Leonora & Sissel : "If we can, so can you"!

Leonora Valentin and Sissel Therkildsen are two Danish 25 y/o girls sailing around the world to find the wildest dive sites that exist!

This is their story: 
In January 2022 we fell in love with a boat in Italy, about 70 km NW of Rome. It is a Beneteau 50, Bruce Farr designed boat. Today she is ours and her name is Lulu Tao. In April 2022 we booked a one-way ticket to Rome and spent six weeks sailing her 3,029 nautical miles from Riva di Traino in Italy, to Tuborg Harbour in Denmark. We have lived onboard the boat in Tuborg Harbour ever since, and we will continue to do so until departure for the circumnavigation on July 9th 2023. Currently, Lulu Tao is in the shipyard at Jakob Jensens Boatyard + Sails Support. Their top professional team is helping us to make Lulu Tao stronger than ever before, so we can safely sail the world oceans together.

Prior to our circumnavigation we spent a lot of time contemplating what bottom paint to use for our boat, as we were planning a five year adventure and ideally would love not to change bottom paint during the journey. We therefor wanted to strip the boat completely of all old paint, as we had bought a 20 year old boat and wasn’t sure what paint was already on there. From there we wanted to build up a healthy bottom in order not to worry about this along the way. For a long time we were looking towards bottom paint that contained copper, as we understood this is the most commonly used biocide in antifouling to prevent growth. However we were also aware that copper is very harmful to the environment due to it’s byproducts not breaking down and it’s therefore terribly harmful to marine life.

For us, protecting our environment, and especially the environment beneath the ocean surface - lies close to our hearts. We are passionate professional divers both of us, and the whole goal with our circumnavigation is to find and document the wildest dive sites that exists - in order to inspire more people to go explore the world and help protect our planet. So when we learned from fellow sailors that Hempel had produced a biocide free antifouling, there was no doubt this was the perfect
solution for us.
Leonora and Sissel
We launched the boat in the water by May 12th 2023, and departed for the circumnavigation by July 9th. Today writes September 4th, and so far we couldn’t be happier with our choice. We’ve already sailed more than 3.000 nautical miles since May. We’ve been diving down on the hull three times - once in Denmark a few days before the big departure, once in France one months after departure (beginning of August), and once a few days ago here in Portugal where we are anchored now. Our experience is that we had more growth when cleaning the boat in Copenhagen before departure, than we’ve had now during the circumnavigation. Maybe due to the fact that we are logging miles more frequently now that we’re on the circumnavigation. But every time we’ve doven down, it’s taken us two persons just 10-15 minutes with a semi-soft brush to clean the algae on the paint. The bottompaint, being a silicone paint is insanely slippery (which is why it is so difficult for organisms to attach to it) when underwater, which makes it’s so easy to brush off the little amounts of green algae. And honestly it’s so quick and satisfying to brush off, it’s almost fun. ;-) But here is a pro tip; buy a few suction cups if you’re freediving when cleaning the bottom. When the paint is so slippery, it’s more or less impossible to get af grip on the paint when brushing it.

We did do a few repairs on the paint while still at the shipyard as the boat was being moved around a lot before it got launched. We even had to have the keel reapplied to the boat after we had painted it with Silic One due to structural work that was being done on the vertical beams, which was quite a manoeuvre with a 15 ton boat and therefore inevitable for a few superficial scratches on the paint to occur.
But doing repairs on the paint was super easy, and we imagine that painting a complete extra layer a few years into our circumnavigation will be easy as well. What is amazing about this silicone paint is that you do not have to sand the paint down before applying a new layer (which let’s be honest, is the worst part about reapplying new bottom paint). You simply have to wash the paint. By then the time interval for adding extra layers was well exceeded, so we washed the paint with Hempel’s Boat Shampoo, let it dry and then applied the extra layer. Easy process.

For the sake of our environment and the easiness of maintaining this paint, we truly hope that biocide silicone paint is the future in antifouling. You have to be super strict with the time intervals between layers when applying it, but if only you follow protocols (as you always should anyways), then it’s an easy job and an amazing result. And having to dive down for 15 minutes every other month is just such a little sacrifice of time, considering how much we’re harming nature with biocides from other types of antifouling, only in order to make our own lives a little easier. It is the least we can do, and luckily you don’t exactly have to be a pro diver to hold your breath for 30 seconds and brush the paint a little.

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