Explore the BBC News News Sport Weather Shop Earth Travel Capital iPlayer Culture Autos Future TV Radio CBBC CBeebies Food iWonder Bitesize Travel Music Earth Arts Make It Digital Taster Nature Local Terms of Use About the BBC Privacy Policy Cookies Accessibility Help Parental Guidance Contact the BBC Advertise with us Ad choices Copyright © 2016 BBC. Aluminium is a light and soft white metal with a frosted silver tint due to a thin oxide film which covers it on contact with air.
The first studies of aluminium alloy properties were initiated in the very beginning of the century, but only by the forties did the researchers who studied the issue of aluminium corrosion in seawater discover that adding a small amount of magnesium and silicon, made aluminium resistant to salt water. One being of the most relevant factors of any boat, aluminum asboat building material available brings your boat strenght whith reduced weight. Except for the facts that aluminum requires a lot of energy to initially produce and is not made from renewable resources, it is the most easily recycled of any boat building material.
Despite receiving no state assistance, the Croatian small boat building industry is thriving. From semi-submarines to luxury charter yachts, the impressive diversity of quality boats on display at the 6th Days of Croatian Small Boat Building fair which closed on April 27, 2014, had one thing in common — the producers were Croatian. Croatia has a rich and proud ship building tradition, one which requires government assistance these days as competitiveness and the economic crisis have reduced the orders to a fraction of the heyday of ship building on the Adriatic coast. The Croatian-built semi-submarine business has been a smash hit on the Adriatic, and exports to the Caribbean are now under discussion. While there are subsidies for the large shipyards, the small boat builders of Croatia receive no financial assistance whatsoever, and yet they still manage not only to survive, but to thrive.
The fair took place once more in the marina of the luxury Hotel Le Meridien Lav in Podstrana, just south of Split, an event attended by Digital Journal. We started talking about the concept in 2008 after we visited several boat shows in the country and the region.
The 6th Days of Croatian Small Boat Building took place at exclusive Hotel Meridien Lav in Split. One of the biggest challenges, and this, unfortunately, has nothing to do with the EU, is getting our own country to recognise small boat building as an important industry and to stop treating it as an unwanted child.
Luka Colnago, whose innovative aluminium boats have been exported to the Cameroon Coast Guard Service.
The latest example is the 2020 Industrial strategy proposal which was composed by the Ministry of Economy in which; again, small boat builders are not mentioned. Adriatic Work Boats, whose aluminium patrol boats are exported as far away as the coast guard of Bangladesh.
Despite government assistance for the shipbuilding industry, the small boat builders do not receive any state support whatsoever.


Discovery Yachts in Marchwod, Hampshire, is one of the manufacturers carving out a niche in the UK marine industry worth ?2.9bn. Alloy 5083 is considered the base alloy of the shipbuilders; it was registered by the Aluminium Association in 1954.
Small boat building can be a lonely profession, which makes the annual Days of Croatian Small Boat Building a popular event among exhibitors, not only for the chance to sell their work, but also for the camaraderie with boat building colleagues. During the event, there was time for an interview with Danni Matijaca, one of the event organisers and PR manager. Our boat show only showcases boats built in Croatia, so the number of exhibitors is limited from the start. We knew Croatia had over 80 small boat builders back then, but only a handful of them exhibited regularly.
What are the challenges of the small boat builder in the modern era, particularly after EU entry? It may seem hard to believe, but most of the legislation, strategies, proposals only include large shipyards and small boat builders are never mentioned. When we asked the Ministry how that was possible, they gave us an answer that the needs of the small boat builders were met in the electro and mechanical sections of this strategy. There are no more customs, so materials are somewhat cheaper; however, without a clear strategy and a joint approach, it is going to be difficult to make an impact. Although this alloy is often called the ‘shipbuilding’ alloy, it is also widely used in many other industries. Twice as strong as steel for the same weight and fifty percent stronger then fibreglass, aluminum’s lighter weight makes it easier to handle thus reducing cost.
It will not rot, decay, corrode or weaken and is impervious to chemicals, UV rays and other environmental conditions. However, the atmosphere during the Croatian boat building days is very similar to a big family gathering. We started talking to all of them and came to the conclusion that we really should give them their own stage, a place where they would not be overshadowed by glitzy international yacht brands, and a place where everyone can see their products and try them. It's as if we've forgotten that all our large shipyards were built on the age long tradition of old craftsmen and „kalafati“.
We are still trying to figure out how the two are connected but I'll let the experts dwell on that one. Our boats receive quality and design awards every year, AD Boats with their Salona range of sail boats, Elan's recent achievement with their latest model, Adriatic Work Boats and Colnago are renowned for the quality of their aluminium boats so there is no doubt our boats can compete with international brands.


The boat named Le Migron was designed in Switzerland on the order of Alfred Nobel and was intended to carry 8 passengers. Alloy 5083 initially won popularity in shipbuilding thanks to its properties, such as high strength, corrosion resistance, good mouldability, and excellent welding characteristics. It can be bent, curved and sanded to achieve pleasing and attractive lines to equal that of almost any material. If left in the water, an aluminum boat will require antifouling paint and sacrificial anodes as with any other boat.
In the unlikely event that an aluminum boat is totally destroyed the hull will still be worth its weight as scrap metal. In the last 6 years we've gotten to know all the boat builders, they finally got to know each other by name and not only by their boat model (it may sound strange, but most of them didn't really know much about each other back in 2009), and most importantly, many of them started joint ventures after they met at the expo.
Six months later, after consultations with most boat builders and great cooperation with Le Meridien Lav, we opened our first edition, with 15 producers and around 30 boats. This was the first boat partially made of aluminium, which confirmed the very opportunity of using aluminium in shipbuilding. Steel is almost worthless as scrap and any other material would have to go to the landfill. Now, six years later, most of them are still with us with new models, and I am especially proud to see new, young boat builders with plenty of enthusiasm and great boats which can compete with any foreign product available.
In the early years, used with other metals aluminum suffered a bad reputation for corision. Another consideration is that aluminum’s lighter hull weight reduces fuel requirements thus reducing emissions. Even if they don't have a boat to exhibit, they come from all over Croatia to catch up with their mates. Now, using marine grade aluminum and an understanding of compatible materials life expectancy is almost unlimited. Our small but energetic team has stayed the same since day one, and we must be doing something right!



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