Friday, December 17, 2010

Welcome to the future... Electronic anti-fouling

There has been a longstanding discussion on one of the cruising forums about electronic anti-fouling systems...

Well, hardly a discussion but more a parade of people with opinions and no real personal knowledge on the subject saying anything but the same old same ain't going to work.


Funny thing is you used to hear the same sort of arguments where multihulls were concerned and, like the discussion on electronic anti-fouling systems, most of the anti-multihull brigade knew pretty zip about cats or tris but they knew (by damn) that they did not work!

Fast forward to 2010 and just about anywhere you go you'll see catamarans cruising, daysailing and doing the lion's share of chartering. Meanwhile, all the magazines that published editorials saying that multihulls were not only an affront to sailing tradition, nautical sinew, and nothing more than floating death traps, are telling us today that if you don't have a cat you are simply not cool.

So it goes...

Like multihulls before, electronic anti-fouling scares some people. People, who as it happens, have a lot of money invested in the status quo and like the same old same just fine. Paint companies make and sell millions of gallons of toxic paint, boat yards depend on folks having to haul out every year or so to put poison on their bottoms and every time we paint our bottoms someone's bank account gets bigger (everyone's but the poor fool painting his bottom). Make no mistake, but there most certainly is entrenched interests who have a serious stake in continuing with the system as it stands. As long as there is a profit involved they will keep doing what they are doing.

As I've mentioned before, we had electronic anti-fouling on our last boat and it worked in the Med, Atlantic and Caribbean. It did not use much in the way of power and except for the fact that we had a couple of parts fail we'd still be using it. Sadly, the company that made our unit went out of business (no doubt, bringing happy camper smiles to the paint companies' faces) and at the time we could not find a replacement.

I'm not sure if any of the existing electronic anti-fouling systems actually work but I do know that next haul out I will be installing a system. The cost of hauling out these days is becoming a process more a thing akin to armed robbery than commerce. All said and done, I've never felt good about working with poison whether to my health or to the health of the oceans I call home.

Progress is actually seriously cool... Come join the future!