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Join Date: Sep 2005
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The slotted aluminum works very well... it does not need maintenance, it provides places to connect shackles, tie down items on deck, attach bungee cords, store halyards off the mast, etc etc.... but I think it's pretty pricey. Not sure just how easy it is to bend to shape, but obviously it's possible. Virtually all of them are through bolted as part of the hull/deck attachment scheme. I believe they are rarely added on after the fact.
The wood looks great but as you know requires upkeep. It's also not as easy to bend as you might think, and cleanly removing the existing is going to be a difficult job all on its own. On one of our first boats we removed a rotten toerail but had to change the way the original wood was oriented in order to have any hope of bending the new one into place. In the end it worked out OK but I would have preferred to have an aluminum one.
The only downside to the perforated aluminum rails is that they tend to leave unsightly stains as they oxidize and the rain water off the deck runs down the hull. If you keep ahead of it it's an easy clean, if you let those stains sit for a while they can be quite stubborn to remove. On a dark hull such as yours they would be less noticeable.
Whether you can use them or not will require a close look at the hull/deck joint construction, spacing of existing bolts, and the actual profile of the hull-to-deck surfaces. I noticed that the rail you posted has an outer rim that would cover the edge of the joint so perhaps that would work for you. But if there's no room to drill and install the new bolts it would be an iffy proposition.
Best of luck...
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)