Buying Guides

SMS Marine LTD

The team at SMS Marine aim to provide our customers with as much useful information as possible to help our customers make the right choice of product for their purchase.

This section collates some useful topics.

We love to hear from our customers, so if you have a topic for us to add a guide on here, please do drop us an email via the contact us page.

SMS Marine Ltd
Selecting Your Life Jacket


Most level 150 and level 275 inflatable lifejackets are produced in one size suitable for all adults weighing over 40kgs (6 stone 4lbs). The only limiting factor can be the length of the waist/chest belt, which can vary between makes.

Because of their buoyancy, all adults, regardless of their size, have a net weight of about 5kg when immersed in water. You do not need a lifejacket or buoyancy aid with more buoyancy just because you’re big.

Buoyancy aids and level 100 lifejackets, however, come in a range of sizes from baby to adult XXXL. Make sure you get one that fits properly.

Ensuring A good fit

Take time to find a style of lifejacket that is comfortable to wear and suits your needs – the best lifejacket is one you will wear.

When in the shop, try on a few different options and think about what it’ll be like to wear it doing your watersport. Is it a good fit? Is it comfortable? Do you like it? Picking the right one for you may take time, but it will be time and money well spent. If you are buying online, think about finding a way to try on the style of your choice first; do you have friends or family with the same jacket

Lifejacket standards

All new lifejackets sold in the UK, Republic of Ireland and elsewhere in Europe are required to meet the International Standards Organisation standard ISO12402. Older lifejackets may carry the CE mark. This is numbered from EN393 to EN399, depending on the amount of buoyancy provided.

Buoyancy aid – level 50

Buoyancy aids at level 50 are recommended for use by swimmers in sheltered waters or by those doing watersports where help is close at hand. However, they do not have sufficient buoyancy to protect a person who is unable to help themselves. They are not designed to turn a person from a face-down position in the water.

Graphic showing level 50 buoyancy aid
Lifejacket – level 100

The level 100 lifejacket is recommended for use in sheltered and calm waters. It may not have sufficient buoyancy to protect a person who is unable to help themselves and may not roll an unconscious person on to their back.

Graphic showing level 100 lifejacket
Lifejacket – level 150

The level 150 lifejacket is for general use on coastal and offshore waters where a high standard of performance is required.

It should turn an unconscious person on to their back and requires no subsequent action by the wearer to keep their face out of the water. Its performance may be affected if the user is wearing heavy and/or waterproof clothing.

Graphic showing level 150 lifejacket
Lifejacket – level 275

The level 275 lifejacket is recommended for offshore use, primarily for extreme conditions and for those wearing heavy protective clothing that may adversely affect the self-righting capacity of lesser lifejackets. As with the level 150, this lifejacket is designed to ensure that the wearer is floating in the correct position with their mouth and nose clear of the surface of the water.

Graphic showing level 275 lifejacket

Ready to buy your life jacket?

Select the link below to take you to our range of Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids
Antifouling You Boat


Anti-fouling paints have come a long way and are more widely available than ever.  Modern paints work by releasing a controlled amount of biocides over a period of time. Antifoul prevents organisms and plant life from gripping the hull of a boat by releasing chemicals. Some antifoul paints offer protection against underwater corrosion on metal hulls and fittings, although this is not antifoul’s primary use. Essentially antifoul is a protective underwater paint that is designed to slow the growth of sub-aquatic organisms that over a period of time can attach themselves to a hull of a boat. This effect is called fouling (or biofouling) and can be separated into two categories; microfouling and macrofouling.

A picture containing outdoor, sky, watercraft, sailing vessel Description automatically generated

Micro-fouling is the build up of bio-organisms such as bacteria, algae, slime etc.

Macrofouling is the build up of animals and plant life such as seaweed, sea squirts barnacles, muscles and tube worm.

These organisms can affect a vessel’s performance and durability to move through the water and can often impair or degrade a ship’s hull or mechanical equipment, as a result of the growth and activity of the living organisms.


