The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Q&A: Why White?

Question: Why did you paint Morgan’s Cloud white? I thought she looked better painted dark blue.

Answer: By the end of our last cruise, the hull paint on Morgan’s Cloud was in pretty bad shape. In fact, we had two large circles on the starboard side that were worn right through the paint and down to the bondo, from our big balloon fenders that had rested there during the two winters we spent alongside in Tromsø.

In a perfect world, we would have stripped off the paint and gone with an unpainted aluminum hull—much less maintenance and expense. However, Morgan’s Cloud was manufactured well before computer plate cutting of aluminum was being used on boats and so, without bondo to fill in the bumps and hollows, her hull would look somewhat rippled. In other words, this isn’t a perfect world and we had no choice but to paint the hull.

When we looked closely at the old paint job with Doug, painting expert extraordinaire at Billings Diesel and Marine, he noticed a few bubbles between the bondo and the hull, which he conjectured were caused by the heat of the sun on the dark paint (though the sun isn’t that hot in the Arctic, it shines for a lot of hours at a time). His suggestion was to paint the boat white, which we did, even though John’s Arctic photography is going to suffer (just try getting a white boat to stand out amid the ice!).

As Nathanael G. Herreshoff once said, “There are only two colors to paint a boat, black or white, and only a fool would paint a boat black.” So I guess we’re in good company!

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