Luxury motor yachts come in all sizes and shapes. They also are made out of a variety of materials ranging from the venerable woods of days gone by, to modern “space age” composites. With other boat building materials such as aluminum, fiberglass and steel thrown into the mix, is there a particular material you should be considering when looking at a used yacht, or having one built for you?
As you might imagine, each material has varying pros and cons, all based on everything from weight, strength and corrosion resistance, to ease of workmanship and the cost of labor.
Furthermore, each shipbuilder and/or naval architect has his or her own particular favorites, with some manufacturers of motor yachts known for their aluminum hulls, and other for their composites.
However, because of their light weight, durability and corrosion resistance, more and more yacht builders are turning to composite materials.
What are Composites?
From a building standpoint, a composite is something that is made up of two or more other materials. Composites are not new to yacht construction. Shipbuilders have been combining fiberglass with wood, or other materials, to make “composite” hulls since the 1940s.
What is different today, is modern composites, like carbon fiber, and other so-called “meta materials” which allow for significant weight savings and the development of complex designs, shapes and structures.
Also, newer composite materials no longer restrict the cost effectiveness or practicality of their use to vessels of 100 feet or less. In fact, composite materials can now be effectively used in bigger and bigger hulls, right on up to superyacht size.
According to the trade magazine, The Motorship, “The leisure sector has adopted composites much more widely, with designs of up to [240 feet] in length being constructed in composites. Here solutions for creating temporary molds for the composite construction have been developed to make the composite construction economically feasible.”
Motorship went on to say that in 2014, American superyacht builder Palmer Johnson launched the world’s largest carbon composite superyacht, their [157 foot] Super Sport.
Composite materials have their advantages, however they are not likely to completely replace traditional yacht building materials such as wood and aluminum. However, they do give naval architects many more options, and designers many more aesthetic choices, particularly when they can be combined with more traditional materials on the same project.
As Michael Kasten, with the Kasten Yacht Design Group has said, “Composites are an absolutely excellent engineering material and offer a considerable range of choices with regard to economy, strength, lightness, ruggedness, construction methods, etc.”
Kasten goes on to say that as an engineer he would find it difficult to categorically say if one material is “better” than the other, but composite gives him and his team more options to meet the needs and budget of an yacht owners desires.
On Demand from Stem to Stern
It is all part of how our On Demand service and service technicians can extend the life of your vessel, while taking all of the hassles out of luxury motor yacht ownership.
Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.