How do you clean your bottom? Wait – let me start again.
How do you clean the bottom of your BOAT (there, that’s better)? Do you hire a diver? Do a “short-haul” for a power-wash-relaunch? Do you dive on your boat yourself? Do you even need to clean beneath the waterline between haul-outs?
Well, I need to. This past spring, I sanded most of the paint off the hull below the water line and applied three coats of Hydrocoat. This is a water-based anti-fouling paint that has gotten good reviews, and it’s fairly reasonable, price-wise. So how well does it perform for me? Pretty good, thus far. After launch last spring, the bottom stayed clean for a very long time. I finally noticed a build-up of slime after two-plus months. Sailing helped keep the slime under control.
Yesterday, I finally had good weather (read: cool) and inclination to take a long-handled scrub brush to the bottom. I used a brush that looked something like this:
I sat in my dinghy and scrubbed under the waterline for as far as I could reach, which is to the keel, and somewhat down the side of the keel. I estimate having taken off 75-80 percent of the slime doing this.
And the result? My cruising speed at 3k rpm is back up to 5.6 – 5.7 after falling off to 5.2 or 5.3. Not much, huh? Four tenths of a knot. Well, you can say “not much,” but consider that performance would only continue to drop off from there. The scrub-job brings me back to fresh paint performance.
I did not encounter any hard growth (barnacles), which is a real change from years gone by. Before, I always had some barnacle growth.
My hull is 27 feet (length over all), and scrubbing from the dinghy is made possible because I have only 23.67 feet at the waterline, and 3-feet-8-inch depth. If I had a bigger boat, this would probably not be very effective, as the curvature of the hull would prevent me from getting 50 percent of slime. Another plus for owning a smaller cruiser: you can do things like this without paying someone else for the service.
I have dived on my hull and scraped/wiped it clean. But in these murky Chesapeake waters, it’s very difficult. Visibility is measured in inches, plus there is the “disgusting factor.” You know – swimming with the nasty stuff you just scraped off of your hull. No thanks. In an area with a current to carry away the scrapings, and clear water – okay. But that’s nowhere on the Chesapeake.