Senior Moment Member
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: West Vancouver B.C.
Thanked 67 Times in 64 Posts
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I wouldn't go quite as far as SloopJonB.
The main reason most boats are fiberglass is that is the only material that lends itself to series production in molds.
For a one-off custom sailboat both aluminum and modern cold molded wood and epoxy construction is excellent. A cold molded epoxy boat has as little maintenance as fiberglass and no chance of any blisters ever.
My first choice if I was able to afford a custom boat is aluminum. In this area - B.C. - many fishboats, whale watching boats and pleasure boats are welded aluminum and they have few problems and a very long service life. The French produce many aluminum sailboats - Garcia, Alubat, and others - and they are cruising world wide without problems.
Steel though is heavy unless the boat is large and rust protection is a huge issue, especially on an older boat.
I agree about cold moulded wood although if done with epoxy I include it with "plastic" boats. It would be my first choice for a custom boat - finished bright there is nothing so beautiful.
I would be nervous about aluminium though, despite their record as workboats here, due to galvanics. I read a lengthy writeup by the buyer of one of Tom Watsons (IBM) "Palawans". It was built in alloy by a big time Dutch or German yard (A&R??) can't remeber for sure. When he cleaned it out to start the restoration he found major area of the bilge that were nearly perforated like Swiss cheese. After some research and checking he realized that it had been caused by the small bits of copper wire clipped off by the electricians when they wired the boat. One hole, nearly through was caused by an errant penny that ended up in the bilge. I have also heard tales of an alloy boat that was perforated and sank at the dock after only a week in a hot marina.
I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.