For those who don't quite have the essential facts about anti foul, this blog may be a good starting point for some information gathering. In this handy guide, AquaMarine Foul Release Coatings takes a look at some common questions about antifouling agents and fouling origins and why it's so important to protect your boat.
What is fouling?
Biofouling is essentially a build-up of marine life on a vessel or for that matter, anything that is immersed in the ocean for any length of time. It’s a natural occurrence and it can be found on everything from boat hulls through to jettys and even oil-rigs.
Within the world of fouling there are two types of fouling. Microfouling – which is made up of tiny bio-organisms like bacteria and slime and macrofouling, which is much more significant and this is most likely the kind of fouling you are used to. It includes things like troublesome barnacles, tapeworm and muscles.
Why is it a problem?
Any growth on your boat hull will have an effect on performance, speed and most importantly perhaps, fuel efficiency. There can be significant loss of control of your vessel too, which is why it’s so important to manage it with some kind of anti-foul.
Even if you have a planing hull, fouling could still potentially see you losing four or five knots, while costing you more in fuel. And if you’ve got very heavy fouling, then you may even discover your boat isn’t planing at all.
As if this isn’t enough to have you scratching your head trying to find a solution, where you are will impact the kind of fouling and the level of that fouling. For example, sunshine and temperature can encourage more growth – which is why any boat owner who resides in the Mediterranean will find they tend to get haunting levels of fouling on their boats.
Is fouling a modern day problem?
No it isn’t and actually when sailing ships first cruised the waters, they had a terrible time with fouling and found that it wasn’t just an annoyance. It literally could impact how they did at battle due to less maneuverability and slower reaction times.
So what did past sailors do to prevent it?
Man has always been capable of finding problems and in the early days of ships, something called careening was undertaken. This meant tipping a ship on to its side, slighting a few small fires under the hull, followed by some scraping off of fouling by hand.
Then there was tar, pitch and whale grease all of which were used to tackle the problem. In fact, Christopher Columbus favoured this method.
Over time, new techniques were used, including metal sheathing. This involved the use of lead, copper and zinc from about the 1700s.
What’s the best way to deal with anti foul?
These days there are lots of ways to manage anti foul including traditional ablative antifouling agents through to foul release coatings and copper options – and often how well it works is dependent on the boat owner and what they’re willing to do to keep their fouling problems under control.
Foul release coatings obviously require cleaning but they do last five years or more and they’re a lot less toxic than traditional methods. Added to that, they have demonstrated more streamlining through the water, with some tests showing no loss of speed through a season.
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