Above and be­low the wa­ter­line, the lat­est op­tions are truly amaz­ing

Marlin - - CONTENTS FEATURES - By Capt. Jen Copeland

Above and be­low the wa­ter­line, the lat­est op­tions are truly amaz­ing

In the grand scheme of things, paint is re­ally just makeup for boats. Alone, it’s not at all sexy; it looks like just an­other medium. But art­fully ap­plied on a per­fectly faired can­vas by hands that are schooled in pre­ci­sion, and it can turn any or­di­nary girl into an ex­traor­di­nar­ily beau­ti­ful one. You might not be able to change her core per­son­al­ity, but you can bring out her in­ner beauty — and if she could talk, I’m sure she’d say thank you.

Over the years, yacht paints have changed at an ex­po­nen­tial rate. In­formed con­sumers de­mand high-qual­ity prod­ucts that will take the many hard­ships their ves­sel will face in its life­time. In ad­di­tion to sim­ple sub­strate pro­tec­tion, paint needs to be durable, re­pairable and beau­ti­ful, with long-last­ing pro­tec­tion. When you con­sider the time and cost in­volved in fin­ish­ing a boat, the paint — hull, top­side, en­gine room or oth­er­wise — must be able to with­stand the con­stant sand­ing of salt wa­ter, dropped wrenches and the sun’s pound­ing rays, at a min­i­mum. It also needs to main­tain its good looks for many years, while re­quir­ing as lit­tle main­te­nance and up­keep as pos­si­ble. ABOVE THE WA­TER­LINE Paint man­u­fac­tur­ers, builders and boat­yards must con­stantly be on the look­out for the lat­est in­dus­try trends, as well as how to com­ply with en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions that are be­ing con­stantly thrown at them, in an in­dus­try where no com­pany is im­mune to scru­tiny. Paints, es­pe­cially, have en­dured in­cred­i­ble chal­lenges over the years. New tech­nolo­gies must be de­vel­oped for the prod­ucts to pro­vide the de­sired re­sult — whether in color, dura­bil­ity or ef­fi­ciency — to re­main in code en­vi­ron­men­tally and com­pet­i­tive in the field.

Alexseal Yacht Coat­ings is one prod­uct line used around the world to fin­ish and re­fin­ish yachts above the wa­ter­line, of­fer­ing a full-sys­tem range of cor­ro­sion-re­sis­tant epoxy primers, fair­ing com­pounds, high-build sur­fac­ers and fin­ish primers that are meant to be used un­der its polyester polyurethane top­coats.

Alexseal pro­vides sys­tems that al­low yachts, new

or old, to be fin­ished from the fac­tory or re­fin­ished at the yard by not only be­ing as en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly as pos­si­ble but also by in­clud­ing sol­vents and ad­di­tives that will per­form beau­ti­fully un­der a va­ri­ety of real-world con­di­tions.

Jeff Grand­genett, sales man­ager at Alexseal, says, “We work to de­velop prod­ucts that will per­form well in boatyard con­di­tions, and that are less de­pen­dent on con­trolled en­vi­ron­ments — es­pe­cially where humidity is a fac­tor.” This is not to say that these types of coat­ings can be ap­plied in any en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions; how­ever, paint tech­nol­ogy has im­proved so greatly that it opens up the prod­ucts’ abil­ity to per­form in a higher range of di­verse con­di­tions.

While the race is on to make in­dus­try paints and coat­ings that can be eas­ily ap­plied in what would be con­sid­ered non­ster­ile en­vi­rons, there is an­other race to make the ap­pli­ca­tion process it­self faster and more stream­lined. One of the boat own­ers I worked for as a pro­fes­sional cap­tain most al­ways con­cerned him­self more with time than the bot­tom line. His main con­sid­er­a­tion was, “I don’t care about the how or the why — I just want to know when.” And in a time where ev­ery minute counts, elim­i­nat­ing down­time on a re­fit or com­ple­tion of a new build is crit­i­cal, es­pe­cially to the boat owner.

