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Old 23-06-2014, 02:48   #1
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Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

When I set out on my Baltic adventure, I had what I thought was a clean bottom -- lifted and pressure washed on 2 April, and I departed on 29 April, less than a month later.

But I was slow out of the box, and by the time I got into the Baltic, I was really slow, about a knot off my usual speed, pointing 4 or 5 degrees worse than usual -- ick. I did not think that the bottom could have gotten fouled so quickly, so I suspected maybe even a net caught on my keel bulb, or something.

In Kalmar, Sweden, I met a very interesting guy who invented a tiny ROV which can creep around your underwater parts and evaluate your zincs, stern gear, etc. He launched his cool little device and made me a video of my bottom. No nets, but what fouling!!! Looked like an underwater forest. Which explained everything.

How I got such fouling in just a few weeks, I have no idea. But now I need to clean the bottom somehow. Another month has gone by, and I really want to do some sailing.

I can't figure out how Baltic sailors clean their bottoms. I found a boatyard in Kotka, Finland, with a crane capable of lifting my boat's 25 or so tons out of the water, but they wanted 900 euros (!!!) for a lift and scrub. They sounded surprised I wanted to do it at all. I am starting to think that the Baltic is maybe a low-fouling environment because of the brackish water, and no one stays in the water over the winter. So maybe you guys just scrub off once at the end of the season, which is why this service is not offered?

And I can't even use scrubbing posts, because there's no bloody tide!!

Does any of you have any ideas? Maybe a diver?
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:11   #2
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

I got fed up with finding myself in the same situation last season... high priced divers and haul outs. Ended up getting Padi scuba certified and purchased the scuba gear and wetsuit for about the same cost as a haul out and mechanic. It was lots of fun, one on one private course, and now I've found that I really enjoy scuba diving and filming the critters down there. My reluctance and refusal to pay the diver's high price, opened the door to a new, fun pastime. On my second open water lesson, my instructor and I went down and cleaned the prop and serviced the zincs on our boat.

I just purchased an additional Hookamax 12V system to take care of the area directly beneath the boat.
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:14   #3
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
I got fed up with finding myself in the same situation last season... high priced divers and haul outs. Ended up getting Padi scuba certified and purchased the gear for about the same cost as a haul out and mechanic. It was lots of fun, one on one private course, and now I've found that I really enjoy scuba diving and filming the critters down there. My reluctance and refusal to pay the diver's high price, opened the door to a new, fun pastime.

I just purchased an additional Hookamax 12V system to take care of the area directly beneath the boat.
That's a hot tip. Great idea. Maybe I'll look for the courses here.

I even have scuba gear on board. Maybe this is just what I need to justify the time and expense

900 euros for a haul-out!! I'm still in shock. I pay 100 pounds in Cowes and they give me an hour in the slings for zincs, prop maintenance, and so forth.
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:19   #4
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
That's a hot tip. Great idea. Maybe I'll look for the courses here.

I even have scuba gear on board. Maybe this is just what I need to justify the time and expense

900 euros for a haul-out!! I'm still in shock. I pay 100 pounds in Cowes and they give me an hour in the slings for zincs, prop maintenance, and so forth.
When I read what you wrote, I started laughing. I could feel the incredulity you experienced in hearing the fee...

Even Dick Turpin had the courtesy to wear a mask............
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Old 23-06-2014, 03:20   #5
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

Fstbttms can provide super expert advice on what to use to scrape the bottom. I use the large green or white 3m pads, along with a stiff wire brush and stiff scraper for the prop, shaft and anodes. A plastic scraper is also a good tool for scraping, depending on the type of growth.
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Old 23-06-2014, 04:36   #6
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

Dockhead, I'm at a loss. Most visitors to the Baltic are amazed at how clean their bottom BECOME. The almost fresh water here simply kills everything they accumulated in the atlantic.

My boat stays in the water all year and I haul it in the springtime. It only has a thin cover of slime. Actually I wouldn't bother except I change zincs each year and like topolish the freeboard down by the waterline.

In Denmark you can get a lift for about 100-150 (much less if you are a member of a sailing club). If you are only going tolift and power wah, youcan probably get it for much less - if you ask nicely.

What kind of antifoulant (bottom paint) do you use?
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Old 23-06-2014, 04:48   #7
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

If you've got eroding antifoul, attacking it with a pressure washer has taken most of the paint off...

