Scuppered Dreams, Abandoned Boats: An environmental threat in pictures

As long ago as 1999, the US based naval architect Eric Sponberg raised the alarm within the recreational boating community with his outspoken article entitled 'Recycled Dead Boats.' To quote his actual words, he said: "The industry has 'shot itself in the foot' by building boats out of such a durable and almost indestructible material as fibreglass (GRP.)"

Almost a quarter of a century later, the Centre for Aquatic Environments at Brighton University in the UK has picked up the baton and recently produced a video which vividly emphasises the same ongoing challenge. The film features academic research information, and real-life contributions from various stakeholders around the world, clearly making the point; that not enough has been done to address the threats to the environment, or to the future sustainability of boating.

Of course, the root of the problem goes back even further than Sponberg's intervention. As mentioned in the video, this problem has been building up and hanging over us for a long, long time.

Legend has it that the first 16ft fibreglass dayboat was built in 1953 in the USA, and the material was chosen as it had been successfully used for coffins which would never rot away under the ground. How sad it is that nearly 70 years later, there are still literally thousands of fiberglass boat hulls, either whole or cut into pieces, going into landfill, where they will still be in a thousand years' time!

by Peter Franklin, Onboard Online
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Wednesday, 22 May 2024

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