Ak­zoNo­bel — a Dutch multi­na­tional com­pany that in­cludes such in­dus­try-lead­ing brands as In­ter­lux and Awl­grip — is al­ways look­ing at dif­fer­ent ways to stream­line the ap­pli­ca­tion process. With so many dif­fer­ent prod­ucts in its lines, it might seem that one needs a chem­istry de­gree to keep them straight. The com­pany firmly be­lieves that by work­ing closely with its trade part­ners, it can ul­ti­mately sug­gest the best tech­nol­ogy and equip­ment, from the type of sand­pa­per used for prep and fin­ish work to the spray guns that trans­fer the prod­uct onto the ves­sel. Elim­i­nat­ing guess­work and un­needed ex­tra steps is the best way to com­bat Fa­ther Time.


To re­duce the like­li­hood of a re­jected paint job, Awl­grip be­lieves in­form­ing trades­men about the use of its prod­ucts will achieve the finest fin­ish through per­fect prepa­ra­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion in the safest way pos­si­ble. Two Awl­grip train­ing cen­ters cur­rently ex­ist in the United States, the new­est be­ing a 2,500-square-foot fa­cil­ity in Co­coa Beach, Florida. Each cen­ter in­cludes sta­teof-the-art ap­pli­ca­tion equip­ment — for the­ory and prac­ti­cal ed­u­ca­tion — plus a class­room, break­out area and a large ap­pli­ca­tion booth for hands-on train­ing.

“We teach the core steps and pro­ce­dures at our train­ing cen­ters so the ap­pli­ca­tors learn the proper tech­niques and meth­ods for paint­ing and/ or re­pair­ing primers and top­coats,” says Matthew An­zardo, mar­ket­ing man­ager for Awl­grip and In­ter­lux. With this spe­cial­ized train­ing, painters, fore­men, project man­agers or any in­dus­try pro­fes­sional re­ceive a clear un­der­stand­ing of which tech­nique they need to use to get the re­sults a savvy boat owner ex­pects. Any pro­fes­sional who ap­plies Awl­grip is rec­om­mended to un­dergo the train­ing in or­der to get the best re­sults. Should a spe­cial project be on the hori­zon or a trip to the train­ing cen­ter not an op­tion, the com­pany will work with the fa­cil­ity re­motely to en­sure good re­sults.

Pro­mot­ing a prod­uct line 45 years in the mak­ing, Awl­grip ini­tially uti­lized aero­space tech­nol­ogy to ad­vance its yacht prod­ucts to what can be con­sid­ered one of the premier top­coat prod­ucts in the marine in­dus­try, with a world­wide cus­tomer


base who are proud to say their boats have been Awl­gripped (you must be do­ing some­thing right if you have your own cus­tomer-de­vised tag line). How­ever, it is a highly com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try, with scores of com­pa­nies all look­ing to ex­ploit the next big ad­vance in tech­nol­ogy or in­dus­try trend. BE­LOW THE WA­TER­LINE As long as hu­mans have been ex­plor­ing by sea, we have been locked in a con­stant bat­tle with the wood­eat­ing, fiber­glass-cling­ing or­gan­isms that find any way pos­si­ble to wreak havoc on our ves­sels. Said to be dis­cov­ered by the an­cient sailors as an an­tifoul­ing method, cop­per was au­then­ti­cated in the 18th cen­tury, when it was used in thin sheets as a pre­ven­tive layer against marine foul­ing. As the value of cop­per soared dur­ing the in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, mariners be­gan us­ing cop­per-in­fused paint as a way to de­ter marine-or­gan­ism in­va­sion, and the first hard­metal-in­fused bot­tom paint as we know it was born. While cop­per con­tin­ues to be the pri­mary an­tifoulant used in the yacht in­dus­try, it is fac­ing reg­u­la­tory pres­sure in some states, such as Cal­i­for­nia, where it is reg­u­lated with a max­i­mum-al­lowed leach rate. Al­though cop­per is one of the lesser of the haz­ardous met­als, all an­tifoul­ing paints con­tain­ing poi­sonous sub­stances — known as bio­cides — must be reg­is­tered and ap­proved by the fed­eral En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency as well as the in­di­vid­ual states. A push to­ward mul­ti­sea­son, low­bio­cide wa­ter-based prod­ucts is on the rise. Pet­tit Marine Paint, in Rock­away, New Jer­sey, is one


