One of the things you need to consider is what type of material you want the hull of your sailboat to be made of. I’ve lived aboard for 10 years and blog about sailing boats all over the world.
There are 5 common materials used for hull construction, fiberglass, steel, aluminum, wood and ferro cement. Fiberglass hulls are far and away the most popular and easy to maintain.
There are a couple of things to consider when talking about fiberglass sailboat hulls. The most important is whether the fiberglass is hand laid or if it was shot into a mold with a chopper gun. Hand laid mean pretty much what it sounds like. Workers take rolls of fiberglass and roll them out into the mold and impregnate them with resin. Chopped fiberglass is matting that’s chopped up into little bits and sprayed into the mold already mixed with resin.
The benefit of hand laid fiberglass hulls is they are stronger and less prone to osmosis and blistering. Some sailboat hulls get blisters on the surface of the hull below the waterline from water getting into the fiberglass in tiny voids. These blisters have to be repaired which is often an expensive fix. If you don’t repair the blisters your hull can delaminate.
The drawback of hand laid fiberglass is it’s more expensive to build a sailboat hull this way and fewer and fewer manufacturers still build boats this way.
The increasingly common method of building a boat hull is to spray a mix of chopped up fiberglass and resin into a mold. The benefit of this is it’s less expensive and much faster. The drawbacks are that sailboats built this way aren’t as strong and they are more prone to blistering.
When you begin your search for a sailboat, check out whether the manufacturer of the sailboat your interested in has a reputation of hulls with blisters or not. Some manufacturers have a good reputation for not building hulls that blister and some manufacturers have a not so good reputation.
I’ve compiled a list of popular sailboat manufacturers at DeCaptain.com, my blog about fishing and sailing around the world.
In the next chapter I’ll talk about the differences between sailboat hulls made with polyester resin versus boat hulls built with epoxy resin. After that we’ll move onto steel boat hulls.
All photos by DeCaptain – Lance Gettler, All Rights Reserved