Interview with Tony Bulpin
Tony Bulpin has been working in the boating industry for the past 27 years. He has worked for Sea Hawk Premium Yacht Finishes for over a decade as the West Coast sales representative. Tony is also an active member in the Northwest boating community having served on multiple committees as well as on the board of the Northwest Marine Trade Association. He was involved in the NMTA’s work on legislation in Washington State to help boatyards meet the EPA Clean Water Act guidelines by phasing out the use of copper in bottom paint. As one of the only manufacturers involved in the legislative process, Tony helped the Sea Hawk family to be on the forefront of developing copper-free paints as well as low-copper paints that provide an environmentally friendly approach to antifouling solutions.
When it comes to bottom paint, what do you think sets Sea Hawk Paint apart from your competitors?
Sea Hawk is a family-owned and operated company with a focus both on product quality as well as the quality of our customer service. Our competitors also have field reps and good products but the team at Sea Hawk takes care in all aspects, from real people answering phones for customer support, warehousing and shipping of products to keep inventory with minimal gaps in supply, and sales and technical support to add value to every gallon of paint sold.
What advice do you give people on how to pick the right bottom paint?
Consult with the professionals in the boatyard and use their many years of experience to discuss the condition of the bottom, the prep process, the previous coatings applied to the hull, and what can be applied over the existing paint. Also discuss the use of the boat and what you expect of antifouling paints. Experienced boatyard professionals have vast collective knowledge of all of the different paints, how they work, and what will work best for your kind of boating.
Sea Hawk has released several environmentally friendly bottom paints. What makes them environmentally friendly and who should consider using these paints?
What is environmentally friendly to some is not to others. The new products Sea Hawk has introduced meet state and federal regulations as registered pesticides. Most of our environmentally friendly paints are either copper-free, low-VOC, or both. However, that doesn’t mean our other copper paints are not environmentally friendly. The newer copper paints are lower in copper content and perform as well as high-copper paints, plus some states realize that introducing new pesticides may create a new set of problems. Controlling the release rate of copper in a paint is a viable, environmentally friendly alternative. Sea Hawk strives to create the best products that meet both national and state regulations while providing the best antifouling protection for our clients.
That said, there are no good weed killers. The goal is to eliminate or limit hard and soft growth on boats with the smallest impact on the environment. All of these new copper-free products are still in the testing phase. Some will not contain any pesticides but that means their contents will go untested by regulators which means we may not know their effects on the water column until it is too late. If the goal is to reduce growth on boats with the smallest environmental impact, having a regulated product that meets federal and state guidelines is the best way to create a product that protects boats to both industry and environmental standards.
What is the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to taking care of the bottom of their boats?
Applying paint over an improperly prepped surface. The flaking paint doesn’t go away and after many applications over an improperly prepared surface, the problem only gets worse, to a point where the entire bottom coating needs to be removed and the process restarted. Proper maintenance with regular haul-outs will ensure the bottom is in good condition and minimizes expensive repairs. The key to good bottom paint is all in the prep.