RTO, or Reasonable Time Only Projects

Reasonable Time Only (RTO) is the term I use regarding boats with Fair, Poor, or No Paint condition that we clean on a four week cleaning cycle during the months of May through Oct.

We recommend that boats in this condition be put on a two week cleaning cycle, but there are those who for whatever reason cannot do this, so I have developed this alternative plan.

We increase your price somewhat and clean the boat the best we can for those months. For the month of May and June we will be able to clean it up pretty well but the later months we will scrap the coral off the hull, prop, clean the intakes and waterline. After Oct. we will clean up the boat and drop the price back to the Fair, Poor, or No Paint price

Again, I have created to help those of you who do not want to go on the two week service so I have tried to be fair to both you and my divers. So you can get what you want and we won’t kill the divers in the process.



A Bottom Painting Primer

A word about bottom painting. I keep getting questions regarding types of paint and the number of coats required.

First of all, if you are told you’re getting two coats, this doesn’t really mean a thing. For example (on a small sailboat of 25′), if you thin out the paint you can put on two coats with 1/2 gallon or 2 good coats with one gallon. The exact question is, not how many coats are applied, but how much volume (thickness) of paint you are getting. Consequently it’s the thickness of the paint that’s important not the number of coats. When getting an estimate where ever you get painted, make sure that there are no hidden costs. Your job should include enough paint to do 2 coats, with an extra coat at the waterline. All metal work should be epoxied and painted; and the bare spots should be primed.

You should only use top of the line paint on you boat bottom. These are: Z-Spar B90, Pettit Trinidad, Woolsey Neptune, Pro Line 1088, and Interlux Ultra Koat. All of these paints have a cuprous/oxide content of 66% or higher. Certain colors have less cuprous oxide, with black having the least. Paint formulas are constantly changing due to the clean water act past in the late 1980’s. I am always trying to update myself on the new formulas and how they hold up.



Get the 411 on Boat Blisters

For many people, blisters on boats are a mystery. I hope massage helps to answer some of your questions.

First of all, there are two types of blisters: Paint and Osmotic.

Osmotic blisters are basically caused by water passing through the hull into the fiberglass. Water molecules are very small and can travel through most things, even metal, if given enough time. This is why undercoats (epoxies and other systems) are important. Undercoats help stop water from traveling into the fiberglass of your boat. As water travel through the fiberglass, a blister is formed. According to the U.S. Coastguard, blisters are not considered a structural problem until they reach the size of a quarter. Frankly, I have never heard of a boat sinking due to blisters.

Blisters are sometime hard to detect underwater. This is due to limited lighting and the fact that you cannot see down the line of the boat, only a “face on” view. Also, when a boat is out of the water, the hull heats up and blisters show up more predominantly. Wood and Metal hull boats do not get Osmotic blisters; this is mainly a fiberglass boat problem.

Some boats have no paint and as to date, don’t have any blisters. We don’t know the exact reason, but I believe that this is due to the gel coats and fiberglass layup. It is expensive to fix blisters. If you only have a few, you can dig them out and fix them. If there are many, you can have the hull stripped and rebuilt. Or, you can leave them alone or let the next owner deal with them. Divers are not the cause of blisters, and often times do not report them, due to limited lighting underwater and the slow process in which they grow. Blisters sometimes take years to show up. If you are concerned about this problem an in-water survey can be arranged.



A Brief & Free Electrolysis Education

The theory of electrolysis states that whenever there are two dissimilar in an electrical solution, i.e., saltwater, a battery is created. For our purpose, we will call it “underwater rust” …even though the term is technically incorrect. The idea of rust brings to mind something falling apart and this is what happens to your boat’s metalwork underwater. If something is not done to protect underwater metalwork it will fall apart. To prevent this, another metal called a “sacrificial anode” is used to stop the corrosion of the valuable metal. The most commonly used sacrificial anode is zinc, which intentionally corrodes in order to protect the expensive metals of your boat. This significantly lengthens the lifespan of props, struts, rudders, thru hulls, etc.

There are several ways in which zinc is connected to a boat:

  1. In the DIRECT method, the zinc is attached directly to underwater metal, i.e., shaft collar zincs, strut and rudder zincs, trim tab zinc, etc.
  2. In the BONDED system the metalwork is wired to each other inside the boat and all the wires go to a centralized zinc. Zincs measuring 4×6 inches and 6×12 inches are used for this system.
  3. In the CONTROLLED system a device controls the corrosion of the zinc so that it takes longer to decompose.

Sometimes a combination of more than one system is used. Zincs should be replaced on a regular basis. The general “rule of thumb” recommends replacement when the zincs are reduced in size by 50%. There are two types of zincs, MIL SPEC and NON MIL SPEC. MIL SPEC (military specification) zinc will slough and slowly becomes smaller. NON MIL SPEC creates a hard shell around itself, which needs to be knocked off to expose the good zinc underneath. I personally prefer using MIL SPEC zinc because it is easier to tell when it needs to be replaced.


Another problem which can quickly destroy your boat’s metalwork is a STRAY CURRENT. This happens when a direct current from the generator, dock cords, batteries, ect., somehow comes in contact with the metalwork. The resulting damage is similar to putting the metal into an acid bath. I once saw a thru-hull dissolve in a week! If this happens to your boat you need to have it checked out as soon as possible.


This is simply meant to be an introduction to the subject of electrolysis. For more details and specific information check with an electrolysis expert.



The Ins & Outs of Bottom Cleaning

According to a study done at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, boats that have their bottom cleaned regularly (every 4 weeks min.), need to hauled out less frequently. Over a period of time this is not only less expensive to the boat owner, but is also safer for the environment. Back in the 40’s and 50’s and early 60’s boats were hauled out every year to be cleaned and repainted. They used lead base paint which were deadly to the environment. Those days are gone now, boats cleaned regularly tend to haul out every 2-3 years. The paints now used are mainly copper based, which is better for the environment.


Another benefit of regular cleaning is that of zinc replacement for boats with metal work

underwater. In the early days, boats put on what they hoped was enough zinc for the year and would replace it when they were hauled out the next year.


The problem was two fold:

  1. Over zincing causes wood damage on wooden boats and metal fatigue (metal becomes brittle).
  2. The occurrence of unseen problems (zinc falling off, electrical problems, hot areas, zincs burning faster than expected, etc.) causing major damage to props, shafts, struts, thru-hulls, etc. Now by having a diver regularly under the boat, zincs can be replaced as needed and you can be alerted as to any problems before they become major.

Fuel economy is greatly improved by regular cleaning. In the early days as the months passed, fuel economy got worse and worse due to drag caused by growth on the hull, engines would overheat, knot meters won’t work, and RPM’s lesser. Even with regular cleaning during the high growth season (May-Oct), knot meters can still clog up within 5-10 days after cleaning. Log racers (power boats) can tell how many RPM’s you lose after 1,2, and 3 weeks after cleaning. Sailboat racers can also tell you the benefit of cleaning for racing.


In conclusion, bottom cleaning can help by extended haul out times, corrosion control through zinc replacement and observation, and help you gain speed and fuel economy.