Campbell River is the home of Canada’s first automatic boat wash

Operators say it keeps boat owners from having to repaint and keeps toxins out of the environment

Hydro Clean Hull Wash operator Chris Guillemand helps out the automatic brushes with one of his own earlier this month at the Coast Marina.

It’s kind of strange that nobody has thought of this before.

After all, the first automated car wash opened way back in 1951 in Seattle. As early as 1940, cars were being washed semi-automatically, being pulled along on a conveyor belt.

But now automatic boat washing has finally become a thing – and Campbell River is the home of Canada’s first one, according to operators of the recently-opened Hydro Clean Hull Wash at the Coast Marina.

“It’s a revolutionary new way to clean your boat without having to constantly take it out of the water,” says Chris Guillemand, operator of the Campbell River facility. “It’s quick and easy. Twenty minutes and you’re in and out. And it’s the first one in Canada and the first one on the west coast of North America. The only other one outside Europe is in Florida.”

Why do we need a facility like this? Don’t boats literally sit in water? How do they even get dirty?

Well, obviously boats get dirty. There are lots of things in the water that need to be removed from the hull of a boat – especially salt and grime from sea-bound – as opposed to freshwater – vessels.

But it’s also about the paint, Guillemand says.

“The paint on boats is poisoning the water, basically,” Guillemand says. “Passive leeching is slowly releasing toxins into the water. What we’re trying to do is promote that people don’t paint their boats as much and use this. You don’t have to take it out of the water, you’re not releasing toxins into the water, and you’re saving yourself time and money.”

Cleaning a boat also increases the vessel’s performance, as the film that builds up on a boat’s hull – known as fouling – causes excess drag and friction between the hull and the water, slowing the boat and lowing fuel efficiency.

Check out this short video from Drive-in Boatwash on how the process works:

So why did it take so long to come up with this idea and why aren’t they in every marina around the world?

“It seems like people are kinda stuck in the past and in the old ways of doing things,” Guillemand says. “People have been doing things the same way with boats for decades, but in Sweden (where this was invented), the Baltics were getting poisoned with the toxic paints because the water doesn’t move as much there and they don’t have the same kind of tides as us. And like they say, necessity is the mother of invention.”

The Campbell River facility can accommodate boats up to 53-feet long and 16-feet wide.

Look them up on Facebook for a timelapse video of the boat washer in action and for more information, or give them a call at 250-895-0488.

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