Ferro-cement Yacht berthed at Battlesbridge
Jay Benford 12' Keelboat
The quality of build can vary considerably with ferro-cement boats, depending on the skill of the builders, and the materials used. Although ferro-cement composite construction with metallic supporting structures is considered to be a light material in the buildings industry, the weight of it precludes viable use as a construction material for boats less than 25 feet in length, but as with many rules there are exceptions. To prove the exception, there have been successful smaller ‘concrete’ vessels, such as the 12’ Jay Benford Keelboat.
Back in the seventies, this method of construction for large yachts was favoured by amateurs, because they could obtain a high volume ferro-cement hull at a fraction of the cost of a wooden or GRP one. Another advantage of ferro-cement as a building material was that highly specialized skills were not required by the builders, and they did not have to invest in expensive tools, nor were they required to find or make a cover under which to build their dream yacht. All they needed was a plot of land with access to a main road and no restrictive byelaws preventing them from using the ground for this purpose.
Buying a second-hand ferro-cement yacht that has been proven to be sound by the test of time may not be a bad proposition, but so much would depend upon what the prospective owner would want to do with her. If she were to be a houseboat confined to a mud berth for the next ten to twenty years, there would be little to worry about; on the other hand, if her new owner wanted to sail her across the oceans of the world, he would be wise to have the views of a competent surveyor who was familiar with ferro-cement boats. He would also be wise to research what is offered by yacht insurance brokers before investing his hard earned cash.
If it were a choice of buying an amateur built ‘concrete’ boat or a professionally built one, I would most likely opt for the latter. My reasoning is that she would have more probably been monitored during her construction to ensure that she met the criteria needed for an enduring product, i.e., a finely crafted vessel, almost free of maintenance, apart from a lick of paint, during her lifespan of perhaps 50 years or more.
My Previous Article, ‘Ferro-cement Boat’
The World of Ferro-cement Boats
Hartley 32 Ferro-cement Yacht
Hartley Norsk 35
12’ Keelboat in Ferro-cement by Jay Benford (An exception to the 25’ rule)