Fatigue isn't really a major problem for most steel, as it has to be stressed a certain amount before it starts to fatigue...where aluminum does not... Just flexing aluminum can fatigue it, IIRC. Fatigue isn't that much of an issue on a steel boat... but it can be one on an aluminum one—however, I would rate corrosion as a much more common and harder to control problem in the case of a well-designed, well-build steel or aluminum boat.
The real problem with fiberglass is that it isn't all that rigid... and that when it isn't rigid enough, or properly reinforced, it flexes. The hull on some poorly built boats will show this if you take them out in rough conditions... they'll oilcan... with the sides going in and out... A properly designed GRP boat doesn't really have fatigue issues to same degree, as long as the flex is prevented... the material doesn't really fatigue AFAIK
This lack of rigidity is one reason that they make cored fiberglass decks. A cored deck is much lighter than a solid fiberglass deck of the same stiffness—and much more rigid and far stronger than a solid fiberglass deck of the same weight. Properly designed and constructed, it is a very good material for making boats—especially if made from the newer epoxy resins, which are very resistant to osmosis-related problems.
Boats generally get pronounced dead, when there is no one willing to take the time, effort and expense to restore the boat to working condition. Doesn't matter if it is steel, aluminum, wood or GRP.
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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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