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PELICAN No. 2 coming out of the roof.

Time is a crucial factor not only for factory built boats. Building a boat in your spare time, besides small ones, is a time consuming pastime. Take as example the DUO 800. The boat can be build in 800 hours. Say, after work you can spend 2 hours per evening + 10 hours on every Saturday. The total will be 30 hours per week. The construction time will be then 27 weeks. This is without collecting material etc. but overall this is not bad.
Now consider to build a similar boat in a sandwich construction.
Ultima Ratio rebuilt in Spain
Here is a photograph from the �Ultima Ratio� a Piver Lodestar. Between 1969/70 Mrs. Ingeborg von Heister crossed in this tri the Atlantic in both directions. The second owner sailed the boat in the Mediterranean sea. The boat was a bit abused, standing the last 4 years in sand. So the keel was bend and as a consequence the hull sides cracked on two places. After the boat was palled correctly the hull straightened it self almost out. Otherwise the boat is sound. For better protection the boat will be now covered with glass fiber and epoxy. This shows that even plywood boats lasts long if properly built.
There are of course many more examples but this is outside the scope of this article.

Almost all production multi hulls are build from glass fiber and polyester. Polyester as an matrix is any way not a good choice for a multi hull because of the high cyclic loads on this boats ( bridge deck hull connection etc ), because polyester becomes bridle over the years. One of the reasons is, it never stops curing.
One-off and racing multihulls are often build in one or the other foam/sandwich system depending on budget in a combination of carbon, aramide, E and S-glass fiber and epoxy. To obtain optimum strength and lightness with such a system, vacuum curing or a infusion technique has to be used. Techniques you have to learn first.
Boats build with any of these systems require molds or complicated template constructions. Nothing of this is necessary to build a plywood/glass/epoxy boat.
Wood is the oldest boat building material.
Some wooden ships exists which are more as 400 years old. In the Netherlands some of the  Botter and Aaken ( old fisher mans boats ) are more as 100 years old and still sailing. There are more examples the world over.
So, after all wood can be not so a bad boat building material. Today we can enhance the already good properties of wood by using epoxy to protect and strengthen the wood. By impregnating the wood on the inside with epoxy and covering the outside of the boat with fiber glass the result will be a strong, low maintenance and long lasting boat. Wood has no fatigue symptoms in contrast to all other boat building materials. This is very important for multi hulls with there high cyclic loads.
When you compare the costs for materials in any other construction system, wood is the most cost efficient material.
Most interested persons will have some experience working with wood. So, when you start, you know what you are doing. It is easy to check a say, deckbeam to deck connection by eye.
To build a foam, glass boat, where you have to use a vacuum technique, will be a different story. How to you expect to check a deck to hull connection for instance ?
Building a boat out of plywood/glass fiber and epoxy is a good choice for amateur boat builders or for one off multi hulls. Is it the best boat building system ? for amateur multi hull boats it is a clear yes.

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updated 04.10.2006

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