Why should you buy an aluminum boat?
The material of the hull defines the characteristics of the ship. However, when buying a boat for the first time, many people pay little attention to the choice of hull materials. The emergence of fiberglass (fiberglass or fiberglass) boats in the 1960s completely changed the industry and made it the norm. But GRP is not alone in the market, and it is worth looking for other alternatives before deciding what your first or next ship will be.
Some of the advantages and disadvantages of FRP materials must be known to everyone. In this article, I will introduce another interesting alternative material, aluminum alloy. As you will see, aluminum boats have their own characteristics and can be an excellent alternative to GRP. So let's take a look at each feature of aluminum boats, which must be considered before deciding whether it is suitable for you.
As we all know, aluminum shell is light, the density of aluminum is 2.8, and the density of steel is 7.8. Specifically, they are much lighter than steel, but they are also lighter than GRP. The light hull provides better performance (speed), especially in light winds. Speed is not only for racers. Light sailing also means that you are unlikely to need to use an engine, because you can sail under the sail even when the wind is very light. Generally, light hulls can also be designed with shallow drafts to improve the accessibility of shallow rivers and bays. Finally, a light hull translates to lower fuel consumption (simply imagine less volume to drag through the water).
The strength of aluminum is probably the most attractive aspect of aluminum boats. Simply put, for aluminum, the possibility of hitting the perforations on the hull is much smaller than that of fiberglass. This is one of the reasons why aluminum alloys are commonly used in large aircraft with the highest material strength requirements. When you cruise between icebergs, you must increase the safety of the aluminum hull. Obviously, this applies not only to icebergs, but also to anything that can hit or might hit you, from underwater rocks to floating logs or containers. We often hear stories of aluminum boats being stuck on rocks for several days, but they resisted shaking and sunken but did not break. These boats can be repaired relatively easily. Unfortunately, the similar story of a fiberglass boat stranded on a rock has never had a happy ending.
As the saying goes, "glass fiber blisters, wood rot, steel rust". But what about aluminum? One of the first issues raised by many people about aluminum is corrosion. However, aluminum is actually one of the least corrosive metals. For alloys used in marine applications, the low corrosivity of aluminum is especially true. Aluminum alloy does not contain steel or iron, so it will not rust. Aluminum can and will experience oxidation. But this oxidation produces a hard alumina surface layer, which can actually prevent further corrosion of the underlying material. If the right alloy and welding wire are used for proper construction-and remain unchanged, aluminum boats will last for generations.
4. Fire performance
Fire is the most dangerous of all dangers at sea. Although some materials used to build the hull (such as fiberglass or wood) burn quickly and spread the flame, aluminum does not burn. Moreover, aluminum needs a temperature higher than 500°C to melt.
Since aluminum boats are not prone to corrosion, they do not need to be maintained (especially painted) as often as steel or wood. Correct? Well, this is where opinions start to diverge. Keeping the paint on the aluminum is one of the main problems for aluminum boat owners. If you have the opportunity, pay close attention to the waterline of the aluminum boat, you may see some paint peeling off. Indeed, with the right preparation (which usually involves sanding and the use of an alumina primer), you can minimize this problem.
In fact, aluminum boats do not actually need to be painted except below the waterline and other metals that need to be in contact with aluminum. However, under the waterline, they do need some attention, otherwise, they will corrode. In ships, keeping the salt away from the aluminum surface is the key to preventing corrosion. Aluminum paint can be very expensive. Even if you paint by yourself, the materials themselves are expensive.
When in "electrical" contact with most other metals (for example, through conductive liquids such as salt water), aluminum will undergo bimetallic corrosion. Therefore, special attention should be paid when choosing antifouling coatings, because many coatings are copper-based and often cause corrosion of the aluminum shell.
Although unlikely, small leaks may occur in aluminum boats and sometimes require repairs. These repairs are mainly related to corrosion or collision. When corrosion occurs, it is usually visible and limited to a small area. If the damage is minor, you can usually repair it with epoxy or soldering. For larger repairs, you should take a boat to the shipyard for aluminum boat repairs. Large-area repair can be as simple as cutting the corroded parts with a saw and welding in a new board. The use of the correct aluminum alloy and welding wire always requires attention. As long as this is done by qualified professionals, this should not be a problem.
For aluminum, collision damage is usually less than that of GRP ships and is usually easier to repair. Aluminum stretches a lot. Most of the time, damage to the aluminum boat will only cause the hull to dent. You can easily fix it with a hammer. In addition, because aluminum is more flexible than steel, it is easier to use. Overall, this can save money and time.
On the downside, aluminum is more difficult to weld than steel. Finding skilled welders can play an important role in the quality and longevity of maintenance. In addition, if you plan to travel to the most remote corners of the world, you may have a hard time finding a skilled aluminum welder. However, with some planning, you can minimize the chance of actually welding in these places.
Finally, aluminum boats are harder than GRP, resulting in less stretching and bending of the hull around hatches and other accessories. This usually reduces maintenance and leakage.
7. Through the hull accessories
Another advantage of aluminum boats is that the pipes that penetrate the hull can be simply welded to the hull. Welded piping eliminates most of the risk of leakage through hull holes, which is usually the cause of concern for GRP ship owners. In addition, when these pipelines are above the waterline, they can be repaired in the water on the ship. Although this may seem like a small matter, it does add extra safety and convenience to the boat.
8. Sailing comfort
Aluminum boats are much harder than wood or fiberglass. For this reason, they usually provide a good feeling, and the vibration and noise are much lower. On the other hand, because aluminum hulls are very light, they are more likely to be pushed and lifted by waves and chops, sometimes causing the hull to bounce excessively. However, the design of most modern hulls minimizes this effect.
The price of a ship depends on many factors, so differences in hull materials will eventually be blurred by other costs. However, it can be said that aluminum boats are generally more expensive than steel and fiberglass boats. However, you pay for what you get, in this case it means a stronger, lighter and safer vessel. If you consider the low maintenance of aluminum boats, in the long run, the total cost of purchase and maintenance can be comparable to or even lower than other hull materials.
Since aluminum sailboats are less common than GRP, they are also more difficult to sell. However, they usually keep the resale price high.
Aluminum ships usually have some kind of industrial appearance, which distinguishes them from other ships. This is especially true when the hull is not painted above the waterline. Many aluminum boats have hulls, decks and cockpits, which give them a unique boxy appearance. However, this is not always the case, and many aluminum hull designs and constructions have elegant curves. In fact, in many cases, it is difficult for non-professionals to distinguish between painted aluminum shell and glass fiber.
The aluminum hull is very durable and can be used for several generations. However, even in cases where the ship needs to be scrapped, aluminum is recyclable, and the recycling process actually requires very little energy.
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