What do I do about Bottom Paint?
Trying to become more earth friendly is nothing terribly new. Many different sports that interact and even depend on the outdoors have changed the ways they impact the environment. For instance, in the 1970s lead shot was eliminated from shotgun shells used in conjunction with duck hunting. Boat engines that use gasoline have gone to unleaded. Diesel has gone low sulfur.

Now, with the elimination of Copper (Cuprous Oxide) from many antifouling bottom paints, many boaters are concerned with the performance and the compatibility of the new bottom paints with the old. Like tin (tributyltin or TBT) that was banned in 1988 from bottom paint, it seems as though sooner or later copper will not be allowed. Washington state was the first, and will no longer allow content of more than 0.5 percent copper on any new boats in 2018, and any boats in 2020. This applies only to non-commercial boats below 65 feet. Bottom paints that use copper are generally 20 to 70 percent copper.

So what do we do? Most of the paint companies that have changed their paints have compatibility charts. These help guide the seasoned boater as well as the newbie to find the right new paint to go over the old. Many of these are just reformulated versions of the old paints, with a slightly different name. Case in point, Interlux VC-17M Extra® is now VC-17M. Interlux VC Offshore®seems to not have changed. Consult the website of your paint maker to see if there is any change, and what the new paint is called.

At best, you’ll be using a new formulation of the old paint. At worst, you’ll have to strip the hull down and re-paint using a new paint. Whether the new paints are as effective as the old remains to been seen. Best guess for you is to use the new formula of the old paint, and evaluate the performance at the end of the season.

Here’s the bottom line: You don’t have to panic. Here in Michigan it is not illegal to use the old formula. As far as I know, there’s no push to change the law. It’s not illegal anywhere in the U.S. yet. But that doesn’t matter. In the next season or two, you’ll be using the new formula. Once the current stock is gone, the new paint will take it’s place. It’s that simple. So unless you’ve stocked Armageddon type quantities of copper based anti-fouling, you’re going to make the change.

Written by: Steve Bayless
Yacht Broker
Port Sanilac Marina
(810) 622 -9651