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Old 18-04-2015, 16:27   #1
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Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

I have noticed that few fiberglass boats are sold in Alaska, BC, and Pacific Northwest. There seems to be lot of aluminum boats and boat builders. This is not the case for Northeast and the Maritimes in Canada.
Certainly, I know that thick gauge, welded aluminum boats are strong. But why are they so popular on the Pacific Northwest?
Is there an obvious advantage that I cannot see?

BTW, I have had aluminum, steel, fiberglass, and wood boats. As for larger vessels, I was very satisfied with my steel and aluminum boats as much as my fiberglass boats. I lost my fiberglass yacht in Hurricane Frances at the Ft. Pierce Marina and witnessed several large aluminum yachts almost unscathed, including a 86 Burger that had its bow sticking right through my salon. I also saw my boat and other Hatteras yachts where the fiberglass failed and a Viking where the hull came apart in 4x8ft. sheets. One learns much from those kind of disasters.
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Old 18-04-2015, 19:21   #2
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Aluminum manufacture benefits from cheap hydropower in the Pacific Northwest.


Why can't things remain where i carelessly left them?
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Old 18-04-2015, 19:22   #3
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Hi, I agree, alloy boats have huge popularity here in the PNW and Alaska. There are small and large yards building various designs by the score (literally). I live on rural Vancouver Island and within a ten mile radius there are three alloy boat builders not including myself. I am at the tail end of a 55' aluminum pilothouse cutter.
I think they are so popular here mostly due to their low maintenance and tough reputation in the commercial and pleasure fishing industry. They can easily be built as one-offs much cheaper than fiberglass and of course there is no need for pricey paintjobs. I would think that it becomes a bit of a mindset as well. Once a few dozen boats establish the reputation as being good investments , then more people in the industry take notice. There is still a lot of floating debris in the coastal waters so being able to take the odd bump without doing serious damage is another consideration.

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Old 18-04-2015, 19:30   #4
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Hi again, I am not sure the cheap hydropower has much to do with the popularity of alloy in the PNW. Last time I put in an order for some plate, I was told that it has to be brought in from "offshore" as most of the smelters are no longer producing many of the marine alloys, if they are even in business.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we still have a large fishing industry and there is a lot of competition between the many yards. That all helps to bring the price down and possibly sway a potential boat buyer to go with alloy, even in the sports fishing industry.
Greg
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Old 18-04-2015, 19:34   #5
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Thanks, Greg
One of the expected answer would be electrolysis or corrosion issues with Aluminum in warmer Southern waters but that would not make sense as so many great aluminum yachts from Burger, Broward and others are doing just fine. So is the Coast Guard patrol boats.
I also though about the cost of moulds compared to "one off" construction. But used for fiberglass boats can be built without moulds, and a fair number of them are built in the SE USA. Of course, moulds make economic sense if more than 5 boats are being built.
But the toughness of aluminum and steel is just awesome. Steel is a bit heavy for a planning boat, but for a semi-displacement or full displacement hull it works well. Aluminum is a great material for a smaller or Deep V or planning hull...well, any kind of hull, actually.
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Old 18-04-2015, 19:47   #6
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

As to hydropower, I never even considered that as an issue. Aluminum has the negative and largely unjust reputation for cheap, roughly-built riveted boats from the jon boat/pontoon/freshwater marketplace. Of course, newer alloys have been developed that offer higher strength and greater corrosion resistance. But I would think that some of the PNW builders could develop a market in Florida and the East Coast. But first, they would need to learn a bit of what Southeastern and Northeastern boaters and fishermen were looking for in their vessels.
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Old 18-04-2015, 21:47   #7
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Two of the bigger yards building custom alloy high end craft are "Eaglecraft and CoastalCraft. These two companies , along with a handful of others are exporting all over the world with their fireboat designs, police patrol and military stuff. I will bet there is a B.C. built commercial vessel somewhere in Florida. I was down in Victoria, the capital town of B,C buying some metal at one of the local RIB manufacturers and on their wall of photos was a pic of the Easter Island coast guard fast response vessel that they had built. I don't really think that a slight change in salinity is going to make much of a difference in the life of an alloy boat as long as it is properly zinced and wired.
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Old 18-04-2015, 21:50   #8
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Would love to have an aluminum sailboat. No paint needed above the waterline.

