Pettit Vivid: Never Again!

I am not a fan of  green hula skirts on dark green boats….  You’d think Winterlude’s bottom hadn’t been cleaned in years.  But our diver just cleaned the bottom a few weeks ago.  His input is that this paint is terrible.   🙁

Ugh, although you can't see it well in this pic, the green hula skirt is several inches long ... after a couple of weeks.  :(  I hate to think about what the rest of the bottom looks like....

Ugh, although you can’t see it well in this pic, the green hula skirt is several inches long … after a couple of weeks. 🙁 I hate to think about what the rest of the bottom looks like….

In January 2013, s/v Winterlude’s bottom was painted with Pettit Vivid ablative bottom paint (after being soda blasted to remove any old paint and well prepped).  The waterline has an extra two coats above and beyond the two coats on the bottom.   So it’s less than two years old and we aren’t hauling until March 2015.  I thought sure it would last that long.

Oh well, live and learn.  This was our first time trying any Pettit paint and we won’t likely be back.  Unfortunate.

Our favorite longest lasting bottom paint was Seahawk Islands 44 which was applied in Panama – it was in bad shape after 5 years, but still better than this Pettit Vivid after only 19 months.  Unfortunately, we can’t buy Islands 44 in the USA – it has something in it that’s illegal here (I heard a rumor that if you’re a big commercial ship, you can use it, but not us small 29 foot on the waterline guys … don’t know if it’s true or not….).

SO, back to the drawing board.  I still want white or silver bottom paint.  And it needs to be able to be hauled out during the summer just in case we change our commuter cruising strategy of leaving the boat in the water.

We used Interlux Micron CSC before we left the US and it was just OK, not great, but OK.

I’ll do my research on the newer paints.  And I’ll call Sea Hawk Paints to see if they have a recommendation for something that is legal in the US that might work as well as their Islands 44.   And it’s always good to talk to local divers to see what bottom paints are holding up the best in this area, so we’ll do that too.  We might even re-subscribe to Practical Sailor to gain access to their latest bottom paint studies.

But in the meantime, what bottom paint are you using and where is your boat?  Are you happy?   How often do you have to redo the paint?  Please leave comments and share information … I’m collecting it and this will be my first step.   🙂   Cheers!  Jan


  1. Do not use PS as a reference for bottom paint comparisons. I made that mistake and used an ePaint product that did not work. This meant we had to scrub and scrape hard growh every few weeks until we could haul and repaint. I think your best option is talk to the local divers who do bottom cleaning in your area, and ignore all other opinions.

  2. BTW that meant thousands of seed barnacles would grow within 2 weeks.

    • YIKES! Thanks Larry! I’ve heard others say not to use PS info either … my thought was since they test close to where our boat is currently, maybe it would be accurate … but maybe I’ll avoid that info. 🙂 Cheers — Jan

      • Yes they test in Florida and CT. My home port is in CT and the tests (or the paint) were flawed. I don’t know how they tested, but they top-rated the ePaint EP ZO which didn’t work for me, I have kept the photos.

        I have used Pettit Vivid (still use it on the prop and aluminum skeg) and also used Hydrocoat SR. Have also used Micron Extra, on the same boat in subsequent years. In western CT the Micron Extra is slightly better than the Hydrocoat. They’re about equal. I try to go 2 years with just a touch up in between (we haul each winter) and they both get some soft growth in year 1 with little or no hard growth, but get more soft growth and some hard growth in year 2. The Hydrocoat is much cheaper and low VOC (water based). The Micron Extra seems a bit more effective and dries a bit smoother, but not by a wide margin. Neither is rated better than a “B” IMHO.

        The absolute MOST effective bottom paint I’ve ever used is Micron 66. Zero slime, zero hard growth. None, Nada!
        The downsides to Micron 66 are: Very very soft (comes off on any touch and clouds the water if you rub a rag). If a line rubs on it the color will stain the line, and if the stained line lays on deck it will stain the deck (and the dye gets into the pores of gelcoat or non-skid)! It is salt water ONLY. The tech support guy I spoke with said it will permanently deactivate the anti-fouling properties if you bring it into fresh water. That means no up-river travels. I have also heard about others who have had problems with the Micron 66 paint coming off in sheets after fresh water exposure.

