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Old 08-02-2009, 15:58   #1
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Hull Colors

Hi

I have a fiberglass boat that is currently painted Flag Blue. We are in the process of repainting the hull after some blister repairs and I'm debating whether to stay with the blue color or change to something else.

We plan to cruise the South Pacific and several people have told me that the blue hull will make the boat too hot in this part of the world, and that painting it white will make a significant difference.

I'd love to get some opinions on exactly how "significant" this difference would be. I understand the physics (at least I vaguely remember Leslie's cube experiments from my distant school days) but I don't know how relevant that is when a large part of the hull is submerged in water.

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David
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Old 08-02-2009, 17:14   #2
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the difference is such that the hull painted a dark color will actually heat up the resin and make the hull more flexible, not a good thing! also a dark color won't last as long as a lighter color u.v. degradation they oxidize faster.
note this is not something i came up with a friend of mine is in the field!
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Old 08-02-2009, 17:40   #3
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i agree

a previous boat had a broad navy-blue bootstripe on a white gelcoat hull. One hot day anchored out in the Sacramento Delta my wife was cleaning out a locker and yelled, "There's something hot in here." It took us a while to figure out what it was, but we could actually feel where the bootstripe began and ended even through the insulation on the inside of the hull.

Navy hulls look cool, white hulls feel cool.
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Old 08-02-2009, 17:41   #4
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Tropical colours

G'Day, mate,

I have to agree that dark hull colours DO indeed raise cabin temperatures in the tropics, and that painting it white would result in a cooler saloon for you. A simple experiment that you can do is find a boat whose deck has darker color in the nonskid areas (pretty common trick to improve appearance). On a good sunny day, walk barefoot down the deck and note the difference in temperature between the light and dark areas. I imagine that this will convince you!

Do be aware, though, that every little scratch in the new white paint will show your blue through it. Makes one be extra careful docking...

Cheers,
Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II
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Old 08-02-2009, 17:55   #5
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Old saying

There is an old saying - "there are only two colors to paint a boat - black or white. Only an idiot would paint his boat black." I am sure that was before all of the wonderful paints that hold their color came onto the market; but, I agree - White is the way to go. Just walk on a light gray deck in the summer in the Islands - Yeow!
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Old 08-02-2009, 18:54   #6
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It makes about ten degrees difference in the tropics, a huge difference.
Brent
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Old 08-02-2009, 19:53   #7
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If temperature control was the only goal, all our boats would be painted a sparkling silver ... or covered in tin foil

Most folk (including boat builders) say dark colours are definitely out for reasons stated above - e.g. heat softening; hull temperature under naked tootsies (and other lightly protected parts); internal temperature.

You may, however, like to consider as an option some light (white-based) colours for visibility, particularly if the boat will not live between the tropics indefinitely. White hulls can be hard to spot in breaking seas, especially from SAR aircraft. A little yellow in the topside paint, or a splash of brighter colour somewhere, can make a lot of difference. A distinctive colour also helps your friends find you in crowded spaces.

Of course, brightly coloured sail helps with visibility problems. And you don't want to listen to my advice. Someone once asked whether I was colour blind. My boat is the colour of the smiley face:
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Old 09-02-2009, 04:18   #8
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Painting a GRP hull seems to be a bad idea and is usually done because the gel coat surface has oxidized to the point it looks dull and unattractive. Bummer. I am not certain if one can do "preventative" maintenance on a gel coat, but mine seems to be be OK after 23 years. With a yearly waxing the GRP looks new and it's the painted bootsrips etc, which go south and lead me to believe that painting is not a long term "solution". Repainting the stripes is enough. YUCK
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Old 09-02-2009, 04:57   #9
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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
Painting a GRP hull seems to be a bad idea and is usually done because the gel coat surface has oxidized to the point it looks dull and unattractive. Bummer. I am not certain if one can do "preventative" maintenance on a gel coat, but mine seems to be be OK after 23 years. With a yearly waxing the GRP looks new and it's the painted bootsrips etc, which go south and lead me to believe that painting is not a long term "solution". Repainting the stripes is enough. YUCK
I don't to shift in the thread, but the whole idea of painting only because of a gel coat gone bad opens up a whole other discussion.

