Recently on the kayak building bulletin board, there was a discussion regarding the perceived fragility of the fiberglass composite boats know as "strippers" or cedar-strip canoes & kayaks. One of the folks to relate their experiences was Bjorn Thomasson, who replied:
"A stripper is a delicate thing! Look what happened to my Nomad, just for a simple somersault backwards in 13 ft breaking sea and hitting the rocky bottom with the stern! Disappointing..."
The post was followed by a picture of his broken kayak with the rear 2 feet sheared right off. In case you didn't notice, Bjorn was speaking very much tongue in cheek in his answer. Bjorn has also provided the story (Swedish with English translation) behind the "incident" and pictures of the broken kayak and the ensuing repairs. It's worth a look if only for the dramatic pictures. It also shows another advantage of wood boats - their ability to be repaired. Simply put, if you can build it, you can fix it.
Another response in the same discussion was posted by "Ken C":
"I keep my strip kayak hanging from webbing loops in the garage ... one day, I was bringing it down and in a momentary lapse of coordination, I lost control of the boat ... it came crashing down onto the corner of my jointer table (rock-solid cast-iron surface with lotsa angular corners, if you haven't seen one), and then bounced down onto the bare concrete floor ...
"oh, darn" says I ...
I took a minute to calm down and jump-start my heart again, before inspecting the damage ... the neighbors must have been wondering what the commotion was all about ... I was sure I'd be patching a gaping wound, but when I finally got up the nerve to go and look, I couldn't even find a mark ... no dent, no scratch, no glass showing ...... nothing.
I no longer walk on eggshells - these glass/wood/glass panels are TOUGH. "
Not as dramatic as Bjorn's testing efforts but perhaps relates closely to something I'm likely to encounter (not often we see 13' breaking seas on the South Saskatchewan River or at Lakeview Pond).