Join Date: Apr 2008
Thanked 11 Times in 11 Posts
Rep Power: 9
Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats
FWIW, there are a lot of steel, aluminium and wood and plastic (horror!) down here.
A fair few decades ago living in North Queensland my parents had a local machine shop build a 50' steel cruising yawl - one my Dad designed and Joe Adams drew up. No chines.. just a nice curved hull and clipper bow. It was the biggest thing the husband-and-wife shop (the wife was a top-class welder) had ever taken on - they had to extend their shed to fit it in. As a kid it was an amazing place to explore and learn new skills.
As you'd expect the boat had a fair few complex curves, but with the right tools made right there in the shop (like a hydraulic piston-press around 20' high for shaping the plates and a monster forklift made from the chassis and engine of an old Dodge truck) she took us up and down the Queensland coast for many years.
Aside from a few home-made ones, I don't see so many yachts being made down here in steel any more - most new metal builds seem to be Aluminium. Around here I do see more new wooden boats in build than any other material.. but you could argue that I might not be looking in the right places.
Alloy is a gift currently given it's energy production requirement although still significantly more expensive than steel.
But it's not a great material for the non trained welder. It takes a lot of resources to train an alloy welder and that includes x-rays of beginners welds. It's very easy to lay down a really good looking bead that looks great but is all sitting on the top of the join. Later those welds inevitably crack.
Materials and construction methods come and go with prices trends and ability of local workforces. There's quite a few trained alloy welders around in Oz that people should hire to weld up their home built alloy boats.
I'd have any hull material they all have their advantages and disadvantages for high lattitude cruising and poorly charted coral areas I do like metal boats. But solidly build hulls of most materials in small craft are pretty tough if robustly built.