Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: new england
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats
Think the argument about steel v. Glass footprint is just silly. Grp requires oil for supplies. Steel requires huge electricity for steel manufactor and when I run even my small millermatic the Ah just flow. Both have significant footprints. But how you live with the boat also impacts. My heating system is extremely efficient . I make my own electricity. I'm not running chainsaws or other 2 cycle engines. I don't weld,sandblast,flame zinc, and use power tools to a limited degree. I sail not power if there is any wind to speak of. In short one can be an energy pig in either a grp or steel boat.
New v. Old is also problematic. Any boat has a service life. This can be prolonged by proper maintenance . That maintenance has a "footprint" . I would suggest that "footprint" is smaller for a new or recent boat.
Returning to th O.P. Steel has great benefits
Possibility for amateur construction.
It also has deficits
Labor in construction and need for meticulous construction to prevent rust/ electrolysis
Inability to develope complex curves limiting design.
Poor resale value.
When looking at building my last boat it came down to realization that if one wanted to sail a boat with decent performance, have the comforts of home, have people available to maintain or fix what I could not grp won out.
Below 50' steel loses out to aluminum on performance. Above 50' I can't afford operating costs.
Think once I get the bucket list issue of sailing tropics/ subtropics out of way I might think of a metal boat. If so with current technologies aluminum beats out steel even for high latitude sailing in every way. You see production runs of aluminum from France and the Netherlands . Other than waterline and puffin I don't know of anyone still producing in steel.