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Old 10-04-2012, 05:08 AM   #1
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Default Steel Boats

Looking at boats for crusing life. Steel boats appeal to me because of durability and ease to repair. Any input on what the negatives are? Anyone crusing with a steel hull. Any beta on good designs? I usually tend to go toward the heavy full keel designs for there safety. Fiberglass boats I look at are like Whestsail, Island Packet, Nor Sea, anything Lyle Hess, Baba, ect..... There is lots of info. on fiberglass boat designs but I find little talk on steel boats. Anyone got some recomendations. Thanks for any advice.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:40 AM   #2
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This topic goes to the very heart of what makes a good cruising vessel. Steel, timber, ferro cement, aluminium, fibreglass, ply/glass composite are all used in cruising boats with great success.

The design is of paramount importance when considering a good boat for voyaging. The length to beam ratio, depth of bilges, configuration of keel and rudder, the ballast ratio are all more important than the medium used in a boat's fabrication.

I would prefer to go to sea in a well founded ferro or plywood boat than a poorly built glass or steel boat. The build quality is as important as the design. So, the choice of hull material is very much one of personal preference. Maintenance is time consuming and can be costly. Aluminium doesn't even need painting, ferro cement is almost maintenance free, timber and steel require little bits of maintenance often and fibreglass is probably as close to maintenance free as it gets as GRP technology advances. (This may not be the case for older glass boats).

I have owned ferro, timber, glass, and now steel. I confess to not having a favourite, but I have never crashed a boat! Timber, glass and traditional timber planking are probably more resistant to impact damage than other mediums. Steel is the easiest and probably cheapest to repair.

The only thing I would say about steel is that rolled steel makes a prettier, stronger and better performing boat than one with hard chines, and steel is steel. Older glass boats may have thick hulls but some of the resins become progressively more brittle with age, something which may not be apparent until the hull comes to a sudden, unplanned stop.

But, as long as you are looking at boats such as Westsail, Hans Christian, Island Packet rather than the Jurassic 36, glass is a great material which will serve you well in any conditions.

The one truism is that we all bought boats which were ideally suited to our needs therefore, if you ask a glass sailor about his boat, or a timber sailor, ferro sailor or steel sailor about their boats, they will have many reasons to explain their absolute suitability for cruising...and just as many reasons why all the others are less suited.

So, with that in mind I say, go steel....everything else is rubbish.
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:48 AM   #3
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Don't sugar coat it, auzzie! Tell us how you really feel!
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:58 AM   #4
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You know me.....only joking
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:33 PM   #5
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Steel boats like a lot of others pay you back for the effort you put in.

Get handy with a chipping hammer, wire brush, filler, good quality 2 pack paints (I go for Altex but whatever your favourite brand is) and plenty of care and attention and a steel boat will last you your lifetime, your kids' lifetime, and their kids' lifetime as well. Let it rust and you've just wasted your money.

It helps if you can weld, but I can't and I've found steel boat repairs from boatyards to be cheaper than other types of repairs. Cut, weld, sand, paint, all done. Get fussy with your paints is the main thing, I tried some cheaper paints once or twice and went in in a hurry without proper surface preparation, and 12 months later I was cutting and priming all over again.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:37 AM   #6
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Default steel boats

hi,

when i was considering which type of boat to buy one of the first questions i was asked what type of sailing i intended to do.

so to long distance / blue cruising sailing - the answer was always the same go steel!! which is what i did.

this presents certain type of challenges - which if we are true to ourselves is part of what it is about - in our type of sailing

although, when you have to conduct a continues war with rust - at times it can be trying very trying.

but that as they say is the beauty of it.

so go steel and enjoy.