com­pany that con­tin­u­ally pushes the en­vi­ron­men­tal en­ve­lope by mak­ing changes to its paint tech­nol­ogy. Its Hy­dro­coat line of prod­ucts was a ma­jor de­vel­op­ment in ab­la­tive tech­nol­ogy, re­plac­ing many of the harsh sol­vents found in most bot­tom paints with wa­ter. Hy­dro­coat is a true ab­la­tive paint: It slowly wears away with use, which elim­i­nates buildup and marine growth by ex­pos­ing fresh bio­cides as the old prod­uct sloughs off. But this is only one step, al­beit a huge one, made to­ward ad­vanc­ing the big­ger pic­ture of be­low-the-wa­ter­line pro­tec­tion. “Ul­ti­mately, we are seek­ing to de­velop a bio­cide­free hull coat­ing to pro­vide pro­tec­tion against foul­ing,” says Pet­tit pres­i­dent John Ludgate. “And even though there are sev­eral non­stick-type prod­ucts on the mar­ket to choose from, there is noth­ing in the bio­cide-free mar­ket that can sat­isfy the boat­ing con­sumer’s high de­mand for ex­cel­lent pro­tec­tion against foul­ing.” An­other way Pet­tit has kept up with tech­nol­ogy is by mak­ing a jump to­ward the fu­ture with its Black Wi­dow line of bot­tom paint. Used where speed is a high pri­or­ity — rac­ing, sail­ing and high­per­for­mance off­shore power­boats — the Black Wi­dow prod­uct pro­vides a su­per­slick, ul­tra­smooth buf­fa­ble fin­ish with pow­er­ful dual bio­cides, which pro­vide mul­ti­sea­sonal pro­tec­tion in any wa­ters. “It is eas­ily brushed, rolled or sprayed on,” Ludgate says. “And it con­tains four strong slick­en­ing agents: molyb­de­num disul­fide, PFTE, graphite and sil­i­con.” Smooth is slick, and slick is fast. The quest for big­ger and bet­ter never ends, and to­day’s high-per­for­mance en­gines all but de­mand a clean bot­tom and run­ning gear to op­er­ate ef­fi­ciently. Boat speed can be the defin­ing re­sult of to­day’s high­tech en­gine per­for­mance, es­pe­cially on ini­tial sea tri­als and re­builds. The in­dus­try must con­tinue to find — or rather cre­ate — bot­tom paints that will al­low us to main­tain that half-knot of speed we can lose with con­ven­tional bot­tom coat­ings. As time goes on, the many rules and reg­u­la­tions set by those en­ti­ties who gov­ern all things bad for us force the fast-paced sport-fish­ing in­dus­try, and those who serve it, to con­stantly find ways not only to keep up but to stay one step ahead of the con­stantly chang­ing reg­u­la­tions, while also meet­ing the high de­mands of the con­sumer. It’s a tall or­der that re­quires con­sid­er­able re­search and de­vel­op­ment to stay on the lead­ing edge of emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy. Volatile or­ganic com­pound reg­u­la­tions guide paint and coat­ing com­pa­nies to con­stantly fore­tell the fu­ture: “We are al­ways look­ing ahead to try and un­der­stand what fu­ture reg­u­la­tions will look like,” An­zardo says. “We are com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing prod­ucts for the fu­ture that not only meet reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance but also ex­ceed the per­for­mance ex­pec­ta­tions of our cus­tomers.” At the same time, In­ter­lux is able to see what changes are com­ing in other in­dus­try seg­ments and ad­just its tech­nol­ogy to con­form as needed. “Our re­search team looks across

many dif­fer­ent in­dus­try plat­forms to de­velop the next gen­er­a­tion of prod­ucts,” he says.


Fifty shades of white are no longer the norm for boat hulls. Boat own­ers are trend­ing to­ward paint col­ors that are fully cus­tom­iz­a­ble, look­ing to swathe their rides in col­ors to match their per­son­al­ity, or ones that are sim­ply dif­fer­ent from any­thing else on the wa­ter.

Al­though I’m still par­tial to the clas­sic and oh-so-for­giv­ing snow-white hull, trends in paint have been on a wild jet ride since the first sport­fish hull (that I re­mem­ber) mor­phed from white to Fight­ing Lady Yel­low in South Florida, and be­fore that, Ernest Hem­ing­way’s black-hulled Pi­lar, marlin fish­ing in Cuba and the Caribbean.

