We finished painting our 1982 Tartan 42 with Pettit Hydrocoat today, August 21, 2013. We are using this page for a long-term review of the product and our application of it, mostly so we can track its performance and critique our application of it for ourselves, but we thought it might benefit someone else as well so here we go.
The hull had badly blistered paint on it due to poor substrate preparation on previous paint jobs. It also had a coat of VC-17 in the middle of other coats of paint, and compatibility of those layers of paint with VC-17 was of some question. We sanded down the paint to hard surfaces, removing all flaking paint and sanding the blisters down to a smooth surface. There was some fairing compound repair that had to be made to the keel and also around the prop strut. All the bad fairing compound was ground out and replaced with West System epoxy with filler. This was sanded smooth with 60 grit. The entire surface was then wiped down to remove sanding residue with water as per Pettit's instructions. According to Pettit's paint calculator, we needed a little less than 4 gallons of paint to do 2 coats, plus a quart extra for the waterline third coat. We were conservative in applying the paint initially in order not to run out of paint, but we found that 1 gallon did the whole boat in the red base coat we applied, so we should have probably applied it heavier the first time. We allowed the paint to cure overnight and used the second gallon the next day after moving the stands so that we could paint underneath them. (Ed note: use caution when moving stands. We had 2 extra stands under the boat which allowed us to move one at a time a foot over and paint the original position. Do not attempt this unless you have an adequate number of stands under the boat.). After waiting the 3 hour recoat time recommended by Pettit, we applied the first coat of black, again using only one gallon with complete coverage. We let this coat cure overnight as well and moved the stands and applied the second gallon of black.
Application can be done by spraying, roller, or brush. We chose roller application for reasons of time and facilities,but will probably choose brush application the next time we use it because the brush we used in hard to access areas that the roller couldn't reach actually produced a smoother surface, one that would likely not provide as much purchase to marine life as the slightly dimpled surface that the roller application makes. We tried both a short-nap roller as the instructions specified and a foam roller and decided the foam roller provided the best results. The instructions mention a method of wetting the surface down and thinning the paint with water for a smoother surface when using the roller application, but we tried this on a small area and didn't notice much difference. One very important tip: pull the tape line between every coat and reapply before the next coat. This paint dries so hard that if you leave the tape on very long after application it becomes very difficult to remove.
Cleanup is one of the best features of this paint. Soap and water remove all traces, although the red was much easier to get off skin than the black was. We found we needed to wash up in the middle of the black application because once it dried it was much harder to remove. Yes, we probably should have been wearing tyvek suits even though this is a water-friendly paint, but it was 90° in the shade with absolutely not breeze so it was a survival issue.
We will be posting coating status as we progress through the next year or two to the next haulout, including results of hoisting in the slings and trailering as we move the boat to the East Coast and launch it there.
January 2014: We have not had the boat out of the water (thankfully) or even been able to dive on it since the water is still so cold and not very clear, but as of this date there is no visible growth on the waterline or the foot or so that you can see below the waterline. Pretty impressive considering we sat still for a month in Oriental, a week in St. Augustine, and a week in Vero Beach. Hydrocoat rating: 5 stars.
February 2014: We finally had a chance to dive on the boat at No-Name Harbor. After just under 4 months there was a very fine coating of algae type growth which brushed off easily with your hand. There were also some small barnacles mixed in with that growth. There were a fair amount of larger barnacles but they were easily dislodged with a plastic ice scraper from our old car. There was considerably less growth on the bottom than I would have expected for 4 months, especially since almost 2 of those 4 months we were sitting still at a dock or on a mooring ball. At the moment we are very pleased with the performance of the Hydrocoat. Hydrocoat rating: 5 stars.
March 2014: We are cleaning the bottom ourselves in the Bahamas free diving with ice scrapers once a month. There is a typical amount of growth on the bottom, medium sized barnacles spaced every several inches, but they are dislodged easily with automotive ice scrapers. The prop shaft and prop are not doing as well and we will be looking for some other kind of pain to use on them. Hydrocoat rating so far - 5 stars.