Seem to remember M/Y Dauntless, one of the first alloy vessels.
The owner was afraid of dropping a copper coin in the bilge as the salt water and the coin would burn through the bottom.
She survived for years in salt water with or without coins in the bilge until hurricane Hugo (?) put her on the rocks.
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Old 18-04-2015, 22:19   #9
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

This maybe unrelated but in Canuck & PNW land, you see Old mustangs, VW vans, still buzzing around as daily drivers. On the upper right coast these things are long gone. Someone once explained it as a couple of missing hydrocarbon molecules or something. Same as boat trailers, Alum for the south and Galvanzied Steel for the north. Road salt may have something to do with it!
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Old 19-04-2015, 04:50   #10
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, florchidman.
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Old 19-04-2015, 09:52   #11
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Probably more about owners more interested in utility than appearance. A rough and tumble aluminum boat is likely cheaper than a fully fitted out fiberglass and no one is building roughed out fiberglass boats. If you are mostly looking for a fishing boat, that's the choice. If you are looking for a cruiser and the wife is involved, the appearance, fit and finish count for more. (yes there are exceptions on both sides)


You also find more flannel and beards in the PNW.
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Old 19-04-2015, 10:18   #12
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

Quote:
Originally Posted by florchidman View Post
I have noticed that few fiberglass boats are sold in Alaska, BC, and Pacific Northwest. There seems to be lot of aluminum boats and boat builders. This is not the case for Northeast and the Maritimes in Canada.
Certainly, I know that thick gauge, welded aluminum boats are strong. But why are they so popular on the Pacific Northwest?
Is there an obvious advantage that I cannot see?

BTW, I have had aluminum, steel, fiberglass, and wood boats. As for larger vessels, I was very satisfied with my steel and aluminum boats as much as my fiberglass boats. I lost my fiberglass yacht in Hurricane Frances at the Ft. Pierce Marina and witnessed several large aluminum yachts almost unscathed, including a 86 Burger that had its bow sticking right through my salon. I also saw my boat and other Hatteras yachts where the fiberglass failed and a Viking where the hull came apart in 4x8ft. sheets. One learns much from those kind of disasters.
You are mis informed. I would guess 95%+ of PNW boats are fiberglass....
Aluminum boats are pretty strong.... depending on how they are built, but have lots of issues too. I've managed an alum boat building company. Aluminum is not a very stiff material compared with steel, the boats flex a lot and welds crack and alum plate cracks too in high stress areas.
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Old 19-04-2015, 11:07   #13
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

The welded super Johns 8'x18'-24' - are getting real popular for fishing in the skiny waters of SW Florida - N3



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Old 19-04-2015, 13:47   #14
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

One of the best reasons for buying an aluminum vessel over fiberglass is that aluminum has a substantial scrap value. In our area a fiberglass scrap boat has a very negative value, you have to pay for it's disposal.
Anyone have a use for recycled old fiberglass boats.
I my humble opinion the manufacturer of a fiberglass product should have to pay into a disposal fund or an end of life fund.
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Old 22-04-2015, 10:11   #15
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Re: Aluminum boats in Florida salt water?

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One of the best reasons for buying an aluminum vessel over fiberglass is that aluminum has a substantial scrap value. In our area a fiberglass scrap boat has a very negative value, you have to pay for it's disposal.
Anyone have a use for recycled old fiberglass boats.
I my humble opinion the manufacturer of a fiberglass product should have to pay into a disposal fund or an end of life fund.
If you are buying an end of life boat (ie: 30-40yr old, $2,000 purchase price not worth the cost of any significant repair work), your scrap value holds true.

Even by the time you get ot $20-30k boats, they typically will have decent resale value after a few years unless you intend to do zero maintenance and let them rot.

Having manufactures cover scrap value is a seperate issue that would likely be politically messy.
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