Anti-fouling a boat can be a daunting task especially to those without prior experience. When purchasing a boat, one of the questions that should be high up on the list is “when was it last anti-fouled?” There are many boats for sale that have been sat in the water looking like a woolly mammoth for countless years and incurring potential damage. The problem is that the savvy corner cutting boat salesman will quickly scrape the foul off giving the impression that the boat isn’t in need of an antifoul.  It soon grows back and you’re now the owner of a hairy beast. Scraping the antifoul just removes the layers thus making it less effective.

It shouldn’t be a deciding factor on buying a boat but be aware that damage may have been caused via neglect. If the boat hasn’t been anti-fouled then when were the thru-hull fittings and anodes last checked?

Yearly would be an ideal timescale for antifouling although its best to do it as soon as possible if you are unaware of when your boat was last done.  Taking a boat out of the water once a year will mean that things will deteriorate a lot slower so the boat will be in a better condition if you ever come to sell it.


The problem is that excessive growth becomes difficult to remove from a boat hull once barnacles have stuck to the fibreglass underneath the antifoul. Corrosion can also occur on metal elements of the boat such as the propellers, sterndrives, rudder,  shafts. The majority of marine engines are water cooled and there for require a water intake to cool the engine. If a boat is not anti-fouled, the water intake on the outside of the boat will pull in weed, therefore, blocking the intake and overheating an engine. The same goes for toilet heads which can put yourself into a smelly situation indeed! Fuel consumption will also be increased massively as the boat begins to become heavier in the water.

Putting some effort into anti-fouling will save you money in the long run. If not, the costs will soon catch up with you when problems start occurring with your boat!


The chemical composition of antifoul has had many changes over the years due to the effect it has on marine life. In the 1970’s, lead-based antifoul products were replaced by what was thought to of been a much safer option; Tributyltin.  It was discovered however that Tributyltin had harmful effects on marine life;  changing the sex of sea snails and damaging the immune systems of shellfish.  In 2008 Tributyltin antifoul was banned leading the marine sector had to revert to using copper based products. After Tributyltin antifoul was banned, nearly 90% of the industry reverted back to copper. Copper has since been the most popular method of foul prevention. There have been numerous debates about copper and it’s effect on the marine environment however the EU’s Biocidal Products Directive have recently approved the use of copper as an active ingredient.

Hard Anti-Foul

Hard antifouling is often referred to as ‘contact leaching or ‘non-sloughing’ and is nearly always a copper biocide product. It is designed to leach out slowly over a period of time whilst in contact with seawater.  A good example of a hard antifoul would be Coppercoat. This consists of a water miscible epoxy resin and 99% pure copper powder (not cuprous oxide).  The benefit is that epoxy resin is tough and resistant to the scratching that can occur through grounding, but being water soluble it slowly releases over a long period of time.  It’s notable that a standard mix of epoxy and copper powder won’t work however some water-soluble epoxy resins are available and there has been debate over the years about DIY methods of copper coating using soluble epoxy. 1 part antifouls can also be referred to as hard, for example; Hempels Hard Racing. Other types of hard antifoul include Teflon and silicone coatings which work by being too slippery for fouling to stick.

  • Can be scrubbed hard multiple times over a season.
  • Ideal for racing yachts that need to be cleaned regularly.
  • Can often be rubbed down with fine sandpaper or a Scotchbrite pad dependable on the brand used.
  • The annual outlay is more expensive although it can save money in the long run

 Soft Anti-Foul

Soft-anti foul otherwise know as self-polishing, works by constantly releasing biocides whilst it in contact with water.  Self-polishing antifoul is most effective when a boat is underway as it is self-cleaning, which in turn replenishes the surface. By using a 1 part antifoul, especially those that can set under water, it is possible to coat a boat in between tides and on slipways depending on your location.

  • Widely available and can be picked up in the majority of marine stores.
  • Cheaper initial cost.
  • Compatible with most (but not all) existing coatings so you can easily overpaint what is already on the hull, providing all loose and flaking antifioul has been sanded back and patch primed.
  • Will often need to be re-painted more frequently than hard-antifoul.

Ready to buy Antifoul?

Select the link below to take you to our range of Antifoul coatings