Wood vs. Fiberglass

I’m in the market for a boat and looking at two similar boats. One is a wooden BBK boat and the other is a glass boat. The wood boat only weighs about 33lbs and the glass about twice as much. Any insights about the pros and cons of wood vs. glass as far as performance, sturdiness, maintainance, etc. ?

Wood is actually
a fiberglass laminate. Usually it is thin ply mahogany sheated inside and out with varying thickness of glass and epoxy. I have several wood boats in my fleet as well as a production glass. The wood is still in quite nice shape after several years of banging rocks mid river.


A wood kayak
of that weight will be strong enough for regular use but it’s not something you want to be banging around on rocks with unless you like to do fiberglass repairs.

I use my lightweight wood kayak for my regular paddling but if I want to go play in some waves and rock gardens I will use my fiberglass kayak.

And if I don’t like repairing fiberglass
I use my polyethelene kayak.

BBK boat?
sorry, unfamilar term, please explain.

my friend just built a Pygmy Osprey 3, it is a beauty- but i wouldnt want to take it in a rock garden…

you dont say what model fiberglass…


I’ve banged my Pygmy Arctic Tern
around quite a bit and it’s doing fine. It’s a heck of alot lighter than an all-glass boat, I can easily refinish it myself every few years and don’t have to worry about spider-cracks in gel-coat. I think because wood/glass boats are so pretty folks tend to think of them as fragile, but they aren’t.

Betsie Bay Kayak? I think they make wood/glass boats…



Varnish isn’t the toughest coating
If it’s a wood-epoxy-glass sandwich, the boat can be made very strong (depends on the layup). The thing that might have you gnashing your teeth is the varnish. It seems to be softer and more easily damaged than gel coat. You can finish it in 2-part polyurethane instead, which supposedly is a tougher finish.

Varnish meant to keep out the UV
Varnish is not meant to be a tough finish - the epoxy plays that role. Marine varnish keeps the UV light from deteriorating the epoxy. The varnish will show scratches, but this does not cause sun exposure problems generally, since the scratches are mostly on the hull. If the scratchesa bother you, just re-coat the boat every couple of years.