Problems following the application of CopperPlus antifouling.


In May of this year we decide that it was time to repaint our boat (a 46 ft steel sailing yacht).  After much deliberation we selected a paint system from a company called Permanent Coatings based in Bodmin. (33 Normandy Way, Walker Lines Industrial Estate, Bodmin, Cornwall. PL31 1HATelephone 01208 264999 Fax 01208 264998 e-mail 

The system consisted essentially of a number of coats of their epoxy ceramic product “ArmourGuard” followed by 2/3 coats of a copper epoxy product “CopperPlus”.  The CopperPlus is an antifouling product.  Antifouling is essential to prevent weed and barnacle growth on the underwater sections of boats.  CopperPlus is advertised as having an effective life span of around ten years as opposed to the one or two years of traditional products.  It is of course more expensive.

 After much discussion with Richard Foster, (who we now believe with the exception of his secretary to be the only person at Permanent Coatings) we arranged to have the boat taken out of the water, the underwater hull sandblasted back to bare metal, and the entire paint system professionally applied.  All work was carried out exactly as specified in the instructions received with the paint and as confirmed or modified by Richard Foster.  The only significant change in Richards’s instructions as opposed to the written ones was:  

That the instructions suggested that sometimes lightly abrading/ burnishing the surface of the final coat of CopperPlus to expose more copper gave improved antifouling performance and for this reason we had had this burnishing included in the overall cost of the job.

 However, Richard told us that the CopperPlus now had a porosity agent included and that a greater surface area was therefore exposed so burnishing was no longer recommended.  On this basis we, even though the burnishing was paid for, we instructed the workers not to do it.

 All of the work was carried out at Base Nautica Usai, Fertilia, Sardinia, Italy.

 The work had taken 17 days at a cost of €3500 plus the cost of the paint, which had been, was £992 Sterling.

 We returned the boat to the water on 19th May.


Two months later, in July we anchored in Syracusa (Sicily) and I took the opportunity to dive under the boat.  It was immediately clear that the CopperPlus antifouling had failed catastrophically.  The entire hull was covered in coral to an average thickness of 2cm.  This was the worst fouling we had ever seen – it was for example at least twice as bad as a completely unprotected boarding ladder that had been left in the water for 6 months in Sardegna the previous year.  Our tender in contrast, which was protected with a traditional antifouling (International Micron Plus) and had been in the water for most of the same period had no fouling at all.

 We immediately contacted Permanent coatings and spoke to Richard Foster.  To be fair, he was extremely sympathetic and immediately offered to replace the paint and to cover the costs associated with re-application.  His, view at that time, was that the paint had clearly failed and that a key constituent had been left out - “perhaps there wasn’t any porosity agent in the stuff we sent you….!!! We should have a record somewhere” was his actual response.  A bit worrying, but he was offering to make do everything he could to make things right, so we accepted his offer.

 The next step was to arrange to get the boat lifted and the work done.  We weren’t aware of a suitable yard in Sardegna, but new that we could get the work done in either Malta or Tunisia.  Richard told us that he had previously shipped the product to Malta. Dealing with customs in and the quality of work in Tunisia were unknown quantities.  So we got a quote from Manoel Island Yacht Yard in Malta, sent it to Richard and jointly agreed that we would sail to Malta to get the work done.

 Thing were now moving very slowly and we were on an increasingly tight deadline to get out of the Med by the end of October.  Dealing with Richard was never unpleasant, but always it was like dealing with an absent minded and somewhat scatterbrained professor.  It transpired over the next couple of weeks that the new paint would have to be sent to Malta by ship because there wasn’t an air carrier that would accept it, something Richard had omitted to mention or we could have chosen another location on mainland Europe, but it seemed by then too late to “change horses”.  There were other delays; mostly inane eg the person who packs the paint is on holiday this week.  None of which was helped by the fact that Richard never returned phone calls.

 Finally, on August 23rd, Richard confirmed that the paint had left him for loading with an ETA of 31st, so we sailed for Malta.  We arrived in Malta on 27th and contacted Richard because we still had not received a copy of the Bill of Lading and just to check all was OK.  He was out of the office and of course never returned our call, so his secretary gave us the contact details of the shipping agent.  They told us that the package had not been sent in time to be loaded on the ship and that Richard had been warned of this repeatedly.  This introduced a further delay, but the paint finally arrived in Malta on 7th September.  It needed to clear customs, but we lifted the boat so as to be ready to start work immediately.

Unfortunately, the materials had been shipped without the appropriate customs declaration and could not be released.  We spoke to the shipping agent – yes they nearly always completed the customs declarations for their clients, but on this occasion Richard had insisted on doing it himself because they charge £14 for the service (sic!).  The form would have to be completed and presented to customs retrospectively. After many phone calls the shipping agent and Permanent Coatings we reached a solution and the paper work arrived on 15th September.

This was a period when we trying continually to contact Richard, but now he would neither take our calls or respond to e-mails.  We had in good faith instructed the yard to lift the boat and once we asked them to proceed with the work we would be looking at a bill of MP1100 (£1740STG), for work we had already paid to have done only 2 months earlier.  Richard had originally agreed to pay, but we were getting an increasingly uncomfortable feeling.

In the end, we were so doubtful that Richard would honour his commitment to pay, that we decided to do the work ourselves.  It’s a grim job for two people, but we simply couldn’t risk being left with a bill of this size, and this turns out to have been a very wise decision – see below.  We finally left Malta on 2nd October, but by now our plans for the winter where in shreds – also see below.

During the last week of September we finally received a message from Richard’s secretary to say that he had been in contact with “the shareholder” and that their solicitor would be in touch.  Of course this was untrue and he hasn’t and neither has any one from permanent coatings contacted us since. 


We have in an attempt to reach some sort of reasonable settlement, since sent to permanent coatings, both by e-mail and by registered mail a complete recap of the events, details of all costs and a proposal for an amount as a compromise settlement.  There have been no replies and the deadline set has now expired. 

As you will see from the above in pure financial terms we are now out of pocket at the very least to the tune of  £450 and the figure is only this low because we completed the work ourselves – something that we only did because Richard Foster failed to deliver against his promises.  The figure for the work as Richard agreed to pay for it (or if one bases it on the costs incurred in abortive application of the faulty product in Sardinia) is  £1740.

 In addition to this, there are delays to our schedule, caused almost exclusively by Richard Foster’s incompetence and/or abysmal customer service.  This is much more than the fact that we have lost two months at the height of the sailing season – though that in itself is bad enough.  Even more significantly, the delays meant that we had insufficient time to leave the Med for the Canaries before the recognised weather window closes towards the end of October.  This in turn means that we have had to postpone our journey to South America for a year and instead overwinter in Barcelona.


I’m sure that to anyone sitting in an office in the UK on a cold wet December day this may sound a small hardship, but it is a significant disruption to our lives and of course impossible to put a price on!
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Last updated 18th March 2018