Barnacles on bottom of boat !!

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I need help!! I kept my boat in the water during the Spring and Summer and when I pulled it out to store for the Winter I was astonished to find the bottom of the boat covered with BARNACLES ! I guess that's the price you pay for the convience of not having to launch ever time you want to go sailing. Anyway......

Has anyone had the experience of cleaning barnacles off the bottom ? What should I use (or not use) to scrape them off. Should I worry about damaging the bottom of the boat. Is there any way to prevent them in the future ? (other then the obvious of not keeping the boat in the water - which I'm considering.)
Flip the boat over and carefully scape the bottom with a 2-3"putty knife. Dont scatch the hull.
If you're going to keep it in the water , you shoud paint the bottom with a barrier coat and then a anti-fouling paint. Even after that, it should be cleaned one to two times a month to keep build up of marine life off the hull. Or you could buy a float and keep it on that or buy a boat bath or best yet dry sail it. Good luck!