September 16, 2012

The benefit of fiberglass

 BOATBUILDERS in the early days of fiberglass could never have imagined how long their products would last. After 15 or 20 years, an old-time boatbuilder could rely on a wooden boat to do the decent thing and rot away into oblivion. But today, 40- or 50-year-old fiberglass boats are still going strong and depressing sales of new boats.

Consequently, there are many bargains to be found among old-fashioned but sound sailboats capable of sailing around the world. Like aging film stars caught off-guard, they may look slightly seedy and down at heel in the glare of the spotlight, but after a good paint job and little body work they’ll be as good as ever.

If you’re young and not too concerned with creature comfort, you can even find old fiberglass boats, capable of crossing oceans, that bear price tags with figures lower than those of many used cars. They naturally won’t offer the comfort and style of newer designs, but the sea doesn’t care about that. The sea respects only seaworthiness, and the design aspects of seaworthiness don’t change as the demands of modern styling and accommodations do.

Size is not the main arbiter of seaworthiness, either. Boats of 20 feet and up regularly cross oceans. The smaller and simpler the boat, the less money you’ll need to make your cruising dreams come true.

Go small. Go young. But go.

Today’s Thought
But there are wanderers o’er Eternity
Whose bark drives on and on, and anchor’d ne’er shall be.
Byron, Childe Harold

“How do you like your new babysitter, Johnny?”
“I hate her, Mom. If I was bigger I would grab her and bite her on the back of her neck like Dad does.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your 3-times weekly blog.

After considerable searching I discovered an old IOR beauty this spring. A 1976 Heritage 1-Ton. Seaworthy as the day she was first launched and updated. Sure, she's lacking some of the cushy creature comforts of brand new boats, but she's stable and comfortable and (mostly) everything that's going to break has already broken and been replaced with stronger ... and the price? Mid-teens. She and I will sail oceans together.