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Power & Motor Yacht - - BOATYARD -

hen she was young, your boat had a bot­tom that was as smooth as a babe’s, with not a dim­ple or a blem­ish. Your fin­gers slid across the sur­face like it was silk. But not any­more: Now her once-flaw­less gel­coat is hid­den by layer upon layer of dead an­tifoul­ing paint, like rouge on a dowager’s cheeks. Your boat­yard manager says it’s time to strip her bot­tom and start fresh. It’ll make her slick as an eel, he says; she’ll go faster and burn less fuel. Heck, she’ll be like a kid again.

Your check­book quiv­ers at the thought. Is such a thing re­ally nec­es­sary?

“Ab­so­lutely not,” says yacht designer Ge­orge Buehler. If the paint’s still stick­ing, it’s not flak­ing off, and it’s still keep­ing the crit­ters away, there’s no rea­son to spend hard-earned dol­lars and/ or el­bow grease re­mov­ing it.” Does the weight of thick paint film and its cor­re­spond­ing rough sur­face have any real ef­fect on the per­for­mance of a dis­place­ment-speed cruiser? “I can’t imag­ine it would be mea­sur­able,” added Buehler. “Some rac­ers bur­nish their bot­tom paint with 600- or 800-grit wet emery cloth to smooth it to the nth de­gree, but only the most anal of them.”

DON’T SPARE THE SAND­PA­PER Nev­er­the­less, vir­tu­ally all an­tifoul­ing paint will even­tu­ally fail. Jeremy Dolan, Tech­ni­cal Ser­vice Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for In­ter­na­tional Paint LLC, man­u­fac­turer of In­ter­lux prod­ucts ( www.yacht­paint .com), said that over many sea­sons and many re­paint­ings, the ac­cu­mu­lated weight of the paint it­self will cause it to flake off. And once the paint starts to flake, it has to be re­moved. How can you tell when the paint’s get­ting too thick? “If there’s an ac­tual ledge against the mask­ing tape at the wa­ter­line, it’s time to at least sand it to take some lay­ers off,” he said.

Dolan ex­plained that an en­er­getic attack with 60-grit pa­per can coax more years from your bot­tom, and let you sched­ule the com­plete job on your own terms—maybe you don’t have

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