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Old 09-01-2013, 01:17   #1
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Micro-delam and glass composite construction

I truly wish to begin my targeted fitting out date of June but I'm stuck on a big question. Namely, What is the life expectancy of composite hulls? I use the term "composite" because frankly, fiberglass is too nebulous a term in these days of advanced technologies. For other reasons, GRP or FRP don't do much to allay my concern.

So I do myself some reading...[/B]]Are They Fiberglass Boats Anymore? by David Pascoe, Marine Surveyor[/B]]fatigue of composites


...realize my question may be regarding materials and workmanship but those, while important considerations, are ancilliary to what is in all liklihood the chief consideration which is, How was the boat maintained?

I haven't bought a new "fiberglass" boat since the late 1980s. Of the 'glass hulls I have bought none were less than 5 yrs old and that was as late as 2008. And I have zero experience in the buying position of modern crusing catamarans

My budget won't allow for a new boat which will be a crusing cat so I am looking at hulls of even into the 1990s.
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:45   #2
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Re: Micro-delam and glass composite construction

This article mentions something I had been thinking would be very helpful in the survey phase of boat purchase; a coring of the hull below the waterline or at least a "peeling" of the barrier coat and/or gelcoat. I doubt an owner would ever agree to allow a surveyor or potential buyer to do that. I had thought in lieu would be to remove a through hull fitting to permit inspection of the lay-up yet this too is addressed as shown below.

Blister & Laminate Hydrolysis in Fiberglass Boat Hulls

"We are often asked about removing thru-hulls prior to peeling and relaminating. Though fine in principal, the actual work is far more expensive than is justified by the results. Removal and reinstallation of thru-hulls runs $30-$40/ft plus materials (parts are often broken during disassembly). We have seen no evidence that not removing thru-hulls results in failure around thru-hulls and considering the high cost, removal seems a superfluous luxury."
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:40   #3
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Re: Micro-delam and glass composite construction

There really is no data to support a finite life span for a fiberglass hull. As noted boats are built using different techniques so the life span will vary. The newer boats are built with thinner and more "high Tech" laminates are subject to more problems. I do not think removing a thru hull will tell you much if anything at all. A good surveyor will be able to check for delamination and high moisture in the laminate. The best thing you can do is research the builder. I have looked at some new boats that were built with thin skins and little (or really poor) interior support while others have been very well constructed. This is one of those "it all depends" questions. Your best option is to find a good surveyor to help you. Most do not have a lot of experience with lamination problems so ask a lot of questions till you find someone you feel comfortable with
Capt. Wayne Canning, AMS
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