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Performs & Protects

Hull Paint that Performs & Protects
by Traci O’Dea

I spent a hot and sunny Friday afternoon walking around the boatyard at Nanny Cay with Eldred Williams and Andy MacDonald from BVI Painters (Nanny Cay) and Caribbean Colours (Fish Bay) who pointed out yachts at different stages in the painting process. Some of the boats had been stripped down to the fibreglass, wood or steel while others had new coats of paint being applied on top of last year’s layers.
“If you put paint on top of several layers,” Eldred explained, “it starts cracking. For a racing finish, you really want to strip it back. More paint slows you down.” I touched the rudder of a cruising yacht that had several layers of paint on it then, when we moved over to Defiance, a Martin 49 racing yacht, I definitely noticed the difference. Whereas the cruiser’s rudder paint seemed thick and spongy, the racing boat’s rudder felt ossified—like bone—or as if the paint had been baked on in a kiln. “That boat has been painted with ePaint,” Eldred told me. He also mentioned that if a boat has already been painted with ePaint, it doesn’t need to be stripped. “Just give it a nice sanding and put on two coats,” he said.
According to Mike Goodwin, ePaint’s Senior Staff Scientist, “the foundation of ePaint technology is a patented photo-chemical process where the paint uses energy from sunlight diffracted through the water column to combine water and dissolved oxygen molecules to form hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide blankets the hull and deters the settling of shell-type larvae yet instantaneously dissipates back to water and oxygen when washed from the hull. This technology allows for good antifouling performance without the use of TBT and copper-based pesticides.” In layman’s terms, the paint reacts to the sun and water to make a microscopic layer that safely creates an unfriendly environment for hull growth.
Trish Baily, captain of the charter yacht Serendipity has used ePaint for the past four years. She started using ePaint because, she said, “I run what I term Ecosailing™ charters, and as such, try to be as environmentally responsible with the boat as is possible.” In terms of hull growth, Trish mentioned that she normally has to clean the bottom after about seven months and said that it’s “an easy clean.” Practical Sailor magazine’s October 2010 article “A Hard Look at Anti-Fouling” said “Epaint was one of the big winners at the six-month mark” and “continued to perfrom well at 12 months,” adding that “Two hard paints, the popular racing paint ZO-HP and the water-based EP2000, remained very clean.”

Both Paul Crossby of s/v Sayang and Trish Baily mentioned that one of the drawbacks of ePaint is that it’s a relatively new paint that takes a little more instruction than your typical paint job. “The application needs more care and rigor than regular paint,” said Paul. Eldred added that a lot of boat owners want rush the job, and with his 25 years in the marine refinishing business, he knows better than to skip steps or cut corners. “Some people don’t have the patience,” he said, “but it’s worth it to get it done right the first time.” Trish said that she used the water-based ePaint this year and said it was “fantastic as there are no nasty fumes to breathe in” and “super easy to apply.” BVI Painters carry several new ePaint products that can even be applied on top of other antifouling paints.
On the racing side of things, regatta regular Shamrock’s captain Tom Mullen contributed, “This is a high pedigree paint. It’s not something you can slap on; it’s essential that it’s applied properly. Also, because it does react with the sun, it requires additional coats at the water line.” He also mentioned the time factor. “For putting a good bottom on, you’re out of water a week,” he said but added that “properly applied, you’ve got a bottom that’s going to stand up really well to marine growth,” and that’s going to save time on boat cleaning. He mentioned that other boats around him at Nanny Cay were annoyed because he had no growth at all when “everyone around me was growing long, green beards.” On top of that, Tom was winning races with ePaint. “We had it on Shamrock IV, a J120, and we were on the podium in every regatta we were in. There’s no question in my mind that the quality of the race bottom was a factor in our boat speed.”
BVIPY will monitor how ePaint performs at this year’s BVI Spring Regatta, on Defiance, Shamrock and on the BVI Watersports Centre’s newest squib, Grace. Caribbean Colours donated the materials and BVI Painters dedicated the labour to cover the 40-year old boat’s hull with ePaint, and we wish her luck.

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