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Old 08-03-2013, 12:52   #1
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Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

Dont know much about wooden boats...
My plastic boat (from the mid 70s) seems to be able to last VERY long, if maintained. At this freshwater lake where i stay there are some beautiful wood boats sailing. Most of them are made between 1910 -1935. Thees boat looks as good as new and the owners are very active sailers. (all of them are monohulls).
Just for fun ....which boat plastic/wood will still be here in, like 200-500 years?
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Old 08-03-2013, 13:00   #2
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

my pickaxe has lasted nearly 40 years, only had four new handles and two new heads. good for another 100 years

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Old 08-03-2013, 13:25   #3
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pirate Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

I don't know anyone with a 100yr old plastic boat... but I do know folk who live aboard and actively sail a wooden one thats over that age.. the pic is in the Azores as they were heading back to the UK from the Caribbean to complete the circle... wish I could handle a boat like this young man..
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Old 08-03-2013, 13:40   #4
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

goboatingnow has made a statement which is in direct corelation to the question. Wood boats need constant attention and care. It's not a matter of current condition it is a matter of how many hours to maintain each type of hull material that is the issue and his statement addresses the number of times planks, rivets, serving and frames are being replaced in a wood boat. The USS Constitution is a wood sailing vessel. It is still in commission by the US Navy and you can go aboard and see every part and fitting but there is very little left of the original vessel.
215 years of service but there is only about 40 feet of the original keel left in the whole ship.
We don't know about plastic hulls yet because they've only been around for about 60 years. There are many old ones that are still around.
kind regards,
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Old 08-03-2013, 17:09   #5
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pirate Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

And let's not forget that boathouses were built because it was cheaper to build the boathouse than pay for the maintenance on the weather exposed wooden boats that went in them. And I'm still waiting for a fiberglass boat to be found full of dry rot. Also, if you take a wood boat that's been sitting in the water and weigh it, it will weigh more than when launched.

Some wooden boats are built better than others (i.e. ventilation). Others are cared for better than others but they require work to maintain. Sun is vey unkind to varnish. Of course, the original poster asked "if maintained" (Which can be a very expensive, time consuming proposition) but the simpler question would be "If not maintained."

Wooden boats sure can be beautiful though!
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Old 08-03-2013, 20:00   #6
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

[QUOTE=MonsunMike;1179750---
Just for fun ....which boat plastic/wood will still be here in, like 200-500 years?[/QUOTE]

They will both be here if properly maintained. Of course there will be a slight difference in the cost of said maintenance.
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Old 08-03-2013, 20:56   #7
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

The USS Constitution was launched in 1797, and can still sail, though maintenance costs are high. Plastic boats were only invented in the 20th Century, so we don't know how long they'll last yet. Oil-eating algae that are used to clean up spills may mutate into something that eats fiberglass, so... stay tuned!
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Old 16-03-2013, 11:09   #8
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

wooden boats i believe will outlast polyester as the polyester molecule is constantly shrinking upon itself therefore becoming more brittle over time.
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Old 16-03-2013, 11:39   #9
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

There is no question that a properly maintained wooden boat will last longer than a fiberglass one. Fiberglass has what's called a fatigue limit and eventually will become cycle limited. One a hull reaches this point normal maintenance will not suffice to return the hull's strength.

A wooden hull however, well it's always possible to replace individual planks, ribs, ect... Such that its still the same hull even if the parts have all been changed out.
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Old 16-03-2013, 12:32   #10
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

As a lover of old boats, of all stripes, wooden boats are in a class by themselves, they also require the attention of a high maintenance lover. If that is your thing then it is a good thing. Glass less so, but still require care. I work on a 30 year old steel boat and it requires extensive maintenance with a crew of 13, a lot of steel gets replaced, much like wooden boats. Old wood boats rule on the emotional side, and if you were to get one in good shape and keep her that way, it wouldn't be too big a deal. I don't believe glass boats will last as long, but my 30 y.o. glass boat is in good shape and I expect she will out live me (I hope). It boils down to what turns your crank.
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Old 16-03-2013, 13:34   #11
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

I build wooden boats. I love the process, as well as the result. I have owned boats of fiberglass, aluminum and wood. The glass boat hardly got used because it didn't 'talk' to me. The aluminum got used a whole hellova lot. She did talk to me. I am building a wooden 36' schooner [it grew on the construction floor ...]. All of these boats will live longer than I will, and the schooner I am building will prob ably go to one of my grandsons. I recognize the curiosity in the original question, but does it matter? As others have pointed out here, what matters is if you feel something for your boat. Personally, no glass boat has ever 'talked' to me like wood and metal boats do. That's doubtless me, not the boats. And they all require maintenance. All of them.
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Old 16-03-2013, 13:48   #12
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Good question, but unanswerable yet.

Real question is "how long does a boat last and is still usable"

As mentioned earlier, wood boats last as long as you maintain them. However, as the previous owner of an 80 year old woodie, most really old woodies are like humans - less than original. I read somewhere that the human body totally recycles itself approximately every 7 years. Woodies are like this. I did my apprentiship in a Woodie boat yard in San Fran and part of it was restoring one of the great shops fromthe 19th century. Mind you i didnt get to touch the beaut other than to make locust wood trammels, but the point was there were so many planks replaced and frames sistered that it was clear that this boat after numerous rebuilds was only conceptually the same vessel.

Same for my boat. 13 owners, 7 circumnavigations. 2 year rebuild/sail when i owned her, owned for 6 years and sailing was the least of things done during ownership.

So point is, glass has only been around as long as glass boats have been wrecked on beaches, same for metal.

Want a real answer? Come back from the dead and ask your grandkids!

My bet is alloy.

...yea ok see my profile, i own alloy so maybe wishful thinking...
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Old 16-03-2013, 14:35   #13
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

IMO it's not the material that makes the difference it is the differing construction methods that allow everything to be replaced on a traditionally built wooden boat (just like GBN's pickaxe!).

So, in 200-500 years only a wood boat could be - plastic hull would have degraded beyond use long beforehand.

but likely that 99.99% of wooden boats won't last that long, because to do so will require 99.99% of their bits to have been replaced! at least once! (wood can last that long, but on a boat in use it won't)...........and then only feasible on a traditionally built wooden boat as designed to have bits replaced during their working lives because they simply could not build them to last as long as modern wood construction allows (lots of glue / epoxy) or plastic (lots of plastic!).
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Old 17-03-2013, 09:18   #14
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

Depends on the wood used in the original construction - a boat built of mahogany & oak seems to go to hell in about 50 years. One built of teak & ipe is still in good shape at 70 - at least mine is - any of them will outlast the average human with any kind of care.
Wood is my choice - it's more alive and has a mind of it's own - it lets you know it needs tender loving care - like a woman - wood has heart and soul - you can also love it and hate it.
I've never felt that way about glass or metal - they feel artificial, cold, dead, numb.
Wood is alive!
How's that for a rant?
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Old 17-03-2013, 09:36   #15
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Re: Will a wooden or plastic boat last longest, if maintained?

Some of the best condition wood boats that have suffered a heaps of neglect that I have come across were planked with cypress. 2 different vessels that I have experience with were WWII vintage launches that the houses were literally rotting off, and the planks were as solid as the day they were put on. One of the vessels was in HI and had been sitting on anchor for 3 years with no maintenance at all during that time. When we hauled her out the only problem with the bottom was she was just starting to get some teredo worm incursions, we torched the little fellas and plugged the holes, and that was that. The house however had to be sawn off and new plywood and epoxy put on.
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