Heart of Glass: Fiberglass Boats and the Men Who Built Them

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9780071579834: Heart of Glass: Fiberglass Boats and the Men Who Built Them

The fascinating story of fiberglass boats and the mavericks who dreamed them. Nine out of ten sailors today own sturdy, often beautiful fiberglass craft. Fiberglass brought boating to the non-rich, but the history of that revolution has never been told. Daniel Spurr rectifies this omission with his highly readable and affectionate account of the fiberglass boat, from its earliest incarnation in World War II to the present day. In the early days, when shoestring genius was unfettered by industrial efficiency, there were boats with tailfins, boats baked in ovens, and boats designed to be dropped from planes. The voyage from those first ugly ducklings to the graceful boats of the 1990s makes a riveting adventure of triumph and ruin. Along the way, Spurr profiles landmark designs that now set the standards in the used-boat market, and he portrays the revolution in human terms, introducing us to the vivid personalities who invented--often in their garages and rarely at a profit--the world of boating we know today.

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From the Back Cover:

The world’s oceans, lakes, and waterways abound with plastic-hulled craft of every description, and most of us take for granted that nearly anyone who can afford to buy a car can also own a boat. But just fifty years ago, “affordable boating” was an oxymoron. In those days, virtually all pleasure craft were painstakingly fashioned from wood, and “yachting” was the exclusive domain of the rich. Then, in 1942, maverick inventor Ray Greene rolled out his first crude fiberglass-reinforced polyester (FRP) dinghy, thus firing the opening shot in a revolution that, over the next two decades, would transform boating from an elitist pastime into a democratic institution enjoyed by hundreds of thousands.

The story of the fiberglass boat, from the first ugly ducklings of the 1940s to the elegant sloops and sportfishermen of today, is a rich one, peopled with a colorful array of pioneers, visionaries, and entrepreneurs. It is a tale of triumph and ruin, scientific serendipity and engineering genius, a love of the art and a relentless quest for the next hot boat. And few authors are as qualified to tell the story as boating journalist and author Daniel Spurr.

Spurr introduces us to the great fiberglass boat designers and builders, many of whose first-hand accounts appear throughout the book. We learn how men such as Charlie Morgan, Everett Pearson, Dick Bertram, Hobie Alter, and Rod Johnson, working on a shoestring, often out of their garages, gave birth to the vessels that revolutionized boating. Most got by, but some went bankrupt. Few found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

And of course, there are the boats themselves, the landmark designs. We get the complete inside stories of the Pearson Triton, the Boston Whaler, the Bermuda 40, the Cal's, the Hobie Cat, the Morgan Out Island 41, the Bertram 31, the Magnum 27, the Grand Banks trawlers, the J/24, and the other enduring classics that built an industry and remain the most popular used boats to this day.

Illustrated with 220 rare photographs, many never before published, Heart of Glass is a must-read--a fascinating story of fiberglass boats and the mavericks who dreamed them.

About the Author:

Daniel Spurr is the editor of Practical Sailor newsletter and a former senior editor of Cruising World. He is also the author of Spurr’s Boatbook: Upgrading the Cruising Sailboat and Yacht Style: Design and Decor Ideas from the World's Finest Yachts, both available from International Marine, as well as River of Forgotten Days and Steered by the Falling Stars. Heart of Glass has been twelve years in the making.

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