Bottom paints are made in various formulations to suit the conditions of the water and the type of usage of the boat. Ablative bottom paints are soft soapy-like finishes that wear off as the water moves over the hull’s surface. High copper content epoxy formulations create a hard and scratch-resistant surface.
Beaching a boat with soft ablative bottom paint will wear the paint off much faster than intended. Epoxy bottom paints will not be damaged when beaching the boat. These paints have copper embedded in the surface that will act as a biocide and requires sanding to expose more copper after each season.
Beaching a boat has to be avoided at all costs as it will always cause scratches to the surface of the boat’s hull. Some boats are designed to be beached, and their hulls will require a bottom paint formulation that will not deteriorate too fast as a result of the scouring action of the sand.
Best Practices To Beach Your Boat Without Damaging Your Bottom Paint
Boats should not be beached hard aground unless they have hard epoxy-type bottom paint. Ablative bottom painted hulls should never be beached. The soft ablative paint systems are ideal for boats that remain in the water for the season but are hauled out during winter.
Hard epoxy-based bottom paints are impregnated with copper that acts as the biocide that prevents growth on the hull. The exposed copper will be leached out when the boat is in the water and will require to be sanded down to expose a fresh layer of copper.
The soft ablative bottom paint will be scoured off the boat’s bottom when the hull comes into contact with sand. The paint is designed to slowly dissolve off the hull in thin layers when the water rushes over the hull’s surface. Contact with a hard abrasive surface like sand will rapidly strip away the soft ablative bottom paint.
If you do have to beach your boat that has bottom paint, choose a location with soft sand as to not scrape it up on the rocks. It is best if you get off the bow of your boat and walk the boat on the beach instead of powering on. Now use an anchor to anchor the bow on the land to hold the boat and you should be good as long as the water is not too rough.
Alternatives to Beaching your Boat with Bottom Paint
It would be best if you always anchored your boat with the bow facing the deep water and the stern facing the beach, using both the bow and stern anchors to keep the boat floating deep enough to prevent the hull from scrapping the bottom. First, cast the bow anchor in deeper water and set the anchor in the bottom.
Bring your boat closer to the beach with a crew member holding the bow anchor rope clear of the propeller. Approach the beach at slow speed and shut down the engine as soon as less than three feet of water are under the hull. At the boat’s bow, a crew member must jump-off with the stern anchor and set it on the beach.
You can now use the bow anchor rope to pull the boat out into deeper water, with the stern anchor holding the stern of the boat facing the beach and the bow facing the deep water. Tie the stern and bow anchor ropes to the cleats, keeping the boat stationary and taking any waves on the bow.
Ensure that there are at least three feet of water under the stern of the boat and that the engine is tilted up to prevent the propeller from getting stuck in the sand. For boats that will be used this way, hard epoxy-type bottom paint is the best solution. The occasional scape of the hull on the sand will not cause much abrasion of the bottom paint.
How Long Will An Ablative Bottom Paint Last?
If properly applied and cared for, expensive ablative bottom paint can last many seasons without the need to be redone. The paint is designed to shed layers off the hull due to the scouring action of the water as the boat moves through it. For boats that are stationary in the water for an extended period, this paint system will not work.
The ablative properties will not prevent soft and hard growth from forming on the hull when the boat is anchored for longer than a week. The system only works when the boat is moving through the water. The growth on an ablative paint bottom has to be very gently removed to prevent stripping too much of the paint.
Running aground or beaching the boat will destroy the soft ablative paint prematurely. Hauling out for winter storage will not adversely affect this paint, and the bottom should not be cleaned off with a high-pressure hose at haul out. After a month out of the water, the ablative paint will regain its full function when the boat is splashed again in the spring.
To clean the hull of a boat painted with hard epoxy bottom paint, you can use a scouring pad (Scotch Brite) and a broad flat scraper. Use the scraper to get rid of any hard growth first, and then use the scouring pad to give the entire hull a good cleaning. The scouring pad will not damage the paint.
How Long Will Hard Finish Bottom Paints Last?
Hard epoxy-type bottom paints or co-polymers with metallic biocides will last for an entire season in the water but must be refreshed when the boat is hauled out. Hauling out once a year is required for boats where the inspection of the hull, propeller, rudder, through holes, and anodes is required.
The bottom paint needs to be applied shortly before splashing the boat back in the water. Exposure to the air will cause these paint systems to oxidize and lose their biocide’s effectiveness. The application of successive layers of bottom paint will build up over time, and there will come a point where the paint needs to be stripped off again to the gel coat.
Allowing your boat’s hull to scrape on the sandy bottom can prematurely strip off soft ablative bottom paint. Hard epoxy-type bottom paint is more resistant to the scouring action of the sand, but it is still not a good practice to fully beach your boat.
Bottom paint is essential to help make the task of cleaning your hull easier. The treatment systems are specific to how you use your boat and pay for themselves in improved fuel consumption and hull speed. If well cared for, the hull of your boat can give you many seasons of use without the need of reapplying bottom paint.