I LP'd Minggat several years ago. The luster of that new coat of paint was serious. New gel coat does not look that good. I heard then that some sportfisher manufacturers were painting there boats with LP right out of the mold.

Now years later, the luster had deminished some, but still has more than a gel coat. I am into "low mantenance", which means I never got around to waxing my boat. In addition, it sat in dry storage thru a Mexican summer.

Before I set sail for Meixco, I was talking the the owner of the boatyard in So Cal about what was going on with the paint on the hull. It seemed to be showing painted over scratches. But I know the prep work was all there. His comment was that LP can sometimes "craze" over time.

I dunno. Any others with similar observations? I'm still very happy I painted my boat.
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:02   #10
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"There are only two colors to paint a boat, black or white, and only a fool would paint a boat black". -- Nathanael Herreshoff
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:16   #11
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In my cat racing days I went thru several color combinations before I ended up with an all white boat. Any color at all was hotter under foot than the white boat, black anodized aluminum parts would actually burn skin in the Texas summer sun. The darkest boat developed leaks around the tramp posts because the bedding compound softened. Colored panels in the sails stretched differently because the dyes changed the elasticity of the cloth.

There is one lone black hulled boat in my marina. I don't think anyone has spent a night aboard it. I doubt anyone would voluntarily go below in the summer.
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:46   #12
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Of all the responses thus far, it appears only one or two actually have a colored topsides and neither of them seemed to have experienced any real problem(s). Interesting...

As an actual owner of a dark colored hull, there are a few certainties you can depend upon - it is more expensive, more unique and arguably prettier than a typical white boat, much easier to maintain and doesn't seem any warmer inside than anyone else' boat although the latter observation is entirely subjective (as I suspect all other comments are too).

To my mind, the issue turns on what you like more so than others' somewhat uninformed perceptions and opinions such as Herreshoff's comment which was made/attributed to him decades ago before contemporary LPU paints existed.

One thing on which I suspect we all agree is to not have a dark colored deck
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Old 10-02-2009, 18:08   #13
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How about Red, anyone with a red hull out there and if so, does it collect more heat?

BTW, I have a blue stripe on a white hull (typical endeavour) and there is not a difference in heat that I can feel between the blue and white.

I would not want a black hull though, kind of ugly.
And a dark colored deck seems a poor choice unless you stay far north.

But a red hull, seems sexy...
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Old 10-02-2009, 18:45   #14
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You don't have to make your boat look like a bleach bottle in order to remain cool in the tropics. I have seen some boats with light yellow and light blue hulls that make them look distinguished from the typical white hull. Light red would be pink...I don't know if I would want to look that distinguished.
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Old 10-02-2009, 20:23   #15
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Red is the worst color for UV fading. Red just doesn't hold up as well as other colors. Dark colors are not a good idea in the tropics. They are really hotter than white boats. Knew of several wood and steel boats with dark colored hulls in French Polynesia that hauled them in Tahiti and painted them white. Was on board one of those ugly Columbia's from the '70s. You know the ones that had the broad dark colored line down the middle of the topsides to hide the slab sides. I was on board one in the Marquesas. You could tell where that dark line was by the difference in temperature on the inside.

Have heard it reported that non skid that was just a little dark became too hot to walk on. The same is reported for teak in the tropics.

Be aware, the tropics are really warm. The water is over 80 degrees, the air temp is often in the low 90's with a good deal of humidity and the sun shines 14/7 almost directly overhead. We found it too hot to burn our oil lamps which we'd used almost exclusively in SoCal. Even a little heat, like cooking dinner was a sweat inducer. Hanging on the hook with a full length awning kept things bearable. Wouldn't want to think what it would've have been like if our non skid hadn't been very little darker than the white cabin sides and the hull white.

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Peter O.
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