Boat Building in "Copper-Nickel"
Copper is one of the most noble metals in common use and has excellent resistance to corrosion in the atmosphere and in salt water. The Royal Navy introduced copper cladding of wooden warships in the 18th century to prevent the hulls being eaten by marine borers and fouled by other marine growth. The hull of the 'Cutty Sark' and other famous clipper ships were clad with copper. These vessels were required to make fast passages and the protection by the copper ensured that the ship bottoms remained clean and free from marine growth. In 1893 the America Cup defenders 'Vigilant' and 'Enterprise' and other cup defenders of the period had hulls of Tobin Bronze fastened with rivets of the same alloy.
The practice of copper cladding wooden ships and pleasure craft hulls was common up until the mid 1950's, when modern antifouling paints came into common usage. Copper cladding was the forerunner of modern Copper- Nickel alloys that have superior resistance to corrosion together with excellent antifouling properties. Today copper-nickel can be used to clad the underwater sections of both commercial and pleasure boats of all types.
In 1938 a 45 ft / 13.72 M motor cruiser 'Miss Revere' was built in USA using 70-30 copper-nickel welded over 70-30 framing and fitted with aluminum bulkheads. Between 1938 and 1965 many US Coast Guard motor whale boats were sheathed at the waterline in copper- nickel. In 1968 the pleasure yacht 'Asperida' was built using 70-30 copper-nickel hull plating, over framing of the same material; this boat is still in service today.
The first of several copper-nickel commercial-fishing boats was built in 1971. The hull of the 67 ft / 20 42 M 'Copper Mariner' was constructed from 1/4" / 6 mm 90-10 welded copper-nickel plate, installed over steel framing. More recently several other trawlers and general-purpose fishing boats have been built using copper- nickel alloys.
One interesting example is the 18 year old sailboat Pretty Penny. I recently inspected this boat in Faversham UK and was most impressed with her condition. This all copper-nickel boat, had not been slipped for 16 years and required only a wooden scraper to remove the layer of grass from the hull.
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