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What is the story behind the first fiberglass boat? 

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Several pioneers in fiberglass boatbuilding were notable builders in wood before World War II. That was the case with Ray Greene of Toledo, Ohio. Born in 1913, he began building boats at age 12! He was keen to discover a new and better material for making hulls, even writing his thesis in mechanical engineering on the subject.  

Fortuitously, the company Owens-Corning had a plant in Toledo! So, when the first batch of new fiberglass was made available, Greene was allowed to buy half, making boat models with urea-formaldehyde resin and then curing them in a 0.9 m autoclave.  

Greene was also lucky to receive 3.8 liters of an early batch of polyester resin from American Cyanamid’s Griffith. He probably used it to wet out the fiberglass for the 2.4m ”Tubby Dink”, which he’d previously been building in wood. As best researchers can tell, this was the world’s first polyester-fiberglass boat. The year was 1942.  

In this picture, you can see a 1959 flier created by Greene’s Company to advertise their boats!  

Want to read more about the boatbuilding sector transition from wood to fiberglass? Check out this awesome article: