Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Boat Electrolysis Damage; what you don’t want to see…

The damage produced by electrolysis on unattended metal parts of boats, may cause an expensive bill. The frustration can even be greater when it is found that the electrolysis damage is not normally covered by the insurance company.

Despite that in most cases, marine electrolysis on boats can be avoided by a conscious understanding of the electrochemical process and prevention (anode monitoring, anode replacement, bonding wire inspection, isolating your vessel from others using a Galvanic Isolator), detection of electrolysis damage is what can really make the boater aware of a problem.

Anode replacement frequency can vary. It is fair to say that most anodes on a power boat have an average life span of about three to four months and five to six months for sail boats; but this is not a strict pattern. Many anodes vary in number, size and quality which also affects the speed at which they burn. In some cases, boat anodes are being replaced on a monthly basis, which raises boat owners concerns. This is usually followed by questioning the credibility of the hull cleaning company.

Having an anode logbook is a great way to track the rate of consumption per individual anode installed. This practice will help the boat owner visualize and understand the unique anode consumption pattern of the boat and more importantly be able to identify occasional spikes.
Hull Cleaning companies like Scuba Duba Corp, digitally store in their data base each anode replacement, keeping track of the history of the anode consumption per boat/customer, for data analysis and customer reference purposes.
A well managed hull cleaning company should offer some form of anode report, consumption/replacement. The analysis of these reports through the years is essential to understand the anode consumption of a specific boat and its environment.

Some people believe that boat anodes only burn if the boat is used often. This is not true; a moored boat will burn anodes at its own/unique path consumption rate regardless of the boat usage.
Moving a boat to another marina may trigger a spike in the anode consumption and consequently, change the path due to the characteristics of the new environment. Situations like this are when one should pay close attention to anode consumption changes. This will allow you to understand the relationship between the boat and the new environment (in terms of marine electrolysis).

“Preventing the metal parts of your boat from electrolysis damage is as easy as:
Anode Monitoring, Proper Anode Replacement and Tracking Anode Consumption”.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Preventive tips against marine electrolysis:

Let’s exclude the technical aspects of marine electrolysis formation and concentrate on how it can be prevented. Of course it is important to understand this phenomenon (click here to learn more), but our intention is provide the benchmarks that will assure success towards boat metal parts preservation.

Marine electrolysis can be avoided in most cases combining practical techniques, but most importantly through monitoring.  Underwater monitoring and anode replacement is not enough; complementary external and internal boat inspections are essential to have all your bases covered.
To do so it is necessary to separate actions in both elements: “Marine Electrolysis Prevention above deck” and “Marine Electrolysis Prevention below deck”

Marine electrolysis prevention tips – Above deck

internal bonding wire

Make sure that bonded thru-hulls, underwater lights, trim tabs and other boat parts remain properly connected and the wires in good shape. Perform inspections carefully and regularly.

Search for power cords in contact with the water around your boat and make sure to pull them out if so.

Meet your neighbors; find out if their boat metal parts are electrolysis-free and if they are well maintained vessels.

galvanic isolator unit

 Using a Galvanic Isolator is a great way to isolate your vessel from others; blocking low voltage DC currents coming on board your boat through the shore power ground wire. Just make sure that the selected equipment meets the ABYC (American Boat & Yacht Council) specifications.

Marine electrolysis prevention tips – Below deck

It is important to understand that different marinas, docks and slips create particular electrolysis environments and boat metal parts are affected differently. It is almost impossible to establish a pattern when measuring marine electrolysis. Each case should be taken on an individual basis. 

unmaintained propeller
Underwater zinc monitoring is King when it comes to electrolysis prevention.

It is recommended to replace zincs at 50%.
Zinc monitoring involves a meticulous evaluation of each zinc: mass, installation and electrolysis reaction.

Zincs must be brushed during the hull cleaning visit to determine how much zinc life is left.

The contact between metals (zinc/boat metal part) must be spotlessly clean

Maintain original manufacturer zinc configuration, do not overload the system.

