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post #1 of 12 Old 09-10-2013 Thread Starter
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Hull maintenance and painting questions?

What should I do to maintain my sailboat's hull?

The previous owner painted it about two years ago.

I keep it in fresh water.

I don't race and I'm not terribly concerned with appearances.

How often do I really need to "get a new bottom" as they say? And exactly what does one have to do?

Power wash? Sand? Remove all old paint? Repaint?

Is new paint necessary to prolong the life of the boat or protect the hull? What other measures should I be doing to maintain the hull? Buffing? Waxing?
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post #2 of 12 Old 09-10-2013
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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

The hull is divided into three parts : the part that's normally out of the water, called the topsides, the part that's in the water, referred to as the bottom (in a rare case of literal and comprehensible nautical nomenclature), and the deck.

The topsides can be waxed if they are bare gelcoat, or if they are painted with ordinary paint. If they are painted with Awlgrip they shouldn't be waxed or buffed - just washing should do. Awlgrip sell a special cleaner called Awlwash, and a treatment called Awlcare.

Whether it's gelcoat, paint, or awlgrip, the best thing you can do is regular hosing with water. Life of any of these finishes is practically indefinite.

The bottom gets some special anti-fouling paint that is a whole subject unto itself, but normally it gets painted every 2-3 years. If it is sound (ie not falling off) a light sand and repaint is all that is needed. The usual reason for painting the bottom is that the paint has lost its anti-fouling properties.

The deck is almost always gelcoat and again should be regularly hosed down, and occasionally buffed and waxed.

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Last edited by MarkSF; 09-10-2013 at 01:59 AM.
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post #3 of 12 Old 09-10-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

Thanks.
For a boat moored in fresh water, does it typically take longer for the bottom paint to lose its anti-fouling properties? In salt water I assume you will see barnacles etc , but what do you see on a fresh water fouled bottom? Algae?
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post #4 of 12 Old 09-10-2013
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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

Freshwater usually indicates a freshwater anti-fouling bottom... or sometimes teflon racing bottom... There are 2 big criminals to freshwater bottom paint... algae, and zebra muscles. The muscles are the freshwater equivalent to barnacles (not every freshwater venue has them, but a lot do).

The anti-fouling properties in freshwater bottom paint are usually lower copper levels in the paint than the saltwater equivalent.

You CAN use heavy ablative bottom paint for freshwater though, but the repainting schedule is the same regardless. They hold up more or less based upon water temp rather than water type.

If the bottom isn't peeling off, an simple coat-over with the same type paint is sufficient. If it's peeling in several places, then removal is recommended, and a soda-blast or sanding (with respirators) is in order, then Barrier coat to several mills thick, and bottom paint. I've done this work as scraping and sanding, and I'll highly recommend you soda-blast (or pay someone to). It's probably the most miserable work one can do on their boat (although working on an inboard is up there, with outboard a close 2nd, as is removing varnish from teak).

The rest have you covered. If they painted "topsides" then you are relegated to painting it again when it wears, and only soap and water for now... if it's gelcoat or enamel, you can wax it... Gelcoat is preferred (cause if it gets chalky, you just compound polish and wax). For Deck, just swab it... use a light cleanser, or soap and water.

For spars and cleats, marine penetrol works well.

"Rum Line" a 1982, S2 7.9 - Production boat limit tester, blue-water bucket owner, with wine taste on a beer budget.
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post #5 of 12 Old 09-10-2013
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Hull maintenance and painting questions?

It is amazing how much I Iearn just reading these forums. Great explanations.
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post #6 of 12 Old 09-10-2013
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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

I have to take some exception to the 2 to 3 years between bottom painting. This varies a lot. I worked for many years in a boatyard and there were good years and bad years for barnacles. We saw some boats we pulled were absolutely covered with barnacles after only a year in the water. Other times, 2 or 3 years and it wasn't too bad. This was in the Chesapeake - so this advice may not hold true for other areas.

I would, at least once a season, dive on the boat and investigate. Just a mask, snorkel and fins is usually enough if you are a decent swimmer. Don't do it with the boat in the slip - wait until you're at anchor somewhere, to avoid the problem of electrocution. Pay particular attention to the prop. And wear gloves - barnacles can be sharp.

Pull, clean and repaint as needed, not on any arbitrary schedule.

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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

I was just wondering about barnacles the other day as I was staring at my neighbor's boat (See here- Boat is sluggish)
I wondered whether the fact that this dude allows his boat to be crusted over by barnacles in any way protects mine. Maybe the same way zinc anodes receive the brunt of galvanic corrosion, maybe a neglected boat next to me attracts more marine life. My bottom is 2 1/2 years since painting and is still in very good condition.

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post #8 of 12 Old 11-08-2013
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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

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Originally Posted by LarryandSusanMacDonald View Post
I would, at least once a season, dive on the boat and investigate. Just a mask, snorkel and fins is usually enough if you are a decent swimmer. Don't do it with the boat in the slip - wait until you're at anchor somewhere, to avoid the problem of electrocution. ....
Could someone clarify the electrocution risk? Is that just a freshwater thing, or saltwater too? We've been planning to clean the bottom ourselves (we're strong swimmers) with the boat in the slip, as we see divers doing on other people's boats. Does the shore power need to be disconnected first? Is it still risky?
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post #9 of 12 Old 11-08-2013
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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

If the docks carry 110v current, it's risky. That said, its done all the time and safety is a matter of the integrity of the marina's systems. Some marinas ban the practice, but that's as often the result of not wanting copper scrubbed off in the water.


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post #10 of 12 Old 11-08-2013
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Re: Hull maintenance and painting questions?

Quote:
Could someone clarify the electrocution risk? Is that just a freshwater thing, or saltwater too?
Electrocution is mostly a freshwater thing. It has nothing to do with how well you seem! Never swim in a freshwater marina.



Quote:
• A swimmer enters the electrical field and completes the electrical
circuit to ground.
• The swimmer becomes a target for the electrical current leakage because the human body is a beer conductor of electricity than fresh water

• Fresh water is close to 70 times more resistive than salt water. This makes electric current leakage in fresh water marinas a major concern.

• Depending on the amount of current in the water and a swimmers location relative to the electrical field, a person may experience effects ranging from a slight tingle, to complete loss of muscle control, to ventricular fibrillation.
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