Disclaimer: I own a steel boat
I'm not about to get into a debate about which is better, I'll just describe my experience. As wise person told me the best boat is the one that when you look at it from your dinghy you smile.
I'm on my second steel boat, both Waterlines.
The previous owner of the first boat had hit a whale, it bent the rudder shaft and broke the skeg free of the boat. He made it back to port without any water in the boat. Fast forward a couple of years, I've bought the boat, sailed it from San Francisco to the Puget Sound, and brought it back to Waterline for a check up. They found some cracks in the plating around the rudder post, not seen or fixed after the whale. Fast forward again, a couple of months, new rudder skeg and plating, thinner wallet and all is good. I think you'll agree after looking at the photos that this would have sent most boats to the bottom.
In the six years I've owned the boats I haven't done any more preventive maintained then my fellow harbour mates, those that keep their boats looking good.
Waterline flame zincs above the waterline. On the first boat I had some exposed steel in the cockpit coaming for two years before fixing it, from a poorly lead furling line, not a speck of rust.
In a bad winter storm two years ago a fender popped which allowed the boat to pound steel to the dock for 36 hours before it was fixed. It rubbed the paint off a 25*50 cm area. I used the boat most of the next summer before fixing it, again no rust, just some prep work and paint and all is good as new. I don't know how other boats would have fared but my steel boat did very well.
Good post.! Waterline skegs are considerably lighter than mine , which have over 4 ft of attachment to the hull, and are 3/16th plate, with plenty of backup inside. I also put a half inch plate gusset ahead of that, carrying the weight another 2 ft in the case of a twin keeler, and on to the keel in the case of a single keeler , giving it over 18 feet of longitudinal support from a front on impact. You could drastically increase the front on impact strength of a Waterline boat, by welding such a gusset in front of the skeg. My skeg is my engine keel cooler.
Failures of high aspect skegs are far too common. One way to get a huge increase in strength is to run the skeg right thru, into the cockpit floor, giving it two point support. Much longer, low aspect skegs dont need this.
Flame spraying is a good way to eliminate rust spots, permanently. When I priced flame spraying, I found the cost of doing a hull and decks was the same as the cost of buying the equipment . I told friends building boats in Victoria, that they could chip in and buy the equipment for less than having it done. They did that, and all flame sprayed their boats for far less than having it done by a commercial sprayer. The guy who bought them out did his 50 footer in 92, and hasn't seen a speck of rust since , now cruising the South Pacific. He did some research, and found the US navy concluded that a mixture of aluminium- zinc was the most effective .
I flame sprayed one boat, for a guy who bought the equipment used, for a fraction the new cost. I found that the spray goes on clean, like fine sandpaper at first, with little heat build up on the plate. As the tip clogs up, the spray starts to spatter, and it gets hotter. At the first sign of this, it is time to clean the tip again, by taking it apart and running a trip cleaner thru the tiny holes. If you don't do this frequently, the spray doesn't bond well to the steel.
That was with oxy acetylene equipment. Perhaps that is why Waterline Yachts quit using flame spray. Ed said they had problems with it.The US navy was dumping all their oxy acetylene equipment, for electric arc type, which should have no such problems. Their oxy acetylene equipment should be cheaply available in surplus stores. You go thru a lot of oxy acetylene. Electric would be much cheaper to use, with better results.