Re: Why paint instead of gelcoat?
The problem with "PAINT', any paint, is that it cannot be immersed for long periods - or it will lift and lose adhesion. For instance, if you are heeled over for a few days and you hull is immersed due to the constant heel, there is a quite good chance that you will 'lose some paint'. Ditto, if you shrink wrap a hull and dont provide proper ventilation or (horrors) have the shrink wrap come in contact with the paint, expect to see lifting and loss of adhesion.
If you carefully look at 'any' paint tech manual, clearly written will be long term immersion or contact with water will result in loss of paint adhesion, etc. etc. etc.
Spraying gelcoat including the final buff-out is easy, once the somewhat steep learning curve is accomplished. Gelcoat can withstand long immersion in water, much longer than 'paint', any paint. Once you paint a hull, you will be constantly painting the hull, especially that part of the hull that 'dips' constantly into the water, or as stated if very long term heeled.
Gelcoat will last 20-25 years if 'maintained', can be 'restored' several times before needing either painting or resprayed with more gelcoat. Paint, especially boat paint, is prone to 'lifting' if in constant or long term contact with WATER (read the boat paint tech manuals !!!!); and you WILL be repainting every 5-10 years thereafter.
I spray both 'paint' (Awlgrip and the Interlux "mega-boat" finishes and "Perfection" etc.) and gel on my boats. No question, I prefer re-spraying gelcoat over 'paint', 'any' paint. Once I learned to spray gel, learned that computers do the best color matching (even white hulls), ... never will 'paint' a boat again - too vulnerable to scratches, to adhesion loss, to waterline 'pimples', etc. etc. etc.
Once you paint a boat, you will be continually and regularly be painting the boat. Gelcoat, or spraying gelcoat, is much much easier and is much much longer lasting.