Tips For Using Zinc-Based E-Paint Antifouling

We have been using various formulas of zinc-based antifouling paint (copper is out for Morgan’s Cloud since she is aluminum) from E-Paint for 12 years with varying results. For the last three years we have been using their ablative ZO product with generally good results.

However, there are a few things to know:

  1. E-Paint ZO works well as long as you move the boat at least once a week but it is very poor at warding off slime and grass when the boat is sitting in one place. What happens is that once a layer of slime appears, it seems to encapsulate the active ingredients and prevent them from releasing. The key is not to let this process get going, either by moving the boat once a week, which will slough off the slime easily, or by giving it a light scrub about once a month while diving. Let it go more than that, and you will have a nasty job getting the growth off and will lose a lot of paint in the process. By the way, I think this effect is why paints with biocides don’t do any better than those without in static tests like the ones performed by Practical Sailor magazine.
  2. The paint has failed at the water line (see photo) twice in just 9 months resulting in us having to recoat even though the paint on the rest of the bottom had plenty more life in it. And this despite having applied five coats to the water line area. We understand from the manufacturer that this is caused by the combination of lapping action and sunshine. This time, in an attempt to stop this happening again, we first applied two coats of ZO-HP, which is the same formula as ZO but non-ablative, prior to coating with three coats of ZO. We’ll let you know how it goes.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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3 comments … add one
  • Neil McCubbin Jan 9, 2011, 4:18 am

    Our experience with E-Paint has been like yours. Last time around we painted one side of the rudder with HP, and the other with ZO. The HP was quite a lot better.

    Main problem with E-Paint has been that after about 4 years of 2-3 coats each, it started lifting off when rolling the new paint on, leaving bare barrier epoxy. Our original epoxy was cured months before first E-Paint, which is not a good way of doing it.

  • Edward Bondellio Apr 6, 2013, 5:18 pm

    I’m considering Pettit Ultima Eco ablative paint on my aluminum hull…have you or any of your followers had experience with this econea based antifouling paint?

    • John Apr 7, 2013, 7:17 am

      Hi Edward,

      Sorry, I have no experience with the Pettit Ultima Eco. You might want to check out the bottom paint testing done by Practical Sailor, before spending the considerable amount of money to paint your boat with it. All the results are available on their web site (subscription required). If you do decide to use it, we would be interested to hear about your experience with it.

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