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Old 07-23-2006
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Wooden boats can last a long time with care. Look at the USS Constitution, which is well over 200 years old, yet still a float. The biggest problem with traditionally constructed wood boats is probably rot and moisture related problems. Epoxy-coated, cold-molded wood boats, like those made by the Gougeon brothers, are more akin to GRP boats than they are traditional wood boats, but have some problems of both traditional wooden boats and GRP boats.

Sixty years is not all that unusual for well made steel boats. Some of the naval ships from WWII are still afloat. Granted, a recreational boat is likely to have less rigorous maintenance and be made on a bit lighter scale. Corrosion is the real enemy of a steel or aluminum hull. Steel boats need to have serious maintenance, as do wood boats.

The reason you see fiberglass boats often die before wooden boats is the level of maintenance, and the fact that fiberglass is very susceptible to fatigue issues. Since many people think that fiberglass is low-maintenance—they fail to do even the basic maintenance to presever the boat's structure. The three biggest enemies for GRP hulls that I see are osmosis-related damage, delamination/core rot, and fatigue from allowing the hull or deck to flex.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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