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The construction of modern wooden superyachts

The construction of modern wooden superyachts

The smell, the sound, the ambiance… As soon as you enter a shipyard that builds in wood, the differences are plain. Skilled craftsmen toil over intricate tasks, using techniques passed down through the generations. There is a deep emotion in wood construction, that contrasts with the mechanical nature of composite building.

One might expect this type of construction is limited to sail boats but there are a number of yards that specialise in building motor yachts out of wood. The complicated technology associated with modern motor yacht construction may seem at odds with building in wood, but there are yards that consider wood to be the finest material and which produce beautiful yachts for discerning owners who also appreciate its unique qualities.

From the outside, a modern wooden yacht can look very similar to a composite yacht. Many are classically styled to take advantage of the shape of the material, often with fewer curves in the hull and superstructure as wood does not offer the same freedom to develop compound curves. There are many other subtle qualities of wood that make it an ideal material for construction, such as its ability to absorb sound, which makes the hull quieter when under way. Wood construction lends itself to classic interiors where the structural timbers of the hull and superstructure can be emphasised.

Wood construction has changed to meet modern demands. It is rare to find motor yachts built with planking systems where the seams are caulked, except on tenders and other small craft. It is hard to get the fine, smooth finish that modern standards demand and often plywood sheets are used as a base or have completely replaced the traditional planking. However, plywood construction can limit the development of complex shapes because it will only bend in one direction. But cold-moulded construction, using high-tenacity glues, is much more flexible as the hull is built from thin strips of wood laid over a framework.

As we will see with the _Aguti _motor yacht, cold-moulded wood construction has been developed to a very high standard using a combination of composites and wood, which allows for a highly durable, varnished wood finish to be produced on what looks like a traditional wooden hull.

Perhaps as important nowadays, wood construction is more environmentally friendly than composite construction. The wood comes from sustainable sources, unlike composites, where the chemicals are mainly oil based, and emissions from the wood construction process are minimal compared with the styrenes used in composites.

Featured yards

Aguti, Germany

Cantiere Camuffo, Italy

Diano, Italy

Vicem, Turkey

Logos Marine, Turkey

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