Stringers are the backbone of any boat. They’re like ribs, running fore and aft instead of side to side. (Structural supports running from side to side are called “floors,” though in most modern boats, bulkheads make up these supports.) When you look at a new boat, you’ll hear lots of buzz about a boat’s stingers: they’re foam-filled, molded in a grid, solid glass, etcetera. But, what should all this mean to you? Here’s the scoop.
The arrows point to the stringers in this unfinished hull.
Buzz WordsWhat it MeansWhy You Care
Foam cored fiberglass
Fiberglass stringers that have foam inside. This describes most of the stringers in boats built today.
Foam coring is good, but don’t believe that these “rot-free” stringers are “better” then wood-cored stringers. Wood core adds heft and strength, and many modern marine plies come with a lifetime rot-free guarantee.
These are foam logs with fiberglass woven around them.
They’re extremely light and strong. That makes them good for speed, but the lack of weight may impede seakeeping abilities.
These stringers are laminated in a mold, just like the hull and deck.
Molded grids add a lot of rigidity to a boat, and contribute to a solid ride through rough seas.
Engine bearing stringers
In inboard and stern drive boats, an aft section of the inboard stringers is usually where the engine is secured down.
Check these carefully; stringers acting as engine bearers must have reinforcement. Those with stainless-steel or aluminum caps going from bulkhead to bulkhead, or plates laminated into the stringer, are best.
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