Stricter environmental laws call for innovative thinking amongst stakeholders in the marine industry. When Swedish law restricted copper based anti-fouling products altogether, Bosö Boat club in Stockholm decided it was time for change and moved away from the dependency of antifouling products all together. Within one year, 90% of their members stopped using antifouling. Here is how they did it.
Traditional maintenance requires application of antifouling each year, usually in the spring before the launch of the boating season. Because antifouling contains heavy metals – mainly copper, it helps limit marine fouling buildup. Unfortunately, the heavy metals in the antifouling paint is toxic to marine life below the surface and contaminates the seabed. Due to the characteristics of antifouling, the heavy metals are designed to release from the hull in contact with water, resulting in high concentration of contaminants in marinas. What is not released into the water during the season will be rinsed off on shore at the end of the season, contaminating the soil and consequently contaminating the the sea.
Recent studies say that as much as 0.175 kg of copper is released into the water from each boat each year (COWI report 2019). In a harbor with 800 boats, that means 140 kg each year.
At Bosö boat club, environmental concerns are important and for years the members have been paying into an “environment” fund. The goal of the fund is to invest in future measures that will prepare them for stricter laws. In the summer of 2015, the club decided to invest in a hull cleaning machine.
We made a decision a couple of years ago that we did not allow the members to use antifouling paint, says Robbie Bergqvist – Vice President of the boat club. To help them out, we bought this hull cleaning machine and the members are using it to clean their boats. (see video interview further down the page)Robbie Bergqvist, July 2016
Experience with the boat wash machine
– In the beginning, 90% of the members were painting their boats with antifouling paint, says Robbie. The first year [after the installation], the reaction was opposite: only 10% were still painting their boats. For us this has been a huge success. It is also a success for the beautiful island and sea that surrounds us that we will leave for our children.
What are the benefits of regular cleaning your boat with Drive-in Boatwash?
– We talk a lot about the motorboats’ revenue, which is higher speed with lower reps. But also for the sailing boats. I recall someone saying – it feels like you have a smoother boat in the water because it is so clean underneath. It floats more on the surface in the water.
It is also a cost revenue because you do not need expensive antifouling paints, your fingers are clean, the environment under the boat is much cleaner. Now you take fresh water, brush the hull and leave the boat for the winter.
Are there any other cost benefits of using hull cleaning?
– The first thing that [the boat owners] will notice is that they will have a lower [fuel] consumption and higher speed. For motorboats in particular, this is important due to the costs of petrol or diesel. For us [as a boat club] the cost of cleaning the boat is very low, so the earnings are greater.
Self service allows for 24/7 access
The members can use the machine themselves. We teach them how to do it, and after the second time they can use the machine themselves whenever they want to. This means they can clean their boats in the mornings, in the evenings or during daytime when there is no cue line. It takes only 15 minutes per wash. The machine is quiet and easy to use. The members love it, and they are very proud of owning one of these machines.
The club members use the machine 2 to 3 times per year. The benefit to members are lower consumption, higher speeds and convenience of using Drive-in Boatwash instead of painting.