In addition to the normal questions on storms, pirates, the cost of sailing and having a child on board, a huge question we get asked is about our experience with CopperCoat antifoul.
CopperCoat is an antifoul paint that is supposed to eliminate the need for a new hull paint job every year.
If you’re new to boating, one of the routine maintenance jobs that must be performed yearly is a new coat of antifoul paint. The paint goes on the bottom of the hull requiring the boat to be craned out and set on the hard.
In some cases, you can stretch an antifoul paint job to two years but beyond that, the traditional antifoul paint won’t work any longer.
And after years of adding one coat of antifoul paint on top of another, you’ll eventually have the big job of scraping it all off and starting over. When my husband, Simon, scrapped our antifoul paint back he had to sand off eight coats. He was called Papa Smurf at the boatyard due to his white cleaning suit being stained with the blue antifoul paint!
Why do you need antifoul paint?
Without it, your hull will attract barnacles and other life forms. Not before long, you’ll have a rug of life living below the water line and boy, will that rug reek havoc. With only a small amount of growth, you’ll easily lose a substantial amount of speed (and let’s face it, sailboats don’t go very fast anyway – loosing a knot of speed is massive). Furthermore, barnacles that grow along the raw water intakes could cause your engine to overheat.
Normal antifoul needs to be applied every couple years at the very least. CopperCoat on the other hand, goes on once and lasts 8 to 10 years…sometimes longer!
A clean-hulled boat provides efficiency. Clean bottoms allow for speed at lower revs providing a lower rate of fuel consumption and less engine wear.
So…CopperCoat antifoul is low maintenance and helps with the boat’s efficiency. What else does it do? Well, it’s an inherently waterproof epoxy resin so it will protect a boat from osmosis. And the antifoul paint causes less harm to marine life than conventional anti-foul paints making it more environmentally friendly.
Considering the traditional antifoul paint versus CopperCoat, let’s apply the costs to Britican. If we took Britican out every other year and had the antifoul paint put on, it would cost us around $3,000 every time, keeping in mind that we’re a 35 ton 56’ sailboat.
Plus there’s the cost of shutting the boat and systems down and finding somewhere else to live while she’s on the hard. And considering we’re a liveaboard family, there’s also the disturbance to family life. We’re essentially being kicked out of our home while our boat is out of the water.
The amount we paid for our CopperCoat antifouling was $11,700.
So, if you consider that over the next 10 years, we would have to spend around $15,000 doing it the ‘traditional’ way by pulling the boat out every two years. With CopperCoat, we’ll save money overall, and a whole lot of time and hassle.
Additionally, our plan is to go into the Pacific. Finding places to haul out the boat are not as easy as in the Mediterranean or the Americas.
THAT’S THE THEORY….that’s not what we’ve experienced thus far. (Make sure to read the article Living Aboard A Boat and watch the video too. We cover this CopperCoat story in the video).
From day one, we’ve have barnacles and lots of them.
And we learned about barnacles in our raw water intakes the hard way. After our recent CopperCoat job, we took Britican up a river to avoid the full wrath of hurricane Matthew (2016). After 20 minutes of leaving the marina and being massively stressed already, our engine overheated.
Lucky for us, we were able to pull over in a marina and some local’s discovered our problem. Knowing that our raw water intakes were barnacle-ridden, we went up the river as the tide flowed in under low revs. Our obvious question, was ‘why do we have barnacles?’
When returning to the marina, after Matthew had passed, we immediately had a diver down to check out our hull. He reported that hull was full of barnacles. He explained that Charleston Harbor and the surrounding area is full of life. All boats get scrapped at least once a month by divers.
At first we assumed that we must be in bad waters…
…and that it was so bad, the CopperCoat didn’t work. Our diver reported that barnacles grew back on our boat every two months instead of every month so at least there was a small benefit from the CopperCoat.
From my perspective, I thought… ’I didn’t pay $11,700 to have to pay a diver to clean my hull!’ I was fuming but I assumed that it was down to the Charleston water…
And then over time more people asked me about our CopperCoat results.
I told readers to ‘hold tight’ informing them that we’re going to Bermuda for six weeks and we’ll see how CopperCoat performs outside of the terrible Charleston waters.
Anyhoo…much to our dismay, we had a diver scrape our boat the day before leaving for Bermuda. Sadly, barnacles grew on the hull in Bermuda. And the waters in Bermuda are crystal clear blue waters.
