My understanding is that the wood in a stitch-and-glue construction is well sealed with fiberglass and epoxy. How does this compare to a fiberglass/plastic hull in terms of maintenence (sp?) and durability? A traditional wood hull?
As with any other material, it depends on (a) how well engineered the design is, and (b) how much care is taken in assembling it.
A well designed, well built stitch and glue hull should fall somewhere between cored fibreglass and solid fibreglass on the "maintenance required" scale. As Paul points out, though, it's the quality of the design and construction, more than the method, that will determine the answer to your question. If you work from a good set of plans by a designer
who knows the technique, and are meticulous in your execution of the build, a stitch-and-glue boat can last for many decades. If you haphazardly slap it together from badly engineered drawings using cheap
resin, the boat's life might be less than five years.
I guess what I'm asking is what are the special issues associated with boats constructed in this fashion? What should I especially look out for a few years down the line?
Common problems: Cheap plywood
that delaminates with water
exposure. Cheap resin that doesn't adhere properly to the wood. Inadequately sealed interior
surfaces leading to water saturation in the plywood
, and eventually rot
. Failure to seal properly around penetrations (again, leads to water intrusion and damage, just like in a cored fibreglass deck). Hard spots created by too-small fillets and inadequate bulkhead tabbing. (Have I missed any?)
None of these issues will pose much of a problem if the boat is well built to start with.
And yes, I'm building the boat because I love working with wood and fully intend it to be a one-off customized for myself.
More power to you! Again, take note of Paul's advice regarding costs. Plywood, epoxy and glass represent only a small portion of the final cost, and you need to at least try to budget
If you have the skills (or the time and motivation to acquire them), going full-custom with a design of your own is possible. It's not easy, though, and for many people it'll be frustrating and not very rewarding- so much time spent poring over textbooks full of arcane mathematics, doing calculations for idea after idea that end up not working out quite right. Finding a stock plan from a trusted designer
, and consulting with said designer about your proposed modifications, may be a less risky, more rewarding route