Isn’t there an old adage about rousing the rain gods by opening a can of varnish (or paint)? Having lived (and sailed) mostly in sub-tropical climes, we can definitely sympathize with a rain-delayed boat project. The rain actually isn’t doing any harm to the wood or varnish so much as it’s just a nuisance, adding more work and time to the job at hand. After the rain ceases, let the wood dry for several days. The higher the humidity, the longer the dry time. Denatured alcohol or Naphtha can remove surface moisture. Once the wood has dried, you will need to resand any bare wood areas so that you’re coating fresh wood.
Last November, we began field trials of Mussel Buster, a baked-on powder coating that relies on its slick, hard coating to prevent barnacles from adhering. After six months, the prop was surprisingly clean. A few small barnacles had appeared, but they wiped away easily with the sweep of a hand.
These six-month and 18-month bottom paint test updates cover dozens of antifouling paints that were immersed in Florida waters.Tested paints include marine coatings from Blue Water, Epaint, Flexdel, Interlux, Pettit, Sea Hawk, and Copper Coat, an epoxy-copper blend that claims multi-year protection. BoatKoat Laminates experimental stick-on antifouling for sailboats also was included in the fray. Hard antifouling paints and ablative antifouling paints work differently and are intended for different applications. Find out which type best matches your sailing style and boat maintenance regimen. Testers flagged the best bottom paints in each category, including ablative paints, hard paints, freshwater paints, aluminum paints, racing paints, water-based paints, and eco-friendly paints. Copper-free bottom paints and low-copper coatings performed surprisingly well at the six-month mark.
For the last year, Practical Sailor has been conducting head-to-head antifouling field tests on four boats (two sail, two power). In August 2005, we painted one of our test power boats-a 21-foot Parker-with three coats each of two products: Interluxs Tarr & Wonson Copper Boat, a soft paint, or sloughing workboat paint, that is one of the cheapest on the market, and Interluxs Micron 66, an advanced (and expensive), ablative copolymer paint blended to release biocide at a controlled rate. So far, Tarr & Wonsons field testing and panel results indicate that a budget paint will hold out well for at least one season without hard growth, although you may have to scrub the bottom once or twice. At one-third the price of Micron 66, the Tarr & Wonson paint is not as effective, nor do we expect it to be.
Finding a coating that sticks well to PVC or Hypalon is not easy. Because the coated surfaces are flexible, expanding, and contracting significantly as the tubes are inflated and deflated, the coating must also have some elasticity. It must also be abrasion resistant. In June 2010, Practical Sailor launched a long-term test of five paints marketed as coatings for inflatable boats. We tested products from Marine Design Research (MDR)-Amazon (Inflatable Boat Top), Flexdel (Flexabar), Tuff Coat, and Polymarine (Flexithane and Superflex). After a year of suffering the Florida sun, heat, and rain, the panels were returned to the test bench, and testers found some surprising results.
There are simply too many white lights in and around a municipal anchorage. A required white anchor light must have 360-degree visibility. But a white light at the tip of a mast can get lost in the stars or a background of city lights, making it a poor marker for a sailboat 60 feet below. Also, a light in the sky is not in the normal plane of view of other small vessels maneuvering in an anchorage. An additional white light on a stern arch is a better marker, but it also can become camouflaged by city lights onshore and will be obscured, by a small degree, by the mast. But Inland and International Rules state in part no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in the Rules, which makes the growing use of LED flashing blue or white lights and non-flashing red, green, and pink lights illegal to use as anchor or on-deck lights. Such lights are easily confused for lighted buoys, channel markers, lighthouses, or police boats.
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.
Today I went to paint the bottom of my boat with Interlux’s VC-17m, which I have used since it first came on the market. I had always cut/thinned the paint a bit with acetone. Today, the West Marine store manager (who is an experienced boater) told me that Interlux changed the VC-17m formula and that you should thin it with simple rubbing alcohol. When I used the paint with the alcohol, I noticed that it did not dry as quickly as it had with acetone and seemed thicker than usual after mixing the copper powder. Is it correct that you can now use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to "thin" VC-17m antifouling?