Upon returning to Charleston, Simon decided to call CopperCoat and explain to them our results. When hearing our story, Jim from CopperCoat USA explained, ‘there’s something wrong – barnacles should not be on your boat. It must not have been applied correctly.’ The assumption was that the CopperCoat wasn’t sanded enough before being put back in the water. Sanding the paint allows the Copper to emerge – something that the barnacles won’t attach to.
So…Simon hangs up the phone and calls Bennett Brothers Yachts Inc, the boatyard responsible for our paint job, to explaining our findings.
Al, our original project manger, immediately told Simon to bring the boat back and Bennett Brother’s will take the boat out, re-sand the CopperCoat and put the boat back into the water free of charge.
Simon and I thought that it’s a massive inconvenience for us to have to motor/sail the boat back to North Carolina. It’s a 22-hour motor and will cost around $400 in fuel if we have to motor the whole way. Furthermore, our daughter is in school so we need to make the trip during a holiday. And then there’s the question of where are we going to live while the boat is back out of the water.
Yes, it was an inconvenience but things happen. The important thing is to get our CopperCoat working.
Simon then requested that Al put his offering in writing. We didn’t want to motor the boat all the way up to North Carolina and then have some sort of discrepancy.
And that’s when Al started to get a bit strange. He said he’d send the offer in writing and then he didn’t. Al then started to say that it was CopperCoat who are to blame…not the boatyard.
Simon sent videos of our hull to CopperCoat USA and Jim verified that the paint wasn’t sanded enough to expose the Copper.
Simon then chased Al again. Trying to find a solution for everyone, Simon suggested that we bring the boat up to North Carolina just before leaving America for the Caribbean. By then we will take our daughter out of school and revert back to homeschooling AND we have a trip planned to the UK to visit family. We thought it was a good solution for a place for us to live while the boat was out of the water.
Simon mentioned the idea to Al and his response was, yes we can do that but when the boat is not being worked on you have to pay for marina fees.
Eventually, Al sent us the following email:
From: “Al Noble” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: September 15, 2017 at 14:04:23 EDT
To: “‘Simon Brown'”
Subject: RE: CopperCoat
BBY will not pay anyone to do this work due to the fact that we did the job as / the manufactures specs. and was sanded to their instructions I’m only saying that I will haul and sand the bottom again but offer no warranty past that and do not feel that we should even do it but to offer good customer service . We a BBY are not in any way accepting the notion that we did not do the job correctly.
2 weeks dockage at Cape Fear Marina for Britican would be. $378.00
BENNETT BROTHERS YACHTS, INC.
Cape Fear Marina
1701 J.E.L. Wade Drive
Wilmington, NC 28401
MAY YOU WEATHER ALL STORMS
SO… we’re out of pocket by around $900 in diver fees (to clean our hull every other month). The fuel bill to motor to North Carolina and back could be around $320…and if we need to get a hotel that could be $100/night for X amount of nights AND Bennett Brother’s want us to pay marina fees!
How is this good customer service?
Prior to getting the job done, Al kept saying to us, ‘if there’s any problem at all you just bring the boat back to us and we’ll fix it.’ He also said that they’ve had experience of doing CopperCoat jobs.
From our perspective, we paid a lot of money and we didn’t get the intended result. We then asked the boatyard to fix the problem and they’re saying it’s not them even though the manufacturer of the product verified the issue at hand.
Imagine if we all went to McDonalds and told the server – my bun is hard and the server responded, ‘It must be the bun manufacturers fault’. Or, let’s consider some higher priced purchases…look at new homes. If I complained to a house builder that my paint was peeling in my new house, they wouldn’t tell me that it’s the paint manufacturers fault and they’re not taking responsibility…they would just fix it.
No…as it stands, we’ve paid $11,700 and the boatyard that did it is saying they’re not going to take responsibility for the issues, but they’ll sand the boat for free.
I’m seriously hoping that we can get a stronger commitment from Bennett Brothers Yachts.
Or, better yet, what I’d really like is for Bennett Brothers Yachts to foot the bill locally so that we can get our boat fixed without the massive hassle to take the boat 22 hours north, pay more money in fuel, hotel bills and marina fees.
If Bennett Brother’s has an issue with the manufacturer’s guidelines, then I feel they should take that up with CopperCoat. We paid for a service, we were told that if it wasn’t right to bring it back and they’d make sure it was done right.
Make sure to read the article Living Aboard A Boat and watch the video too. We cover this CopperCoat story in the video.
Watch the Video Update to the above article below (Published August 2019)
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