The virtues and benefits of keeping your bottom clean

Oceangybe

Words by: Ryan

Lat: 22 deg 15.5 S
Long: 053 deg 18.7 E

I have a point to ponder for all you thinkers out there…

Having a dirty bottom is a very undesirable situation to find yourself in when part way through an open ocean passage, miles from land. Not only does it severely hinder ones performance but, quite bluntly, it just slows you down and cramps your style. For example, look at any racing yacht: One of the most important preparations one can do is to clean one’s bottom prior to departing, thus leaving on your race/trip/cruise with a squeaky clean and performance enhancing er.. bottom. The funny thing about bottom cleanliness is that the most marked hindrance to performance is experienced in lighter winds, and in barely noticeable in strong… perhaps that is why we did not notice the state of Khulula’s abominable bottom in the strong winds between Bali and Cocos Keeling.

s/v Khulula departed Cocos Keeling with a dirty and slightly weedy bottom, and she was not to be granted the benefit of a squeaky clean bottom until Rodriguez, 2000 miles away. During these 2000 miles the crew lamented: “Why are we going so SLOWLY?” and “We have 15 to 20 knots of wind, right from behind, SURELY we should be going faster?!”

You will remember the fateful day that we ran out of wind 30 miles north of Rodriguez, and the resulting change in plan to make a ‘no-wind’ stop before continuing to Mauritius. We started the engine, revved her up to 2500 rpm and pointed the bow to Rodriguez. We barely squeezed off 4.5 kts. Here finally was the irrefutable evidence that we had the brakes on. Was the kraken (giant squid from Pirates of the Caribbean) wrapped around our keel??

Diving under the boat in Rodriguez revealed the very dirty, weedy and very unprofessional state of Khulula’s bottom! Clearly the ‘anti-fouling’ bottom paint applied in Mexico was not doing its job. Masks, flippers, scrapers and brushes appeared and we gave it a good ‘ol scrub. Now Khulula is right back to her former slippery self, sliding effortlessly through the water, happy to have a freshly cleaned bottom.

Now, consider this: We estimate an average speed reduction of at least one knot over that 2000 mile passage (we consider this a conservative estimate) between Cocos and Rodriguez. 1 knot = 24 miles per day = 168 miles/week = 336 miles lost in our two weeks at sea. What is the distance from Mauritius to Rodriguez? ~ 336 miles! grrrrr

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