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NOAA - NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Better boat performance with propeller coatings
MINNEAPOLIS, MN, December 27, 2008—Turbulence eats up energy and can slow your boat down. It has been known for a long time that a 2-in. scratch on a smooth surface can generate turbulence for 10 or 12 inches as water flows over the scratch. Just think how much water passes over a boat's propeller compared to the amount of water sliding past the hull.

In fact, a study* released in 2006 at the International Conference on Advanced Marine Materials & Coatings in London notes that, "When the reduction in ship performance is associated with the condition of the ship hull, the effect of the propeller surface condition is often overlooked. Nevertheless, the effect can be significant." The report concludes that, "The results of the calculations show that significant losses in propulsive efficiency resulting from blade roughening can be regained by cleaning and polishing of the blades. Alternatively, the efficiency losses could be avoided, perhaps indefinitely, by the application of a paint system that gives a surface finish equivalent to that of a new or well polished propeller. A foul release coating is such a paint system."

Now boat owners can do their own tests thanks to a new urethane Teflon-type coating from the Smooth Sailing™ line of boat paints.

Non-stick cookware uses the largest molecule known, a molecule that has a lower drag coefficient than ice. This type of coating was first developed by DuPont and marketed under the name Teflon. Now Smooth Sailing™ has made available a clear brush-on coating, using the same molecule, for use on your prop. The coating will never yellow and can be built up to smooth out all those little scratches, pits, and imperfections that can plague your propeller.

Aerospace engineers are currently testing this new coating on boat props in order to verify that reducing drag on the propellers will allow more energy to be transmitted to forward speed and less burned up in friction.

* Effect of a Foul Release Coating on Propeller Noise 2006, by R. J. Mutton, M. Atlar, M. Downie, and C. D. Anderson. International Conference on Advanced Marine Materials & Coatings, London, UK, February 22-23, 2006.

For more information, contact: Kristine Anderson on this website's contact page or write to her at:

NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Navigator with compass in hand working on paper nautical chart with Weems parallel plotter; Coast Pilot 6 publication off to side.

Nautical Charts & Products
   •  Traditional Paper Charts
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Nautical Charting Publications
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   •  Report a Charting Discrepancy
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NOAA Charts and Publications

NOAA produces and maintains a suite of nautical charts that cover the coastal waters of the U.S. and its territories. NOAA’s charts are available in a variety of formats, including:

  • Traditional paper charts
  • Print-on-Demand charts: up-to-date paper charts with current Notice to Mariners corrections
  • Raster Navigational Charts® (NOAA RNCs): bitmap electronic images of paper charts
  • Electronic Navigational Charts® (NOAA ENCs): vector charts that conform to international standards

NOAA also produces several nautical publications. For example, the United States Coast Pilot® is a series of nautical books with a variety of important information for navigators to supplement the nautical chart.

Online Chart Viewers
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   •  Differences Between ENC and ENC®Direct to GIS
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