Triton #680 | September 11, 2008

With no new work to cover since yesterday's paint, let's talk about bottom paint and the effect it has on this boat.

First, it's important to avoid jumping to conclusions at this early stage.  The boat is unfinished; the paint is unfinished.  Still to come--and entirely critical to the overall appearance of this, and any, boat--is the boottop.  This crisp white stripe will do far more than simply separate the hull color from the bottom paint--it will enhance and visually modify both colors in intangible, yet noticeable, ways.  This is what boottops do.

Bottom paint has more of an impact on a boat's appearance than many people allow.  Clearly, the choice must be right for any boat, perhaps more particularly in this case.  Bottom paint choices these days are severely limited, dull, boring, and generally uninspiring since the banning of tributyl tin in the 1990s--not only one of the more effective antifoulants anyone can remember, but also one that allowed for bright and interesting colors that looked like colors, not various versions of dull mud.  Those days are gone, at least in this nation.

The point is that of the basic color palate available, regardless of manufacturer but dependant on the type of antifoulant system one chooses for their boat (ablative, hard coating, etc.), there are few choices that could legitimately work here.  Certain colors must necessarily be immediately discounted because they simply don't work:  red and blue, for example.  So-called "dark" blues, which look nice upon application, only stay dark till they hit the water, at which time all blue bottom paint tends to turn the same light color that must be avoided here.

What does that leave?  Green, black, gray-white (aka Shark White), brown, plus a few random colors here and there that end up essentially the same as the above.  Pettit markets its Vivid line of paint as a series of primary colors which, if you believe the marketing, can be intermixed to create a wide variety of custom and interesting colors.  Perhaps so, but experience with this brand indicates that the paint is less than ideal compared to certain others, and that even the brighter colors one starts with end up being the same in appearance as all the others once the boat's in the water.  It matters that the colors change in the water--you still see a couple inches of the color (if the waterline is struck correctly), and it has a significant impact on the appearance of the boat in the water as well as out.  Still, perhaps there's a possibility here for something custom.  Dark gray, perhaps, could work, and is still under consideration depending on the outcome of the next few days' work.

Similarly, personal taste must also come into play.  If one dislikes a certain color, it's not really an applicable choice.  In this case, black is out for this reason, if not others.  Obviously brown is out without the slightest consideration given.

What about shark white?  It's a generally agreeable light gray color upon application, which gets lighter when submerged.  There are two problems with this color, however:  first and foremost, thanks to the copper-based antifoulant of the paint base, this paint forms a verdigris-like layer of greenish discoloration just above the waterline; this is unattractive and spoils the effect the color might otherwise have.

The second problem, as it were, is that with a white boottop planned (and non-negotiable), there must be a space of hull color provided between the boottop and a similarly-colored bottom paint.  Otherwise, there's a detrimental lack of contrast between the two.  Striking the additional lines required for this hull-colored space is certainly possible, and attractive--but it wasn't the plan here, in part because at this point the owner wasn't confident  Really, though, it's the green discoloration problem with shark white, in this instance, that voids it from further consideration.

Pure white?  Without TBT-based paints, this is a thing of the past.  ePaint offers a clean white that looks nice and could be a reasonable consideration, with an adjustment to the boottop plans as indicated above, but is a paint with which I have only recently had application experience, and for which there is little track record of which I have first-hand knowledge to indicate whether this is a reasonable alternative.  For now, however, it will remain only a potential choice for the future, not an immediate consideration in any event.

Is the green color currently on the boat the end-all?  Perhaps not.  But it's too early to say how it works, or doesn't work, when there is incomplete work on the boat that will have a direct effect one way or another on how the overall appearance works out.  So, as always, stay tuned.  Who knew a such a thing as bottom paint could end up being so deceptively simple?


<Previous | Next>