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Old 03-22-2001
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Don Casey is on a distinguished road
Considering Ferrocement

I am considering buying a secondhand ferrocement boat since it appears to be more durable and to offer more boat for the money. My principal use for such a vessel would be channel cruising over extended weekends and vacation cruising in the North and Irish Sea. What is your opinion?

Don Casey responds:

I am hesitant to give you a direct response. I have heard that "stone" boats have a wider following in the UK, but ferrocement is not very well respected as a boat-building material in the US. This is probably because all ferrocement boats built here are homebuilt—very often poorly. As a consequence, all ferrocement boats are suspect and suffer from low resale value. My guess is that it wouldn't be hard to find a ferrocement boat in the US for free. The problem is that it costs the same to outfit a stone boat as a glass, metal, or wooden one, but when it comes time to sell, you will be unable to recoup your investment.

None of this, however, may apply in the UK. Still, your comment about "more boat for the money" suggests that ferrocement has less appeal there as well.

If this is a first boat for you, allow me to suggest that you buy something smaller than you seem to be contemplating. Mistakes—and you are going to make your share—are nearly always less serious in a two-ton vessel than in one that displaces 20 tons. The lower potential for damage to other boats or for financial disaster will make those early, formative days more relaxed. Your dream lives or dies on those first days, not on whether you bought the "perfect" boat.

Ferrocement, by the way, is not a good material for the size of boat that I am suggesting.

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