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Building A Fishing Boat: Why Three Piece Fiberglass Boat Construction Is Better Than Two Piece Fiberglass Boat Construction

Published June 25th, 2012 by Heather Harrison

Some of the most frequently asked questions regarding fiberglass boat construction revolve around the techniques used to secure the fishing boat deck to the boat liner and the corresponding attributes of the end product.  This article will shed some light on the types of fiberglass boat construction and give you some insight into often overlooked aspects of boat ownership.

How exactly is the boat deck secured to the boat liner?

  1. In two piece fiberglass boat construction, the boat deck is secured to the boat liner with screws, rivets and/or adhesive.  This typically allows for potential issues in the future as the screws and rivets work loose.  Additionally, the negative impacts on the overall “ride” of the vessel are noticeable due to the jarring impact of having two separate pieces distributing the shock of the waves when running.
  2. In three piece fiberglass boat construction, the boat deck is bonded to the boat liner by glassing the two pieces together.  This provides a stronger, more secure bond between the two pieces, disallowing for any shifting.  The overall effect is a more comfortable ride and stronger side walls.

Benefits of three piece construction:

  • Increased deck space.
    In three piece construction, the liner is pushed directly against the hull.  This can equate to as much as 6-8” of additional boat deck space.Two piece construction has a different cap and mold design in which it is impossible to get the hull and boat liner flush together when building a fishing boat.
  • Toe kick.
    Three piece construction allows a “toe kick” area in which your feet (and knees) can slip under the gunnel.  This allows for increased stability when fighting a fish or any other activity which requires you to lean against the sidewall, as well as less instances of stubbed toes.In two piece construction, there is either no toe kick or just enough room cut out for your toes which leaves your knees to take the abuse.
  • Rod holders, rod holders, rod holders.
    Rod holders are an important part of any fishing boat and the differences in installation in two piece and three piece fishing boat construction are pretty big.  In three piece construction, rod holders can be installed virtually anywhere.  Since you can easily access underneath the gunnels, you can bolt down any rod holders installed after the boat leaves the factory, and it doesn’t involve hours of tedious work to do so.  Additionally, the rod holders are able to drain directly onto the boat deck.In two piece construction, you can only screw down rod holders from the top and you either have to run hoses for drainage or risk them draining directly into the hull.
  • No coaming pads needed.
    Remember that toe kick we discussed earlier?  In two piece construction, many times coaming pads are used to give you that little bit of extra room.  This further decreases your available deck area and adds cost and extra maintenance.  In three piece construction they are solely an option and less of a necessity.
  • Ease of installing under lighting and DC outlets under the gunnel
    This follows the same concept as the rod holders.  In three piece construction you’re able to easily install lighting or outlets (shore power, DC outlets for electric reels, etc.).  Additionally, the outlets won’t stick out and catch on legs as you’re rushing across the boat deck get to that screaming reel.In two piece construction, there’s nowhere to hide the lighting and outlets, making it unsightly and bruise worthy.

All things considered; three piece fiberglass boat construction clearly has the advantage over two piece construction.  While the overall cost of the three piece constructed boat may be slightly higher than that of a two piece boat, the long term benefits and conveniences will negate the additional investment.

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