The Hull

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WorldThe Hull

Types of Hull

You're probably going to find more argument on line about hulls of boats than almost every other topic -- with the possible exception of Multihull vs Monohull. The types of hull to choose from include:

  • Fibreglass (GRP) either solid GRP or composite (balsa or foam core)
  • Steel
  • Wood
  • Carbon Fibre
  • Aluminium
  • Ferro Cement


There are even boats sailing the ocean that have had hulls made from recycled drink bottles, and Thor Heyerdahl famously sailed across the South Pacific in a raft made from balsa wood.

Do a lot of research, a lot of reading, and post a bunch of questions to forums before deciding on the hull of your boat. It's probably the single most important decision you will make.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hull Materials

Material Advantages Disadvantages
Solid Fibreglass Stronger than composite fibreglass although not as strong as steel.

Resists corrosion.

Low maintenance.

Reasonably cheap to maintain -- small repairs can often be done DIY and the materials are available world-wide.

Heavier than composite

Prone to osmosis.

Expensive to maintain and repair when extensive repairs are required.

Poor workmanship, especially relating to fasteners, can cause serious problems if left unattended.

Fibreglass -- Balsa Core Stronger than Foam core.

Reasonably low maintenance.

Light weight, although not as light as foam core.

Heavier than foam core.

Prone to osmosis. Osmosis, when it weeps into the core, can destroy the hull.

Relatively weak compared to steel and solid fibreglass.

Poor workmanship, especially relating to fasteners, can cause serious problems if left unattended.

Fibreglass -- Foam Core Reasonably low maintenance.

Light weight.

Prone to osmosis.

Relatively weak compared to steel and solid fibreglass. Probably the weakest hull material, most prone to hull breaches especially if used below the waterline.

Expensive to maintain if maintenance is required.

Poor workmanship, especially relating to fasteners, can cause serious problems if left unattended.

Steel Stronger than any other hull material.

Cheap to build and maintain. Repairs are available almost anywhere in the world.

Not prone to osmosis.

Tendency to rust, both inside and outside of the hull.

Heavy.

High maintenance -- need for regular paint maintenance.

Wood Lower weight than steel.

Can be cheap to maintain if maintenance is kept up regularly.

Does not rust.

Not prone to osmosis.

High maintenance.

Relatively weak compared to steel. Perhaps weaker than solid fibreglass depending on the thickness.

Build cost is relatively high. Most commonly found in older boats built before newer materials such as fibreglass became cheaper.

Ferro Cement Cheap to build and maintain.

Not prone to osmosis.

High maintenance.

Relatively weak compared to steel.

Can be prone to rust.

Heaviest build material, ferro cement boats often do not sail well.

Aluminium Extremely low maintenance -- no need for painting above the waterline.

Not prone to rust (but destructive corrosion can still occur if left unattended).

Not prone to osmosis.

Does not require painting or any other barrier coats.

Relatively weak compared to steel (but stronger than wood and most GRP).

Expensive to build and maintain. Difficult to repair in remote locations, and specialised repair equipment is required.

Many antifouls are not compatible with aluminium.

Difficult to insulate both from noise and temperature.

Hull Maintenance (Antifoul)

Introduction

Description, etc.

Preparation

Describe

Application

Describe

Antifoul Products

Maintenance between Antifouling Applications (Haulouts)

Describe

Hull Paints (for Steel/Wood/Ferro Cement)

Forums

List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)

Links

General

Steel Hulls

Balsa Cored Hulls

Even a cursory google search will bring up many articles from respected marine surveyors. Most of the issues relate to water entry into the hull, especially when balsa core is used on the bottom of the hull (not the sides).

Foam Cored Hulls

Many of the same issues relating to balsa cored hulls also occur in foam cored hulls but some new materials that have been developed in recent years bring some hope for increased hull reliability.

References & Publications

Publications, Guides, etc.

Comments

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