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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Default Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    My 5-year experience with Coppercoat since late 2014 has been occasionally documented on here but, now that Coppercoat and I are approaching a conclusion, I thought that it might be helpful to collect my findings in one thread.

    For the first 5 years my cat was out on charter in Croatia and was conventionally antifouled every two years which seemed to work very well. However, in November 2014 I took the fateful and expensive decision to have the hulls professionally taken back to gelcoat and then Coppercoated. From a technical viewpoint, the job was completed successfully by the yard and all the Coppercoat is still firmly adhered onto the hulls.

    This photo was taken on completion of the Coppercoating:



    As you may know, AMC (the Coppercoat company) say in their application instructions say:

    Treated boats should have the fully cured Coppercoat surface lightly burnished with fine “wet and dry” paper or sanding-pad prior to immersion. This will expose the copper powder and increase the immediate potency of the anti-fouling. This process is particularly beneficial in areas of high fouling. (Tip – we recommend using 400-600 grade paper, “wet & dry”, or a Scotchbrite sanding pad and lightly rubbing the surface in a fashion similar to applying polish to a car bonnet.)

    This is phrased as "should", rather than must, and as it would add to the cost, the yard decided that it would not be necessary. As it turns out, this appears to have been the right decision because the immediate potency of the Coppercoat was never in doubt as shown from the next lift out photo in May 2016. This was taken after the pressure wash but all that did was remove slime.



    The pressure wash did leave behind a few barnacle feet so I sent this photo to AMC who replied that some fouling was inevitable in some locations and that the deposits should just be scraped off. Note the virtual absence of tube worms casts at this 18 month point.



    The next lift out was March 2017. The hulls were still good after pressure washing although, by this stage, tube worms seemed to be the main fouling although a few hours with scrapers soon removed all the casts and the usual few barnacles. This time we also scoured the hulls with the scouring pads used for washing up which we bought in the local supermarket.



    The problems really started during the 2017 summer season. I could see the fouling building up continuously, mainly tube worms, and impossible to remove with just a deck brush and snorkel. A metal scraper would be needed to make any impression and that would not be possible without scuba gear. It would also be a back-breaking task. I emailed AMC before the lift out and told them that things were not looking good and the Coppercoat seemed to be de-activating itself. I cannot recall any information from AMC which suggests that a working Coppercoat can deactivate itself.

    Anyway, AMC said that scraping and scourers were not good enough to reactivate the surface and we needed to use the most abrasive Scotchbrite pads that we could buy. I bought a load of these ready for lift out in 2018 and they were very abrasive and scour your hands as well as the hull. This was a big job for two of us. I would rather be slapping on conventional antifoul with a roller.

    Anyway, we were ready for the May 2018 lift out. By now, the barnacles have all but abandoned ship because the tube worms have gained total supremacy.:



    After comprehensive Scotchbrite scouring, the boat was returned to the sea and we commenced the 2018 season. Unfortunately, during the course of the 2018 season (actually only a handful of weeks actually sailing) it was clear that the Scotchbrite was a total failure and that the tube worms were now totally dominant. I emailed AMC again and this time they replied that the hulls could only be re-activated by machine sanding with 100 grit or similar to take the coating right down to pure metal. By now, I'm realising that this is not what I paid all that money for back in 2014. I am not aware of any AMC literature which suggest that to get Coppercoat to work properly after 2 years you have to sand half of it away and, in some places on curves and edge, sand it right away through to the underlying gel coat because it is virtually impossible not to.

    At this point I started a thread on PBO asking what experience people have had with conventional antifoul over Coppercoat and I had just about had enough. Several posters suggested that the best thing to do would be to scrape/sand the hull smooth before applying antifoul and others suggested that if I had to do that anyway, why not give the Coppercoat a final chance as suggested by AMC. So that's what I decided to do.

    So a couple of weeks ago we went down to the yard with my 6 inch random orbital sander and a pile of disks. This is what lift out revealed:



    The first thing to note is that the yard were concerned that I was intending to dry sand without using a full vacuum-extraction sander. Mine has a collection bag but I accept that this is not very efficient. After some discussions they put me in a spot where no-one else was polishing and also asked me to do it when there was no wind. We were lucky that the day I wanted to start it was very still.

    On the first day we scraped the entire surface and on the second I started sanding a stripe starting at the bow and working back towards to stern. I chose the stripe with easist access just to get a feel for the job. After about 4 back-breaking, wrist-aching hours this is what I had achieved:



    A quick calculation suggested that I had sanded about 10% of the entire surface so the entire job would take me around 40 hours. There was no chance of me being able to sustain that level of work over that period so I asked the yard whether they could finish the job. They agreed to put two men on the job with professional equipment. If you think that Coppercoat is going to save you money in the longer term, at this point you might need to think again.

    After another two days the job was finished. I took this photo just before the last patch was sanded by the guys on the third day because the sun was in the right direction.



