This technical brief attempts to set out the basic construction techniques as well as the
material, equipment, infrastructure, skills and labour requirements necessary to build
fibreglass fishing crafts suitable for use in Sri Lanka’s coastal fisheries industry.
As a material for boat building, fibreglass has gained in popularity over wood and metal in
both developed and developing countries, mainly because of the relative simplicity of
construction, the ability to produce many identical hulls from a single mould, and the ease of
maintenance of the boats themselves. Fibreglass boats are completely watertight, rot-proof
and resistant to borers.
Disadvantages of fibreglass stem from the health risks associated with inhalation of fibre dust
during construction, and the fact that the boats are slow to degrade and disposal at the end of
their life is difficult.
Fibreglass is a term used to describe Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP), a material consisting of
glass fibre impregnated with resin. Typically, a hardwearing surface is created with the use of
a gel coat, strengthened by layers of fibreglass mat impregnated with resin. The required
strength is achieved either by using several layers of mat or by using a thicker gauge of mat.
Credit: Practical Action
Materials and equipment
The key to producing high quality boats is a good mould - a mirror image of the finished hull,
which is also a fibreglass construction cast from either a plug, which is wooden replica of a
hull, or the hull of an existing boat. In Sri Lanka, it is almost always an existing hull that is
used to create the mould. Once the mould is created, it can be used to build hundreds of
boats, which will have precisely the same shape as the original boat or plug used to create the
mould. Therefore, it is very important that a good boat with the perfect hull shape is selected
for this purpose. The better the plug, the better the mould and all the boats that come out of
it. For larger vessels the plug and mould building is repeated for the deck and interior
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