Varnish Testing Over Lunch

For the next 24 months, the TotalBoat testing team’s varnish test will be dining al fresco, soaking up UV rays from the sun, getting snowed on, rained on and generally abused by lunch bags, water bottles and probably a few butts, too. The picnic table varnish test is underway and on Friday the team dragged the completed table outside of the JD lunchroom and set up shop for a lunch party. It was a celebration of the great idea and the forthcoming years of the table’s demise.


We applied 5 coats of 9 different varnishes after initially coating the nasty pine with TotalBoat Penetrating Epoxy to really seal it well and protect against the elements. However, as we all know – nothing beats wood protection like varnish with UV inhibitors and we picked the top selling varnishes and put them against our own top varnishes. And now it’s in the hands of the gods as time and weather and lots of rays do their best to beat down the layers.


At the very least it has been a great way to compare the different tints, the different “glosses” of each and the ease of flow and application of each one. We each have favorites. But which will outperform the others? Only time will tell and we plan on taking a monthly photo of the table to document how each panel fares.

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Stay tuned and place your bets in the comments below. Which varnish will win the test?

Here is the complete list of the varnishes we applied to the table:

TotalBoat Marine Wood Finish: Natural Teak
Sikkens Cetol Marine Natural Teak
TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish
TotalBoat Lust High Gloss Marine Varnish
TotalBoat Envy High Gloss 2-Part Varnish
Interlux Perfection Plus Two Part Varnish
Petit Captain’s Varnish
Epifanes Woodfinish Gloss
Epifanes CV (Clear Varnish)

Getting to the Bottom of Paint – Report 1 – August Results

Last winter we approached the Roger Williams University Marine & Natural Sciences Department asking them if they would be interested in supporting an Anti-Fouling Bottom Paint test.  Together we developed a plan to test 20+ bottom paints in 5 locations.  Now, halfway through the data collection, we are fascinated by the early results. As expected, the different locations have yielded very different results – and while there is not a stand-out leader, there are some early conclusions to recognize, as certain formulas of paint seem to be out-performing others. The big takeaway at this midpoint is: no one antifouling paint is at the top of the results in all testing locations. And location matters.

What we’ve learned so far:  

  • The control samples came in last!  (which makes good sense)
  • Fouling growth varies greatly from harbor to harbor. (See the control panel comparison)
  • None of the paints worked well in every location
  • Many paints worked well in some locations, but not all.  (We’ll share the results from each harbor when the testing is finished and the dust clears later this season)
  • These are results after 3 months in New England.  Some antifouling paints are designed to work for 6-12 months and their worth may not show after 3.

Key findings so far:

  • Harbors with the most current had the most growth.
  • Copper-free paints can work as well or better than those with copper
  • Water based paints can work as well or better than solvent based paints.

We’re investing in building the biggest database of marine geo-conditions in order to make the best line of bottom paints as well as be able to make accurate recommendations to customers about the type of bottom paint that will truly perform best for them. We’d love YOUR contribution to this effort in order to build the most comprehensive resource for boaters available. Get involved by taking the Post Season Survey and tell us how your choice of bottom paint performed this year.  Continue reading

Bottom Paint Research – Mid Season Update

This spring we told you about the RWU marine science students who had been busy building barges and painting panels with bottom paints to test. That was quite a process, but it’s nothing compared to their current and most recently quite busy process, with biweekly visits to each of the 5 barge locations. Every other week they check on every single panel, recording each panel’s growth, and any and all changes with notes and photos. They then swipe them clean and back into the water they go.

Jamestown Distributors will learn a lot from these scientist’s findings once all the data has been collected. We will receive a report on their findings and use the results to help us better advise our customers on which paint will perform better based on location, use and other factors. We like to think we are the experts on bottom paint, from our customer service advisors, to actually manufacturing our own TotalBoat bottom paints.  With this insight we will do a much better job as our knowledge base increases. Early results point – as expected – to the great differences in growth according to boat location. What works in one harbor might not work in your own area.

In case you thought we’re giving it all away before you’ve even watched the video, don’t worry! The students have taken this study to a whole new level and we are thrilled to have been able to film them as they build and check the barges. But the real carrot at the end here will be the results. And just like you, we can’t wait to learn about what the RWU students learned.

in the meantime, please become a part of the study and enter your own pre-season info into our short survey. Plugging in these customers survey results alongside the RWU research will present a very powerful picture at the end of the season. Be a part of it! Take the survey now and when you haul your boat later this season – circle back and fill in your own results. It’s all science and it all helps us help you find the most effective bottom paint for your boat.

The Science of Bottom Paint: Get Involved!


Jamestown Distributors has been selling bottom paint for nearly 40 years and as a top seller of most major brands, we are excited to be teaming up with the Roger Williams University bio-science and marine science department to study a wide range of bottom paints and evaluate their performance. Jamestown has been collecting bottom paint data for years from our customers to learn which paints work in what harbors and on what boats. Your input to this data collection is so important and we hope you will take the time to enter the info about your own bottom paint choice for this season by participating in our Bottom Paint Survey.

Your data will augment the work being done by the RWU students who are conducting this very thorough testing of 22 brands of antifouling bottom paints over the summer and into the fall.  This video shows how they planned and constructed the 10 barges which they placed in 5 locations around SE New England. Before the science even started, they were into a major project centered around the scientific process and how to design and construct sturdy barges and a research process that would get the job done and produce reliable results.

