Boat color

I was passing a boat yard the other day, and I started to wonder - why are so many boats painted white?

Hey, you’re right! Maybe it’s a visibility thing.

One of our salty old Dopers may be able to correct me on this, but I believe that blue is considered by sailors to be an unlucky colour for a boat ( they often used to paint a blue line around a ship when the captain died).

Well, other colors fade and show oxidation easily. Would you say your “most boats are white” theory applies to fiberglass boats primariliy?

Because, if so, it is because the gel coat of color on fiberglass shows white oxidation very easily.

I need to clarify: Oxidation of the gel coat on fiberglass shows as a chalky white substance, and the whiter the boat, the less you can see of this white chalky oxidation set into the gel coat. It is hard to remove and hard to prevent.

On larger vessels that are less likely to be made of fiberglass, you’ll notice all sort of colors on the metal hulls.

There are three reasons.

  1. Oxidation. The darker the colour the quicker the oxidation. On white gelcoat, the oxidation actually causes yellowing.

  2. Surface defects. You are less likely to detect scratches, dings, stress cracks and poor fairness (wavy surface profile) on a shiny white surface than a shiny dark surface.

  3. Cost. White gelcoat is cheaper

It’s cooler.