aluminum hull construction

Aluminum Sailboat Misconceptions

“I have a friend, who knows a guy, who has a cousin, that bought an aluminum boat, and after a week in the marina the bottom fell out of her”.

One of the biggest misconceptions about aluminum-built hulls is that they will ‘turn into Alka-Seltzer’. So we thought we’d share an article written by John Harries, accomplished long-distance sailor and writer/publisher of an on-line resource for offshore sailing – Attainable Adventure Cruising

One Tough Old Aluminum Boat

– by John Harries / Updated January 23, 2021

It is amazing how often people look surprised, and even mildly alarmed, when I tell them that we own an aluminum boat. The next tentative question(s) is almost always about electrolysis and the general longevity of the material.

For some reason there seems to be many stories of disaster, particularly on this side of the Atlantic, around aluminum as a boat building material. These stories normally go like this: “I have a friend, who knows a guy, who has a cousin, that bought an aluminum boat, and after a week in the marina the bottom fell out of her”.

The funny thing is that after 20 years of aluminum boat ownership and ten years of being a fairly high profile proponent of the material, I have yet to meet one of these mythical aluminum boat victims.

The fact is that as long as the boat is built out of the right aluminum alloys, and the right welding wire is used (all well documented), aluminum boats last longer and stay stronger and more stiff than boats built of any other material you can think of.

Which brings me to Carina, a McCurdy and Rhodes Custom 48—same designer as our own Morgan’s Cloud—that has just won the Newport Bermuda Race for the third time. Thing is, the first time Carina won, the leisure suit was in fashion…the year was 1970.

Carina won again in 2010, exactly forty years after her first win. And then again this year. And you know what Carina was doing between her second and third win? She sailed around the world clocking up 42,000 miles. And while she was at it, she did a few races…like The Trans-Atlantic, The Sydney Hobart and The Fastnet—not exactly known as walks in the park.

One tough old bird that aluminum boat…fast too.

I spoke with Rives Potts, who is not only Carina’s owner and skipper, but also runs Pilots Point Marine. Rives has been involved in building and repairing many aluminum boats over the years. He had this to say:

So if you are looking for a boat to take you offshore safely and comfortably, don’t look past that old aluminum boat. She might have a few years and miles left in her…or a few decades and a few circumnavigations.

The Attainable Adventure Cruising website is a membership-based site with a tremendous amount of information relevant to all sailors.


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open house at the Alubat boatyard

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