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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #11  
Old 08-04-2010
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Two years ago NJ put a law in force that makes it illeegal to wash the bottom of any boat unless you can catch all the runoff water and properly treat it. NO discharge that can run into lakes, streams, rivers, OR sewer systems or septic tanks. Enforcement was postponed 1 year, and now starts in September of this year. Essentially this means all marinas will be putting in large storage tanks and paying to haul it away at $1 a gallon. I work in the wastewater industry and have done a little freelance consulting with a marina on this issue. So far no one has succesfully demonstrated a system to meet the discharge standards. We can do it, but probably not at a cost that would beat $1 a gallon in the short term. Amortize over ten years though and we probably could get it down to $0.30 a gallon.
SO, expect to pay about $35 extra to get your boat cleaned this year if it takes 15 minutes or so.

Gary H. Lucas
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Old 08-04-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryHLucas View Post
Two years ago NJ put a law in force that makes it illeegal to wash the bottom of any boat unless you can catch all the runoff water and properly treat it. NO discharge that can run into lakes, streams, rivers, OR sewer systems or septic tanks. Enforcement was postponed 1 year, and now starts in September of this year. Essentially this means all marinas will be putting in large storage tanks and paying to haul it away at $1 a gallon. I work in the wastewater industry and have done a little freelance consulting with a marina on this issue. So far no one has succesfully demonstrated a system to meet the discharge standards. We can do it, but probably not at a cost that would beat $1 a gallon in the short term. Amortize over ten years though and we probably could get it down to $0.30 a gallon.
SO, expect to pay about $35 extra to get your boat cleaned this year if it takes 15 minutes or so.

Gary H. Lucas
By "all marinas" it sounds like you actually mean "all marinas in New Jersey." I will be hauling out in Pennsylvania, so this will not apply to me.

This fall will be the first time I haul out my boat, so I know little about the vile, stinky stuff that will come off the bottom aside from the believe that it will not include barnacles (fresh water), but will include a lot of slime and some grass. But I wonder what benefit this law provides (aside from providing artificial stimulus to your company) for boats that stay within coastal waters. I can see that boats that roam the ocean and could bring in dangerous invasive species from distant waters should have their wastewater treated. But boats that have stayed in local waters would just be putting back into the water what originated there - unless they're trying to avoid paint debris from going into the water. But I would think that's more likely to come from scraping and sanding a dry hull, which would be captured on dry tarps (like Maryland's regulations) rather than in wastewater.

So let me naively ask what's the explanation for this?
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Last edited by TakeFive; 08-04-2010 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 08-04-2010
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No one is really concerned about the biological crap on your bottom, if that is all there was. The big issue is that bottom paints are biocides, designed to kill living things, really really tough living things, like barnacles. So they are loaded with heavy metals, copper, tin, in the past lead, etc. If you look at NJ discharge limits, it is a whole list of metals. Metals are toxic, you can get brain swelling from getting bottom paint on your skin while scraping it off the bottom.

Sewer plants are biological plants. Metals interfere with that biology, and the metals get concentrated in the sludge, meaning it can't be land applied, it has to go to landfills for all of eternity.

Removing metals is very tough. My first job with this company was a metals job, took us 3 years to get it running right! So the this wash water issue is legit, and it will only be a short time before all states institute the same laws. I just wish we had a cost effective solution. Lots of business if we did!

Gary H. Lucas
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Old 08-04-2010
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For years we had boats in the Tacoma Yacht Club basin. Still have one there now. The basin was formed by a breakwater created as Asarco dumped the molten slag from it's copper smelting operation in Ruston. Not only did this make a great breakwater, and a great light show from the water as the slag was being dumped, but the slag had huge amounts of remaining copper, and other metals as well as high concentrations of arsenic. It was great. NOTHING would grow in the basin. Bottom paints were not needed. You would get a little grass growing at the water line, but once a year you put the boat on the grid and scrubbed it down really well.

Over the decades, most of the copper near the surface has leached out of the slag of the breakwater, making the water less toxic and creating a need for anti-fouling bottom paints again. Such is progress.

In WA, I don't believe we can any longer put our boats on a grid to clean the bottom. We have to haul out and the operator has to catch all effluent from bottom cleaning and painting for disposal. Interestingly, it is legal to have a diver clean your bottom. Most of us have a dive service that will scrub the bottom and inspect/replace zincs. Keep in mind that boats only get hauled here if they need below waterline repairs or need paint.

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That brings up an interesting topic. My epoxy bottom paint (WM BoatShield) was allowed to dry on the hard for an unacceptably long time by the previous owner. Rather than repaint right away, I decided to get more familiar with the local water first, and have a diver do a midseason bottom cleaning.

Can anyone recommend a diving service who works in the Delaware River near Philly?
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Old 08-05-2010
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Yes, pressure washers are great. Bottom, top sides, deck, just be careful and use the right nozzle. After cleaning and waxing, I wouldn't use it unless you plan to wax it again.
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Old 08-05-2010
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Better quality pressure washers come with a selection of wands that have different focus at the tip. I have one with three wands, one of which I use to wash the cars at home and it does no damage. The most aggressive wand on the same machine effortlessly strips paint. I use the different wands on different parts of the boat.

As was said some time ago on a varnishing thread, if you want to work hard you can always find a way but you don't need to. If you only have one wand and it could cause damage, just vary the distance of the tip from the surface to be cleaned.

As SD says, in the hands of a dumbo any machine can do damage.
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Old 08-05-2010
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Andre—

In the US at least, they don't use wands, but interchangeable tips instead.

The most useful tip, at least for washing and cleaning is the rotary scrubbing nozzle, which has less pressure than many of the other tips but moves in a circular pattern and scrubs the surface fairly well. Of course, if you use this tip, keeping it a safe distance from the easily damaged parts of the boat is key.
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Old 08-06-2010
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For a total newbie like me (who does not currently own a boat, nor has ever used a pressure washer), what is a safe distance, and safe nozzle? Can you give some guidelines for safe pressure washer usage on the various parts of a fiberglass boat? I was considering buying a pressure washer if I ever get someone to accept my offer on a boat.
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This varies with the make and model of the pressure washer... pressure washers are rated in PSI for their maximum output using a 0˚ nozzle, and the electric ones are fairly weak, usually around 1400-1700 PSI, with some of the better gasoline powered ones reaching as high as 2500-3000 PSI.

Using a rotary turbo nozzle, like the ones described here, will do a pretty good job of scrubbing/washing the topsides, deck and bottom. However, it will strip ablative paint pretty damn fast too.

In general, avoiding things like hatches and portlights with a pressure washer, unless you're a good distance away, using a fairly low power tip, is a good idea.

Teak should be avoided as I said previously, as most pressure washers will strip the softer wood and leave the raised grain, leading to a need to sand the teak more often.
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For a total newbie like me (who does not currently own a boat, nor has ever used a pressure washer), what is a safe distance, and safe nozzle? Can you give some guidelines for safe pressure washer usage on the various parts of a fiberglass boat? I was considering buying a pressure washer if I ever get someone to accept my offer on a boat.
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