Karen Heather Mary Menpes


Karen Menpes England

Until the mid 19th century most boats were of all natural materials; primarily wood although reed, bark and animal skins were also used. Early boats include the bound-reed style of boat seen in Ancient Egypt, the birch bark canoe, the animal hide-covered kayak and coracle and the dugout canoe made from a single log.
Dr. Bill Streever describes a boat made by the native Inupiat people in Barrow, Alaska: "It is a skin boat, an umiaq, built from the stitched hides of bearded seals and used to hunt bowhead whales in the open-water leads during spring... [15]
By the mid-19th century, many boats had been built with iron or steel frames but still planked in wood. In 1855 ferro-cement boat construction was patented by the French. They called it Ferciment. This is a system by which a steel or iron wire framework is built in the shape of a boat's hull and covered (trowelled) over with cement. Reinforced with bulkheads and other internal structure, it is strong but heavy, easily repaired, and, if sealed properly, will not leak or corrode. These materials and methods were copied all over the world, and have faded in and out of popularity to the present. As the forests of Britain and Europe continued to be over-harvested to supply the keels of larger wooden boats, and the Bessemer process (patented in 1855) cheapened the cost of steel, steel ships and boats began to be more common. By the 1930s boats built of all steel from frames to plating were seen replacing wooden boats in many industrial uses, even the fishing fleets. Private recreational boats in steel are uncommon. In the mid 20th century aluminium gained popularity. Though much more expensive than steel, there are now aluminium alloys available that will not corrode in salt water, and an aluminium boat built to similar load carrying standards could be built lighter than steel.

A wooden boat operating near shore
Around the mid 1960s, boats made of glass-reinforced plastic, more commonly known as fibreglass, became popular, especially for recreational boats. The United States Coast Guard refers to such boats as 'FRP' (for Fibre Reinforced Plastic) boats.