When molded fiberglass came on the scene in the 1950’s, a boatbuilding revolution followed. Pleasure boats were now produced by mass production and boating became affordable to a large segment of the population. Wooden boats seemed destined for extinction or for museum viewing at best.
Wood had been the material of choice in building boats ever since man first put out to sea. But most wooden boats were subject to rot and worm damage and building wooden boats was costly since each boat was handcrafted.
But some die-hard craftsmen continued designing and building with wood. Why? Unlike fiberglass, wood boats could be built economically. Also, wood has great design flexibility and a “timeless beauty.” Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but few beholders would deny that wood boats are very pleasing to the eye.
In recent years a counter-revolution has occurred. It’s back to wood more and more. The main reasons are:
• epoxy adhesives
• urethane coating
• marine grade plywood
• durable high-tech calks
These four product developments have eliminated a good deal of the previous pains with wood: rot, worms, leaks, and peeling paints. The added advantages are that today’s wood boats are lighter – meaning more fuel efficient – and stronger than their fiberglass counterparts.