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"So the consensus seems to be that you could take a modern GRP boat into these waters without risking your life." I think you misread the replies.
I would suggest that no matter how experienced the sailor, NO ONE GOES INTO THOSE WATERS WITHOUT RISKING THEIR LIFE. No matter what the boat is.
Survival time in that water, without an exposure suit, is something less than five minutes. If you go overboard, your diaphragm will freeze and you will stop breathing before the boat can drop sail and return for you. Puncture the hull and take on water...and you're in a very short race against that same water.
Beyond that it is just a matter of ego, experience, and relative risk. Metal hulls are less likely to be punctured by ice. Exotic composites (aramid, kevlar) are still basically NOT FOUND in composite yachts, except for the ones built to be ultra-light racers. And any racer can tell you, if you didn't break anything, it was built too heavy. These are not ice-armored boats, they are ultralight boats, and no matter what they are built from it is not designed to fend off ice.
Could you have a composite boat built "armored"? Sure. Can you armor you own boat by laying in high-tech materials, or steel tire belting and other reinforcement? Sure, people do.
But if you intend to sail in harm's way, you'll probably find it cheaper, faster, stronger, to simply buy a metal boat in the first place.
Last edited by jared; 06-04-2006 at 10:41 AM.