Ferro Sheathing

Sheathing In Ferro-Cement

By Colin Brookes.mSNAME.amRINA.

The sheathing of old wooden constructed boats with ferro-cement is a tried and proven process that has been in use for at least 35 years.

To order the book 'Ferro-cement Boats', by Colin Brookes.mSNAME.amRINA.


It describes in detail how to ferro-sheath wooden boats.

First, a sequence of pictures showing the stages in the process I used on a small sailboat. The subject boat was a 'Yachting World 5 ton', sailboat of good performance but poorly built and thought unsalvageable. The hull and frames were of softwood, and showing signs of rapid deterioration. The keel bolts were almost waisted, and had been cast within an iron keel. On completion of the project, the boat was lighter by almost half a ton than at the start.

'The proof of the pudding'.

Vessels up to 100 ft have been successfully sheathed by this process. I have lost track of the many I have done over the years, but am aware of the continued success of some I did more than 30 years ago.

Two originally derelict wooden hulls, ferro-sheathed and commissioned as commercial oyster-dredgers.

The build and then rebuild (ferro-sheathing) of 'Priscilla'.

A gaff rigged Essex sailing 'Oyster Smack'. 72ft from bowsprit end to boom end, carvel built in 1883. Story and pictures by Colin Brookes

By 1997 I had ripped the engine out, rebuilt her counter stern, replaced many planks, repaired her decks and rails, doubled up broken frames, designed a new rig and made new mast and spars.

In the early 80's I sold her to a young German who unfortunately neglected her. Leaving her to swing at anchor for months on end, she dragged in a blow, and ended up straddling a small creek breaking her back (both keel and keelson), and springing many hull and deck planks. An ex crew member of mine heard the wreck was up for sale (complete with allher gear). Lacking the finance for an almost total rebuild he approached me with a request to ferro-cement sheath her (if she could be purchased for a song). The yard where she was being stored stated they would break her up if not sold within a few weeks.With the obvious answer that if I did not she would probably end her days almost immediately, I agreed. The counter-stern had to be jacked up by almost 2 ft to put shape back in to her, and after 6 weeks on the hard, she was sheathed and re-commissioned. When re-launched, we had to add almost 2 tons of extra ballast to bring her down to her old marks.

The continuing story of 'Priscilla', in pictures.

After being jacked and tied back in to shape (using Spanish windlasses), and all loose plank-ends fastened, all exterior hull fittings removed, and woodwork primed.....the process of applying the steel begins (her port fore-quarter has already been started on in these two pics).

'Plastering day', and the new 'Priscilla', begins to take shape.

After being sheathed and in the hands of her new owner, 'Priscilla', looked and performed every bit as good as before.

Being launched to be taken round to her berth for the final part of the refit of her deckworks (note her counter stern now holds it's own even though the rails and bulwarks are not yet rebuilt). She is seen back in action again, winning another of the many East Coast regattas.

parallax background

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The information and comments given on this 'World Of Ferroboats', website are based on first-hand experience gained by the contributors over many years of use, designing, surveying, building and repairing ferro-cement boats.