Ask SAIL: Scrub or Paint?

A layer of antifouling over a depthsounder transducer is better than this!

JENNIFER EVANS, Ensenada, Mexico

Q: I plan to haul out soon, and I am at a port where they let me work on the hull myself. Should I leave my underwater depthsounder transducer scrubbed clean, or should I put on a thin coat of antifouling bottom paint?

Gordon West Replies

A: Depthsounder transducer experts tell me there is more acoustic loss in barnacle accumulation on the face of a transducer than a thin coat of paint to keep them off. A thin coat of bottom paint will rarely inhibit deep-water sounding, and will have almost no effect in medium and short-range soundings. In fancy fishing phased–array sounder Sonar systems, they would have you going underwater monthly to gingerly clean the face of these intricate underwater units. But for just finding the bottom, one thin coat will keep Mr. Barnacle away without causing any kind of undue loss in performance.


Gordon West is an electronics expert who specializes in radio communications

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