Sunday, October 23, 2011

Waveblade, the barnacle eater

Wandering into the local West Marine store I noticed a beat up skiff loaded with barnacles parked near the front door, and a tall lanky Captain Nick Benge sporting a squid like looking machine that is effortlessly shearing barnacles off the boat, and it's motor's lower unit. I stop and gawk. I have fortunately had only the very occasional opportunity to scrape the extremely tenacious Mr. barnacle off hulls, and it was real work. I am now watching Nick blow them off of the hull using one hand, and talking to me at the same time using the the new destroyer of barnacles, the Waveblade

I have been in enough marinas to know the drill. The travel lift picks up the boat coming in for a bottom job, a pressure washer is used to clean the hull, and to remove most of the offending marine denizens, and then some poor guy has to scrape, blast, or sand the remaining barnacles, and their bases off. This is a hard, tedious, and mind numbing task. The scrapers often end up removing bottom paint, and scratching up the hull, and I have often seen barnacle bases buried under bottom paint. Watching someone do this with one hand, barely working, was an enlightening event. 

The hull of this marine beater has been hand brush painted yellow with less than a precision eye over the old existing bottom paint, and you can see it extends below the water line. I put the tape on the hull as a reference.

In one light, and quick pass the barnacles, and most of the bases were gone, leaving the original bottom paint, and the newer yellow paint intact. The spring steel blade oscillates at very high speeds, and the vibration just shears the barnacles off. A second light pass removed the few remaining bases, and again there was no damage to the existing paint. This boat was about 17' long, and I think the whole bottom could have perfectly cleaned in about 45 minutes including the outboard lower unit without breaking a sweat. Okay it's Florida, and you will sweat regardless, but to do this by hand would have taken a long time, and the job would not have been done as well.

The base system comes with the wide black 3" blade (right), and the narrower chisel blade (left). There are also curved blades, for shafts, and a rubber tipped blade for removing plant growth. and there are stainless versions available. I have left the best for last.

The Waveblade is both waterproof (IP68) to 15', (although Nick averred it has been mis-tested to much deeper depths), and it operates on 12 volts. I used the little machine myself, and the trick is to use a very light touch, and vary the angle. Tipping the blade, and using the outboard edge also helps in removing some of the more recalcitrant bases. Trying to use it like a traditional scraper works poorly, just let the machine do the work for you, and it works efficiently. The aluminum handle protects your hands, and contact with the blade will not hurt you. 

So whether you dive your own boat, dive commercially, or operate a marina, this is a great little machine to have in you inventory. I approve, and barnacles by the thousands were hurt in writing this missive, I can still hear their little screams. I did a short little video that you can find here of it in operation.

1 comment:

  1. It's a good little tool with a short lifespan. Mine experienced water intrusion after1 season and expired.


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