Bob Lowe wrote:
I would be interested in learning what it is about a wood GB that is so different from a fiberglass GB that would prevent you from owning one.
What is it about a fiberglass GB that makes it superior in your mind?
Just curious, Marin.
As boats, I don't think a glass GB is superior to a wood GB or vice versa. Our opinion about not ever owning a wood boat-- any wood boat-- in this climate is based solely on upkeep. I am not retired and won't be for some time. So other than vacations our time on our boat is limited to weekends. And weekends in our fickle weather simply don't provide enough time to do things like painting and brightwork properly, properly being eight to ten coats in the case of brightwork.
I might get two on, and then the weather sets in, we've got another commitments, I'm on travel, etc., and it might be a couple of months or more before the weather and our schedules line up again to do more work on that particular project. Or maybe the season runs out and the project sits all winter, by the end of which those two coats are starting to fail in places.
If I was retired and could spend a week or more at a time during our drier months working on the boat it would be another story. Or if the boat was in a boathouse. But as I explained earlier we don't want the boat in a boathouse because of the way we use it year round.
I actually really enjoy working on the teak trim and rails in our boat. I find it relaxing and the high-quality teak on our '73 boat is a joy to keep looking nice. So it's not for a lack of wanting to do the work that keeps jobs from getting done, it's a lack of time plus weather that has a habit of taking what time there is away.
But at least all that suffers on our boat is just the external trim. The flying bridge structure and cabin walls and hull need virtually no attention at all other than washing and waxing.
The lead broker at the Bellingham GB dealer who found our boat for us and who has since become a good friend put it best when we started talking to him in 1998 about getting a boat. At the time he owned GB32-7 and was in the middle of what started as a repower and turned into an almost total rebuild of the boat as problem after problem was uncovered. The boat had been an outside boat and the flying bridge, for example, proved to be riddled with dry rot and had to be totally replaced.
He said (I'm paraphrasing a bit) "If you leave an older fiberglass boat outside for a year and come back to it, it will be incredibly dirty but other than that it will be essentially unchanged. If you leave an older wood boat outside for a year and come back to it, it will be incredibly dirty and very possibly have some serious problems developing if rainwater got down inside the boat, one or more windows started to leak, and so on."
And from all the wood boat owners I've talked to over the last 15 years, their stories bear this out.
We have seen some lovely wood GBs over the years. Last year we saw an absolutely spectacular Alaskan 49 up in the Gulf Islands. That boat was so perfect I thought the wood hull had been replaced with a glass hull. And every one of these boats-- every one of them-- was boathouse kept. When I asked one of the owners of the Alaskan if it bugged them to go up year round and stay on a boat in a boathouse for the weekend they said absolutely. But there was no way-- and he emphasized the "no way" a couple of times-- they would ever have a boat like that if they couldn't keep it in a boathouse. It would simply be too much to keep up with in our climate.
This is the same thing I've heard from every other GB woody owner I've ever talked to. To say nothing of the classic Chris Craft owners and owners of all manner of other types of wood boats.
There was a fellow in our marina who lived on a classic, 40-something foot, wood Chris Craft cruiser for probably eleven years. It was outside, but because he lived on it he could keep after it year round. While it was not a showboat, it was always in very nice condition despite the best efforts of the weather.
Then about three years ago he moved off the boat and put it up for sale. He still lived in town so he came down when he could and did what maintenance he could in the time he had. But it was amazing to see how fast that boat deteriorated. The brightwork and paint started to go. Windows began to leak and damage the interior. The boat wasn't neglected, he just couldn't keep abreast of it like could when he lived on it.
The boat finally sold earlier this summer and the family that bought it face a monumental uphill job to get it back into shape.
I saw the previous owner just before the boat old. He was doing some task or another on the foredeck and I said something about how a boat can really get away from one in the weather. He shook his head and said, "I know. When I moved off I should have put it in a boathouse. Biggest mistake I've ever made, but it's just too expensive."
And that is why we will never own a wood boat.