There has been much discussion of late about these revolutionary applications for better antifouling of props, shafts and any under water metal fittings of a sailboat or yacht. There are various products on the market, but one that appears to stand out is a New Zealand product called Propspeed which has been developed by Oceanmax International of Auckland, New Zealand.
Everyone is looking for improved product performance and also applications that are environmentally friendly and do not leach or allow toxic chemicals into our oceans.
Propspeed works on the principle of the silicone polymer finish being so slick that all those little guys that want to clamp themselves onto your running gear just cannot get a toehold, fall away again in frustration, leaving your prop, shaft and any other metal skin fittings underwater, clean. We all understand the benefits of clean running gear - no fouling, increased speed of your vessel and the corresponding saving of fuel. With Propspeed we can add the additional benefit of no detrimental effect on the environment.
Having looked at all these possibilities we decided it was time to do something about it and as the boat was going to be hauled anyway, get the Propspeed application to see how effective it will be between now (early spring) and when the boat will be hauled again in March 2010. That will be seven summer months (warm water temperatures, higher growth) from now and will certainly show a result in that time frame.
Propspeed can be purchased directly with the application carried out by yourself, but then you have no guarantee if things don't work out. By commissioning your local boatyard to do it, you know that with their experience of doing many already, they are going to apply the product professionally, and you can also discuss some kind of warranty situation with them to cover any future problems that may arise.
The other downside to doing it yourself is what to do with the materials that are left over? for an average sized sailboat (30 - 40ft) you would use approximately half of the pack. Once opened it would not keep for a year, so that means disposing of it or finding some other boat owner willing to do the job at the same time as you - and you know how tricky that can be!
Having Propspeed applied professionally is the manufacturers'recommendation. This was the route we chose and it proved to be a relatively painless operation. We sanded down the shaft and prop so it was clean and shiny when the man arrived from the yard. We were just a little taken aback when on setting to work he took a much coarser grade (80 grit) of emery paper and roughed up these parts again.
Two coats of etch were then applied with suitable drying time in between. It is the etch that is coloured (yellow, image above). The topcoats of Propspeed Clear were applied with a fine brush and left to dry for several hours before re-launching the boat. The whole job took one hour approximately (above) and when finished a modest bill of $150.00 was proffered - good value indeed if it works.
The two other images here show Propspeed applied to two different vessels showing very effective results. The multi blade prop is after thirteen months and several thousand sea miles. The other prop had Propspeed applied to the outer section of the blades and shows a marked difference between them and the inner areas where there was no application.
You can find out more about this product at the Oceanmax website www.propspeed.co.nz/index.html and find a professonal applicator in your area.
Two lower images courtesy Oceanmax International Ltd.
You can read more about anti fouling of sailboats while cruising in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com