    As the boat was lifted back into the water we could see the streams of copper washing off the hull in the current. My Wife commented on the Pounds Sterling which were drifiting away whilst I noted that tube worms from miles around were all thinking "feeding time".

    We'll now see what happens this year but obviously there is nowhere else to go so if the tube worms reappear it will have to be conventional antifoul next year.

    My feeling in that AMC should make it clearer that Coppercoat can work well but then totally cease to work after just a couple of years and they should also take a more active interest in their product and offer to have it properly inspected and tested to find out exactly what is going wrong when it does go wrong. Perhaps they do not want to go down this road because compensation claims might well follow. Class action anyone?

    Richard
    Last edited by RichardS; 18-05-19 at 17:11. Reason: "Not" be necessary

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Hants/Lozère
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    4,330

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Thanks for that saga! A couple of years ago we had the hull gelcoat removed (osmosis) and replaced with glass mat and resin. We are also in the med and anti-foul perhaps every 3 years with Micron Extra (RIP) so decided not to take an obvious opportunity to Coppercoat the hull. From your experience that seems to have been a sound decision! Thanks

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Barnacles (and presumably tubeworms too) secrete hormones which attract other tubeworms. It could be that traces of the shells were left and ground into the paint in powdered form during the scotchbrite process. this would have served to attract the critters from miles around afterwards, especially if you didn't take off enough epoxy to expose fresh copper.

    This might be why they recommend sanding from new rather than doing it later, otherwise most of the copper would be covered by epoxy and not effective.

    It's also one reason why sanding antifouling is generally done wet, with plenty of water to wash away any traces of shell instead of grinding them in.

    I've heard of very variable results with coppercoat and it seems like both application technique and local conditions have a lot to do with it. Since all the really effective antifouling chemicals have been made illegal there's nothing that really works well and different products seem more or less effective in different locations.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    North Wales, sailing Aegean Sea or Menai Strait
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    21,566

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Your experience is very unfortunate compared with ours. Preveza Ionion Marine grit blasted and faired my keel in 2009 after rust got beneath the original Coppercoat and blew it off. I then applied four or five coats of Coppercoat. I did not burnish it. We do get a little tube worm, almost nothing else. When we haul out for winter I do nothing and the shell brushes off the following spring. There are a few rust spots but so far not enough to justify starting again. We sail Aegean now, Ionian when the Coppercoat was first applied.
    Answers to some technical queries at new website http://coxeng.co.uk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Caribbean
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    2,257

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Hi Richard. We have Coppercoat on our boat. Ours was applied professionally in winter 2012/13. The work was done at Firmhelm in Pwllheli, North Wales. The yard didn't abrade the hull before launch. I wish they had of done as the performance was not great in the first season in the UK.
    The boat was in the Caribbean from winter 2014. The performance of the Coppercoat was below expectations. We were scrubbing the hull every month to keep it clean. Discussions with AMC suggested we should abrade the hull to expose more copper. We. Like you used scotch pads. This was not successful and we continued to have a lot more fouling than we would have liked. The only benefit the coppercoat had was we could scrub it. With continues scrubbing the fouling was manageable and we got to the point we would scrub about every six weeks. The fouling out here is pretty impressive so we were reasonably happy with that.
    By last season we started to get more fouling so we needed to do something about it. The cost of bottom paint out here is unbelievable. To apply a good one time application was almost as much as buying the coppercoat in the USA. Since we were in Florida with the boat last year we decided to bite the bullet and we purchased 10 more packs.
    We hauled out in Curacao last September and as per the coppercoat instructions, we sanded with 80grit on an orbital sander to get a key for the new layers of Coppercoat. To our surprise, there was still a huge amount of copper on the hull. We probably could have patch repaired the small areas where we needed, like some keel damage and impact damage near the bow but since we had the copper we went ahead and added four new layers. It was a big job for two of us. We also abraded the hull before launch with 280grit.
    Since doing this the reduction in fouling has been substantial.
    Lessons learnt.
    To reactivate the copper after a few seasons the advice to use Scotch pads by AMC is inadequate. For us and it seems you, this didnt work. I suspect if we had taken an orbital sander to the hull with appropriate grit we could very effectively reactivated the copper without the cost of $1300 dollars of Coppercoat. I suspect AMC don't want to tell you this as its a bloody nightmare job and some yards probably wont let you do it with the environmental issues of copper release and associated health risks.
    I think with Coppercoat you have to expect to clean the hull regularly. We now use a hookah to do the job. Previously we were using our diving gear and this was a pain to suit up with tank etc.
    I have to say that our hull even when the Coppercoat was not working, never got like yours simply because if it got any growth at all we cleaned it off. Were you leaving the boat for long periods of time in high growth locations? We have found that compared to friends with conventional bottom paint that in such areas the coppercoat and conventional bottom paint perform similarly, ie badly. The benefit of the Coppercoat is you can clean off. By the time you do that to conventional bottom paint a few times there is none left.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Winter in Falmouth, summer on board Rampage.
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    5,032