        So for now my go-to paint is either Hydrocoat or Micron Extra. But I favor Micron Extra.

        PS — Hydrocoat is excellent on dinghies (RIBs) that are full-time in water. The formula does not attack the seams or rubber sheet of PVC or Hypalon. I use Hydrocoat for that, been using it more than 10 years.

        PPS — I have not tried the new Hydrocoat “Eco”. (Not expecting great things from that, unfortunately.)

  3. Martin Henry says:

    Trinidad SR. Has been a great bottom paint for us and a lot of our boating friends.

  4. Jim Engle says:

    Vivid is not your typical ablative paint. It is a hard paint not soft so it doesn’t do well for a crusier. It has no copper in it. I use it on a wood daysailer that comes in and out of the water often. For that purpose the paint is OK but not a boat left in the water fulltime. I have used the new pettit Hydrocoat SR(water base) on Grey Fox my 38 ft Alajuela and it is doing well so far. I will see how it does this winter in the Bahamas.

    • Thanks Jim! Vivid may be advertised as a “hybrid” paint, but our experience is it sloughs off more than any ablative paint we’ve ever had. We live in a cloud of white whenever we’re moving. I’ve heard good things about Hydrocoat SR, it’s on my watch list. Since we’re not hauling until March 2015, I may check back with you for an update. Cheers — Jan

  5. Chris Allen says:

    Hi Jan, we had that Pettit Vivid put on in Seattle in May of 2013. We sailed our IP32 in the Flathead Lake in Montana for 2 summers and had a terrible result with that paint. Most of it simply fell off. We moved our boat down here to Punta Gorda and are doing a patch job, trying to buy another year. Next summer we plan to soda blast the bottom and replace the Pettit with a better paint. It really is terrible paint! Please let us know what y’all decide to use.

  6. Jennifer Johnson says:

    We will never use Pettit Vivid again either. We got barely 18 months, in Ft Myers and the Bahamas, and it went to hell overnight. We are trying Trinidad SR this time, and I’ll put Sea Hawk 44 on our wish list if/when we get hauled in Panama.

  7. We used Hydrocoat last year in August and we’re extremely happy with it. We cruised down through the Chesapeake, motored down the ICW to Florida, went across to the islands and back to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale. I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s also environmentally friendly to apply since it’s water based. We had an issue with some previous owner and their VC-17 and this paint is one of the few that can go over the stuff.

    S/V Kintala

    • Thanks Deb! I know Dave & Carolyn on s/v Barefoot Gal are trying Hydrocoat based on your experience. We’ll check with you in the spring to see what you think after another few months in Florida. Cheers! Jan

  8. Keith Davie says:

    So, any updates on the bottom paint debate? We’re looking at spring commissioning for the new boat in a couple months here!

    • We just had our bottom cleaned after two months in Biscayne Bay and the diver reported that there was a fine film of small barnacles but nothing big. For anyone who has spent any time in Biscayne Bay, this is quite remarkable, especially considering there is 18 months this bottom job, and more than three months since cleaned it. Usually there would be a solid half inch of growth in that time. We LOVE our Petit Hydrocoat and will absolutely use it again this coming season.

  9. Bob Eberwine says:

    I’m on the west coast (Los Angeles area) so our water is cooler, but we are definitely seeing a warming trend. Proline 1088 is very popular out here and is made be Pro-Line Paint company based in San Diego. This is a hard, modified epoxy paint with about 68% copper. I get my bottom cleaned every 4 weeks and got 3 really good years on the paint, but the last year was a little sketchy. I think this is where PS and left-coasters differ as we get our bottoms cleaned on a regular basis. Many just do it as needed. There is a growing trend out here to ban copper-based paints. The issue is, there is nothing that works (as tested to by PS) that works. If you really press the paint manufacturers, as several publications out here have, they will say the same thing – nothing works like copper. If this paint will last for 3-4 years with monthly cleanings, it has to be durable. Best of luck!!!

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