Join Date: May 2002
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After many layers of bottom paint have accumulated on the bottom over many years, the paint begins to split and peel off in large chips. You can sand it smooth and paint over it, and the boat will sail reasonably well for awhile, but, within another year or two, after you put a couple more layers of paint on it, it'll start splitting and peeling again, because the underlying problem is the fact that you have too many layers of old paint on the boat. Unless you strip it off, you'll have a fairly big job every 2-3 years. If you strip it all off, down to the gelcoat, and start all over again, and use good ablative bottom paint, you can get to the point where you will, in all probability, never have to do that hard work on the boat again. The modern ablative paints gradually wear away, and don't accumulate like the old paints did.
So, your real choice is, do you want to do a fairly big job every 2-3 years, or do you want to do a really big job once? I chose the latter, and only wish I had done it sooner.