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We find out about Propspeed: the foul release coating for underwater running gear

by Mark Jardine on 29 May 29 May 2017
Stuart's boat with Propspeed applied © Grapefruit Graphics

We spoke to Stuart Gladwin at Grapefruit Graphics about Propspeed, the latest underwater surface product which GFG is now applying and distributing in the UK. Propspeed is a foul release coating that will keep the underwater running gear on any boat clean, and therefore operating more efficiently.

Mark Jardine: What is the difference between a foul release coating and an antifoul?

Stuart Gladwin: Antifoul basically will contain biocides; the whole point of an antifoul is to kill marine growth and keep it off your boat. That works with a certain degree of success depending on the type of antifoul you have and how long it has been on the boat. Foul release works by not giving marine growth a surface to grip to.

Mark: So in a similar way to MacGlide, it's creating a surface on the boat, or in this case the propeller, running gear and rudders, that nothing can effectively bond to.

Stuart: You will get some growth on it, such as slime, however the attachment process is not strong enough that it can stay on there at speeds of 6 knots or higher. In some cases the weight of the growth will cause it to fall off, or it can be removed with a soft cloth.

Mark: So as soon as you use the boat, or even just take it out of the water, the marine life that is able to attach to it will just come off.

Stuart: That's exactly it. It's not giving the marine growth a surface which it can strongly bond to: it'll fall away.

Mark: Traditionally antifoul isn't put on propellers or moving parts. How do apply this to a propeller?

Stuart: It's actually a very simple process. Firstly you have to clean it, we recommend 80 grit abrasion on all parts, followed by an etch primer and then very quickly after that the top coat. It's a very quick, very easy process.

Mark: You call it quick and easy. Is this something anybody could do or would you recommend a marine professional who is trained in the product should apply it?

Stuart: We would recommend a professional to do it. The reason is that there is one critical stage that has to be met with overcoat times, and that's why we'd prefer for it to be done by a professional. DIY kits will become available later on in the year but for now we're aiming this at professional use.

Mark: If there are time-critical elements to this, how will you be ensuring that boatyards are applying this in the correct way and making it last on boats for as long as possible?

Stuart: If you look at our technical guide there's a very easy and very simple check: once you've put the etch primer on, the overcoat time can be tested by pressing a gloved finger into the etch primer. The idea is that it will leave an impression in the etch primer but nothing will come off on the latex glove. It's a very simple test to do and then it's ready for overcoating.

Mark: You've been testing this for some time. What results have you seen with it?

Stuart: If you go onto the Propspeed.com website you'll see there have been a lot of case-studies from all around the world. One that we do like to quote is a superyacht called 'The Big Blue' which has had two years in the water, 32,000 nautical miles, and you'll see the results speak for themselves.

There's another boat here that has spend 257 days at sea and you'll see where the Propspeed wasn't applied is covered in barnacles, whereas the running gear is still pretty much as clean as the day it went into the water.

Mark: Are there any precautions that need to be taken once this is applied to give the coating as long a life as possible?

Stuart: The only precaution we would say is not to use a pressure washer or any kind of abrasive compound or material. All you need to do is give it a wipe with a soft cloth and that's it.

Mark: So the hard work and elbow grease in cleaning your boat is just not necessary with Propspeed?

Stuart: You just wipe it clean and away you go!

Mark: This seems to be an extremely complementary product to MacGlide, another foul release product. If you apply that to the hull and Propspeed as well, is it a case that the entire underwater surface of the boat will clean itself through use?

Stuart: It's exactly that; I can't add any more. A soft cloth will do the lot.

Mark: Propspeed doesn't release anything when it's in the water so I presume ecologically it's a far more sound product for your boat?

Stuart: Yes, it's totally biocide free and it doesn't work like a self-polishing antifoul, where layers are released on an ongoing basis. It's good for the environment, it's good for the boat, it's good for the boat owner: less drag means less fuel, and if it's a sailing boat you're going to get more speed out of your boat.

Not only is the product biocide free (and there is legislation coming in throughout the world such as the Netherlands banning all copper-based antifoul on inland waters) but it is also impermeable, so although we don't market it as an osmosis protector since it can be scraped, MacGlide and Propspeed will provide an extra barrier against osmosis.

Mark: So once you've applied Propspeed, it'll soon pay itself off in fuel costs.

Stuart: Speaking from personal experience, I've just lifted my boat out of the water and it took me 10 hours to wash the propellers off. You have three options as an owner; you do it yourself, which is not a pleasant task, you pay somebody else to do it or you put it back in the water and ignore it. Propspeed is the answer. I definitely don't want to spend another 10 hours cleaning my props... never again!

Mark: If you are a boatyard and you want to add this to your inventory of services you provide for your berth holders and customers you do work for, who should you approach to provide Propspeed at your yard?

Stuart: Talk to us at Grapefruit Graphics, we're ready to go and demonstrate the product and help train your team in applying the coating. We're dedicated to supporting this product.

Mark: With the team at Grapefruit Graphics having MacGlide as well, can the team come along en masse and show you how to use both MacGlide and Propspeed so provide a complete underwater solution?

Stuart: Yes, in fact we're doing exactly that this week.

Mark: So much better for the environment, better for your boat, generally better all round!

Find out more and contact Stuart via www.grapefruitgraphics.co.uk

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