Thoughts on paddling a black hulled boat

I talked with a gentleman today about a boat that may be available for sale and it has a black deck. Wondering how that might be. A dream boat of mine…P&H Cetus MV. I live in FL. I probably would not paddle the boat much in the summer months as it is hard to pry me out of the V8 in the warmer months. I would see this primarily as a winter boat. Also, I have recently taken a job in TN that will keep me there for the next year and a half or so. Next few months in Nashville and then to Knoxville for 12-18 months. So, I see myself paddling in the rivers, lakes and such around the Knoxville area the next year. Imagine I will paddling the SUP on the river when it warms up as well. Anyway, I have to believe a black boat must be very striking. Anyone paddling one (black or Cetus) that has some experience to share. Thanks.

If the black deck makes your legs too
toasty, you can spray white over it. The black deck should be just about ideal for cutting glare.

Black deck/White Hull?
Here’s a B&W MV with a Blue LV, White Capella 161, Yellow Quest, Yellow Valley Avocet and Green NDK Explorer HV.

I paddled it briefly.

black boat
I had a black carbon fiber canoe and it was amazing how hit it’s surface got even though I was north in the ADKs. This could be a good or bad thing in a kayak.


black over black
is my lovely wife’s 161 Capella. This scheme really makes the boat’s lines more apparent. On summer days in SC the deck and hatch covers do get more warm than is comfortable to touch or sit on. A quick splash cools it all off.

get it
It will be fine, just splash some water on it.

I’ll get an eye out for you in east tn.

Ryan L.

Black gel coat will show EVERY little scratch, and look like hell if you use it, and if you care about things like that.

not scratches
but patina and battle scars.

But yes, not only do they show, but any spot that gets a bit of usage will matte over - it is extremely visible on a black surface.

As to getting hot - yeah, that too. Black CF PH Quest LV gets really toasty under Ohio sun, I expect more so in Florida.

I have a black poly whitewater kayak
The dark colors tend to keep you warmer in cold water. It was never a problem. In warm, sunny weather if the deck gets a bit hot you just roll.

Black doesn’t have the best visibility on the ocean, however.

Black Kayak
I live in central Florida. I once had a very dark grey Nordkapp. Beautiful boat. However heat waves would shimmer from the deck on a hot, still day and I could literally fry eggs on the deck even on some warm Winter days. Never again (for Florida at least).

On the other hand I have used black kayaks in colder climates (Wales, Canada, etc) with no issue at all.

Greg Stamer

Someone must like the look of it
I figure the only reason for a black deck is because you really like the look of it. Everything else to me is negative. I’m sure someone could make the argument that it helps heat the inside of the hull on sunny days, and I’ve been told it certainly does, but you’re going to be dressed to stay warm without that help anyway (or you should be), and the truth is, even with a white hull, you’re bottom half is protected from the wind and spray. So in practice, that doesn’t seem significant to weigh into a decision. On the contrary, you’re probably better off without the extra heat building up, and it can be a lousy negative on warm days. The person I know with a black decked kayak here in NC I have heard mention on occasions that it gets too hot in the sunshine.

Beyond that, black would have to be the worst color for visibility, unless you had a white kayak on snow. Even on snow, blue, yellow, red, green would stand out better glancing across the horizon than black.

Then just the durability based on exposure. The deck absorbs more light, experiences much greater temp fluctuations. Does it matter? I don’t know? If sun exposure can cause degradation of some kind, it will almost certainly happen much quicker on a black deck.

If I saw a kayak that I really wanted for cheap, I may still pick it up really wishing it wasn’t black. If there was one color deck that would prevent me from buying a kayak, black would be it. Given a choice between black and pink, I would choose pink, and deal with the inevitable jokes and chuckles. So I guess I’m saying I can appreciate why you might be concerned about it, especially given paddling in the southeast.

Black seemed to kind of hit the sea kayak scene pretty solid the past few years. A real head scratcher for me, other than having a pretty sleek look when shiny brand new prior to any wear and scratches. To me it seems to simply set a few more important concerns aside to achieve that showroom floor quality.

But if you have fun in it, you have fun in it, and that’s what’s most important.

I expect a black 'yak would be difficult for rescue personnel to see, especially on an overcast day. I believe Mr. Stamer’s partner for the Iceland trip was in a black boat and was invisible even when the coast guard could spot him.


black deck
I’ve paddled a black boat in Florida during Feb and Mar with no issues. If it gets hot I splash it. Keeps your hands warm touching the deck. Just don’t leave it tight on the racks in the sun.

Isn’t weight savings the reason for
clear gel or skin coat?

I’m assuming that most of the black canoes and kayaks are carbon fiber with clear skins or gel, rather than boats painted black.

I recently acquired a used carbon Epic Touring Cruiser 16 and it’s been pretty cold here in IL the last few weeks, so I have no feedback regarding how hot a black boat gets in hot temps.

I’ve got a couple boats with white gel coated hulls and I like the way they hide scratches.

Does glossy black cut glare?

probably black gelcoat
I’ve seen more sea kayaks with black gelcoat than clearcoated black carbon fiber. A clearcoated carbon fiber Cetus would likely be specifically mentioned. Whether better or not, it would be something special.

Black Visibility
While black can be visible in some conditions, let’s face it; people usually choose black gear because they think it’s “bad-ass” or stylish.

The incident that gobsmacked mentioned involved more than just a black kayak. On our Iceland circumnav, Freya (“the Lady in Black”) had a black kayak, black drysuit, black PFD and a black paddle amid a black sea, a shore of black volcanic rock, and fog. If we separated she was not easy to spot.

We did two back to back 50+ mile crossings in two days, when a search was started on a false alarm. During the second crossing we had a helicopter fly overhead but they only spotted my yellow Explorer and didn’t even see the black kayak next to me. This created more confusion to the rescue personnel.

Following is a link to an image that I took about twenty miles into the aforementioned crossing .

Greg Stamer


– Last Updated: Jan-27-12 9:11 AM EST –

Thanks for sharing your experience, Greg. Brightly coloured gear for me, for exactly this reason.

That picture, while beautiful, really makes the point.


If its hot splash water on it.
I have used my RapidFire carbon fiber in Florida when it gets hot.

It was not at all bad in two weeks of constant sun (dry season) but its not summer there…the max temp about 80.

Yes, compared to glossy white.
It is easy to wet sand the bow to take the shine off.