Hull of a Choice

Posted: April 1, 2014  |  Tag: Miscellaneous

By: Roger McAfee

What are the pros and cons between an aluminum and a fiberglass hull?
Marine-grade aluminum is impervious to salt water (doesn’t corrode) and will not wick water as fiberglass will. It never needs to be painted, except for cosmetic purposes. It has twice the yield strength and 10 times the shear strength of glass. An aluminum hull can be left outside in the sun for years without damage. The UV rays in sunlight will cause problems for a glass hull if it is left uncovered. An aluminum hull can be patched temporarily, even in the water; a glass hull cannot. An aluminum boat can take a lightning hit if it’s in the water without damage to the hull itself. If the rigging on a glass boat takes a lightning strike, damage will occur wherever that rigging is fastened to the hull, particularly if the hull has bonding straps built in.

However, aluminum is not perfect. It can suffer from galvanic corrosion caused by an electrical current between it and any dissimilar metals attached to or left lying in the hull. Therefore, steel, copper or brass nuts and fittings should not be left in bilges. Nor should discarded electrical wire.

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