Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bottom Job

Each spring, the commissioning tradition of all race boats is to, among other things, redo the bottom. This is absolutely miserable work, and my least favorite part of boat ownership. With the boat out of the water, all the sanding/painting/polishing work is above your head and for the wet sanding portion, the paint dust infused water is dripping down on your face.

There are many different types of paint for different purposes that I won't go into here but generally the paints that are better at anti-fouling are not as fast as those made for racing. The harder the race paint, the finer the grit sand paper you can use and the smoother you can make the bottom. The smoother the bottom, the faster the boat and with no rating penalty, meaning it's a "free" way to improve your boat's performance relative to your competition.

Jeroboam uses Interlux VC Offshore, a hard vinyl paint, which allows me to go as low at 800 grit sand paper followed by bronze wool polishing. I use the roll and tip technique to apply the paint then start in on the sanding/polishing.

Once the boat's in the water, there's a lot of bottom maintenance required to keep the marine growth off. Jeroboam is kept in Salem Harbor which has a robust ecosystem of critters who love boat bottoms. When faced with 90% of the boats in that harbor that use high copper content, anti-fouling paints vs. Jeroboam's race paint, with lower anti-fouling properties, you can guess which they prefer. Going two weeks between bottom scrubs is too long.

Before 
After

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