Hull cleaning can be thought of as the boat owner’s equivalent to mowing your yard. No matter how much you want to put it off, or how busy you are, your grass is going to grow and the higher it gets, the longer it will take to mow when you finally do get around to doing it.
In water hull cleaning is much the same. Speaking from my own experience in South Florida, a boat left a few days in the water will have a thin layer of slime, a few weeks and you’ll start to see small barnacles appear, and if they’re left to grow, in a few months you’ll have large barnacles and your very own coral reef that goes wherever your boat goes. Boat owners looking to avoid expensive repairs and maintenance should plan on regularly utilizing the services of an in-water hull cleaner.
Finding Hull Cleaning Services
When looking for a diver that offers hull cleaning services, you’re looking for someone that you can build a long term relationship with. Unlike other services that your boat might only require once a year, hull cleaning is something that needs to be done regularly, once every 4 to 6 weeks is common with some boat owners preferring more frequent cleanings to optimize their vessels speed and efficiency.
From the perspective of a diver, it’s a lot easier to clean a hull that was cleaned a month ago than it is to clean one that hasn’t been cleaned in over a year which is why many divers that post offerings for boat bottom cleaning on BoatEasy specify that their per foot rates are applicable only for hulls in good condition that have been recently cleaned. An experienced diver can quickly clean a boat that has benefited from regular cleanings while a boat that has been neglected can take hours to clean.
Hull Cleaning Costs
In addition to building a relationship with your boat’s hull cleaner, you will also want to know what to expect as far as pricing. Assuming your hull has been kept in good to fair condition or is a new boat or one that has had a fresh coat of bottom paint applied, you can expect to pay somewhere in the $2 and $3 per foot range depending on your vessel’s size and location. These fees apply only to the cleaning of the hull itself. If your boat needs other underwater services like having its zincs changed or any work done on it then those would likely be additional costs to factor in. However, your most common recurring cost when it comes to hull cleaning can be calculated by simply multiplying your vessel’s length by the price per foot quoted by your diver, factoring in between 9 and 12 cleanings a year. Remember to add any fees your marina may charge your hull cleaner (or other service personnel) to access your vessel. These are fees they will have to pay just to work on your boat so it’s important to discuss these fees with your marina’s management and any professionals you hire to work on your vessel.
Alternatives to Hull Cleaning Services
For vessels kept in the water, hull cleaning is an inescapable part of boat ownership. The traditional method of sending a diver under your boat to clean it can be costly and time consuming. In an attempt to innovate and offer lower cost solutions to boaters, a number of companies have tried to create automated hull cleaning solutions. For instance here is a drive in boat wash that a company has designed allowing boat owners to pull up and have their bottom scrubbed, much like an automated car wash. Whether you’ll see them at a marina near you anytime soon remains to be seen.
Another approach to anti-fouling developed by AkzoNobel incorporates UV-LED lights on the hull to prevent marine growth from having the chance to grow on the hull.
Anti-fouling solutions have applications beyond recreational boating including shipping, offshore oil and gas platforms, and offshore wind turbines. There is a lot of incentive for businesses to come up with scalable approaches to preventing marine growth on important vessels and structures and perhaps some of these innovations will find their way into recreational boating applications eventually.
However, for the average boat owner there isn’t much choice besides finding a reliable hull cleaning service and paying them to maintain your boat. Perhaps one day a new technology will render hull divers obsolete but we’re not there yet. Need help finding a diver in your area? Check out BoatEasy’s hull cleaning category to connect with divers in your area that offer diver hull cleaning, zinc replacement, underwater inspections, gear recovery, and many other services to boat owners.