Regarding fiberglass fatigue, are there any studies or test how the effects of fiberglass fatigue impact seaworthiness? More specifically, what are the warning signs aside from the usual (bad blistering, delamination, cracking, etc) that impacts seaworthiness? At what point do you say "This boat is x years old and is more prone to sustaining irreparable damage at sea due to age/fatigue"?
I'm not a big fan of Hunters but I totally disagree with the "not as well thought out" part of your post. My friends Hunter 38 is the most remarkably WELL thought out boat I have ever sailed. It does exactly what it was designed and built for, does it very well and is FULL of extremely well thought out and developed ideas and details.
I don't like their looks and I don't care for the B&R rig but other than that
they are damn near perfect for cruising around here. I've never found anything about it (other than those two "minor" things) where I thought "I don't like the way they did that".
You are right, my wording was a bit broad.
In my limited experience, it's the "small" things that add up over time. The quality of materials used, the way things are installed, etc. For instance, are the winches backed by backing plates properly, how are the chainplates supported, etc. They may ship from the factory fine, but how is the construction in those areas going to hold up 10/20/30/40 years from now or under unusual circumstances?
In one specific example, I know of a Hunter that ran aground and sustained fairly substantial damage to the keel and hull/keel joint area. During the repair, it was noted that the keel had nothing in place to properly spread the load of the keel along the bottom of the hull. For 99% of the boats out there, it doesn't matter, but for that small percentage where it's gonna be necessary, it makes a difference. It also represents the general attitude and time that was put into assembling the boat properly.
So by "not well thought out", I mean that the little details were overlooked or unwise decisions were made in small things, not the design or layout of the boat itself.
They have their use and they are fine for that, don't get me wrong. The point I was getting at is that the forces of time and neglect are more powerful against those boats than others.