The outer surface of many motor yachts is fiberglass and Gelcoat, others are aluminum, still others sport the age-old tradition of wood. Each of these hull materials is different, and while they share some basic detailing techniques to keep them all looking their best, they also have some maintenance and repair challenges unique to their respective surfaces.
Of course, one way to keep your yacht always looking her best is to have her professionally detailed after every voyage. Detailing should include applying wax and sealers, as well as a thorough cleaning and polishing of all wood, leather and metal surfaces.
Regardless of the type of material your hull is made of, keeping it clean, particularly of debris and marine life, is the best way to help it last, as well as improve the efficiency of your yacht as she moves through the water. Antifouling paints and coatings are the way to keep your hull and other vital surfaces such as the propellers, clean and free from algae, barnacles and other marine flora and fauna.
Gelcoat Repair and Maintenance
Gelcoat is a kind of epoxy resin. It is what provides the high-quality “glass-like” finish to fiber-glass and other composite materials used in building the hulls of boats and yachts. The gelcoat provides the pigmented outer surface of the yacht as well as a smooth, attractive yet durable finish. Some inside surfaces of a yacht may also be “painted” with Gelcoat during or after the manufacturing process. For this, and other reasons, Gelcoat is sometimes confused with paint. But, Gelcoat is not a paint.
While gelcoat is designed to create an aesthetic surface, it can crack due to exposure to weather, dents, dings, and other surface damage. Applying gelcoat to the molds is not easy, and if it is done incorrectly, it can come out of the molds not cured properly and therefore be more prone to cracking. Even when gelcoat is applied properly there are areas such as around hardware and complex surfaces, where it can also tend to crack due to stress.
Even if your gelcoat is free from cracking, it can get dull due to oxidation, and make your boat appear to be old and lifeless. Removing oxidation, and returning the luster to the gelcoat is usually part of any detailing process.
Regardless of the reason why your gelcoat may be cracking or showing other imperfections, it needs to be repaired by skilled gelcoat technicians. However, before being repaired it is important to determine the source of the cracking. If it is obviously surface damage, such as from the impact with a dock, or other object, the repairs are pretty straight forward. But, if the cracking is the result of an underlying structural problem, or from a leak, merely fixing the outside gelcoat, without finding and addressing that problem first, amounts to just putting on a patch that will only become damaged again.
Having Your Yacht Repainted
Wooden yachts must be repainted often. Even aluminum and fiberglass or composite yachts will eventually need a fresh coat of paint. The sun and the elements, not to mention constant washing and waxing of your yacht, eventually can make any hull surface look old and dull.
When that happens, the best way to bring your yacht back to her “maiden voyage finish” is have her repainted. But, repainting a large luxury yacht is a serious job that should only be left to marine paint professionals.
How to Choose a Marine Painter
Having your yacht painted is a major job that will be expensive and will take a fair amount of time. When choosing a yard or contractor to paint your boat, you do not want to pay more than you have to, but nor should you make price be your only determining factor.
Stick with a reliable yard that has a good reputation, and that is willing to give you references and show you examples of their work, preferably the actual yachts, and not just photos or videos. By law, any urethane painting work needs to be done in an enclosed spray booth. Even if it wasn’t required by the EPA, that is the only way to ensure that the environment is controlled for a perfect paint job. Any yard that does not have such a paint booth should be avoided!
The Paint Job
There are quite a few steps to painting a luxury motor yacht, but the most important one is preparation. Did you know that most of the cost of repainting a yacht is in preparation? Almost every time that I have seen a failed paint job, it was because of poor preparation. Removal of old Gelcoat, layers of wax, and otherwise preparing the surfaces to be properly repainted is critical to getting a successful and long lasting paint job. Any skimping at this step, will result in a poor outcome.
Make sure you are aware of any surface damage or imperfections that need to be repaired, prior to your painters beginning their work. You do not want any surprises!
All hardware should also be completely removed. “Masking” of hardware or window frames etc., is a sign of shoddy workmanship.
A Note About Colors
I have seen a trend recently, to add dark color accents to yachts being repainted, or to repaint the entire vessel in darker colors to give your yacht a more striking appearance.
However, this is not such a good idea, especially in Florida. Dark colors tend to absorb more heat. This can result in shrinking, warping or other defects to the surfaces being painted. Light colors on the other hand, reflect light and heat
One way to ensure that your yacht will be painted right, and at the right price, is to use our On Demand paint service. All of our technicians have been completely vetted. That means you will know that all of our painting professional are experts in the field, who have done dozens of yachts just like yours. And, since the yacht painting job will be part of our On Demand Yachting solution – you will be able to completely monitor the job from your own dashboard, from start to finish!
Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.