We had a relatively uneventful run up the New River this morning, and arrived just in time for our scheduled lift. Harmonie came out of the water totally clean. It was really impressive. There was not a single bit of hard growth anywhere on the painted surface of the boat, and just very light layer of slime. This is pretty amazing since we haven’t cleaned the hull at all in the water. It just hasn’t needed it.
One reason we come out with such a clean bottom is we tend to do this on a shorter cycle than a lot of boats. We do the bottom every 12 months. Most cruisers try to push this to 24 months, and most of the current generation of paints start to struggle after 14 to 18 months, especially in warm tropical waters.
We use Sea Hawk’s Bio Cop TF paint. It has performed well for us for years, and we see no reason to change. This is an ablative paint, that slowly wears off as the boat moves through the water, eliminating long term build up of old paint layers. We selected this paint because it works in both fresh and salt water. A lot of people use Interlux Micron 66, which performs well, but does not adhere after long term immersion in fresh water. Here in the upper reaches of Florida’s rivers, and especially in parts of the Chesapeake, we spend significant amounts of time in water far more fresh than salt,, so we have never felt this paint suitable for the way we use our boat.
Another thing that keeps our hull clean is that we move the boat to many different environments pretty frequently. Warm water, cold water, fresh water, salt water. It is tough for anything to survive across these different environments.
One of the more difficult parts of a boat’s underwater structure to keep clear of biological growth is the propeller and other metal parts. They are not compatable with normal antifouling paints. We have used a product called PropSpeed. It’s a painted on finish that is so slippery that nothing can stick to it. We have found that our one year underwater maintenance cycle is just about how long PropSpeed lasts. We consistantly find the prop still clean, but we also see the first signs that the finish is starting to fail.
Keeping a boat’s bottom clean is really important for the performance of the boat both under sail and while motoring. Smooth water flow across the keel helps the boat go upwind. The amount of fuel used when motoring goes up dramatically even with small amounts of hard growth on the hull–and especially on the propeller. A boat with a clean bottom makes for a happy sailor!
For work on all the underwater parts of the boat, we hire a local contractor to do the hard work, and it is definetly a case of having the best tools, and a lot of practice makes things go faster. As long as we have owned Harmonie P&S Yacht Services here in Fort Lauderdale has done the bottom work. Silvio and his son John run a great shop, and they have a crew working for them who know their stuff and do a first class job. With any painting project 90% of the outcome is in the initial preperation work on the surface, and they have proven they take this step seriously, and do it right every time.