Hardcore or woodcore?

August 3rd, 2007
The hardcore traditionalist claims there is no boat like a wooden boat! And I think he's right.
Seeing a beautifully made wooden boat cut through the waves is simply breathtaking and no PPP (Plastic Production Potpourri) will ever beat that. There is only 1 problem: from the professional point of view, you have to keep up with them. That's where the new generation of epoxies, polymere glues, and other slimy stuff comes in. We can still make a beautiful wooden boat and limit the cost of solid wood, limit the production time and yes, we can even build our boat lighter. Hip-hip hurray for the woodcore boatbuilding, some say. A little explanation: a wooden core is sandwiched between layers of glass cloth and epoxy. The whole thing is vacuum bagged and thermally cured to form a strong unit. Most boatbuilders nowadays use plywood for the hull's core because it is cheap and easy to get. We don't. A Whaleboat woodcore boat is made of solid wood - larch. I believe that the plywood core system has one major drawback: when a sharp object hits the boat really hard and penetrates the glass clothing damaging the ply core, you have serious problem. The ply will soak up water between its layers of (different) veneers, and it will eventually result in failure of the glues or even worse, rotting of the inferior softwood veneers. The once so stable ply is becoming very unstable now. When using a solid wooden core, these problems simply don't exist.