Monday, December 16, 2013

NEED TO KNOW: The Fouling Process

Are you ever baffled by mysterious appearance of fouling on your boat? Shockingly, there is no magic involved. The process is very similar to how plants grow even on bare concrete.

Although admittedly a little technical, understanding the process can really help you conquer the fouling problem once and for all. Science-phobes look away now.

First of all, it’s useful to know that animal fouling only really tends to occur when the boat is stationary. Conversely, marine plant organisms can colonise vessel surfaces even during prolonged periods of movement.

The primary fouling stage is centred on the bioaccumulation of slime. Largely consisting of microalgae, this filmy layer can grow easily on bare surfaces. Even though they may appear smooth, your boat’s surfaces are extremely rough on a microscopic level. These micro-scale lumps and bumps mean the tiny plants can anchor their roots without washing off.

The primary microalgae cultivate ideal conditions for the species that make up the secondary layer. Larger organisms rely on the initial slimy weed fouling for a suitable growth substrate. Using algal tufts as a classic example, the individual secondary plants are visible to the human eye, and gain nutrients from photosynthesis. This is why growth is less pronounced on the underside of flat-bottomed boats than any other surface.

The final tertiary layer is the most popular with animal fouling species. Algal tufts provide favourable living conditions for mussels, which grow ropes to stay together, allowing remain attached to the vessel even during movement.


In simple terms, there are a few things to take away here. First of all, it suggests that prevention really is better than cure here. Cleaning off any slime growth will save you a lot of time at the end of the season, and will cut down maintenance time at the end of the season.

Without the initial growth, the later stages can’t occur. But the really smart ones will have spotted an even better solution. Smoothing the vessel surface on a microscopic level means the initial microalgae cannot get a proper grip. Even if they settle on the side, removing them will be as easy as dusting in the house.

This is all well and good, but surely, it can’t be easy smooth a boat on a microscopic scale?

Surprisingly, Aquacote products do exactly that, with their fouling release silicone technology.

Want to know more? Visit our website or tweet us @Aquacote, using the hashtag #FreedomFromFouling


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