Bottom paint’s effectiveness is mostly based on its toxicity, as its purpose is to create a toxic environment around the underwater parts in order to kill or repel all the buggers that want to colonize your precious. This is no news and balancing the trade off between environmental friendliness and protecting the keel has kept the industry and researchers busy – trying to accommodate tougher regulations and the demand for alternatives, i.e. non or less toxic products. To our knowledge (hope you can prove us wrong), there are unfortunately very few alternatives and they are not widely available.
Not so fun fact: In San Diego Bay, 72% of the copper entering the water is due to discharges from antifouling paint and in-water hull cleaning. (Sailorsforsea, Marine Polution Bulletin).
Here however is a link to an interesting article from the sailing magazine including some promising alternatives. We hope this part can be expanded as it is one of the biggest pains, both for the owner and the environment. So next time you haul out, maybe you feel experimental towards greener bottom paint, if so please share.
As mentioned before, some practices can already mitigate the impact without the need for breakthroughs:
- Sail more often. It will create some constant friction and making it a bit harder for marine life to stick, but also dissolves the top layer of the paint releasing more toxins – which is on the other hand kinda bad.
- Consider more permanent solutions. For example copper coat, which is still not great, but lasts longer. You’d might be able to leave the boat longer in the wet, avoiding annual sanding and painting – saves money and time.
- Stay in the water and practice your freediving while scrubbing the underwater parts.
- Sail into a river or some ice to get it clean, which not really practical and therefore a stupid idea.
*Some of the above might arguably contribute to releasing toxins (scrubbing etc.), so it’s hard to say if it is a lot greener, it is though a bit cheaper.