Why Aluminum Boats?

Indepth Articles

May 2006

A Profile on EagleCraft

by Dieter Loibner

Pondering the looks of the EagleCraft 31, Polaris, brings to mind the legendary series of German racecars called Mercedes Silberpfeil. The boat’s unpainted aluminum hull sports exactly the color of these rockets on wheels, which set new standards for performance and endurance more than 70 years ago

Like other nicknames, the Silberpfeil — or silver arrow — has a quirky origin. The first such car, introduced in 1934 and painted white, was 2 pounds over the limit at the weigh-in for its first race, so the crew simply sanded off all the paint, thus fixing the weight problem by exposing the shiny aluminum body. Because the car won, a legend was born.

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May 2006

Material Difference

by Tom Neale

Aluminum and steel are tougher and more durable than fiberglass. You might also be surprised at how they compare in terms of price.

As I write this, I’m sitting aboard my 53-foot 1974 fiberglass motorsailer. She’s a very tough, very good boat, and I love her. But I’ve seen fiberglass boats on the reef. I’ve been under water with them and seen their guts strewn about the sand and coral: clothing, bedding, plumbing, computers, pots and pans, tools. It’s a sight you don’t forget. Read the other story in this package: I once saw a steel boat sail onto a rocky ocean reef in a 40-knot nor’easter. After four days of pounding and grinding by huge ocean seas, the storm abated and she was floated off with very little damage.

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April 2009

Aluminum boats show their mettle

by Eric Sorensen

There are many reasons to consider a plate aluminum vessel.

In the fiberglass-centric world of recreational boating, it’s easy to forget that some of the finest yachts are built of welded aluminum. So are many commercial small craft — below 100 feet — in operation today, as well as ships to more than 300 feet, where reducing weight to achieve high speeds is very important.

First, a science lesson. Manufactured from the ore bauxite, aluminum is a silvery-white, ductile metal with excellent corrosion resistance, strength and toughness. It can be easily cast and welded, melts at 1,220 F (as opposed to 500 F for fiberglass), and weighs 170 pounds per cubic foot — a little more than a third as much as steel. Aluminum’s strength varies depending on the alloy, but marine-grade 5083 H-32 aluminum plate starts to deform at 34,000 psi and fails at 45,000 psi.

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