Should have stopped in The Netherlands on the way. A couple of days in fresh water is the easiest way of scrubbing a boat I know.
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Old 23-06-2014, 05:59   #8
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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If you've got eroding antifoul, attacking it with a pressure washer has taken most of the paint off...

Should have stopped in The Netherlands on the way. A couple of days in fresh water is the easiest way of scrubbing a boat I know.
I'm in the far Eastern Baltic where the water is nearly fresh (as far as I understand). Are you saying that a fouled bottom will actually become cleaner in fresh water? I would have thought that the dead organisms would still be clinging on, slowing me down.
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Old 23-06-2014, 06:02   #9
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
Dockhead, I'm at a loss. Most visitors to the Baltic are amazed at how clean their bottom BECOME. The almost fresh water here simply kills everything they accumulated in the atlantic.

My boat stays in the water all year and I haul it in the springtime. It only has a thin cover of slime. Actually I wouldn't bother except I change zincs each year and like topolish the freeboard down by the waterline.

In Denmark you can get a lift for about 100-150 (much less if you are a member of a sailing club). If you are only going tolift and power wah, youcan probably get it for much less - if you ask nicely.

What kind of antifoulant (bottom paint) do you use?
I'm using Joton Sea Queen, which has worked well for me on my mooring, which incidentally is far enough up the Hamble that the water is somewhat brackish, too.
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Old 23-06-2014, 07:09   #10
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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I'm using Joton Sea Queen, which has worked well for me on my mooring, which incidentally is far enough up the Hamble that the water is somewhat brackish, too.
Dockhead - as I said, most sailors who enter the Baltic, are amazed at how clean their bottoms become. Yes, all those nasty little thingys die and most just fall off.

If you didn't give your boat a new coat of antifouling after you powerwashed - well that is probably why you have a problem.
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Old 23-06-2014, 07:20   #11
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

Very odd that the bottom would foul in 3 months. How are your zincs faring? It sounds like you were beginning to foul before you set out. I have noticed a difference in the rate of fouling when a hard winter puts more biologic trash in the water and the light is low. Perhaps that was the case for you this spring?
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Old 23-06-2014, 07:38   #12
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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Dockhead - as I said, most sailors who enter the Baltic, are amazed at how clean their bottoms become. Yes, all those nasty little thingys die and most just fall off.

If you didn't give your boat a new coat of antifouling after you powerwashed - well that is probably why you have a problem.
I have good ablative antifoul paint which is exactly renewed by pressure washing. Pressure washing removes a certain amount of old, exhausted antifouling material together with the fouling, and leaves fresh, active antifouling exposed, good for the next couple of months. I lift and scrub every 2 months during the summer (when critters are more active and fouling is much worse) and every 4 months during the winter, and the antifoul is good for at least two years before it starts to wear through.
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Old 23-06-2014, 08:16   #13
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

Well, I don't what to tell you. But getting your open water diving certificate is a great idea. Partially because there is a wholly different world down there just waiting to be discovered. partially because when (note the when) you irretreviably have fouled your propeller (it will happen sooner or later), then you can have the pleasure of diving down with a hacksaw or knife.

Being able to dive also means you can go underwater to inspect anytime you want.
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Old 23-06-2014, 08:39   #14
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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Very odd that the bottom would foul in 3 months. How are your zincs faring? It sounds like you were beginning to foul before you set out. I have noticed a difference in the rate of fouling when a hard winter puts more biologic trash in the water and the light is low. Perhaps that was the case for you this spring?
Yes, I think that I must have had a huge rate of fouling during April for some reason, before leaving. In the English Channel, the rate of fouling varies tremendously and is not really predictable. Also, how much a boat is in motion versus standing on her mooring makes a big difference. If the boat is sailed a few days every week, the antifouling is kept fresh by the water flowing over it, and the bottom stays cleaner.

Channel sailors choose different antifoul compounds even for different harbors -- the conditions vary so much. I am lucky to be far up the Hamble River where there is some fresh water mixed with the seawater, enough to reduce some kinds of fouling. Nevertheless, we get weird plagues of this or that organism from time to time. Last year there was some horrendous grassy stuff which stuck hard to everyone's hulls and was the very devil to get off. It turned propellers into balls of fur. It appeared and disappeared in a period of about two weeks. Ah, the mysteries of sea life.
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Old 23-06-2014, 08:45   #15
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Re: Bottom Cleaning in the Baltic

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Very odd that the bottom would foul in 3 months.
Not odd at all. Three months is plenty long enough for an underwater garden to grow in regions where fouling is high.
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