Day 9 – Scraping your bottom

Scraping your bottom may not sound like fun, but on an ocean row boat it can be a pleasant change. Let me explain.

The crews have painted the hulls of their boats in antifoul paint. This slimy paint discourages algae and barnacle growth but the most determined barnacles still break through. They attach themselves to the boat and start growing. Being filter feeders they benefit from their journey through the waters of the Atlantic ocean taking advantage of any tiny food particles in a competitor-free environment. So they start to grow, and grow and grow. Without the crew knocking them off the bottom of the boat they will grow and multiply.

The most common barnacle requesting a free travel pass from ocean rowing boats is a goose-neck barnacle because it looks like…well take a guess. They can grow up to 20cm in length. Most never make it this far though, as the discerning ocean rower has no interest in generating a portable bivalve aquarium under his vessel. Nor does he care for the additional wetted area and subsequent friction the assembled shellfish provide his boat. So every couple of weeks when the weather is calm, ocean rowers jump into the sea armed with ice scrapers. They spend 20 minutes scraping and knocking the barnacles off the bottom of the hull. Returning to the oars the rowers can occasionally be pleasantly surprised by the dramatic increase in speed which the more hydrodynamic hull provides.

We reminded the crews of the impact of barnacle growth on their boats today, especially as it’s nice weather. We heard back from Cockleshell Endeavour that they had jumped in for a sub-aqua inspection but were relieved to find that their bottom was clean. They also reported that they had swapped cabins. A change is as good as a holiday!

Happy New Year to all our crews, past, present and future and all the supporters, friends and family following at home.

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