Skip to main content

Battling Barnacles


To fight barnacles, the maritime industry has used careening, copper bottoms, lead paint, tar and modern chemical compositions. Some methods have worked better than others, but the most effective ones—poisonous paints—also have a habit of killing desirable marine creatures, including oysters. Now, scientists believe they have found a solution that might save the shipping industry billions of dollars per year in lost time, causes no harm to other marine organisms and cures the longtime headache of recreational boaters.

Barnacles secrete a liquid glue and attach themselves to boats in ways that make them tough to remove. Researchers at Kiel University in Germany believe that putting texture on hulls may prevent barnacles from cementing themselves to ship bottoms in the first place.

Apparently, barnacles can’t get a firm grip on microscopic structures shaped like mushrooms. Researchers put a micro-structured silicone patch on a sailboat and sent it into the Baltic and North seas for seven months. When it returned, the patch had no barnacles on it. Keel hauling may never be the same again. —Pim Van Hemmen

This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.



Dazzled by a Fireboat

During World War I, British painter Norman Wilkinson designed bold, high-contrast paint patterns to camouflage Allied ships and confuse enemy submarines.


Flotsam & Jetsam: Historic Windjamming Opportunity

Victory Chimes, the only known surviving example of a Chesapeake Ram schooner, holds a USCG Certificate of Inspection for 50 passengers and has been sailing the Maine coast for charter since 1990.


A Move to Drier Ground

In 1999, the National Park Service moved the 1870 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina 1,500 feet inland to protect it from the encroaching ocean.


Classic Boats, Timeless Stories

At the Antique & Classic Boat Show in Salem, Massachusetts, award- winning designs are thoughtfullly maintained by doting owners.


Flotsam & Jetsam: No Ordinary Bystander

Modern tenders might be outfitted with 1200 or more horsepower and be capable of speeds of 50 knots or more.


Flotsam & Jetsam: She's fast, she's beautiful and she's for sale

Built in 2003, Ranger was the first modern J-Class sailing yacht.


Flotsam & Jetsam: Classic Boats Galore

Boats. Lots of boats. Lots of beautiful, classic and antique boats will be on display at the 36th Annual Antique and Classic Boat Festival.