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This is a record of the building of ten 42-ft.
fishing boats in the Bahamas. It illustrates the
methods, equipment and organization required
to construct ten ferro-cement boats on a remotely
situated beach, with relatively unskilled labor.
Much of this record is devoted to the fitting
out of a ferro-cement boat. It is in some detail,
and it concerns one particular design of fishing
boat. The reader must bear in mind that many
methods of building and fitting out ferro-cement
boats exist and that other techniques might have
been employed here with good results. What is
important to remember is that speed and cheap-
ness of construction were the standards demanded
by the principals of this project. And, the work-
ers engaged in the Bahama Islands had never
before seen a ferro-cement boat.
THE CONSTRUCTION METHOD
The construction method chosen was the
inverted wooden mold. For hulls up to 50 feet
in length, and for utilizing unskilled labor, this
method has been shown to be most efficient pro-
viding that adequate lifting and rolling gear is
The ten hulls were built simultaneously
over molds constructed of low-grade spruce. The
molds could not be used again and were removed
after the concrete hulls had been steam-cured.
The advantages to this method of con-
a. The shape and fairness of the hull is
first established and checked with
the quick and easy-to-build wooden
b. The use of air-powered staple guns to
fasten mesh and rods to the hull
mold is a quick and efficient method
and can be performed with unskilled
c. Lamination of the concrete skin is
eliminated as the mortar is applied
from one side only and vibrated
through the hull shell reinforcing.
d. Sagging of large unsupported areas is
avoided. The men work from the out-
side of the hull and downwards. In
other construction methods the men
work inside the hull and overhead,
thereby greatly increasing construction
effort and reducing the number of men
who can effectively work at once.
The inverted wooden mold method is a
tremendous aid to producing a fair hull in a short
construction time. A criticism often raised of
this method is the stripping out of the wooden
mold after curing. This is always a slow and tire-
some job but, in compensation, it can be carried
out with unskilled labor.
The prefabricated superstructure, built on a
one-unit mast and wheelhouse framework, was
sheathed with plywood, completely outfitted,
and bolted to the deck of the boat once afloat.
The fish-hold was also prefabricated but installed
prior to making the deck.
Significant of the efficiency of this construc-
tion method is that all ten boats were built and
launched within a five-month period.
Construction materials and equipment were
shipped by sea to Grand Bahama from the Port of
Miami, U.S.A. Some materials were imported
from as far away as Vancouver, Canada, and
Sweden. At certain times lighter and more
urgently needed equipment or fastenings were
flown in. Delays were experienced once by a
longshoremen's strike but more frequently by
shipping documents not conforming to Bahamian
In its original concept the design was for a
42-ft. combination fishing boat with ferro-cement
hull and decks. The heart of the boat as a "multi-
purpose fishing machine" lay in the hydraulic
power system, driven off the main engine, designed
to operate a variety of rapidly interchangeable
fishing rigs. The idea being that crews working
these boats from remote islands in the Bahamas'
chain would be able to haul crawfish traps, haul