Gray vs. Black

Ah, the mystery surrounding the gray hull fabric. I have seen two forum posts recently…one questioning the quality of the older gray hull and one talking about a brownish hull that, fortunately, the owner thought was rather handsome.

Here’s the straight skinny, though at the time, it was a manufacturer’s nightmare.

There is/was no difference in the construction or quality of the gray vs black material. We began the production of the Greenland II using both, and did so happily until one day a customer called and told us that his formerly gray hull was now an olive green. “Impossible,” we replied. “Can you send us a photo?”

He did. It was. But he mentioned that the area under the spare paddle was still gray. Big clue.

I took a square foot sample from the lastest shipment and placed it outside in the sun with my coffee mug in the center. In 15 minutes (the maximum I can go without a second cup) the sample was olive except for the gray footprint of the mug. I repeated the test with with an old sample of gray. No sign of discoloration in eight hours.

A call was placed to our supplier, a large and reputable coated fabrics producer, and I was assured that nothing had changed. I sent the mug-printed photo-sensitive sample to his attention and asked that he check with his compound suppliers to see what they had changed. Same response. Nothing had changed.There was a strong implication that it might be my imagination.

Maybe the ozone layer, I suggested.

Faced with the possibility of getting more gray hull fabric that could have been used in the darkroom as print paper, I dropped the gray and doubled my next order for black.

Somewhere amongst the 1000’s of GIIs on the water, there are lots of black hulls, a fair number of gray hulls and an embarrassing number of handsome brownish/olive hulls, the tint level of which depends only upon their daytime usage and relation to the equator.

And that’s the whole sordid story.



2 thoughts on “Gray vs. Black

  1. Phil, I happen to have grown fond of the golden hue of my ’97 GII hull.(:>)

    It is interesting though, that my 1982 Sporty hull is still gray after all these years.

    I prefer the lighter color due to the hot Florida sun. Fortunatly the cockpit of the Cooper is small enough that I block most of the sun from getting to the black TPU hull.

    The mfg of your fabric has today’s typical attitude towards it’s customers and that’s unfortunate. However, the new black hull material really is beautiful.


  2. Had a gray-hulled G II, vintage 1996, which showed some photoresponse. I treated the hull with 303 and the color stabilized somewhere near olive. Never bothered me, and never affected the performance of the boat.

    Black hulls are sexy, for sure!

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