You would find it difficult to convince the American market that aluminum would be preferably over fiberglass for boat construction.
Nobody is saying the opposite. In Europe fiberglass boats are much more common than aluminum boats and for a good reason: they are cheaper to build for a similar weight. The Aluminium boats are only common and even dominant on the French market in a very small market segment: grand range voyage boats, I mean the ones used to circumnavigate or to sail to faraway places and nobody do that with more frequency than French sailors.
The reason is obvious: the boats are as light as fiberglass boats (and sail as well) and are much more resistant to hull impacts to debris in the water. They can also be beached (much are centerboarders) with much more confidence than a fiberglass boat.
Regarding boatbuilding in aluminum I was referring to the pleasure market and particularly to cruising sailboats. There are in Europe many shipyards that have small production and medium serial production of sailboats. Do you have any on the US, I mean sailboats? There are even more shypiards that have not a serial production but are specialized on pleasure aluminium building.
Regarding the difference in performance, that is a huge one and one that makes a small steel boat really only appropriated to sail on the trade winds and even so a lot worse than an aluminum boat, that can have a similar performance regarding the one of a fast fiberglass boat.
I know what I am talking about. A big part of my sail learning was done (for years) on a 16m steel ketch. I remember how safe and even fast the boat was with a F9 wind but also remember that outside what most would call bad weather, the most we got was motorsailing or small speeds. In fact we only went out with the boat for sailing when all other sail boats were coming to port looking for shelter
An interesting post of a owner of a 43 year old aluminum boat
"For some reason there seems to be many stories of disaster, particularly on this side of the Atlantic, around aluminum as a boat building material. These stories normally go like this: “I have a friend, who knows a guy, who has a cousin, that bought an aluminum boat, and after a week in the marina the bottom fell out of her".
The funny thing is that after 20 years of aluminum boat ownership and ten years of being a fairly high profile proponent of the material, I have yet to meet one of these mythical aluminum boat victims.
The fact is that as long as the boat is built out of the right aluminum alloys, and the right welding rod is used (all well documented), aluminum boats last longer and stay stronger and more stiff than boats built of any other material you can think of.
Which brings me to Carina, a McCurdy and Rhodes Custom 48—same designer as our own Morgan’s Cloud—that has just won the Newport Bermuda Race for the third time. Thing is, the first time Carina won, the leisure suit was in fashion…the year was 1970.
Carina won again in 2010, exactly forty years after her first win. And then again this year. And you know what Carina was doing between her second and third win? She sailed around the world clocking up 42,000 miles. And while she was at it, she did a few races…like The Trans-Atlantic, The Sydney Hobart and The Fastnet—not exactly known as walks in the park.
One tough old bird that aluminum boat…fast too.
I spoke with Rives Potts, who is not only Carina’s owner and skipper, but also runs Pilots Point Marine. Rives has been involved in building and repairing many aluminum boats over the years. He had this to say:
-If an aluminum boat is built of the right alloys and the right welding rod is used, she will last essentially forever.
-The great thing about aluminum is that what you see is what you get—if you have a problem, you can see it.
-He has not had to make any structural repairs to Carina. And she shows no significant corrosion.
She is still incredibly stiff and strong after 43 years of hard voyaging and racing.
-And because Carina is stiff, she is still fast and it is much easier to keep the deck fittings and hatches watertight than it would be on a boat that flexes more.
-When he has seen corrosion damage on aluminum boats—usually the result of a wiring problem or an inaccessible area where debris has lain for years—it is confined to a small area and is easy to repair as good as new by cutting out the plate with a skill saw and welding in new plate. Just make sure you use the right alloy plate and the right welding rod.
-Repairs and modifications to an aluminum boat are easier [that means cheaper too] than they are on boats built of most other materials.
-The only real drawback of aluminum is keeping paint on it. But if the paint job is done right even that issue can be overcome."
Why aluminum is the best building material for sailboats
Well, I would say that the biggest disadvantage is price
, but that is another story
Also an interesting well know quote of Jimmy Cornell that after having tried all kindss of boats (and boat materials) to long distance voyage opted for aluminium.:
Can aluminum compete with fiberglass as a production hull material?
Jimmy Cornell's Ocean Cruising Survey, a valuable indicator of trends among world-voyaging cruisers, shows that metal boats are on the increase. A metal hull was the number-one wish of those with other hull materials. "My next boat will be metal..." was heard over and over, particularly by those who were already cruising aboard a metal boat.
It is said among dedicated blue water cruisers in the South Pacific, "50% of the boats are metal; the rest of them are from the United States...."
and some more information about aluminum hulls, none of them regards the problems you mention (maybe you cab say what the marine credible source that sustain your negative opinion regarding aluminum boats):