October 2014: We had a diver come look at the bottom of the boat before we left Cooley's Landing. We were worried that the engine intake might be blocked and wanted it cleaned before we started the engine to leave. He informed us that the bottom looked good, and that there was almost no growth whatsoever. He had to clean the prop shaft and prop, but the bottom was fine. As of one year out, we are immensely happy with the Hydrocoat's performance. Hydrocoat rating: 5 stars
November 2014: We anchored in the Marine Stadium anchorage east of Miami and for the first time in months we had water clear enough to get in and look at the bottom. Donning my mask and fins and flopping into what was a little chilly water due to a cold front, I was pleased to find almost no growth. We had been in Middle River for 5 weeks and then in South Lake about a week, and there was some green slime at the water line and very few barnacles on the hull, about 1 or 2 per square foot. The rudder has more barnacles on it, but still not many. While I was scraping I looked to see if any of the red first coat was showing from underneath, and I could only see a few places where I had scraped a little aggressively. The coating is doing extremely well and I look forward to a light sanding and a few more coats when we pull her in the summer. Our ice scraper courtesy of our St. Louis cars finally bit the dust and couldn't be sharpened any more so I ordered a plastic bladed scraper from Amazon with replaceable blades and it's a winner! You have to be careful not to scrape too aggressively but it pops off even the bottom circle of the barnacle glue that they use to attach themselves, something the regular ice scraper was not able to do. I ordered the 12" one but it comes in 24 and 36 as well. The replacement blades are really cheap.
February 2015: We had the bottom cleaned by a diver at Dinner Key in Biscayne Bay because 1) the visibility is lousy, 2) it's too cold and we don't have wetsuits, 3) it's worth $80 to have someone else do it in those conditions. The diver reported that there was a fine film of very small barnacles, very little vegetation growth and no large barnacles. This was after 1 month in Middle River and 2 months in Biscayne Bay. Hydrocoat rating: 5 stars
May 2015: We hauled the boat out at Oak Harbor Marina this month. We had cleaned the bottom at the end of March while we were in the Bahamas and the water was clear. It had minor, very small barnacles on it that removed easily with our ice scrapers. Six weeks later, at the haulout, there was almost no growth whatsoever. The spots in the pictures are the spots left after you pop the barnacles off and will easily sand off before we add the new coats. Hydrocoat rating: 5 stars.
DETAILED UPDATE AFTER TWO YEARS
The paint was on the boat for two years prior to the haulout pictures posted above. Those pictures were as the boat came out of the water with no alterations. In the ensuing two weeks we prepped the bottom for the new bottom paint which we will apply just prior to being launched in the water again.
As you can see, the first red coat that we put on in 2013 is completely intact as is about half of the black coats. Very little sanding was required to make it smooth - about 12 hours altogether with 80 grit. There were numerous spots where the paint had chipped off down to the get coat because the original paint coat on top of the gel coat was not done properly. In 2013 we had sanded about half of the 10 or so coats of paint that were on the bottom, and sanded everything that was loose until we reached firmly stuck paint. Regardless, the paint underneath periodically chips off . This is in no way any reflection on the Hydrocoat, but rather the original painter who did the first paint job after it left the factory. We sanded these spots with 80 grit until no loose material was left and then filled them with fiberglass putty and sanded them smooth.
One unexpected thing surfaced as a result of hauling the boat. I am in the habit of cleaning my galley sink drain with baking soda and vinegar since they are not harmful to the marine life. Unfortunately, it does happen to be harmful to Hydrocoat. Here is a picture of the area around the galley sink drain prior to sanding. Clearly care needs to be taken in choosing anything going down that drain. We will be putting several extra coats of paint around the drain this time.
We are extremely pleased with the quality, durability, and ease of cleaning of the Hydrocoat after the two years we have had it on. Our goal is to see if we can get three years out of this next paint job.