Bottom Cleaning

When people imagine cleaning a boats bottom while in the water, they probably picture a diver that is swimming along the bottom of the boat and knocking off barnicles with a scraper or a spatula. This is because you will typically see divers in marinas doing just this!

The thing is, you don't need to be a diver to clean the bottom of a boat, and you certainly don't need to use a scraper! When a boat is in a slip, it is probably pretty close to a pier and getting around the boat is not going to be easy as access is limited. When you are anchored, however, there is plenty of space all around the boat! This will let you access the bottom of the boat from all sides and will let you clean the bottom without even getting wet. 

To do this, you will need a few items: a dinghy, a broom, and a hoe. 

The dinghy is obvious, as this is how you will get around your boat close to the waterline without actually getting in the water. A stable dinghy is preferred as this will be your working platform for the job. 

The next thing you need is a broom, not a scraper! If you clean your bottom frequently, you will only develop soft growth and a brush is all you really need to wipe them off your hull. A brush would work fine, but you would then need to hop in the water and swim under your boat. Mounting the brush on a long handle (broom) you are able to clean far deeper underwater from the surface!  

Cleaning the bottom is very easy, all you need to do is brush the growth off the hull as you work your way around the boat. It is ideal to clean from waterline to keel on the boat as you work your way around. Having some scum at the waterline helps denote where you have reached should you need to look away and come back to your job at any point. 

While a broom is awesome, you will never be able to "scrub" a barnacle off your hull. This is where the a scraper comes into play. Just like with the brush, if you mount the scraper on a long handle, and then rotate it so that the blade faces the hull in the turn of the bilge, you will end up with a hoe. A hoe is very useful for knocking off hard growth from the surface of the water. If you do decide to dive on your hull, a hoe will still help protect your hands from barnacle cuts as it keeps your fingers far and away from the scraping action. 

You might be wondering why even bother with a broom and just go straight to the hoe. The problem with a hoe is that it is sharp and you are probably not able to see what you are doing from the surface, especially if the water is murky. Gouging or over scraping are very easy to do with a sharp object from a far, and this will wear down your ablative bottom paint faster. A brush is much more gentle, and will not take off as much paint as an unguided hoe would. 

Cleaning your own bottom is a great way to keep your speed up while sailing and is easy to do yourself from the comfort and convenience of your dinghy.