July 12, 2007 Boat owners who keep their boats moored know all too well what a hassle it can be to regularly remove accumulated plants, algae and sea-creatures from their hulls - a process known as antifouling. The conventional approach is to periodically use expensive and time consuming boat lifts and dry storage to clean the hull, but an alternative is available that achieves the same objective without removing the boat from the water. Known as the Floating Dry Dock, this solution uses an inflatable protective skin to keep the boat dry while moored, providing a fast, cost-effective, drive-in/drive-out way to by-pass the need for antifouling.

Sea scum, slime and barnacles grow on the hulls of boats that spend a significant amount of time moored - and they're expensive and annoying to remove. For those with the luxury of a boat lift or trailer jetty, storing the boat in a shed is a great option - but for people whose boats stay in the water, the Floating Dry Dock is likely to make a cost-effective purchase.

Developed in Australia by Peter Egan, the Floating Dry Dock is an inflatable PVC platform that, when not holding a boat, sits with its front end visible out of the water, and its back end trailing off underwater. You simply nose the boat into the front of the floating dry dock and tie it up, then use a 12V powered pump running from the boat's battery to inflate the back end of the dry dock, which comes up, isolating the boat from the water below. Then, you connect the power to the floating dry dock's inbuilt discharge pump, which sucks out all the water between the PVC skin and the boat, dry sealing it and protecting it from seafouling while it's still floating.

Getting the boat back out is as easy as deflating the rear section again, waiting for it to sink down away from the rear of the hull, and motoring out as usual.

This new incarnation of the floating drydock, a concept used militarily and in shipyards since World War II, is explained step-by-step here.

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