Join Date: Feb 2002
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
buying a 60'''' steel
I have owned a 35'' steel sailboat and am now helping a friend totally rebuild a 39'' steel sailboat.
As for my background I was a marine engineer and worked on a number of metal and fiberglass sail and power boats throughout the Caribbean and all over the East coast. My comments are based on my first hand experience as an engineer, a steel boat owner, and my recent experience with my friend''s corten steel boat.
He had the entire hull sandblasted inside and out (last month) and some parts didn''t get epoxied for 2 weeks, and the metal had virtually no rust!!!! Corten is amazing stuff!
One problem with my boat was that it had exterior wood all over the place. It had a teak cap rail bolted to a raised bulwark. It was a nightmare because of the moisture that infiltrating the space between the wood and the steel it sat on. I''m sure the original owner laid down lots of good paint on the steel, and probably a good thick coat of 5200 on the underside of the wood, but eventually the moisture gets in. Exterior wood on a steel boat is a huge mistake if it''s bolted down!!!
The other problem was that there were larger sections of the interior bilge that were impossible to access, without tearing out the ''permanent'' flooring. There was rust in one area under the head that I could just barely reach, but could feel it with my fingertips. And I have long arms – I’m 6’7”. A shorter person might not have known it was there. Rather than tear up beautiful old woodwork, I covered the metal best I could with coal tar epoxy, after getting as much of the rust out as I could.
On my friends boat all the wood handrails have been replaced with curved stainless piping welded to the hull. Same with the stantion bases - welded to the hull. No holes to leak. The sum of all the exterior wood will be the seats and flooring in the cockpit. The sum of the holes in the hull are the minimum necessary. I''m even looking into the possibility of replacing the 2 pipes used for draining the cockpit with bigger pipe and using one as the main intake and the other as the main discharge. Both pipes are on either side of the keel so there shouldn’t be a problem of the discharge water getting into the intake pipe as long as the bow is kept into a current flow. At a dock this might not work. The big problem I see with this is keeping discharge fumes out of the cockpit, and dirt from the cockpit fouling the intake screen. The fewer holes, the better.
Wiring is another very important consideration. We’ll use an isolation transformer for the shore power and ground everything via one connection at the engine.
The interior floor will be easily removable for inspecting the whole bilge area. We even plan to make the furniture in sections and easy to unbolt from the stringers for complete access to any area of the hull that might need attention. As on my boat there are absolutely no limber holes to be found. The time to build them in is when you are making the stringers, not after the hull has been built. Drilling them now would be a huge project. The other option is to make the boat as water tight as possible, which is what we are doing with this boat.
The guy who built my boat did a wonderful job, but he made it a maintenance nightmare.
Steel boats will last a long time - they just have to be built, wired and maintained the right way so that they don’t become sailing ‘fizzies’.