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Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 in Carousel Feature, Powerboating, Sailing, Top Picks, US |

Old Boat Disposal: Crumble or Mince?

Fiberglass is forever, or close enough, and that’s a problem. Here are two possible solutions.

A brand-new boat with a shiny gelcoat is a happy thing, and a neglected or abandoned boat is a sad one. There are too many sad boats around, and not enough people with the skills, time, and money to rescue more than a fraction of them. As a commenter on Boat Trader said the other day, “At least wooden boats had the decency to rot. We need to develop a fiberglass eating worm. I live in Florida and junk boats are a huge problem.”

An old boat goes into the crusher -- but look at all the metal that could have been taken off first.

An old boat goes into the crusher — but look at all the metal that could have been taken off first.

A fiberglass-eating worm would be good, but for now there’s no single, accepted method and no established industry devoted to getting rid of old boats. It’s an expensive process, and there aren’t many obvious uses for chopped-up or pulverized fiberglass composite – which is not to say that there aren’t people looking for ways to create a profitable business out of it.

Meanwhile, though, the boatbuilding industry keeps churning out boats, and we still love to buy them.

Here’s a video that’s been making the rounds recently.

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I have three reactions to it.

  1. Even though that old boat probably had to go, it was still sort of sad to watch. It was a boat, even if it was made of glass fiber and resin, and people long ago – too long ago – had fun in it.
  2. The crusher-guys in the video don’t seem to be boat people, or even careful recyclers. They left a lot of metal on board, some good for scrap, some good for reuse – a stainless steering wheel, stainless steel cleats on the stern and amidships, aluminum rails and windscreen frame, chromed steel cowl vents, stainless rod holders, stainless padeyes, and probably more.  And they tried hitting it right on the chine with a sledgehammer. I bet that sent a good shock through the guy’s hands.
  3. The video is pretty cool to watch.

But here’s a video that shows how to do it better:

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