The boats of North Carolina’s Outer Banks own their share of the color palette, and there’s noth­ing pret­tier than the Cray­ola-clad char­ter fleet of Pi­rate’s Cove at dusk. But to­day it looks as if more boats are trend­ing to­ward pearl and metal­lic hues in blues, grays, blacks and even shim­mery sil­vers like those set on Ritchie How­ell’s Sea Fix, or Feet

First from Craig Black­well. This in­dus­try­wide, and at times, fash­ion-over-func­tion, craze will con­tinue to push the en­ve­lope as long as paint com­pa­nies pro­vide top-shelf re­sults. The arms race to the next wild color isn’t slow­ing down any time soon, ei­ther.

Do­minick LaCombe, pres­i­dent of Amer­i­can Custom Yachts, says he be­lieves sport boats are headed for mul­ti­color paint schemes, with one or two of the col­ors stand­ing out. “It seems that the cus­tomers’ dreams are the new trends in paint schemes,” he says. “By dig­i­tally cre­at­ing a per­son­al­ized paint job, the cus­tomer can see what the end re­sult will be, and then it’s the painter’s job to repli­cate it.”

Al­though the color it­self might not be the ap­pli­ca­tor’s re­spon­si­bil­ity — be it builder or boatyard — it is the com­pany’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to be sure the cor­rect prod­uct is cho­sen for the job, be­cause that does fall un­der its ad­vise­ment to the ves­sel owner.

“We al­ways con­sider how the boat is go­ing to be used, and in which cli­mate,” says LaCombe. “And since we have years of ex­pe­ri­ence with all the high­end yacht fin­ishes, we can con­fi­dently rec­om­mend the right prod­uct for a cer­tain project.”

Mike Schenk, Ber­tram Yachts’ ser­vice-cen­ter man­ager, con­sid­ers prod­uct qual­ity, con­sis­tency and a cus­tomer’s long-term com­mit­ment to a par­tic­u­lar color be­fore choos­ing a par­tic­u­lar paint. “Ninety-nine per­cent of our paint jobs are done with Awl­craft 2000 or Awl­craft SE, just be­cause it can be touched up eas­ily, elim­i­nat­ing the need to shoot large ar­eas to blend,” he says.

While metallics and pearls might be more dif­fi­cult to re­pair than tra­di­tional achro­matic col­ors, the end re­sult is an eye-catch­ing dis­play of fu­tur­ism at its finest. The age of the paint and the re­pair lo­ca­tion are def­i­nitely a fac­tor on the re­pairabil­ity scale, but as long as the ap­pro­pri­ate steps are taken and the ap­pli­ca­tors are fa­mil­iar with the paint tech­nol­ogy, blend­ing sol­vents and prod­ucts that are needed to prop­erly and suc­cess­fully re­pair, it can be done seam­lessly.

“The yacht fin­ish and re­fin­ish in­dus­try has def­i­nitely be­come more ef­fi­cient, but it is still very la­bor in­ten­sive,” Grand­genett says. “A lot of cre­ativ­ity goes into fin­ish­ing a yacht, and it truly is art in the pure sense.” And art, much like beauty, is al­ways in the eye of the be­holder.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing pro­tec­tion from the el­e­ments, paint of­fers the in­di­vid­u­al­ity of a sig­na­ture hull color that is of­ten as rec­og­niz­able as the name on the tran­som.

Fac­ing a con­stant strug­gle to of­fer prod­ucts that pro­vide the high­est stan­dards for an­tifoul­ing per­for­mance, bot­tom­paint man­u­fac­tur­ers must also meet a host of ev­er­chang­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing their pro­pri­etary bio­cides.

One of the lat­est trends in hull color is the use of metallics, like the stun­ning sil­ver on Feet First, a 58-foot Black­well (above). While these shim­mer­ing paints can be dif­fi­cult to re­pair, they def­i­nitely stand out in a crowded ma­rina.

Colored hulls seem to be equally pop­u­lar among custom and pro­duc­tion builders (above). Do­minick LaCombe, from Amer­i­can Custom Yachts, (be­low) feels the fu­ture might in­clude mul­ti­color paint schemes, lim­ited only by the cre­ativ­ity of the artist and the boat owner.

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