Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats
by David Pascoe
Nowadays, you can go out and purchase just about any automobile and be reasonably certain of getting at least a reasonably reliable product that won't immediately start falling apart on you.
Unfortunately, this is not true of boats, for the reasons we discussed in the opening chapter. The sad fact is that there are a lot of poorly built boats out there.
The purpose of this chapter is to help you avoid buying a boat with serious structural problems. If you are unfamiliar with many of the terms used here, you'll find them defined in the Glossary in Appendix A.
Many of the problems of the small boat class results from the fact that there are so many builders who are competing on basis of price alone.
Check the newspaper ads and its price, price, price. The cheaper the better. While everyone should know better than to buy a boat and motor package just because it's the lowest price, the allure of a "good deal' is just too much to resist for many people.
This chapter discusses the elements of good hull design and construction, which will include the deck, other basic boat components, as well as related performance characteristics.
Many people attempt to shortcut the process of learning about the nature of boats by trying to find information about the particular boats they are interested in, such as product reviews.
Because there are so many different boats out there, this is not possible, as there are few such sources of information. No one wants to risk getting sued by publicly stating that a boat is badly constructed.
The only way that you can evaluate the quality of a boat is by learning what constitutes good design and construction techniques so that you can evaluate it for yourself, or hire a professional to do that for you.
For thousands of years mankind has been successfully building good boats with no mathematics and no engineering whatsoever. There was no magic in this; they simply made them overly strong so they wouldn't fall apart.
In modern boat building, things have changed. The impetus is to design a boat hull right down to the failure point in order to save on cost of materials and labor.
Hand laid fiberglass has a certain degree of inconsistency of strength as all laminates are not uniform. Thus lacking a significant margin for error, hull failures can and often do occur.
While low cost may be in your best interest in terms of the initial price you pay for a boat, in the longer run you give up a lot for price in terms of durability.
Ultimately, it's up to you as to whether you're willing to invest in a dispose-a-boat that is good for only so many years, after which it goes to the chopper. This chapter will give you many pointers on what to look for and how to avoid buying a lemon.
While it isn't really necessary that you have a thorough understanding of the materials that go into the making of a "fiberglass" boat, many people will find it helpful, and so it's been included here.
If you want to skip the materials section, go ahead, but it is important that you understand the basic structural elements of a boat, so please do read this section.
(Additional spaces are added for easy screen reading.)
Table of Contents: Chapter 3
Kevlar & Carbon Fiber
Some More History
Forces Acting on a Hull
Basic Hull Construction
Wood Framing -vs- All Fiberglass
Blisters, New Boats and Warranties
- 2nd Edition
by David H. Pascoe
Publisher: D. H. Pascoe & Co., Inc.
David Pascoe - Biography
David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.
Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.
Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:
- "Mid Size Power Boats" (2003)
- "Buyers’ Guide to Outboard Boats" (2002)
- "Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats" (2001, 2nd Edition - 2005)
- "Marine Investigations" (2004).
In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from over 70 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.
In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.
On November 23rd, 2018, David Pascoe has passed away at age 71.