"Make sure your diver understands the basics of the electrolysis process"

Hernando Esparza

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Case study: Marine growth (algae) and its effects on Hull cleaning (winter)

Abstract: This study was conducted by Scuba Duba Corp. at Shoreline Marina, Long Beach, CA in the months of February and March, 2011.
The purpose of this study is to show how marine fouling progressively increases its algae density, especially in those areas/boat parts not protected by anti-fouling paint, throughout a month period in the cold season/winter.

Why are we doing this?
As hull cleaners we are not surprised by the growth density accumulated in a short period of time. Even in winter time, hull cleaners face this reality daily.
We understand that the customer's perspective might differ and we hope this simple study helps boat owners visualize this reality.

“A well executed bottom cleaning strengthened by a solid quality control program will contribute to a cleaner bottom for a longer period of time, considering the marine growth levels in Southern California”

We focused the test on three different surfaces: 
1-Boat hull painted with anti- fouling paint.
2-Boat hull with a very poor bottom paint condition / bare gel coat.
3-Metal parts (not bottom painted): Out-drives and trim-tabs.

1-Boat hull painted with anti-fouling paint:
On this set of pictures we targeted the waterline, at the stern including the exhaust. The hull on this boat was recently painted (four months) and both paint coverage and anti-fouling quality are in excellent condition. We can clearly see the growth progress throughout the weeks, even with new anti-fouling protection and the slower growth time of the year (winter).

2-Boat hull with a very poor bottom paint condition / bare gel coat:
On this set of pictures the target was also the waterline at the bow of the boat.
The hull on this boat hasn’t been painted in ten years. Both paint coverage and anti-fouling quality are nonexistent.
Unfortunately the water visibility in pictures (after 3 and 4 weeks) was not as expected, and the growth level is not very clear in the pictures.
Three weeks after the cleaning, the top part of the waterline is covered with 2-3” of algae, increasing to 4-5” long in just a week (week 4).

3-Metal parts (not bottom painted): Out-drives and trim-tabs:
On these sets of pictures we targeted unpainted metal parts such as: Out-drive / trim-tab.
Surprisingly, almost no growth activity is reflected in the first week after the cleaning, but a progressive voracious growth increases in weeks 2, 3 and 4.


Conclusion: In the marinas of Southern California, marine fouling levels are high through out the year with a pronounced increase in the warm season (spring-summer). A well maintained boat hull requires bottom paint, scheduled every 2-3 years and a monthly hull cleaning for boats with good bottom paint condition (biweekly for unpainted or poorly painted hulls). These measures are fundamental for a healthy boat hull and its metal parts and for the best fuel economy.

Hernando Esparza

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Top 5 considerations about a Hull Cleaning Service

I am not a boater but I know boaters, specifically what they really need when it comes to a Hull Cleaning maintenance program.
My name is Hernando Esparza and I've been working for Scuba Duba Corp. for the last 8 years. During the course of my career dealing with boaters, I learned that the practical aspects of hull cleaning and anode replacement are not the only expectations from this type of service.
Let's face it, a hull cleaner diver performs pretty much the same regardless of who he is working for. Most of the divers hired by hull cleaning companies are subcontracted and it is not surprising to see them coming and going from different companies.
I am very confident that what sets a hull cleaning company apart from the rest is the management behind the scenes.

Here are the top 5 considerations about a Hull Cleaning Service:

1) Full licensed and Insured: No license, no insurance = No deal.

2) Quality Control: As I stated above, divers performance characteristics are very similar. A strict quality control program will prevent dishonest behavior guaranteeing the customer's satisfaction.

3) Accurate Reporting: Monthly report on bottom paint condition, anode evaluation, corrosion detection, damage/observations. (Underwater pictures are great for visual communication; a good picture is worth 1000 words).

3) Customer Satisfaction: Not happy? Call them, they should listen what you have to say and offer a mutual solution.

4) Full time office staff: For a technical question, a specific job referral, a cleaning schedule change or a billing question.

5) Multiple communication channels: Via the company's website, email, phone, fax, regular mail, in person. Whatever works better for you, not for the company.

This list summarizes years of collecting inputs from all kinds of boaters, listening to their concerns, complaints and compliments. This list is short, basic and reflects a boat hull cleaning service that performs best management practices. You shouldn't accept less.