One of the biggest issues with FC is that most all negative information is of second hand new's. Brent here on the CF would be the first person I have ever come across that has had a first hand experiance of shipwreck
and losing an FC vessel. All other stories I have heard are all second hand "some guy some where" stories, with no actuall date of when the incedent may have happend.
OK, so here is a little info that may help. FC construction is the second oldes construction method of boats. Wood being the first of course. FC came from a Frech method of building and the name actually comes from the French word "ferciment". The earliest boat to be built in FC is believed to be in the very early 1800's. However, a Frenchman (Joseph Lambot) patented the process around 1855. In the later years of the 1800's, commercial shipping
was being built by the Italians and the Dutch. But it was the Norwegans that changed history
compleatly by building large ships. The Naval archetect Fougner had his first design launched in 1917. followed closely by two others in 1918. The biggest was a 1000ton ship called teh M.S. Askelad. One of the largest vessels built was an amercian oil
tanker of 6300tons in 1920.
The very first FC boat built in NZ was in 1964, built by an Amercan by the name of Dr Robert Griffiths. The boat was called Awhanee and was a 53ft cutter
The saying that a Kiwi could make anything from No.8 wire and bailing twine was a famouse saying that came out of WW2. Kiwi's in the 60's had not lost that skill and many FC boats began to pop up everywhere. Richard Hartley and Brian Donovan were accredited FC boat designers and within a decade, FC plans by Richard Hartley out sold all other designs worldwide. Proffesional builders started building in 6 different countries being NZ of course, South Africa
The nightmares of FC building came around the early 70's. One or two bad ones were built in NZ, but that was rare fro here. It was the backyarder in many other countries that had little clue to what was required to make a boat. He had no idea of where the true cost came into the boat, many often thinking the Hull
was where all the hard work and money
was to be spent and so FC was cheap and relitively easy, requiring no specialised tools or even facilities. But sadly, they later found out that it was time consuming and the fitting out was were the true cost came in. This gave birth to many of the totaly unfinished hulls sitting out in paddocks and yards. The builder
being totaly disolusioned with the project
and some not even thinking of the cost of getting the boat to the water
. The few proffesional yards having ago at building soon went out of business because the time of building FC was too long and labour intensive to make it economical for them.
Other major issues, and the issues that has given FC the bad rap, is the backyarder that had no idea of how the medium of FC works. This is still true today by the way. Few understand how it works and how it gets it's strength. So anyway, mistakes
were often made by a backyarder, for one simple reason. They did not follow the plan. Like any boat, whether it be steel, glass wood, what ever, the boat is designed for the weight of the material it is being built from. By the way, JUST because a hull is FC, does not mean it will be automaticaly heavey. Many of the FC boats are built in the days of wide full hull design and it is the design that makes the boat heavy. Some backyarders thinking it was the Cement that gave the hull strength, didn't seem to get there head
around the fact that the hull needed to be thin. So they applied way to thick a layer of cement on the hull. Some deviated fromt he desing and built upper deck
area's from FC, when the desing had been calculated using Ply. And some took boats plans that had never been converted to be built in FC at all. The worst story I have heard of (secondhand :-) was of one boat being launched in the Us down a slipway. It just kept going down. One story I personaly know of localy here, was a 60ft launch that every single
structure had been built in FC. The boat was so top heavey, it was compleatly unstable and uncomfortable when a float.
HOWEVER, all the horrors aside, the good thing today is that most of those horro stories no longer exist. That was 30yrs ago now and those boats have mostly been destroyed. If anyone finds anything that has never made it to the sea and was built back in that era, I strongly suggest some major research
being done before purchase
Now to some of the "oldwives tales". Probably one of the most common you will come across is that the Armature in FC can rust if there is a crack or hole. Actually this is totaly untrue. Firstly you have to understand something important. Cement is a Chemical and chemicaly reacts with steel. Or more importantly, Rust. It turns rust into an inert compound (sorry the name escapes me at the mo. I will edit it in later when I remember it) stopping the rust from continueing and allowing the cement to "bond" to the steel. The rust that you may at time see weeping down the outside of a hull is actually often a tie wire that the tip of it has been to close to the cement surface. There is no underlying issues that will cause the cement to "fall off" the hull.
The next tale is weight. FC is often considered plain and simple heavey. But that is also not true. Much of the "sluggishness" of these hulls comes from there design era. The time when hull design was "full bodied". GRP brought in the lightweight speed demons we see today. But they are slender and flat hulled. Not an easy desing to do in FC, although I don't see why it couldn't be done. The big difference is the fact that the modern hull has a Bolt on keel
, often witht eh ballast being much further down. FC hull design had one major advantage. The keel
was part of the Hull. Personaly I like that.
Another tale is strength. FC is designed very differently to other materials for one reason major difference. Strength is all about load transference. FC lends itself to dissipating huge loads into it's structure and it is this abilty that gives it great strength. Yes Brent lost his boat, yes others have been lost, but then I also know of some boats that have been lost but the hull is still intaked and has been pounded for years and still remains intaked. In all situations that I know, Steel, Wood and Glass will not escape any destruction anymore than FC would in the same situation.
It's hard to repair!. No it's not actually. It is one of the simplest medieums and certainly the cheapest of all to repair.
I will stop this here now. If you anyone has any questions I may not have covered, please feel free to ask and I or maybe some others will be able to answer.