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Flake gelcoat ghosting (discoloration)


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Hi guys,

 

I unfortunately don't have a lift so our VTX stays in the water all season (5-6 months). We have a silver metal flake hull and I was wondering if any of you have a solution to remove the ghosting / darkening of the gelcoat area below the waterline. 

I've heard various explainations ranging from "It's only humidity and will go away as it dries" to ' the flakes have oxydized, you can't fix that'.

Any gelcoat experts out there?

Otherwise I'm thinking of just adding a 1 inch strip along the waterline in order to mask the border between the 2 gelcoat colors...

 

Thanks,

Nick

Edited by NickD
typo
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Are you looking to prevent it or fix it? A good sealant or ceramic coating might help but no guarantees. I've found jescar power lock plus holds up well and used ceramic pro this year which was overly impressive for keeping the boat clean. Yes, clean and discolouration are two different things but if it stays clean it should help, so even scrubbing the boat with a deck brush or rag while in the water might help. 

Now if you're trying to fix the staining, very unlikely it will dry out. Your solution will be redoing the top layer of gel coat.  

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Thanks Cole.

I'm more lookng to fix it. The boat is a new to me 2016 VTX which was on a lift before so the darkening was only light. But after 5 months in the water this year the difference between the above and below water gelcaot is significant.

Do you know where the darkening comes from? It is just the top layer of the gelcoat (in which case would it come out with coarse compound) or is it deeper as some would suggest?

Thanks

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Thanks. 

So there's basically no fixing this discoloration / darkening of the clear coat / oxidation of the flake... Ok... I'll have to find some way of disguising the problem.

I'm smelling the sudden appearance of a 2'' waterline stripe....    ;)

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I took it out last Saturday. So, yeah, I'll give it the winter to dry.

Hopefully it will fade out a bit. But in any case, I'm gonna wrap the underwater flake gelcoat with a transparent film before it goes back in. Depending on how severe the difference is by then, I might even drop a stripe on the waterline.

 

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It wont fade.

It wont dry out. 

Also, keeping the boat in the water that long is just asking for blisters. If its in the water that long you need a good bottom paint on it.

  • Like 2
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Thanks Coop.

I'm surprised these gelcoats can't take staying in the water for that long. It's fresh water after all. Strange that Malibu would expect the standard to be having thier boats out of the water after every use. These are boats after all. Boats are meant to be in water. Not hanging on a lift or on a trailer. If their gelcoats cant take being in water, then a bottom paint should come as standard or the type of hull finish should be changed IMO.

Strange...

 

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1 hour ago, NickD said:

Thanks Coop.

I'm surprised these gelcoats can't take staying in the water for that long. It's fresh water after all. Strange that Malibu would expect the standard to be having thier boats out of the water after every use. These are boats after all. Boats are meant to be in water. Not hanging on a lift or on a trailer. If their gelcoats cant take being in water, then a bottom paint should come as standard or the type of hull finish should be changed IMO.

Strange...

 

It’s literally every boat manufacturer in the world though. Well ones that are not aluminum. Any fiberglass and gel coat boat manufacture will state that the warranty is void if sitting in the water without a protective bottom paint. Robalo, Sea Ray, Malibu, master craft, you name it. 

  • Like 3
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Well then there's a market for supplying boats that can actually stay in the medium they are supposed to be made for without some sort of adpatation !!

Or....... could it all be on purpose in order to allow the blame of a third party (the hull painter) so as not take responsibility if ever a hull starts having issues....? Hummm...

Regardless, that's a serious issue IMO.

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Maybe I’m taking this too simply or that I spend a ton of time around big lake boats that sit all season every season in the water, but I don’t see how this is a major issue. I know it’s uncommon for a Malibu or other wake boat to have bottom paint but if it was truly only only option, I’d do it. They offer a ton of colors now and it’s easy to work with and maintain. They even have white. Multi-million/billion dollar yachts that require bottom paint unless it’s built from metal. Even then, they typically use a under the water line specific paint. 

  • Like 3
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5 minutes ago, ahopkinsVTX said:

Multi-million/billion dollar yachts that require bottom paint unless it’s built from metal. Even then, they typically use a under the water line specific paint.

Even metal boats get bottom paint to prevent marine growth and limit electrolysis.  Anti-fouling paint generally includes a lot of copper.  Leave your boat in the water for a week here and you'll see barnacles forming.  Fresh water has its own set of issues since fresh water is rarely "fresh."

1 hour ago, NickD said:

Well then there's a market for supplying boats that can actually stay in the medium they are supposed to be made for without some sort of adpatation !!

Boat makers will not prep your hull for you because they don't know what kind of paint you need for your situation.  If you remove the boat every use, you don't need it.  If you have alkaline water you need different paint than I need in salt water.  Your local dealer is the best place for information regarding your local needs.

And by the way, most thermoplastics are hygroscopic to some degree.  If you have a 3D filament printer, you will notice that you need to store your filament in a dry box to keep water out.  If you don't, you can get popping and spitting as the filament leaves the extruding nozzle due to the trapped water boiling off.  A boat hull is the same way.

