BOTTOM PAINT GUIDE PART 5: APPLYING YOUR BOTTOM PAINT
Now that the bottom of your boat is prepped and ready to go, you have to make a decision. Will you apply the paint yourself or will you pay a boatyard to do it?
Most boatyards allow owners (and regular crew) to work on their boats. You will pay a lay-day fee, which can range from $0.50 per foot per day, to $5.00 per foot per day, not including water and electricity. Some boatyards will allow you to bring in outside contractors, which will cost more; some will require you to use contractors from their approved list. Yacht clubs, though not all, sometimes allow such work in designated areas, but check with the club manager first to be sure.
Labor at a boatyard can run between $25 and $100 per hour. Some yards charge per-coat/per-foot to apply anti-fouling paint, so from $3.00 per foot (per Bobby’s Marina, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten) to $7.00 per foot (per Antigua Slipway, Ltd., Antigua), two coats of anti-fouling paint applied to the fully cleaned and prepped bottom of your 40’ sail sailboat would range from $240 to $560 – not including lay day charges, paint, travel lift fees, or painting of the boot stripe.
Note that the above mentioned prices are just examples I located online. Always find out exactly what you can and cannot do at the yard and how much it will cost, and then get the prices in writing. Also make certain that you know where your boat will be, and if you will have access to electricity and water.
The upside of applying anti-fouling paint yourself is that you can save money. You can probably get some of the friends who have been boating with you to come lend a hand, so you won’t be stuck in the yard all alone. You will, however, have to acquire the appropriate safety gear and equipment for painting. West Marine’s website (www.westmarine.com) offers a pretty complete list of what you will need in their online article Tips for Better Bottoms. You’ll find lots of how-to information online, at boating stores, and from other boaters.
The downside for the do-it-yourselfer is that applying anti-fouling paint is a major undertaking, especially for the neophyte. How much time can you take off work? Those over-the-weekend painting jobs never go as planned. And if you louse up the paint job, you will have only yourself to blame. The most commons reasons for anti-fouling detachment are failure of the paint to dry between coats, and launching the boat when the paint is not thoroughly dry. If you rush because you have to get back to work, all of your time and expense will have been for nothing.
If you hire professionals to do the work, you get … well … professionals. They can be expensive, but the guys at the yard already have the safety gear and painting equipment. They know how to properly apply bottom paint because they may have done it hundreds of times. Professionals take the risk of exposure to toxic anti-fouling paints, must meet environmental guidelines, and are responsible for doing the job right.
If this is your first time through the haul-out, bottom prep, and anti-fouling application process, I recommend hiring professionals. Alternatively, you can find a boating friend who is a do-it-yourselfer and volunteer to help him out on his next bottom job. That way you will get a first-hand, close-up look at the process, which will help you decide what to do when it is time for your boat’s bottom job.