, Keen, Standard Horizon, and Mastervolt. It covers LED navigation lights, bosun chairs, footwear for sailors, and marine electronics. Boat maintenance products from Polymarine and Interlux also made the list.

Past Adventures with Chemical Strippers

Our foray into sodablasting follows years of testing several different ways to remove bottom paint. Although you can simply attack the bottom paint with a power sander (an 8-inch sander-polisher is probably the most common tool for this purpose), this approach is messy, back breaking, and can expose the do-it-yourselfer to various health hazards. It can also lead to dings and divots in the gelcoat caused by overzealous sanding. Many yards prohibit do-it-yourselfers from sanding antifouling, or offer specific guidelines on how it can be carried out-often prescribing a chemical stripper to help contain the paint residue.

Practical Sailor Resumes its Search for the Best Boat Wax

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).

Bilge Pump Installation and Maintenance Tips

The best bilge pump in the world won't keep your boat dry if its not properly installed and maintained. While bilge pump installations are fairly straightforward-and definitely within the scope of DIY projects-there are several factors to consider (capacity, wire size, hose diameter, fuse size) before you begin, and there are some good rules of thumb to follow.