Originally Posted by Brent Swain
Older fg boats vs new is a generalization. Any new boat built from scratch can be far better built than stock boats, but most new boats are far more poorly built than older FG boats, built when materials and labour were cheaper. Given the current cost of materials, such a boat would be extremely expensive. A freind many years ago, priced the cost of fibreglassing materials for a Bristol chanel cutter, Ater being given a quote of $12,000 for hull and decks, he watched me pull a 31ft hull, decks, cabin, wheelhouse, keels, rudder and skeg together in a couple of weeks,for $3500. Then, considering the cost of deck hardware for a fibreglass boat vs $1 a pound for the stainless to do it on a steel boat, he walked away from that project, and has been building steel boats ever since. The price gap is still the same, or greater.
No , I dont think you can avoid the "bad seamanship" of happening to run into Fukashima debris on a foggy night. Plastic under you doesn't automatically make you "luckier".
My boats are fast, go to windward well, and make good passage times. They have often outsailed fibreglass boats they were not supposed to outsail, including Beneteaus. Their strength has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt, over the last 32 years. There is no point in waterproof bulkheads, as there is little if any chance of punching a hole in 3/16th plate on a 36 footer. They have also proven that, with good initial preparation, planning and painting ,maintenance can be reduced to less that of a fibreglass boat undergoing hard , heavy full time use. Nothing breaks, pulls loose, or leaks in welded down gear, unlike with bolted down gear on fibreglass.
If my clients wanted a fibreglass boat, they would have bought a fibreglas boat . Many have, then decided to upgrade to steel. It is no secret to anyone sniffing around boats, that they are available for a fraction the cost of materials, in any size shape and a huge variety of designs. So why would anyone want to pay someone many times the cost of a boat, or decades of cruising funds, for mere drawings of a plastic boat, when so many real boats are availabe so cheap? All my clients know that. They just dont want to risk lives and that of their families, in a plastic boat, which couldn't survive a collision, unharmed, with a large piece of Fukashima debris, like a dock or wreck. Better to have your hull bounce off, unharmed, that to have it stowed in and end up relying on a bulkhead to keep you afloat, in mid ocean. After a long and thorough look at the boat market, they have concluded that the only way to get what they want, and in steel, is to build from scratch. Relatively good plastic boats are a dime a dozen. Designers in that field are currently the equivalent of people selling ice to Greenlanders. Good steel boats are rare around here. For anyone wanting one which doesn't take forever to build , one which uses the most modern methods, I have no competition. Most commercially built sailboats around here are 10 guage plate, right down to the bottom of the keel, painted one side only, zero paint inside, welded one side only, and that weld mostly ground off.
Most of my boats are 3/16th hull plate 1/8th decks, cabin, cockpit, and wheelhouse, 1/4 inch keel sides, half inch leading edges, and half inch bottomplate, welded both sides, cold galvanized wheelabraded and primed, 5 coats of epoxy tar on the outside, three coats of epoxy tar inside, sprayfoamed , and all outside corners trimed with stainless, reducing maintenance by over 80%
You just wont find a commercially built boat around here built to those standards. If anyone did , it would be priced far beyond the means of most cruisers. For a home builder it means a bit of extra time and expense, their own time. For a commercial builder, fully welded, a good paint job inside and out, stainless trim, extra steel thickness in important areas, etc, would mean bankrupcy, and no credit given to him by customers, who have no comprehension of the importance of such matters.