Features November 1, 2004 Issue

Bottom Paint Grudge Match

We pit two top anti-fouling paints—Pettit's Trinidad SR and Interlux's Micron 66—against each other head-to-head.

At Practical Sailor, we sift and filter through marine products to evaluate them so that you don't have to. Our annual bottom paint test serves as a strong example of this. It's a chance for the best barnacle-busting, slime-sloughing coatings on the market to rise above the rest.

When we pulled our test panels out of the brine last year, the ones bearing Micron 66 (new in 2004) from Interlux and Pettit Trinidad SR were spotless, which earned them "Excellent" ratings. (Several other paints did well too, including two from E Paint, see "Bottom Paint 2004," March 2004.) So, we thought it only fitting to take the best of the best and run them head-to-head.

Test Parameters
Rather than apply these paints to fiberglass panels as we normally do in our bottom paint tests, we used the two paints on the hull of one of our test boats—a 20' runabout. To make the test as fair as possible, we had the bottom painted in checkerboard fashion. Admittedly, this boat travels faster than any sailboat, yet it should nonetheless provide a fair platform for judging these paints.

Bob's Boatyard—a fine repair yard in Osprey, FL, that carries many of the major paints and has no allegiance to any particular brand—coated the port forward and starboard aft sections with Trinidad SR. The Micron 66 was applied to the starboard forward and port aft sections. First, a primer coat was applied, followed by two coats of each paint. All coatings were applied with a 1/4" roller.

We learned that the Trinidad rolls on easier than the Micron, which is stickier and emits a pretty pungent smell of solvent.

We launched the boat in early May and we'll have it hauled early next winter to report on each paint's performance.

Our test boat stays in the water, of course, and is used for cruising and fishing. We try to avoid skinny water to prevent sand from scraping off any paint. But since this is a real-life test, we can't rule out collisions with flotsam.

The Paints
Micron 66 from Interlux—the product that earned top honors in our latest test of bottom paints—hit the market last year. At $193.86 per gallon, it's expensive. (We obtained the paint at that price from Jamestown Distributors.)

Interlux uses a patented resin—an SPC copolymer—that is released by a chemical reaction with salt water. According to Interlux, this consistent release of biocides allows the paint to outperform paints containing the outlawed TBT. Micron 66 contains 40.41 percent copper and cannot be used in fresh water. Like many paints from Interlux, this one contains "Biolux," an anti-slime or soft growth additive.

Pettit's Trinidad SR has been on the market for several years. A hard, all-purpose paint that has characteristically done well in our tests, it's quite different from Micron 66. To begin with, Trinidad SR has a significantly higher copper content at 70 percent. It is also somewhat less expensive. We obtained it for $153.99, again from Jamestown Distributors (www.jamestowndistributors.com).

The testing's under way; we'll report our findings soon.

• Interlux Yacht Finishes, 800/468-7589, www.yachtpaint.com
• Kop-Coat (Pettit), 800/221-4466, www.kop-coat.com

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