November 15, 2016
Anti-skid surfaces make for better boating.
As I get the opportunity to test many boats throughout the year, one thing I see all too often is manufacturers that don't spend enough time on the water using their own products. If they did, switches would be easier to see and systems would have better access. Along these same lines some boat builders use anti-skid as more of a design pattern instead of its intended use of a secure place to step.
When smooth gel coat gets wet it loses any ability to offer grip and stepping from a dock onto a wet gunnel can have serious consequences. Many anglers have also seen their boat's cockpit turned into an offshore skating rink after landing a green dolphin. Mix a little fish slime with seawater and you have a recipe for disaster. To counteract this, some strategically placed anti-skid can make your boating much safer.
One method is to mix an anti-skid additive with marine grade paint and apply it to the deck or gunnels of your boat, where it is slippery. This is a relatively easy process if you have a large area, like a cockpit sole, that doesn't have a molded gel coat anti-skid pattern. I won't get into the specific brands of paint, additives and mixing ratios. All of the major marine paint manufacturers have detailed information available on their websites. The application of any of the paint systems is similar.
Once you determine where you would like to apply the anti-skid, mark off the area's perimeter with a pencil. Next, sand the interior of the area, up to the pencil line, with an aggressive enough grit sandpaper to break through any shiny areas. There is no need to sand through the gel coat to the fiberglass below. You only want to scuff the surface so the paint will adhere. Vacuum any sanding dust and clean the area thoroughly with a good solvent. Tape off the outer perimeter at the pencil line and using a short nap paint roller, apply an even layer of paint with the anti-skid additive mixed in. One tip is after you run the paint roller through the pan to pick up more paint, roll it for one revaluation of the roller nap on a piece of cardboard. This will eliminate buildup on the edges of the roller nap that will leave lines in your finish.
Another option is to apply a non-abrasive, marine-grade non-skid paint to your deck surfaces. One such product, TUFF Coat Marine Coatings, uses rubber granules as the aggregate material in its paint that is soft on your feet and non-skid. The company's marine paints are single component, water-based and easy to apply to fiberglass, aluminum, wood, concrete and steel.
“We applied TUFF Coat to our tournament sportfisher, Miss Britt,” says award-winning Miami captain Ray Rosher. “It is holding up well and we love it. It is by far the best non-skid we have used, and I highly recommend it.”
If you only have a small area where you could use a little extra grip, a stick on pad of anti-skid may be a quicker solution. Try and steer clear of the thin peel and stick strips of rubber anti-skid that is mostly designed for bathtubs. You will have to replace it often due to the intense UV rays from the Florida sun and harsh cleaning products that will quickly take their toll.
One company that has introduced a product to make your boat safer and stand up to a saltwater environment is Gator Guards. Most anglers will be familiar with their KeelShield, a peel and stick urethane strip that protects your hull's keel. Now they have used that same 3M adhesive system to manufacture an anti-skid pad, GatorSkinz, that can be installed wherever you need extra grip.
Most boat owners have an area where they get in and out of the boat more frequently. Just aft of the T-top or next to a hand rail, this would be the perfect place to apply a pad to the top of the gunnel. Installation is easy and the 3M adhesive will not peel up or delaminate. A word of caution: Be sure you position the pad in the exact spot you want it before the back side makes contact with the mounting surface. Once the pad bonds, it's not coming off. The GatorSkinz is available in two textures, one more aggressive than the other and it's made out of 70 percent recycled material. Installation is easy and it's as tough as, you guessed it, a gator skin.
There are many other areas of a boat where an anti-skid pad can be a nice addition: where you stand on the deck, behind your center console and on the top of steps leading up to a tower or flybridge. Most outboard motor brackets double as swim platforms; this is an area where you would especially want some anti-skid. Under most center console leaning post are coolers held in place by a nylon strap. A pair of anti-skid pads applied to the deck, under the cooler, will keep it from sliding in the roughest of conditions.
Depending on the size of the area you need to cover, adding anti-skid using one of these methods will make your boating safer. FS
MARINE PAINT SUPPLIERS
TUFF Coat Marine
Ultra Tuff Manufacturing
340 Denny Ct. Unit A
Montrose, CO 81401
Pettit Marine Paint
Kop-Coat Marine Group
36 Pine St.
Rockaway, NJ 07866
Interlux Paint LLC
6001 Antoine Dr
Houston, TX 77091
AkzoNobel Yacht Coatings
6001 Antoine Dr
Houston, TX 77091
PEEL AND STICK ANTI-SKID PADS
568 E. Vernon
Farmington, IL 61531
Defender Industries, Inc.
42 Great Neck Rd
Waterford, CT 06385
Stewart Products Co.
699 W. Main St. – Ste 208
Hendersonville, TN 37075
First published Florida Sportsman April 2015