the Big Boys are Doing and
What We Can Learn From Them
by Jim Betts
February 5-7, the boat building
industry came together in Florida for the IBEX show. (The full
name is International Boatbuilders' Exposition & Conference.)
IABBS asked a couple of members who are close to the industry
(and live in Florida) to see what they could find that would
benefit the rest of us.
Jacques Mertens, who runs e-boatnet
and is a top designer of amateur-buildable boats, reports that
the major topic in the conferences as well as around the many
exhibits was "kiterizing" supplies. That is to say,
the builders are demanding that the suppliers of such things
as fiberglass cloth supply it in kits for each design. This
means that the cloth for a specific boat is all precut and ready
to use. So the builder is able to close down his own cutting
operation. This method is also used for wood, electrical systems,
plumbing, engine controls and such.
Well, kit boats have been around
for the amateur builder for many years. Did the "pros"
learn something from us? In any case, people like Glen-L, Clark-Craft
and e-boat.net already supply kits that may be total boat, or
fastenings and fiberglass, etc. Mr. Mertens says they will do
more of this in the near future. (Check out his web site: www.bateau.com
to see more about his offerings.)
A Close Look at Some of the Goodies
Russell J. Bartell, N.A. reports,
"Going to IBEX was like a kid going to a candy store."
One of his observations is that it was good to see more competing
suppliers at most levels. This obviously holds dovm prices and
leads to better material. Looking at some specifics:
1. In the area of fiberglass
building for the amateur, see information on C-flex (story on
this in our Dec/Jan issue) and Core-Cell foam strip planking.
See info at
2. Pressure-treated plywood helps
prevent rot. While not widely available to the amateur builder,
it can be had by special order. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Cruising boats especially
must have opening ports for ventilation. Bronze or stainless
are best, but aluminum and plastic are cheaper. See websites:perko.com,
4. The competition for 12-volt
pumps is fierce and the upgrade in quality is significant. Plastic
plumbing has been made easy with "erector-set" fittings.
Besides the usual Ts, Ls and Xs, adapter couplings etc., valves
are made to clip to one another quickly. See web sites: depcopump.com,
5. The largest category in the
show was hardware, most of which being high quality. If you
can't find what you want in the list below, you probably don't
need it! See web sites: perko.com,
6. Three of the fastener suppliers
offered a wide variety. Square drive is becoming quite popular.
See web sites: alloyfasteners.com,
EDITORS' NOTE: Russell
J. Bartell, N.A. is a consulting naval architect and engineer
for the Hinckley Co., a NAMS certified marine surveyor, former
Chief Engineer for Palmer Johnson, Director of Florida and Tom
Fexas Yacht Design. He has designed boats and built boats, including
a 48-footer on which he made a 3 1/2-year circumnavigation.