Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats
Clive has hit two reefs in 21 years of full time cruising around the world, one in the Balerics when he was aboard and one when he was thousands of miles away, and thief towed her onto a reef. Of the 38 boats I have built, the same number by Evan and all the many others people built for themselves, only 5 have had major collisions with reefs and lee shores . Sure, lots of people do circumnavigations in plastic and wooden boats with no problems . Some dissapear without a trace. One plastic boat I was tied to for a month, hit a container off Costa Rica and sunk in minutes, something which wouldnt have happened had she been steel. The owner immediately began planning to build in steel.
You can disregard the comments of Bob Perry anbd Smackdaddy, neither of whom has any experence in cruising in and maintaining a steel boat, yet both of whom claim to know more about the subject than someone who has built 38 steel boats and has maintained his own steel boats for 37 years. A sistership to Smackdaddys boat anchored in front of me last nite, a catalina 27, six inch side decks cluttered by chainplates , knee high super thin stainless stanchions held down by three tiny bolts each, with plastic coated wire lifelines a recipe for crevice corrosion. Definitely not intelligent design, chosen by someone displaying a similar abysmal lack of intelligence.
While many are out happily cruising in steel boats down to 26 feet, making passages times in the same time frame as most plastic boats, self proclaimed "Experts " on steel boats, who have zero expereince in the subject at hand, are declaring it "Wont work in smaller boats" ( Sorta like aeronautic experts of the past telling bees that, theoretically they cant fly)
I see that, after decades of painting rusty anchor recesses every time they came into port , cruise ship operators( Slow experts ) have finally clued in and are lining such surfaces with stainless, eliminating the problem once and for all. I do the same where the anchor dings the bow paint ,instead of the yachtie absurdity of ever longer and flimseir bow rollers. Ditto other wear points, something anyone with zero expereince maintaining a steel boat couldnt possibly comprehend
Commercial boats can do the same, and reduce maintenace greatly, by taking out the rail pipes etc, where it gets the paint knocked off repeatedly, and replacing such parts with stainess, for a fraction the cost of trying hopelessly to keep paint on them. Many of my newer boats have been going for all stainless bulkwark caps, instead of the yachtie absurdity of teak over steel. Where there are pulp mills there is cheap scrap stainless, some of the best in the world (unless you are like Bob, too snobby and pretentious to be that practical and resourceful)
My clients have had no complaints about maintenance, in fact they all say they have very little to do. I met a guy in New Zealand ( Nelson) who had a steel Matangi motorsailer he had built in Australia. He said that, after years of owning wood and fibreglass boats, he was amazed at how little mainenance his steel boat took.
Those who tell you they have tons of maintenance on their steel boats simply havent figured it out yet, and are thus a poor source of information on the subject. You'd be better off to get your advice from someone who has little maintenace on his steel boat.
I found out that, after owning my current steeel boat for 29 years I have learned a lot about designing and building for easy maitenance, than I had learned after owning my last steel boat for only 11 years. My current boat is in beter shape after 29 years than my last was in after only 11 years. People with zero expereince on the subject have zero knowledge or credibility. They simply repeat the disinformation spread by those trying to sell you plastic boats, or those perpetual screwups with screwed up paint jobs and planning on their steel boats
Brent Swain, Boat designer, Builder, and author of "Origami Metal Boatbuilding"
Last edited by Brent Swain; 07-08-2013 at 05:47 PM.