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    We’ve had Coppercoat on the boat since new (19 years so far...). At the 12 year point it wasn’t working as well as we would like it to, so we used 200 grit wet and dry to expose new copper: that worked a treat, including a winter in San Carles de la Rapita, where the fouling is of almost biblical proportions. The Saildrive leg was so heavily fouled it took most of a day to clean it up, whilst the hull simply needed a quick pressure wash to remove the slime.
    The CC continues to work well but the boat is only in the water for about four months of the year at the moment and whilst it’s in the water, we’re living aboard her and moving every two or three days. I’ve no idea how much fouling would build up if the boat was in the water year round but would expect to see a good deal more than at present. Nevertheless, my Hurley 18 which sits on a mooring through the summer (and doesn’t move much) with conventional anti foul always has a good collection of growth which comes off well with a pressure wash but that needs repainting every year. No great hassle as it’s tiny but I’m beginning to think it might have been worth forking out for CC for her as well.....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Itinerant. On an adventure!
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    2,777

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Our experience after 13 seasons and a second coat last Spring is that it is variable.

    It is not a silver bullet but compares well with the alternatives.

    A lift and pressure wash is a lot cheaper than having to anti foul. Also the hassle of anti foul in some European yards imposes the extra cost of a special sander to remove it and paying a 'specialist' to dispose of it.

    I reckon that I have saved 10 years of antifoul over the period. Not to mention the pain that it all is.
    Plus there is the excitement of wondering what the old lady's bottom will look like when she comes out of the water.

    Our worst experience was in a drying mooring, up a river, where the limpets really made themselves at home.

    The Scotch pad cleaning suggestion is misleading, we found 240 grit on the polisher was what did the business. But it is a hard mornings work on a 10m bilge keel boat.

    We went for the second coat on the balance of costs and effort - we shall see.
    Gwylan, a settee with a sail

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    On the Celtic Fringe
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    13,857

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Out of interest what are the number of days a year that the boat is underway and the mileage you have done since CC was applied?
    Cynical Scottish almost retired engineer.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Med
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    5,673

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Hi Richard
    As you know Christine and I did Isabelle in 2011 back breaking job removing the old AF ,
    But we got there in the end , Isabelle was sold two years ago and I am in contact with the new owner , he hauled the end of last year first time since he brought the boat and he said he had some tube worm and a few Banny for some reason he decided to give her a one coat of CC , personally. Wouldn't had bother , we was happy with our copper coat so much we plain to do thus boat at the end of this year , I few reasons but top one ne is I getting a bit long in the tooth to keep AF .
    Now there is a very big different from your story to ours , which is I did get underneath now and then and give It a bit of a wipe over . So maybe that's why we had a better experience, we also do use her for at less nine month of each year so she not standing around too much .
    I have to say if I had no experience with CC and sew your photo and read your posting I not sure I be that keen to CC mine .
    Good luck this season .
    Last edited by sailaboutvic; 19-05-19 at 08:03.
    Warning forumite dyslexia near by
    www.bluewatersailorcroatia.webs.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Home UK Midlands / Boat Croatia
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    18,598

    Default Re: Coppercoat in the Last Chance Saloon - Picture heavy thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    Out of interest what are the number of days a year that the boat is underway and the mileage you have done since CC was applied?
    The boat is only actually underway for probably 2 weeks a year as even when we are cruising we tend to spend several days relaxing in each bay we anchor in. The mileage is also low as, apart from longer voyages to Corfu before we Coppercoated and Venice after we applied it, the distances within Croatia are quite short with a maximum of around 30 miles between our chosen bays.

    It might well be the case that Coppercoat is really only suitable for boats which spend say 25% of their time actually underway or spend the winter season on the hard, or whatever, but, if so, AMC need to do a lot more research into these factors and modify their literature accordingly.

    Another theme coming through seems to be that this "abrading / activating / burnishing" process is very likely to be much more time-consuming and expensive, at least for boats which are stationary in the water for most of the time. This "lightly rubbing the surface in a fashion similar to applying polish to a car bonnet" with 400 grit sandpaper or a Scotchbrite pad is total nonsense. You would be rubbing my hulls until the end of time with such lightweight abrasives and still not get deep enough to expose enough metallic copper. That epoxy is pretty hard stuff.

    The problem with the serious grinding materials needed, assuming that this actually works at all, is that I reckon that I've lost possibly quarter to half of the copper that was originally applied, which is a very expensive way of passing a few days in the yard.

    It seems to me that AMC either know all about the inherent problems with Coppercoat and are simple keeping quiet about it as their profits will be curtailed if they come clean, or they don't know what the limitations are, in which case they should be showing a lot more active interest in cases like mine where the Coppercoat has been professionally applied under ideal conditions and the boat has been continuously in the same location thus removing an important variable.

    Richard

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