This is the perfect time of year to inspect the bottoms of our boats. The bottoms comprise more than 50% of the boats surface, are currently exposed and glad to not be battling the frigid winter waters. They contribute more than any other part of the boat to speed and are the only barrier between us and the bottom of the lake.
What should you look for? To begin; the “B” word (blisters). Look for the tiny (sometimes large) bubbles on the bottom’s surface. They could indicate that water has permeated through the surface layer of your boat, reacted with the laminate, and created a gaseous by-product forcing the separation of gel coat and resin surfaces. When left unattended, they can develop into serious delamination, deeper into the layers of laminate on your boat. When treated early, they can be arrested and prevented from future appearance.
Next, check the prop shaft and cutlass bearing (usually a tube supporting the propeller shaft, with a plastic/delrin bearing inside). Excessive wear will make the propeller shaft vibrate, and eventually loosen other things in the area, like your propeller!
And don’t forget the rudders and centerboards. They have bearings and pivot points, and can wear just like any other moving part. If you’re not sure whether what you’re seeing is worn or not, take a photo or video (with your cool new cell phone) and let us look at it with you, to help determine if attention is needed.
Last, but not least, check the condition of the anti-fouling paint. Soft, ablative paints, and hard non-ablative paints both may need touch up, as well as re-coating. If you’ve built up too many layers of bottom paint over the years, you may need to start from scratch by having the previous layers of bottom paint removed (easily done, with a hydrostatic blast), primed, and painted with your favorite style and color. Too many layers of bottom paint can decrease speed, apply unevenly, and absorb moisture (see the “B” word above). Please feel free send me, Don Castellani, an email firstname.lastname@example.org or call if you have any questions.
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