Putting the Foul in Antifouling

15 May

By my reckoning, the Dad-Kid Humour Index peaks when the kids are about ages 3-6.  Dad specializes in Kindergarten funny.  Puns, bodily functions, and even the odd dubious word are used to hilarious effect.  When I opened this photo of Erik yesterday, Indy laughed until she almost cried.  Dad with a blue head?  Comedy genius.

I, on the other hand, closed my eyed and pursed my lips.  I know that shade of blue all too well.  Even without the subject line, I could see that Erik had been sanding the hull in preparation for fresh antifouling paint.  Which means he is covered in old antifouling paint.  And what is the purpose of said paint?  Oh, that’s right.  It is biotoxic.  It exists solely to keep creatures from growing on the hull.

“Well,” said Stylish, turning back to her book, “I guess Dad won’t have any barnacles growing on his head.”  Indy broke out in fresh peals of laughter.

Antifouling on an Aluminum hull is a tricky business.  Most modern antifouling paint uses Copper in some form, which, you may recall, is a no-no for us due to galvanic corrosion.  While our friends in fibreglass boats have their choice of a wide variety of paints, we need to be choosy, or suffer the consequences.

We did a massive repainting last year in Panama, and yours truly did a lot of the cleaning and paint work.  Not that Erik was kicking back with a cold one – he was busy grinding down the much-neglected centerboard.  Ah, memories.

Everything I dreamed cruising could be.

This was the second antifouling paint we had tried during our stewardship of Papillon.  Barnacles ignored the first paint completely, but we never had even a hint of algae.  Paint #2 kept the barnacles away, but we had a constant green beard that reappeared the moment we stopped scraping the hull.  Erik is now on paint #3; we will see what flora and fauna like this one.

But back to my blue-headed husband.  While Erik is normally a very safety-conscious person – you don’t last long as an engineer in an industrial setting unless you exercise some good sense – he has the odd worrying laspe.  I lay this at the door of his relative, Jeckle, a fine human being in all respects, but a person who is, shall we say, safety-challenged.  Jeckle is the one who, when a tree falls on the power line, won’t wait for Ontario Hydro to get there – Jeckle shimmies up the ladder and cuts down the offending branch.  Jeckle cleans out the chimney (without aid) by clambering onto the roof, laying down an old piece of threadbare carpet over the peak, placing a rickety stepladder on top of that, and getting to work.  A safety harness, you ask?  I seem to recall a bit of baler twine was involved.  When Jeckle presented us with photos of this feat, Erik laughed at his relative’s joke.  “What do you mean?” asked Jeckle, blinking in puzzlement.  “I wanted to show you so you can do it properly when I can’t climb up there anymore.”  (I hypothesize that Jeckle has given Erik more grey hairs than Indy and Stylish.)

But I am happy to report that Erik rebounded from his lapse.  On Day 2, he wore a face shield (even though it “got foggy”), and generally covered up.  He might grow barnacles in his hair now, but that is a small price to pay for his continued healthy existence.  Indy will just have to get her jokes elsewhere.

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