My 21' Robalo is going on fourteen years old. In those fourteen years, it has been on a lot of fishing trips. It's hit rocks, oyster bars, metal crab traps, and God knows what else. I remember making a tight turn around a corner in a place called Double Branch (knowing the place like I know my backyard) only to hit mud so thick it hurt my hair when the mud fell from thirty feet above our heads. The bottom unit of my Mercury parallel to the earth was throwing what felt like monster crap straight into the air above. Needless to say my boat needed bottom painting, and in doing research I came across a company named Interlux. Interlux, I learned, makes what the world considers the best material there is to accomplish the task of making my old boat new.
Bottom painting or resurfacing
Anybody that has an older boat wants a new boat. Or should I say that most boaters have a vision in mind of a new and more perfect boat. I am one of the rarities that has a hull that I don't ever want to change, so bottom painting is a viable option. If you cannot buy a new boat, and have a boat you would love to make new, than painting the bottom is a good alternative to re-glassing. And in some cases re-glassing the boat is not an option. First, you have to consider the type of hull you have, and then compare the costs and long-range results of redoing the hull. Whether glass or metal, bottom paint like I am going to use from Interlux to paint the bottom of my Robalo will actually make the boat move better through the water. Shape is one thing that effects how efficiently your boat moves; the amount of friction or drag is the other. Friction results in slower speed and also requires more gas to get you to your destination.
A paint job using Interlux products is going to positively influence the way water moves across the surface of my boat. You can learn all you want to learn about chemistry, surface chemistry, and the hundreds of regulations the company meets and exceeds in delivering product to professional and serious marine clients all over the globe. The angler in you can trust the thousands and thousands of other boaters who have chosen Interlux products for their marine stripping/painting/finishing needs, just like I have. The shape of the hull underneath you (and hopefully on top of your hungry target fish) is something that ultimately determines the efficiency, both fuel and surface tension - of the craft. Let's explore hull shapes.
You can see the four most common boat hull types in this simple drawing. The kind of boats we find ourselves fishing on the most are the ones we call "Round-bottom" or "V-Bottom" boats. The depth of the "v" determines how well the boat handles in deep rough water or shallow inshore water. My boat is most like the yellow one in the middle -- it has "strakes" or ridges in the hull to help it handle, and slopes from a "deep-V" on the bow to an almost flat bottom near the stern. It's a perfect boat for my love of fishing in skinny water and can still handle snotty offshore fairly well while remaining dry. Shape aside, the surface of the bottom of your boat is the ultimate key to how well it handles and moves within the confines of its specific category of hull shapes.
Flat bottom boats
If you have ever been on a flat-bottom boat and on a modern fishing boat, you know the difference between the two. Flat-bottom boats cover the most square footage of any boat design. It creates a rough ride and is often very wet. They are OK for calm and protected areas like small Ponds and lakes, and are designed to use low-horsepower gas or electric motors. Ancient mariners determined early that boats moved better if they had pointed bows, and their movement back towards the stern resulted in v-shaped hulls as the point moved into the water to reduce friction.
These hulls are also known as "planer" hulls. To the marine community, this was the first boat of its type that pushed or cruised through the water and quickly became very popular. The boat has a low profile and more powerful engines actually lifted it out of the water and onto "plane" or top surface of the water. The propeller in these crafts sits a little high in the water and is not completely submerged. They need to provide higher pitch then other boats.
Round-bottom or V-hulls
These are the most common boats you find in the fishing community. They are also displacement hulls, but handle the easiest in higher speeds. They make great fishing boats; both in smaller, more shallow crafts and those designed for deeper blue conditions. Some boats, like bass boats and most of the saltwater boats you see our readers fishing in, are round-bottom or V-hulls and are proven under our conditions. Many offer shapes called "strakes" that are long ridges on the hull designed to further stabilize the boat, which they certainly do.
Tri-hull and Tunnel hulls
These popular hulls are also called cathedral hulls. They have gotten quite popular for fishing, and you definitely see a lot more of them on the water today than you did twenty years ago. The problem I have found with them is that the increased surface on the water makes them somewhat rougher than the modified, straked bottoms on the round-bottom or V-hull boats.
A good friend of mine bought a pontoon boat about ten years ago, and the first year he had it we entered the madness of the Gasparilla boat parade. For the limited distance we had to travel, and considering the water is covered with a majority of drunken boaters, we did remarkably well. They are good for parties and barbecues and drunken pirate water parades, but not all that good for fishing. There are people that love them for angling platforms, especially when there are lots of children involved, and they definitely have advantages when fishing with our disabled angling brothers and sisters.
Bottom painting and friction
A new boat's surface is covered with a thin layer of new and special glass called gelcoat. Gelcoat is good to use for a refinishing project, but there are a great many experienced marine people out there who feel that the proper use of products like the ones we are talking about from Interlux result in a far more growth-resistant and long-lasting bottom than simply gel-coating the bottom. I am using a combination of bottom paint, a custom graphic wrap, and gel-coating. In addition I am considering several other of the company's surface materials for the parts of my boat that have a non-slip grid surface. I want color, safety, and the graphics power of the wrap to make the boat stand out on the water as a sort-of advertising banner for our website, and I am very excited about the anticipated end result.
If you look at this simple graphic (I am a writer, not a professional illustrator, so give me a break) you can see the difference that a square hull - essentially what we described as a flat bottom boat - and a round-bow, partial-displacement hull have on the flow of the water. When the water strikes the bow of the square vessel, it causes much more turmoil than the pointed one. The right hull shape for your needs, bottom surfaced with Interlux high quality marine paints, will provide- better gas mileage, quieter movement, and better control of your boat.
If you are reading this story and are interested in using the world's most highly-advanced marine paint, visit www.yachtpaint.com and see for yourself why Interlux is the world's leading supplier of boat paint maintenance solutions to help protect, beautify and improve your boat's performance. TOF readers who have been considering (or perhaps procrastinating) the idea of repainting your boat's bottom should register for this week's TOF giveaway where we will be providing a FREE gallon of Interlux Pacifica Plus copper-free bottom paint. Thank you to Interlux for generously providing a great giveaway to our readers. We at TOF are happy to recommend Interlux products as well as proclaim that (at least from our research) you won't find a higher quality and ecologically sound marine paint company anywhere.
To learn more about antifouling paint and how it works, there is a very informative online booklet here.
Like this article? Please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Email by clicking on the logos. You can also comment using your Facebook account below.