The compromise between the strength of the steel case and the lightness of the plastic case

Aluminum Yachts

The compromise between the strength of the steel case and the lightness of the plastic case

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Manufacturers of aluminum Yachts

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Very strong yet lightweight, aluminum is 30-40% lighter than fiberglass and 45-55% lighter than steel. Thanks to that, aluminum boats can achieve higher speeds using smaller engines. They are also very durable. Boatbuilders usually offer lifelong warranty on aluminum hulls, which means that aluminum boats have higher resale value than fiberglass ones. But it is very important to use special marine-grade aluminum.  

The cons of aluminum hulls are that they have inferior stability than composite hulls and are noisier on the go. While aluminum is corrosion resistant, it is not corrosion-proof. Beneath the waterline, the aluminum boat is subject to galvanic corrosion. To prevent it, the underwater part of the hull should be painted with protective coating, sometimes with zinc anodes used for additional protection.

Interestingly, the hull above the waterline, which is in contact with air, does not need to be painted at all. Aluminum quickly reacts with oxygen in the air, which results in a thin layer of aluminum oxide on the surface of the metal. It prevents the hull from corrosion. Most luxury motor yacht builders do the paint job though to give the aluminum yacht a sleek “fiberglass” look. But you can leave most of the hull unpainted and save money if you want.

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How are aluminum yachts built?

Unlike composite yachts, which are cast in the same molds, aluminum yachts are built on individual frames which gives more freedom for customization and individual approach to layout and deck spacing.

Aluminum for yachts comes in huge sheet rolls which are cut to lengths for the particular boat. Then a CNC router cuts out parts of the boat according to cutting files. The parts go through the machine press. These parts are then all stacked together in order and sent to the welder. The finished hull is painted and fitted out with floors, doors, hatches, helm station consoles, storage spaces etc.

What types of engines are used on aluminum yachts? 

Aluminum boats from 10 to 15 meters long are mostly crossover boats with trawler-like pilothouses designed for fishing. Boats of this type are powered by outboard engines or inboard sterndrives.

Larger high-speed aluminum yachts are equipped with pod drives or Arneson surface drives, while big ocean-class aluminum yachts go with shaft drives.