Thursday, April 21, 2005

Against Gravity

Against Gravity

I wonder how many readers have tried their hand at antifouling a yacht. It’s certainly a case of fighting the awesome power of gravity. It doesn’t matter how careful one is with the paint, some of it will drop off the brush or roller because of a fatal attraction for the earth. My schoolboy physics reminds me it will travel at 32 feet per second, per second; so in a fraction of a second it has splodged itself on the ground. After a while, the earth has the appearance of chickenpox, since the colour of my antifouling is a maroon red.

Isaac Newton formulated a law of gravity in his Principia, way back in 1687. Simply explained he said it is the force that causes things to fall down, but he could not have foreseen me trying to make antifouling stay on the bottom of ‘Bumper’, my 23 foot yacht. That’s an awful lot of wetted surface to cover, especially as she’s rather beamy.

Today I spent two hours preparing the surface and five hours applying the antifouling. Fortunately the conditions were absolutely ideal. The weather was not too hot and it was dry with a little wind, just enough to keep one cool.

Gravity not only had an effect on the paint, but it really tugged at my arms and hands as I struggled to apply an even coat of antifouling. Focussing ones eyes on the darker recesses under the hull and between the bilge keels was not easy because of the contrast between the shadow and bright sunshine.

One of the secrets of antifouling is to first apply it under the hull between the keels (if a bilge keel yacht); then to work outwards to the bow and stern. That way, one is able to avoid getting antifouling in ones hair or hat. It’s a good idea to apply double layers of paint around the waterline and all leading edges. This is a good insurance policy against weeds and barnacles, because these are the areas most likely to be eroded by the action of the water.

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