First mover advantage

Andy Adams

July 9, 2024

Globally, fiberglass is a widely used material for building pleasure craft from light-weight sailing skiffs to 100-foot luxury yachts and beyond. Right now, there’s no problem with that. But in this week’s Boating Industry Canada New Week Digest, we have a story from the UK about the alarming discovery of ‘disturbing levels’ of fibreglass in oysters and mussels. This new study could alert politicians to a real and significant health threat to people and therefore, to the fishermen and aquaculture people whose catch (or products) may be compromised by this discovery.

Recent events like the Canadian Luxury Tax on boats that has been so damaging to our industry since it came into effect in September 2022, should make it clear, that the government and our politicians act in ways that are beneficial to their political interests, without much regard for what the impact will be on our industry and the potential loss of employment. In other words, I could imagine some politician leading the charge on banning fiberglass.

In the June 25th edition of Boating Industry Canada New Week Digest, I pointed out that the historic Wheeler boat company was planning to launch a new version of their 1931 Wheeler 55 Playmate. Would a wealthy family be willing to buy a glorious 55-foot wooden cruiser? I’m certain there is a market for that.

Plus, in today’s world, sustainable forestry gives us a steady supply of suitable materials and the latest CAD systems let us design a boat with such precision that all the parts and joinery can be created on a 5-axis router requiring very little woodworking skill to have a great new wooden boat.

Another thing that we touched on was an event in Ontario at Kashe Lake called Fleafest. This event celebrates father and son (or mother and daughter) wooden boat building. A bunch of seafleas will be racing around near Rockhaven Inn on Kashe Lake in Muskoka. All the details are here: https://www.muskokaseaflea.ca/homesplash/?page_id=883. See the fun people have with their little wooden boats and simple 9.9 hp motors. You can even get seaflea plans to build your own from Fleafest, or from their website.

First mover advantage is a powerful idea that the first person (or business) to offer a good wooden boat may gain the lead in a coming transition in boating. There is no way to predict what the government might do but I see fiberglass materials as a potential target for the environmentalists.

Something to ponder as you relax by the dock this week!

Andy Adams – Editor

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