OK, as promised here's my technical update on the issues of boat damage from exposure to Gulf Oil Slicks. As mentioned in my last post Beneteau's customer service supervisor Ward Richardson came out with several strong recommendations yesterday regarding the impact to their boats as a result of sailing through the Gulf Oil Spill. I had questions regarding two of Ward's recommendations. I gave Ward a call this morning to discuss this with him.

My first question was in regards to the gel coat Beneteau is currently using on their boats. Basically there are two types of resin bases used to make gel coat, orthophthalic and isophthalic. Beneteau is currently using the isophthalic variety and further it sounded like they are taking it a step further by mixing in what is known as neopentyl glycol, an agent that will further enhance weathering and chemical resistance capabilities. The isophthalic resin itself is highly resistant to chemical attack, the additive just ups things a notch further. The bottom line here? Beneteau is using extremely high quality gel coat that is superior in every way when it comes to degradation due to weathering and chemical attack.

All this said, Ward expressed to me that he would rather err on the side of caution and leave his recommendation as it stands. Fair enough, and I agree with his position. But, to further elaborate we do need to remember that even the best gel coat is somewhat porous, and it is conceivable that exposure to the oil slick could cause some discoloration. But I'm sticking to my position here as well, I think it is extremely unlikely if the boat is washed as I mention in my Boats.com article and the oil residue is removed. In a worst case scenario, there is a product available that can help, I've used it and can attest to its ability to meet its claims. Check it out at www.oilgoneeasy.com . As for sealing your gel coat, the best product out there is probably BTS Sealant, a polymer based product that will effectively clean and then close the microscopic pores in the gelcoat. it can be purchased online at www.chemical-supermarket.com .

Finally, to the engine issue and Beneteau's recommendation, which actually came via Ward through Yanmar. Again, more erring on the side of caution. The impellars are made of neoprene, quite resistant to exposure to petrolium based products.

So, in closing, I'd be remiss if I were to tell you to ignore your boat builder's recommendations, but I'd also be remiss if I didn't share with you some of the technical facts behind all of this. We don't want Gulf State boaters going into a panic over this whole mess!