Still using antifoul? For the love of the ocean, please stop.

Humans are waking up to the consequences of plastics in our oceans. But what about the consequences of antifouling or bottom paint? Just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not hurting our marine creatures – and us.

You might have seen this viral video of a turtle getting a straw pulled out of its nose. Those images caused such outrage that they led to bans on plastic straws.

Or you may have seen the pictures of seabirds lying on the beach, with bottle caps spilling out of their guts or the poor dead whale where 40kg of plastic bags were pulled out of its stomach.

If you have, chances are you feel pretty bad about it.

Those images probably make you think twice about the way you dispose of trash. Hopefully you’re not be the kind of person who would chuck a plastic bottle over the side of your boat or throw a plastic bag full of rubbish into the water.

Because you love the water – that’s why you have a boat, isn’t it? A boat that takes you out into clear, blue seas and wide, open spaces.

A boat that leads you to coral reefs where you can snorkel, dive and explore the wonderful underwater world.

A boat that allows you to share in some of the planet’s most precious places – lakes, rivers and oceans.

The trouble with invisible things

The problem is, humans can be motivated by horrible images like that turtle but we don’t do so well when the problem happens at a different scale.

There’s a lot of research about this. It turns out that people don’t care much about things they can’t see.

We’re pretty good at ignoring something that’s invisible – like toxic chemicals.

So where does that leave us with antifouling – also known as bottom paint?

Bottom paint is toxic, even deadly. But we still slather it all over our hulls in the false belief or hope that it will keep our boats clean and efficient for at least a few months.

What’s the problem with antifouling paint?

Antifouling paint is toxic and poisonous. It’s designed to kill living things; marine life in particular. Which it does, just as surely as plastic in a seabird’s stomach.

This happens in several ways.

  • Antifoul hurts shellfish and molluscs, deforming them and causing some species (such as dogwhelks) to change from female to male.
  • It poisons many different species, including ones that don’t grow on your boat.
  • Big fish feed on little fish, little fish feed on smaller creatures. Smaller creatures feed on bottom paint. That means the toxins in bottom paint are accumulating in the food chain. And we all know who feeds on the big fish – humans.
  • The cuprous copper oxide in Antifoul paints never actually breaks down, so it sits in the sand or mud and gets released back into the water when the bottom gets stirred up. This means those toxins are swirling around again, many years after some boat owner decided to do some antifouling.
  • Humans can be affected too, depending on their individual sensitivity. Think about that next time the family are swimming around your boat.

So why are we still using antifoul on our hulls?

That’s a good question. There are people all over this earth who spend their whole lives trying to work out why we do the things we do, whether it’s about getting healthy or not driving drunk or cleaning up after a picnic in the park.

It turns out there are a few key answers.

Firstly, we humans need to understand the reasons for changing our behaviour and we have to believe they matter. If you want to know why bottom paint matters, check this post insert link to previously written antifoul post.

We also need to feel that change is possible, that it’s relatively easy to do and that other people around us are doing it too.

Plus, we may need more information and someone to help us make changes.

Which brings us back to the antifoul problem.

You can stop trashing the ocean – the team at FAB Dock will show you how

Fortunately for all of us, turtles included, there is a solution.

You can say farewell to toxic bottom paint if you use a FAB Dock. Our unique solution keeps your hull clean and dry. There is no need to paint it with toxic antifoul because the water won’t touch it and those nuisance molluscs and algae won’t grow on it.

That means no toxins in the water, no toxins hanging around in the mud or sand below your boat, and no toxins building up in the food chain.

So next time you see another picture of an ocean creature dead from plastics, just remember this: invisible things can kill too.

Don’t be the boat owner who ignores that and trashes the waterways that we all love.

We’d be very happy to show you how FAB Dock keeps the waterways clean.



Electrolytic Corrosion. Or, how come my prop dissolved?


Uh oh. You know you’re in trouble when one (or more…) of these things happens:

If you have an aluminium or steel boat:

  • Blisters start appearing under your paint
  • Pits form on the underwater areas of your boat
  • Blisters pop up in lines along sharp edges such as chines and keels
  • Corrosion appears, or white calcium deposits
  • Paint peels off in sheets
  • Metal components literally dissolve – sometimes in days.

If you have a fibreglass boat:

  • Blisters start to appear and paint starts to peel on Stern drives.
  • There is pitting on your propellers and shafts.
  • Zincs or anodes are disappearing faster than usual.
  • Exhaust components are corroding.

What is doing this to your beloved boat?

Chances are it’s one of two processes – electrolysis, more accurately known as electrolytic corrosion, or galvanic corrosion.

