Bottoms Up

Don’t sand that hull just yet.

Capt. Mike Genoun October 17, 2012

With boat show season right around the corner, you may be planning the second largest investment of your life, after your primary residence of course. As you stroll down the aisles and make your comparisons, yacht brokers and dealer reps will do their best to convince you that buying a boat is the most rewarding investment you will ever make, as the time and experiences spent on the water with family and friends are truly priceless. We tend to agree.

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Photo: FSF MAG

Whether it’s a 19 foot Mako or 39 foot SeaVee, if you intend to keep your prized possession at a private dock or public marina then bottom paint is a must. Otherwise, unsightly growth will accumulate rapidly and rob your vessel of performance and efficiency.

By eliminating the sanding process you will essentially save 30 percent or more on your overall labor bill.

The process of properly painting a new hull typically starts by selecting the correct paint, which requires you take a close look at your boat’s intended use, the biological features affecting local waters, and your budget. While researching the perfect paint you’ll be reminded that drag-inducing organic growth exerts a negative impact on your vessel in more ways than one, with recent research revealing that bacteria are the first to colonize a boat hull and they start homesteading within hours of immersion. This is why all boats, regardless of size or style, benefit from quality bottom paint that effectively combats organic growth. In the world of bottom paint, going the cheapest route by purchasing the least expensive paint may ultimately cost you the most in the long run.

The truth of the matter is that all boaters are looking for the same thing; to achieve the best performance while burning the least amount of fuel, with a reduction in fuel consumption benefiting both our wallets and the environment. The best way to achieve optimal performance while simultaneously combating growth is by applying an ablative, self-polishing paint. With an ablative, the antifouling biocides are chemically bonded into the paint’s copolymer matrix, which is engineered to gradually wear away as the boat moves through the water. Similar to a bar of soap, this self-polishing process results in a constant, controlled delivery of biocides from the freshly exposed paint surface and provides consistent, long-lasting performance. As the ablative continues to wear from the friction created by the boat moving through the water, the painted surface continues to get smoother and enhances performance and efficiency. For these reasons an ablative is typically the best choice for most Florida boaters.

Up until recently, when ablative bottom paint needed to be applied to a new boat, extensive labor was necessary as the vessel’s slick new hull needed to be hand-sanded in order to provide a scuffed surface for the bottom paint to adhere to. Manual sanding requires hours of labor-intensive work and often at a hefty hourly rate. Fortunately, an alternative option exists. An innovative process that alleviates much of this labor-intensive work has been perfected by the most trusted name in boat paints and yacht finishes— Interlux. The ultimate, no-sanding process goes something like this…

After a new vessel has been prepped for bottom paint, which entails supporting the boat on blocks and taping off areas to be avoided, the first step requires the removal of the mold release wax used in the manufacturing process to help extract the hull from the mold. The easiest way to accomplish this task is by applying Interlux (YMA601) Fiberglass Surface Prep in relatively small sections by either brush or roller, with the latter being much more efficient. The Fiberglass Surface Prep is light pink in color. The film is then lightly scrubbed with the brown colored Scotch-Brite pad (avoid green Scotch-Brite pads).

As you lightly scrub the Fiberglass Surface Prep, you are effectively accomplishing two things. First, the mold release wax is absorbed and emulsified into the Fiberglass Surface Prep, which will simply rinse away with freshwater. Simultaneously, you are leaving behind light micro-scratches in the underwater substrate, which is ideal for InterProtect 2000E Primer to adhere to. It’s important you complete one section at a time, rinsing thoroughly and wiping off any remaining residue with a clean rag before moving on. While rinsing, if the water sheets-out then the wax has been removed. If there are any separations in the water stream, re-scrub that area again.

As you complete the process and the hull dries it may appear untouched to the naked eye, however it is now fully prepped. At this point, rather than manually sanding the hull, you’ll be applying a single coat of InterProtect 2000E two-part primer. By eliminating the sanding process you will essentially save 30 percent or more on your overall labor bill. Or if you are the DIY type, you’ll be saving multiple hours of rigorous and dirty labor-intensive work. Once the primer becomes tacky, apply an even coat of Interlux Micron Extra or Micron 66 in your choice of color. For first time applications on brand new hulls it is highly recommended you apply two full coats of antifouling. Allow the hull ample time to thoroughly dry before splashing and the vessel will be ready for multiple seasons of efficient, trouble-free boating.

If the vessel sits for extended periods you will get an accumulation of slime and algae, which will self clean when you run the boat. If the vessel sits for exceptionally long periods and you can’t run the boat, then it is suggested you occasionally have the bottom lightly scrubbed by a professional diver. This will provide a long, uninterrupted service life.

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