By Neil Atwood

Beauty * Class * Grace * Style

The significant difference between a classic wooden yacht, and a modern day fiberglass production boat is the design shape of the hull, and the sailing or motoring characteristics. The yachts of historical significance designed and built from the late 19th century through the mid 20th century were known for their sailing ability, ascetic beauty, craftsmanship, construction methods, and design innovation. They were designed to move through the water quickly, efficiently, and gracefully. The vast majority of modern day fiberglass production boats are designed to maximize interior space, with little regard to sailing or motoring ability.

The great myth: “wooden boats require more maintenance”. Classic wooden boats, like all pleasure craft fall into one of three categories of condition: like new, needs work, and project. The comparison for this discussion is the category of like new. Specifically, wooden boats vs. fiberglass boats.

All boats require a certain amount of maintenance to the hull. There is no difference with regard to the need for painting the bottom of a fiberglass or a wooden boat. Painting the hull of a wooden boat is not done any more often then the need to clean and wax a fiberglass hull to remove oxidation.

The deck area of a wooden boat typically has more bright work to be maintained than a fiberglass boat. The bright work maintenance schedule is based on the protection from UV rays, and the product used to finish the bright work. Specifically, varnish vs. a product that withstands the effect of UV rays. At the same time, the deck of a fiberglass boat will oxidize if left uncovered, and not protected from the effects of UV rays. The answer for reducing the maintenance for the deck area for both types of boats is using a boat cover. Covered moorage is also an option for protection from UV rays for power boats, where available.

In today’s boat market, it is still substantially less expensive to buy a classic wooden yacht, than a fiberglass production boat. That includes buying a larger classic wooden boat to be able to obtain the interior space of a modern fiberglass production boat. The only added cost is the potential increased cost of moorage, which is a non item when considering the difference in the purchase price.

Most individuals only consider buying a yacht for investment purposes if the yacht is going to be used for a charter/leasing business, or as a business expense. At the same time, we as Americans have come to understand the desire to buy classic older homes that have been restored with modern amenities. The same can be said for the popularity of classic cars. Both these homes, and these cars have dramatically increased in value, as the demand has increased.

Classic wooden yachts have long been a part of the yachting heritage in the North East part of the United States: partly because of it’s origin, and partly because that is where the majority of yacht restoration had taken place. That fact has changed. Like all things, the value of classic wooden yachts is driven by market demand. The West Coast of the United States, and European countries such as Italy and France are now driving the market for classic wooden yachts. Some of the best yacht restoration done world wide is now taking place in those geographical regions. At the same time, the demand to own restored classic wooden yachts has increased substantially.