You may see several wooden boats lying in neglect, but you may never see one in the sea. Whereas there are a few manufacturers who still use wooden parts, but majority stopped producing these boats a long time ago. Grady White is one of the manufacturers that stopped using wood on their boats.
When did wood stop being a part of boats?
Table of Contents
- When Did Grady White Stop Using Wood In Their Boats?
- How are Grady White Boats Built?
- Is Fiberglass Better Than Wood in Boats?
- Closing Thoughts
When Did Grady White Stop Using Wood In Their Boats?
Grady-White stopped using wood in their boats in 1998. However, the company did not make the transition immediately. Instead, they opted for green board, which was still wood, but more resistant to rot than the previous marine plywood.
Slowly, the company phased out wood in their hulls and other components and left wood only in a few components
What year did Grady White stop using wood stringers? The company uses Perma Panel plywood cut that doesn’t rot for the stringer. They also use the same panels for the transom.
Granted, the boats are not 100% composite, but this doesn’t affect their performance or durability. The wood panels are glassed to protect them from rot and other forms of damages.
How are Grady White Boats Built?
Now that the manufacturer has replaced wood for most of the components, they have resulted to using handmade woven and knitted fiberglass fabrics. They add a few layers of 1.5-ounce knitted fiberglass mat on the gelcoat in the boat’s mold.
When making small non-structural parts, the company uses fiberglass chops. To protect the hull and other important components of the boat, the company uses end-grain balsa coring on the sides of the hulls above the water if a boat has more than eight feet and six inches of beam. They also use the same balsa coring on some parts of the decks too.
The boat maker ensures that all the materials are strong enough to last long. They use temperature-controlled and tested blended polyester resin. Before using the material, they test it to ensure that there is a proper resin-to-glass ratio.
With the polyester resin, the company notes that they do not have to use vinylester resins as is common in other boat brands. Further, the company notes that as long as the gelcoat is done right and it is compatible with the resins used, there will not be any blistering issues. Most of the boat brands using vinylester resin end up using a blend that contains mostly polyester.
Perma Panel Plywood
For the stringer systems, Grady-White uses Perma Panel. This is pressure-treated plywood that is glassed in place with the hull still in its mold. They then spray closed-cell polyurethane between the stringers to offer the strength and rigidity needed and to offer floatation and sound dampening needed.
The use of plywood for the stringers gives the boat a quiet and smooth ride that is synonymous with Grady-White boats. Further, the boat maker sprays an inch of foam on fishboxes and the live wells to provide the needed insulation. However, they avoid spraying the aluminum fuel tanks to ensure that they do not trap moisture.
Basic foam floatation is part of the all Grady-White boats. It is one of the features that make the boats unsinkable. The small boats, less than 20 feet, have level floatation while the larger boats have Prisma foam-cored fiberglass stringers to reduce the weight of the boats.
Grady-White boats are not light as the company adds several important components to make the boats versatile.
For the transoms, Grady-White uses multiple layers of Perma Panel, which they laminate with fiberglass. They then use a premium grade aluminum brace to distribute the engine torque in the transom.
For more than 15 years now, Grady-White has been using closed-molding processes. They use this process during the resin transfer molding process on the fishbox lids, the bow pulpits, and the hardtops.
Another material that goes into making the Grady-White boats is Spray Core. This is a putty-like resin that bonds the backing plates on the deck. They also use weather-resistant polyethylene for the toenails and the road racks.
You will see some stainless steel parts such as the rails and other smaller hardware. Grady-White uses high quality 316-grade stainless steel. And of course, there are electronics throughout.
The combination of parts and the Sea V2 hull makes the boats offer a smooth ride. The low weight of the boat (even when loaded up with gear and plenty of gallons of fuel), and the vee shape of the boat allow it to cut through water to offer a comfortable ride even when the water is rough.
Is Fiberglass Better Than Wood in Boats?
You may have heard someone exclaim that wooden boats are beautiful. However, people feel that these boats required a lot of maintenance work. The woods would rot, and you had to replace them.
Today, most boats are made of fiberglass. Some are 100% composite while others, such as Grady-White, still have wooden components. Boats with wooden parts come with a protective glass coating that ensures they do not rot, and you can have them for a long time.
The main advantage of fiberglass boats is that they are easy to maintain. These boats can take in many years of neglect and still be in good shape when you decide to take care of them and take them back to the waters.
The problem with wood is that it absorbs water and that is where the rot starts. Wood may also need a fresh coat of paint every year, especially if you sail a lot under the hot sun. With fiberglass, you may only need to wax every year and the boat is good to go.
Fiberglass boats are heavier than wooden boats. Grady-White loves the weight as it allows the boats to cut through water with ease. However, the weight slows down the boat. You may never be able to attain the same high speed with a fiberglass boat as you would with a wooden boat, even with increased horsepower.
If your boat is wooden, you need to be careful where you store it as it needs to be in a yard that knows how to take care of wooden boats.
Comparing the durability of the two boats, wooden boats can last for more than fifty years. You may need to change a few boards, but the boats will last long. Most fiberglass boats haven’t been around long enough to prove that they can last as long.
However, fiberglass is also a string material that withstands extreme temperatures and use in salty water.
Most racing boats are made of wood because wood is lighter than fiberglass. Luxury boats such as Grady-White are made of fiberglass because it is heavier and helps the boat ride smoothly on rough waters. Wood is not entirely a bad material, especially if the boat manufacturer uses rot-resistant wood.
Grady-White started not using wood components in 1998, but they never removed all the wooden components. Instead, they went for rot-resistant wood for the stringers and the transoms. The wooden parts are meant to enhance the beauty of the boat and reduce its weight.
The use of other materials such as aluminum and stainless steel makes the boats more versatile and stronger. I also love wooden boats, but the fact that you have to take more care of them puts me off.