Traditionally constructed wooden boats can be all of the above
but don't need to be. There are many different construction methods
for wooden boats, each of which must be applied appropriately. Combining
an appropriate construction method with regular maintenance is the key
to your wooden boat.
Many modern wooden boats take advantage of materials that weren't available
a hundred years ago. They are made from combinations of marine grade
plywood and solid lumber, joined and sealed using epoxy resin, then finished
with a covering of clear fiberglass. This forms a stressed skin structure or
composite sandwich core that is structurally rigid enough that it doesn't
need forms or ribs. As an added benefit, the fiberglass/epoxy coating seals against
water and adds abrasion resistance to the hull.
From the performance standpoint, modern wooden boats using this construction
are very durable and can be much lighter than a composite boat of equal strength.
Composite sandwich core construction is used in most high performance boats today.
A typical kayak in fiberglass weighs from 50 to 65 pounds while a similar wooden
boat will weigh 40 to 50 pounds, 25 - 30% less! Wooden boats are also rigid so that
your paddling energy isn't lost on flexing as with a plastic boat.
Even wooden boats built from modern materials require some special care
and maintenance. You have to be careful when paddling along rocky
shores to not hit the rocks hard or you can scratch or even damage a wooden
boat similar to a fiberglass boat. Maintenance consists of rinsing
the boat with clean water after use to remove weeds and other living material
and sand, and a light sanding and revarnishing of the outside every one
to three years, depending on your use.
On the aesthetic side, I'd rather paddle a beautiful wooden boat than
plastic or fiberglass any day. People instantly notice wooden boats
because of their natural beauty.