Tiernan adds that the reason most boats for sale today are made of fiberglass is that they can be made by semiskilled and unskilled workers who are cheaper to hire than the skilled craftspeople needed to build a wooden boat.
Another is that when we build in wood or commission others to do so, we are helping to maintain an important tradition. I wonder also whether the argument that building from wood is environmentally friendly has really been made. PS Fans of the US designer John Atkin will be interested to know that Tiernan is currently weblogging the build of a clinker-built Atkin Ninigret. PPS I’d draw your attention to some of the comments below, particularly those of West Country boat designer, occasional building and general sailing man John Hesp. Gavin, most of Tiernan's list deals with the engineering advantages of wood, as if we bought boats based on these facts.
Trees have been growing, falling over, rotting, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere for years and it hasn't caused a massive increase in atmospheric CO2. I do see what you mean – it seems unreasonable to reduce these issues to numbers and engineering criteria when one of the key reasons we go boating is often to get away from such prosaic considerations. Nevertheless, these issues are worth considering as I'm sure your inner designer will concede, and the environmental questions are much more subtle than most of us thought at the beginning. And of course, carbon emissions are tightly connected to economic activity and human activity in general. On the other side of the issue, some fraction of whatever carbon there is in a plastic boat will remain locked in the material for a very long time. You don't think you've been led down the garden path by what sounds a rather journalistic BBC article?
Ironing and washing, to be fair – both need more heat where cotton shirts are concerned.
One interesting little tidbit I read recently is that the meat industry in one way or another, contributes significantly more to global warming than transportation, worldwide. One other nice thing about wooden boats, which has already been touched on a bit, but a nice one is gives pleasure to people, even when they aren't normally interested in boats. If the global warming cost of fossil fuels is added to that fuel we find ourselves playing a very different game. Did you know that one barrel of oil contains the same amount of energy as 12 men working for one year?
Image coming back to shore after a day on the water on a foggy day in an aluminum boat and the oars are clunking against metal. Have you got news for us?If what you're doing is like the things you read about here - please write and tell us what you're up to. Classic Sailor is a new magazine about traditional and classic boats from ex-Classic Boat editor Dan Houston and colleagues that promises rather more coverage of the traditional craft around our coast. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Follow me on TwitterLooking for something?This is a busy weblog, and what you're looking for is probably still here - just a little way down the list now.
Our Faversham-based friend Alan Thorne can help with boatbuilding projects - constructing to plans in very tidy stitch-and-glue or more traditional techniques. Location: Milwaukee, WI You should use epoxy resin for better adhesion and water resistance.
Location: Eustis, FL The best thing you can do for this boat and your friends are correct is to 'glass the weather decks. To recap, encapsulate the plywood, after it's been cut to fit the deck, with 3 coats of epoxy, with special attention to the end grain.
Location: Milwaukee, WI I agree, if the hull is in good condition it is not worth fiberglassing over. Location: Greece That's what i thinK after all your comments.NEVER COVERING HULL WITH FIBERGLASS!!!!
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals.
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But if we only build boats out of oil, and keep a constant number of trees, there will be a nett increase in CO2.


I became aware of this when a BBC magazine looked at the issue and decided that the heat consumed in ironing a cotton shirt meant that poly-cotton shirts were a better environmental deal; so it seems to me that we should consider all the inputs and outputs, not just the obvious ones.
Gaseous hydrocarbons are often very powerful greenhouse gases, and if a boat needs eight coats of varnish every two years, what's the impact of that? I wish someone would give me some nice, clear well worked answers that left me knowing where I was on all this, and that I could quote when the issue arises.
I can guarantee that the energy expended per year ironing my cotton shirts is less than it takes to make a years worth of polyester shirts…. And it seems to me that I've never even owned an iron that got hot enough to iron a cotton shirt properly!
We should use wood because we want to, and save our agonizing about our carbon footprints for the times when it really counts. I am not about to give up my roast lamb, but cutting my meat intake in half would do me good, and probably make a more significant dent in my carbon footprint than all the other little fiddles one reads about put together. The difference in the reaction of people when I am paddling some rental day-glo plastic fantastic canoe, and when they see me in my little varnished oak and pine S-O-F canoe is remarkable.
I seem to remember writing about the issue years ago, and finding that the energy savings from triple glazing can take a century to pay back the investment. What's needed is some sort of mechanism where the cost of dealing with CO2 problems are paid for by the sources of CO2, then triple glazing and the like would look a lot more attractive finacially. If person A manufactures a triple glazed panel using oil based energy sources the cost of energy is very low but the CO2 generated is very high.
The cost of the triple glazed panel goes up slightly because of the embodied energy, but the cost of the energy being saved over, say, 20 years is a very worthwhile saving. Theres a tigermoth biplane at our local airport that is probably 60-70 years old with wooden wing spars that DO flex. Try scrolling down, clicking on the 'older posts' button at the bottom of this page - or try the search gadget!
Screw the plywood down to the deck beams and original planking (stainless steel screws), over a bedding compound or thickened epoxy.
With our busy working and family lives I have no hesitation in saying that we own and use at least one boat that we wouldn’t be able to keep up it on a DIY basis if it was made from wood. For example, when wood eventually rots its breakdown must release carbon dioxide and the much worse global warming gas methane.
If the returns are so small, I'd suggest there are likely to be other areas we could cut down on that would make more of a difference. If person B manufactures the same panel using energy from photovoltaics the cost of energy is very high, but the CO2 released is very low. Next you seal the plywood with two layers of light weight cloth, set in epoxy, then a heavier layer, maybe Xynole, considering the abuse it'll take. Next, sheath with 2 layers of 6 - 8 ounce cloth, then apply a layer of Xynole, of course all set in epoxy.
So what is the lifetime cost of a wooden boat to the environment compared with a plastic one? With regard to the maintenance I was referring to epoxy encapsulated wood like the Ninigret I'm building. The recession might have lowered energy costs, but I can see us coming out of it with soaring energy costs. Maybe plastic boat owners are more inclined to motor than sail, and maybe plastic boat owners are more attracted to resource hogging marinas? Sure, we need a reasonably big car to haul the family around, but could we get away with an overgrown go-cart for the commute to work? The reason is you need sufficient sheathing thickness to tolerate the foot traffic and the plywood prevents the laid deck below from moving around, breaking out the sheathing. Just to add a factor that seems relevant, what is the contribution to global warming made by the drying of spirit-based paints and varnish?



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