Building a concrete boat may sound like a very bad idea to the novice . . . but it is a time tested boat building method, that works, it is easier than you might think to produce an exceptionally strong and long lasting vessel relatively cheaply.
A ferrocement hull has some significant advantages over conventionally boat constructions too: it will not rust or rot, sharp rock impacts will not punch holes in it and the hull actually just keeps on getting stronger for the next 30 years!
The technique requires you to build a frame, often wooden, in the shape of the boat requiredt, fasteb several layers of the specified netting material and metal rods . . . and then apply cement across the structure, cement is quite a forgiving material compared to wood or fibreglass.
When the reinforced ( “ferro” ) cement sets, you’ll have a seaworthy durable hull that’s extremely cheap, extremely durable and extremely low maintenance, nearly maintenance-free in fact. In weight terms the hull can be kept comparable to the same hull with an all timber construction is the thickness of the concrete is restricted to less than an inch, and this will still provide plenty of strength.
The ferrocement process is the ideal solution for the home boat builder or enthusiast groups, expect to spend approximately 600 man hours to build a 35 foot hull or a complete 50 foot hull with deck and bulkheads for approximately 1800 man hours!
The technique of constructing boat hulls from concrete was rediscovered by an Italian engineer named Nervi in the 1940’s. The method was then used by some New Zealand boat builders and brought commercially to North America by John Samson when he established his ferrocement design and supply business in Canada. Several thousand ferrocement boats have now been launched or are currently being built around the world today, check the usedboat market to testify the age and longevity of this method of boat construction, as always if you are buying use a qualified boat surveyor and if building your own ferrocement hull please be sure to follow professional guidelines on material specifications and construction techniques to avoid costly mistakes or loss of life.