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To the eye gel coat looks like a solid.

 

If you look at it under a microscope it is porous, like a sponge. Due to this water molecules can migrate in.

This is what has happened in your case. It made it in and caused staining or oxidation on the metal flake. If you take the boat out at lease every 2 weeks and let it dry you shouldn't have an issue at all.

Otherwise, as others have said get it bottom painted with something that works for your area/body of water do you do not have to worry about it. This will also help prevent blistering which is a much larger issue that can happen from leaving them in the water for an extended period of time.

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Multi-million $ boats usually live on sea / ocean / salt water. I've lived by the sea and had boats on it. I know that antifowling paint isn't recommended, it's mandatory. Otherwise you can kiss your gelcoat goodbye. No boat owner in his or her right mind would leave a boat in an ocean marina without antifowling their hull.

Gary, I understand the chemistry behind the moisture and gelcoat mix. What i don't get is that there are simple solutions (such as, for example, a vinyl protective film) that could be included by manufacturers in order to mitigate this water contamination issue that aparently affect every single hull in any kind of water the world.

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1 hour ago, NickD said:

Multi-million $ boats usually live on sea / ocean / salt water. I've lived by the sea and had boats on it. I know that antifowling paint isn't recommended, it's mandatory. Otherwise you can kiss your gelcoat goodbye. No boat owner in his or her right mind would leave a boat in an ocean marina without antifowling their hull.

Gary, I understand the chemistry behind the moisture and gelcoat mix. What i don't get is that there are simple solutions (such as, for example, a vinyl protective film) that could be included by manufacturers in order to mitigate this water contamination issue that aparently affect every single hull in any kind of water the world.

What if the vinyl film isn't watertight?  That is a distinct possibility since wraps will have seams.  They also can have pin pricks where the installer has to let trapped air out.  I don't know of a vinyl maker that will guarantee any application below the waterline.  Vinyl is very tender and won't take damage well at all.  I also have never seen a vinyl product that has the depth and appearance of a well-done metal flake under clear gelcoat.

Keep in mind that you are proposing a universal solution to a problem that is not at all universal.  My boat doesn't have your issue for two reasons.  First, it doesn't have flake, and second, I trailer it after every use.

You might find that a good acid wash followed by a fresh water rinse might remove some of your staining.  Letting it dry for a few months over the winter might also help.  If the flake is corroded, it won't come back.  Perhaps you can find a dry storage solution to help limit further decline.

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Hi Gary,

I have wrapped many boats and have never had issues with the underwater part. So I'm confident that a clear wrap will block out the water whilst being invisible and allowing the flake to still shine through. I don't beach the boat and I've been driving boats for many years so there's no reason for the wrap to get damaged.

I'm not proposing this as a 'universal solution'. I'm saying that it is very surprising that this discoloration (which seems to be something that happens to every metal flake gelcoat boat that stays in the water more than a few days) is basically accepted by both owners and manufacturers. I think that there should be a clear warning given when configuring a new boat with a flake gelcoat below the waterline OR that some sort of solution (clear wrap, extra protective epoxy or treatment) be proposed by boat manufacturers in order to prevent this from happening.

Expecting every single boat buyer to either have a lift or to keep their boat on a trailer year round and to consider this to be worldwide norm is a bit narrow minded and not very professionnal.

Nick

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4 hours ago, NickD said:

Hi Gary,

I have wrapped many boats and have never had issues with the underwater part. So I'm confident that a clear wrap will block out the water whilst being invisible and allowing the flake to still shine through. I don't beach the boat and I've been driving boats for many years so there's no reason for the wrap to get damaged.

I'm not proposing this as a 'universal solution'. I'm saying that it is very surprising that this discoloration (which seems to be something that happens to every metal flake gelcoat boat that stays in the water more than a few days) is basically accepted by both owners and manufacturers. I think that there should be a clear warning given when configuring a new boat with a flake gelcoat below the waterline OR that some sort of solution (clear wrap, extra protective epoxy or treatment) be proposed by boat manufacturers in order to prevent this from happening.

Expecting every single boat buyer to either have a lift or to keep their boat on a trailer year round and to consider this to be worldwide norm is a bit narrow minded and not very professionnal.

Nick

Did you read the owners manual before you decided to leave the boat in the water for extended periods of time?

If so, you chose to ignore the recommendations from the manufacturer, so the issue is on you.

If you chose to not follow them you should have either bottom painted it like recommended or chose to try your clear vinyl wrap before leaving it in the water for so long.

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8 minutes ago, 23LSVOwner said:

Did you read the owners manual before you decided to leave the boat in the water for extended periods of time?

If so, you chose to ignore the recommendations from the manufacturer, so the issue is on you.

If you chose to not follow them you should have either bottom painted it like recommended or chose to try your clear vinyl wrap before leaving it in the water for so long.

Does the manual say that discoloration will happen if you leave your boat in the water? No. It 'recommends' an antifouling paint. It doesn't mandate it.

