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Winter Maintenance brought to you by MDL Marinas - Antifouling

This month, our winter maintenance series focuses on antifouling – a crucial job when maintaining your boat to prevent the growth of marine life on your hull.

Speaking to Stuart Blake at Hamble Yacht Care, based at our Mercury Yacht Harbour, we find out why it’s so important and how to get the most effective finish.

“There’s no denying a clean and well-maintained hull looks better, but aesthetic appeal is only a very small part of why it’s important to antifoul your boat,” says Stuart.

Antifouling is a critical aspect of boat maintenance because it can impact both performance and overall lifespan of your vessel.
Stuart Blake at Hamble Yacht Care


“Performance wise, marine life build-up on a boat’s hull creates drag, which reduces the vessels overall performance and can increase fuel consumption – keeping the hull clean and smooth with a good antifoul helps maintain a boat’s speed and fuel efficiency.

Corrosion and lifespan

“Marine growth can also contribute to corrosion, especially for boats with metal hulls. By forming a protective barrier, antifouls not only reduce unwanted growth but can also prevent corrosive agents in the water coming into contact with the hull.

“Reduced drag and the lower risk of corrosion means a boat’s structural integrity is preserved over time, increasing its lifespan and resale value.

Invasive species

“From an environmental perspective, some species which cling to the hulls of boats are classed as invasive and could be harmful if transported from local waters – antifouling helps stem the unintentional spread of these species.”

Antifouling can be back breaking work if you don’t have the right materials and tools, so Stuart suggests leaving it to the professionals, but if you were going to do it yourself, he’s put together a quick step by step guide on how to apply antifouling to your boat:

  • Prepare the boat (and yourself): Ensure the hull is clean and free of any existing paint or marine life, and put on safety gear, including gloves, googles and a mask.
  • Surface preparation: Sand the hull’s surface to create a smooth surface for the new antifoul. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper (80-100 grit) and progress to finer grits (120-220 grit), before wiping down with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Allow hull to dry completely.
  • Masking and protection: Cover areas you don’t want to paint (through-hull fittings and propellers) using masking tape and sheeting.
  • Mix antifouling paint: Mix the antifouling paint thoroughly, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Application: Pour a small amount of antifoul into a paint tray and apply an even coat to the hull with a roller or brush. Start at the top and work your way down, applying a second (and third) coat when dry.
  • Clean-up: Clean your equipment and dispose of any waste in the correct manner, remove the masking tape and sheeting, and let the paint dry.

“A properly applied antifoul will help protect your boat’s hull for longer. Specific instructions for applying antifouling may vary from paint to paint, so it’s essential to read the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully,” concludes Stuart.

If you are opting to do your own winter maintenance this year, there’s ten fully serviced boatyards operating at our marinas stretching from Devon to Kent. With lifting, storage ashore facilities, and expert boatyard teams, you’ll find everything you need to get your boat ship shape for 2024.

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