How Sailboats are Built
July 12, 2015 How to, Sailing

How to Build a Sailboat

People are surprised to learn how to build a sailboat, at least in the factory. It’s done by fabrication, in three parts. The fiberglass hull is laid up with a mold, and the interior is as well. Then the parts are added inside and out until the decking is dropped in place on top of the other two parts.

I’ve been to the Catalina factory in Los Angeles and the Hunter factory in Florida, and the one thing that’s surprising is the size of the woodworking facility. Production boats have close specs for the fiberglass, but the wood has to be even more precisely cut and requires fine woodworking skills.

The big breakthrough for sailboats came in the 1980s when Catalina, Hunter and Bennetau evidently went to Detroit to find out how automakers keep cars from leaking into the passenger compartment. For eons, the excuse was “Boats leak.” That was in part due to the bending and creaking that fiberglass does under the stress of water and wind, but it was no excuse. They fixed the problem and today cabin interiors remain dry. That reduces mold greatly and makes for more pleasant sailing in general.

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