I don't see what is so difficult to understand that this sort of deterioration on a specific type of finish (I don't see a non-flake gelcoat getting discolored) should be clearly notified when you decide on the finish of your boat.

It's got nothing to do with reading or not reading the user's manual. It this discoloration had been mentioned then, yes, I would have certainly tried to prevent it.

Edited by NickD
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The manual says that issues can happen. If they went through every possible issue that could happen it would take another page in the manual.

 

• HULL GEL COAT
If a boat will be left in the water all the time during boating season, Malibu recommends
using a bottom paint to protect it. Even with the highest-grade of gel coat, continuous
exposure to water, even fresh water, will eventually result in damage to the finish.
Therefore,
in these circumstances, boat owners must protect the finish with an approved bottom paint.
Your authorized Malibu dealer can direct you to the correct paint, and can actually do the
preparation for you.
Failure to protect the hull from excessive exposure to water, especially
foul water, can result in damage to the hull paint and gel coat is that is not
covered under warranty.

 

Seriously man, several on here are telling you the same thing.

You don't want to accept that you messed up.

 

 

Edited by 23LSVOwner
Added more
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Well let's just leave it as us agreeing to disagree.

These types of multi-purpose responsibility wavier clauses hold no ground in court. This isn't 'damage to the finish'. This is a deep modification of the gelcoat structure and tint. It won't just buff out. 

Anyway, I got the answers that I came for. 

Thanks to all the others who gave useful advice.

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43 minutes ago, NickD said:

Does the manual say that discoloration will happen if you leave your boat in the water? No. It 'recommends' an antifouling paint. It doesn't mandate it.

I don't see what is so difficult to understand that this sort of deterioration on a specific type of finish (I don't see a non-flake gelcoat getting discolored) should be clearly notified when you decide on the finish of your boat.

It's got nothing to do with reading or not reading the user's manual. It this discoloration had been mentioned then, yes, I would have certainly tried to prevent it.

Nick, your profile says that you are from Switzerland.  If that is correct, perhaps the issues is what you are accustomed to in a heavily regulated area such as the EU.  My experience, from the US side dealing with EU standards / regulation is that in attempt to cover every instance as you are suggesting, that the cost is driven up significantly.  The (closer to) capitalist market in the US that drives the vast majority of these boat purchases obviously doesn’t want or need such a solution.

I wish you good luck finding a solution and hope that you can enjoy the boat regardless.

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4 minutes ago, amartin said:

Nick, your profile says that you are from Switzerland.  If that is correct, perhaps the issues is what you are accustomed to in a heavily regulated area such as the EU.  My experience, from the US side dealing with EU standards / regulation is that in attempt to cover every instance as you are suggesting, that the cost is driven up significantly.  The (closer to) capitalist market in the US that drives the vast majority of these boat purchases obviously doesn’t want or need such a solution.

I wish you good luck finding a solution and hope that you can enjoy the boat regardless.

Thanks man. Yes I am in Switzerland and yes we are used to much more precise contractual details in general.

That being said I think my initial question was wrongly taken as a complaint. I wanted to find out if what I was experiencing was happening to others and if there were solutions to fix the issue. I'm obviously not going to start a fuss with Malibu about this, especially on a 5 year old boat! However I'm surprised that this issue isn't more problematic for other owners. Seems that most find this normal. But i actually think it's because a very large majority of US boaters dont have harbour spots or use lifts. Here in Europe, no one trailers their boat in and out of the water on a daily basis and lifts are extremely rare.

I can tell you that in 25+ years of owning boats, I've never witnessed this type of discoloration on gelcoats. That being said, this is my first metal flake hull. So goes to show that you learn some every day.

As mentionned previously, I'll wait to see if the discoloring fades off over winter through drying. If it does then I'll just wrap that area in clear vinyl for next season. If it doesn't then I'll I'll add a waterline stripe as well as the clear vinyl. They dont call me MacGyver for no reason...!

One thing is for sure it won't prevent me from enjoying this great boat!

:biggrin:

  • Like 2
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@NickD, I think you would find that most people don't have metal flake below the water line since the fish are not easily impressed.  It costs extra for flake, and putting it topside gets the most bang for the buck (or indeed, for the Euro).

I'm glad that you are enjoying your boat, and I hope that it does fade a bit for you over the winter.  The idea of a waterline stripe is very sound, and may help conceal the difference.

Please post a photo of your boat!

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11 hours ago, justgary said:

@NickD, I think you would find that most people don't have metal flake below the water line since the fish are not easily impressed.  It costs extra for flake, and putting it topside gets the most bang for the buck (or indeed, for the Euro).

I'm glad that you are enjoying your boat, and I hope that it does fade a bit for you over the winter.  The idea of a waterline stripe is very sound, and may help conceal the difference.

Please post a photo of your boat!

Hi Gary,

The flake isn't under the boat. That would indeed be a little silly.... It's on the side (like most flake boats). The affected portion is only the +/- 10 inch high area below the waterline.

I'd love to post pictures but I cant seem to find the function on the forum. All I see is "Insert image from URL". Doesn't really help...

 

 

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