TotalBoat bottom paints are, of course, a part of the RWU independent study and while some manufacturers might not want to hear about how their paint stacks up, we are anxious to hear about which paints work and which don’t – not only in the TB brand, but across the board. Because what better way is there to improve upon and nail the winning formula for antifouling, than understanding what works, what doesn’t work, and where.

So hop over to our Bottom Paint Survey and check out the simple questions. It won’t take long to compete it and you will feel like an expert marine biologist knowing that you are helping the science of improving bottom paint formulas. And next year your own bottom will be that much cleaner. (yeah – no one likes a dirty bottom….. we get it.)

Here’s a sneak peek at a panel we looked at today…. new video coming soon about midseason progress on the bottom paint barges…. stay tuned!

Bottom Paint Testing with a Little Help from Our Friends

Last summer we launched our own bottom paint testing program. We learned a lot, improved some of our own paint formulas and we’re back at it for the 2015 boating season.

Putting 22 different bottom paints on 10 floats, the “barges” will be installed in pairs in 5 New England locations, and their growth and performance will be monitored throughout the summer. This season, we have enlisted the help of the Roger William University Environmental Science students. Under the direction of Environmental Studies professor, Dr. Scott Rutherford, the students are building these 10 barges with flotation and will be using a spreadsheet to keep track of the different bottom paints/ barge locations/ water temps/ currents and the coverage of fouling organisms on over 200 panels. The ten barges will be set up in a variety of locations and the panels will be pulled, documented and rotated every 2 weeks. The RWU team has really taken this testing to a new level, as they plan to weigh each of the 720 panels every 2 weeks and record that weight with notes about the percentage of fouling organisms found on the test panel.

Each panel – as you will see in the photos – is numbered and that number corresponds to a spreadsheet listing the actual bottom paint brand used on it. No one will know which paints are on which panels – until the end – and each panel will be moved to a different location on its barge when they are pulled every 2 weeks.

Watch this space for the progression, photos and eventually results of the experiment. And feel free to participate on your own by recording your boat’s bottom paint type, your location, the growth you witness and more by signing up to be AN ANTIFOULER! We are proud to be spearheading this gold standard of bottom paint testing using TotalBoat brands and most of the major brands used by boaters nationwide. By learning about what works and doesn’t work in the antifouling world, we can formulate more effective and less toxic paint formulas and have happy bottoms and a healthy ocean.

Get involved! Be a Test Subject. (takes 5 minutes, tops!)

The Antifoulers: Getting to the Bottom of Bottom Paint


There is nothing straightforward about picking a paint for any surface on your boat. So many factors can affect whether or not a paint will work the way you expect it to work!

Jamestown Distributors has been producing and publishing how-to videos, we set up a tech help hotline and live help on our website, and we have done lots of testing of numerous bottom paints. In short we are ready and willing to do almost everything to ensure your paint job works and works well, short of actually applying the paint. (bummer – eh?)  With recent changes to many of the top selling bottom paints (see our recent TBS post about Irgarol), The bottom paint game is even more complex than ever and we here at TotalBoat Show aim to help you sort it out and demystify the process. But we need your help.


Testing bottom paints last summer with panels of each of the different bottom paints we sell. Serious research for expert advice.

The secret to picking the right paint for your boat’s bottom comes from evaluating a number of factors: what kind of water are you in (Salt or fresh), what is the water salinity of your boat’s location, is there a lot of current where you keep your boat, how often do you use your boat, and so on. Because we can’t answer this question for everyone, we developed a survey last year to get to the bottom of bottom paint. (See the 2014 Survey RESULTS) By participating and entering what worked and didn’t work – you can help us see on a map which paints work best in different locations based on crowd sourced feedback and reviews.

We carry and stock most every bottom paint out there. (Bottom Paint Shop here) We make our own bottom paint as well (TotalBoat brand, of course) and we want to know what the summer and fall of 2015 will do to your BRAND X bottom paint job. Can you help? Sign up now to input your basic info and we will touch base again in the fall for a report of your bottom paint’s performance.

The more info we get, the better results we will have to share with you and the more life we will get out of (and not on!) our bottom paints. HELP US OUT!

It is of course worth mentioning that our very own TotalBoat paints rated high amongst users. It is a top value with years of good results backing up all formulas. Have you tried our TotalBoat Bottom paint? We are offering FREE SHIPPING on all the TotalBoat Bottom Paints and have our customer service and store reps ready to help you select the right paint for your boat and your harbor! Thanks!

And check out our info page on Bottom Paint 101 where we S P E L L it all out for you! You’re welcome!

TotalBoat on Instagram

Product #testing is #always going on at #jamestowndistributors, even on #tapes! PS- its #shopnight tonight. With #guinness, of course #stonehorse

Product #testing is #always going on at #jamestowndistributors, even on #tapes! PS- its #shopnight tonight. With #guinness, of course #stonehorse

TotalBoat on Instagram

There is always #training and product #testing and #learning going on around here. Betcha our competition can't touch our staff's depth of knowledge for every product we sell. #bottompaint #totalboat #interlux

There is always #training and product #testing and #learning going on around here. Betcha our competition can’t touch our staff’s depth of knowledge for every product we sell. #bottompaint #totalboat #interlux