Join Date: Sep 2013
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats
As contrast, the western red cedar strip planking of my new Perry 62'er is one inch thick and the West System sheathing (set in tri-axial 24 ounce Vectorply) adds only a fraction of an inch, so no more than 1-1/16 total. She has basically no other protruding structural elements as the deck and entire interior (bulkheads, berth-flats, etc) are foam core composite and designed to be structural. Therefore she is very open down below.
Granted steel would be thinner, but then you would have insulation, etc to add to the steel and a steel vessel would not be near as light.
I have read that various lab tests show that wood/composite can be stiffer and stronger than steel. (And I believe that wood/composite is a better insulator for temperature and noise.)
I have nothing against steel as a vessel material (or any other material for that matter), each material has a valid place in boat building. (I have 316SS keel floors to distribute the keel loads via some G-10 girders throughout the hull.)
This argument of one material being better than another makes no sense to me, each material has pros and cons, the best vessels use many different materials in different applications to accomplish the desired mission. As all missions are different, each might take a different approach and use different materials.
My vessel is built of wood (western red cedar, fir, cherry, ash), West System Epoxy, carbon fiber, solid G-10, titanium, several brands of dense and light weight foam core, VectorPly in several different weights, 316 SS, Aqua-mat 22, anodized aluminum, sheathed mild steel, lead, Dacron, Spectra, and I am sure I have forgotten to list other items used in her build.
All boat building materials have their place IMHO, even ferro-cement.
you cant take a cutting torch to wood, cut out a piece then weld in another like you can with steel. Aluminum can be handled this way but it takes more skill and annealing is a problem. fibreglass is pretty easy to repair and properly laid up very very strong. I prefer wood for many reason but no longer own any wood boats because of the upkeep