Here’s a quick explainer:

Electrolytic corrosion

This happens when an accidental, or stray, current is present, usually due to faulty wiring or a defect in the metal. These harmful currents may come from on board your boat or from the dock. They are made worse in marinas because other nearby vessels may be generating these currents. The stray current seeks to earth itself and if seawater is present, look out! Seawater acts as an electrolyte, meaning that it is an efficient conductor of electricity. That means stray currents will flow into and through it, causing corrosion in conductive metals. This is particularly noticeable in places where conductive metals are ‘shedding’ current into the sea. Or when your prop dissolves…

Think that can’t happen? To get an idea of how rapid corrosion can be, consider this:

1 ampere flowing for 1 year = the loss of 9kg iron, 10kg copper or 35kg lead.



Galvanic corrosion

This corrosive process occurs when two different metals touch each other with an electrolyte (such as saltwater) present. Different metals have differing electrical potential and when you put them close to each other, they will generate a very weak, corrosive current.

Prevention: watch out for the neighbours

Imagine two boats floating next to each other in the marina. Both are made of different metals and that means they are generating a weak current between each other. Weak, but strong enough to do damage over time.

Things are worse if these boats are connected to shore power and share a common earth conductor.

And don’t think you’re safe if you own a timber boat. Timber boats have metal fittings, after all.

That means you need to protect your boat.

What’s a poor boat owner to do?

There’s not much you can do about the neighbours but there’s plenty you can do to help your boat stay afloat.

Here are some common solutions that will minimise the risk of corrosion:

  • Fit a sacrificial anode. These are made of chemically active metals such as zinc. They erode faster than other metals, thereby protecting them. Warning: an anode will not work when you are at risk of electrolytic corrosion from stray currents in the process of leaving metal fixtures.
  • Get your vessel checked by a marine electrician and get them to fit an electrolysis blocker.
  • Use marine certified electrical leads and make sure you turn off all the power when you’re not aboard.
  • Don’t leave metal items lying around in your boat. It seems harmless, but it isn’t.
  • Paint your boat or coat the metal so that is isolated from seawater. This includes using corrosion inhibitors.
  • Use a FAB Dock.

Use a FAB Dock and rest easy

Saltwater conducts electricity, so isolating your boat from saltwater will go a long way towards protecting it. This makes FAB Dock an outstanding solution to the problem of electrolytic corrosion because a FAB Dock is designed to stop your boat from sitting in saltwater. Our patented pumping system senses the amount of water around your boat and pumps it out. This will help you keep seawater from conducting corrosive electricity from and to your hull, prop and fittings.

There are other benefits too. Installing a FAB Dock means that not only will you reduce the risk of corrosion but you won’t have to apply antifoul either.

See our blog here on why you need to ditch the anti-foul / bottom paint

Check out the FAB Dock and find out how you can protect your vessel from corrosive electrical currents.




Annapolis Boat Show 2019 – FAB Dock proves why an Inflatable dry dock will be the best investment you ever make!

We all know that FAB Docks will keep your boat clean and dry and eliminate the need to apply toxic, poisonous antifoul, but a FAB Dock will also protect your boat in other important ways. All of our customers have found how easy a FAB Dock makes berthing their boat because of the 300mm (12 inch) tubes that they have to bounce their boats into. Well, those big bouncy bumpers also protect your boat should a storm whip up in your local area.

Case in point: we recently exhibited at the Annapolis Boat Show (for the second time as we love both the show and the town) and we teamed up with a Annapolis Boat Sales to showcase one of their Key West boats in a FAB Dock. We were positioned on the outside dock at the show which was deemed the Demo Dock so that people could take these boats for test rides all day. Being the outside dock, it was also the most exposed should a north-westerly storm blow up. Which, being our luck at boat shows, it was always going to do. So on cue, a rather large storm blew in on Saturday night.

All the local people knew to remove their boats from the dock and go and hide them somewhere safer for the night, including a couple of big RIBS and other large boats and catamarans. Those out-of-towners who were already enjoying the local hospitality and had left their brand new vessels to the forces of mother nature were left to rue their decisions the next morning. It was not only a hangover that they were nursing, but thousands of dollars worth of damage. Which would have been much worse had the show organisers not managed to find our coil of rope on our stand with which to at least try and hold the remaining boats in place. Even the marina walkways did not escape unscathed with a pedestrian detour in place until one section was repaired and reattached.

The only boat that remained all night and was unscathed in the morning was the little Key West that was safely tucked away in its FAB Dock all night. We arrived the next morning (not nursing too bad a hangover) to find it and the FAB Dock safe and sound and still dry. We just wish we had a video camera running all night to film the surrounding carnage and the performance of our FAB Dock.

5 reasons why you need to ditch the antifoul or bottom paint

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