No, I'm not talking about the recent Supreme Court arguing over TV censorship... The "it" I'm referring to is boat hulls and bottom paint. I've written about this topic before, a short log entry, but another article came out, this time from BoatUS, and really is quite a cause for concern. Given that my career is land use planning and indirectly or directly involves the environment, I certainly am tuned into protecting our natural resources. The Chesapeake Bay is an amazing body of water and deserves to be protected and enhanced/saved at almost any cost, and I say that because I am also on the side of reason and practicality and finding a balance between commerce and nature and enjoyment of both.
From what I can discover easily on the web, Maryland has put the onness on boatyards to comply with the copper bottom paint issue as well as professional divers who can clean your hull while the boat remains in the water through the Clean Marina and Clean Diver programs. Given Maryland's propensity for regulation, this information is great for the individual boat owner, however, I can't imagine this will last. The state of Washington is the first in the nation to outlaw copper based paints. All boaters in that state will have to comply by 2020. California is also looking hard at the issue and may enact legislation to have a similar ban that would go into effect in 2015. So, how soon would other states do the same? That's still up in the air as is the effectiveness of the alternatives for bottom paints that boaters have right now.
Practical Sailor, a fantastic outfit that does all sorts of tests on all kinds of products for boaters, is conducting on going tests for bottom paints. To get their upcoming results in March, you have to have a subscription.
It seems the Cruising World article puts it best, that thinking about doing business, or boating, the way it's been done, is coming to a close. I know that in the marina where CALIX has resided for the past few years, there has been a push to make sure professional divers adhere to the laws of in-water bottom cleaning. It's a pretty standard practice to have your boat cleaned in the water in between annual hauling, it's easy and much cheaper than a short haul (hoisting the boat fully out of the water, power washing, and returning the boat back into the water). The article is also interesting for the tidbit of information about the copper levels found in the water in the Choptank River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. I can only imagine what the levels of contamination might be like in my marina even with natural flushing from the tides.
Fortunately, at the moment, Maryland is focused on the boating industry and not individual boat owners. Even still, I'll be keeping an eye on the progress of other types of bottom paints and what my options will be when Maryland goes the way of Washington.