Fiberglass boat market picks up speed

Fiberglass boat sales have picked up over the last two years.

Photo: Flickr user Bengt Nyman.

The fiberglass boat market is growing rapidly at a time when other parts of the boating industry are in decline. Trade Only Today, a boating news source, reports that the fiberglass segment has seen growth of 35 percent in the past two years, with Florida contributing the most sales in the United States.

The industry reportedly sold 19,500 fiberglass boats 15 feet or longer in 2013, up from 14,500 in 2011. Given that Florida has a year-round boating season, it's not surprising that it would lead the nation in boat sales. But the growth hasn't been limited just to the Sunshine State: The Northeast saw an increase in saltwater fiberglass boat sales of over 33 percent.

Why are fiberglass boats becoming so popular? It has much to do with the advantages of this material over aluminum, particularly for saltwater fisherman. Fiberglass is heavier, which makes boats more substantial and less shaky when they're out in choppy ocean waters. In addition, fiberglass isn't susceptible to corrosion from saltwater, while aluminum will eventually begin to rust and deteriorate in the same conditions.

This isn't to say that aluminum doesn't have its own benefits. If you're involved in a collision, either with another watercraft or a dock, a metal boat will bend and dent without being punctured. Fiberglass, on the other hand, will shatter with a strong enough impact, which means that it could be in danger of sinking if the collision occurs away from shore.

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