fair winds

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Old 10-10-2012, 04:42 AM   #7
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Thanks for the beta. I am a welder and it is one of the reasons I was thinking steel. Looking at a 5 year plan for crusing! Thanks again for any input.
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Old 10-11-2012, 12:56 AM   #8
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I asked a guy I was at the bar with, who was new to sailing and about to sail SE Asia, why he bought the boat he had, because it was steel was the reply. I said that was an unusual reason so why was steel so important, so it would survive hitting reefs he replied. One should avoid hitting reefs if one is in a boat, not plan to hit them I responded. I mentioned that the normal reason for buying a sail boat was I liked the design, the rig, the price or size. Some even chose a boat because it sailed well!!
2 years later we met at the bar again and I asked what his plans were, haul the boat, paint it and sell it he said. Didn't you or the wife like cruising I asked. Loved it he said, but we want a boat that sails, sick of motoring all the time.
I bought him a beer and reminded him of our talk 2 years earlier and we both had a laugh.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:56 AM   #9
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No one has mentioned the electrolysis you have with bare steel. If you should lose any paint underwater you must haul immediately and recover the bare steel.
As mentioned above, it really depends on how you plan to use the boat. Going into ice; buy steel! Voyaging in to the tropics, steel is going to be a lot hotter unless it has terrific insulation and since most steel boats are designed for use in colder areas, how's the ventilation?
Don't get me wrong, I've loved and sailed many a steel vessel and always felt very safe aboard, but they are generally not quick or handy vessels.
Our present boat is fiberglass, because at this time I want to sail more and maintain less. She was strong enough to take a hit from a container in a gale between Newport and Bermuda without any damage, and we are considerably faster than our friends on the popular steel boats voyaging with us here in the Caribbean.
Once again, the choice of a boat comes down to the intended use of that boat. I do not believe that emotion or esthetics should be a priority when seeking a vessel, but mostly how well she will suit your needs.
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Old 10-30-2012, 06:04 PM   #10
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With yachts there is always some sort of compromise involved. The advice so far has been great...

The Dutch make some very nice Steel boats and many of them are used all over the world very effectively!

Good luck,

Pete
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Old 10-31-2012, 03:19 AM   #11
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My steel boat has raced in the Santander, three Fastnets and came third in the Middle Sea Race. It could fairly be described as both quick and handy. Franz Maas knew a thing or two about building steel yachts.

I think some steel boats suffer from the same publicity demons as did earlier trimerans and ferro cement boats. As a medium for amateur boatbuilding, steel is king. But there are some horrible slab sided, weld buckled, hard chined battle tanks and mooring blocks floating about out there which are masquerading as sailing boats. Even the venerable spray design in the hands of an enthusiastic amateur takes on a barge like personage which guarantees performance only when running with the trades.

I truly believe a nicely designed and built boat made from any medium, whether timber, concrete, aluminium, fibreglass or steel, will perform as its designer intended with, from a cruising perspective, little difference in performance.
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Old 10-17-2014, 06:17 PM   #12
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My last and largest yacht was steel which is partly where the nightmare began. A classic yacht built 1966 in Germany by a yard that built 10 and 20 thousand tonners . This yacht was built for the owner of the shipyard so everything on here was big ship stuff. In keel cooling 28 litre MTU engine generating capacity 88 kva, a bow thruster that would stop the 20kva generator dead with the surge.
She was certified Germanisher lLoyd 100A4 supposedly capable of breaking ice.
I had her surveyed and certified when i bought her and a few years later had the same thing again when in Athens.
She was on the hard in Athens having some damage repaired following a storm, i was wandering around just jabbing the hull below the waterline with a screw driver and to my horror it went straight through the hull. This is a few weeks after a survey! I had to have most of the bow cut out and replaced, some areas to wards the stern and a large area nr the rudder .
Would i have steel again, A resounding NO, so many areas you can not see let alone get at. It maybe strong when new, but if it is rusting through it is no longer strong QED
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Old 10-18-2014, 09:34 AM   #13
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That actually displays a lack of knowledge about steel boats that's not uncommon.

Sure, steel rusts. Fibreglass gets osmosis. I've seen a fibreglass boat on a hard stand that had had a surveyor shove a splicing awl into, and water was pouring out of the hole made by the awl. Water continued to leak out of that hole for 4 days.

Those repairs you made will probably last 20 years or more. I have had sections of hull cut out of my boat and had patches welded in, those weld repairs will certainly last as long. One section at the bow had the anchor chain break through a catchment plate so that the chain was resting (and abrading) against the hull. Over a period of a few years I guess it wore and rusted a patch through the hull. I had a section cut out and replaced, then epoxy treated it from the inside, replaced the catchment plate, sealed everything back into place and it's all good. Total cost of repairs? Would have been about $800 including the paints.

If you've got a steel hull with a rusted through section then you cut out that section and weld in a new section. If you've got a fibreglass hull that's got osmosis through the hull then it's game over, time to look for a new boat.
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Old 07-09-2016, 12:14 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=capta;35975]No one has mentioned the electrolysis you have with bare steel. If you should lose any paint underwater you must haul immediately and recover the bare steel.
/QUOTE]

The bottoms of my steel twin keels have had no paint on them for 32 years; no corrosion or pitting of any kind. They look as good as the day I launched . If I see any corrosion, then its time to weld more zinc on. Then ,the rust washes away, and no more comes to replace it , as long as I keep the zinc up.
Above the waterline, an hour or two a year maintenance a year ,is all it takes.
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