Bottom Cleaning

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2011 • all rights reserved

How to recognize that the bottom of your boat is fouled with growth, and how best to clean it yourself. Learn from my mistakes!

You don’t want the bottom of your boat to look like this.  Trust me.  It’s slow, the engine overheats, and your depthsounder won’t give accurate readings.How to recognize that the bottom of your boat is fouled with growth, and how best to clean it yourself.  Learn from my mistakes!

But if you’re cruising in out-of-the-way places, there may not be a diver to clean it for you.  Or you may prefer to spend your money on other things.  For whatever reason, someday you may have to clean the bottom yourself.

I wrote this article for Cruising World, which published it as “Scrubbing Up, In the Water” in Septemer 2006.  While it’s not directly related to the galley and hence a little off-topic for The Boat Galley, I’m hoping you’ll still find it useful.  Don’t make the same mistakes we did!

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  1. Charlotte on Facebook says:

    Excellent article. Thanks.

  2. Cherielynne on Facebook says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Paul — Good idea, you could probably also take a file to the corners.

  4. Great article! Thanks!

  5. Allan Cobb on Facebook says:

    I’ve found these to be great from cleaning the prop and shaft. I find them with plastic handles for around $5 and they are good for one or two uses. It is handing having two tools in one.

  6. I’m fortunate that my husband loves doing the bottom cleaning, we’ve never used a diver. He also swears by the kind of combo scraper brushes that Allan Cobb recommends in his post, we usually get ours at Harbor Freight.

  7. Off topic? I would say that what goes on in the galley has everything to do with bottom cleaning!

  8. I use a soft(ish) inside broom head attached to a 20mm conduit with a pool noodle (with hole through the centre) slipped over the conduit & a zip tie wrapped about 3 times around the conduit as a stopper so the pool noodle stays down towards the broom head. In storage it’s best to have the conduit permanently bent into a curve – this will get you further under the hull, following the curve of the hull. From the dock, or dinghy, work the broom down & up on the hull. The pool noodle pushes the broom head up towards the hull so the only force is to push it down into the water & allow it to float back up. You also “Balance” the rig to get it all “moving” along the hull. The closer to the water you get, the further under the boat you can get. I’ve done the rudder & keel (30′ er) but it gets much harder to direct it the further down the head gets. At the least, you should get almost to the keel done, the main bulk of it, and then finish off with scuba or hookah!

  9. 18″ but twice the number of hulls.

  10. We just got one, using with a tank.

  11. Made one ourselves for 250.00. It’s great.

  12. Enjoyed the article, Carolyn. We have found that a long handled plastic kitchen spatula works well for scraping barnacles. It allows us to go a little deeper free diving that we could otherwise. I’m interested in the hookah rig. Can you explain a bit more about that, and the AirLine? We’ve talked about getting one.

    • Here’s more info on the Airline. A hookah or tanks makes cleaning the bottom so much easier. Most of our hull is only 18″ under water, but I still spend far more time going up and down when free diving than actually cleaning. Here and in the Bahamas, we don’t have many barnacles but we have a lot of soft moss that’s actually harder to get off.

  13. We are looking, too. Gator Gill looks promising. It is 12 volt, use with battery, and can charge the battery with a solar panel!

  14. Anything about is so important

  15. Do you need to borrow our brownie system?

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