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Old 11-19-2012
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Pros and cons of steel sailboats

I'm thinking about making the leap from fiberglass to steel for our next sailboat. We want to do some far flung cruising - maybe even circumnavigate. Our present boat is a 1977 Tartan 37 and while we love it - since we've had a child and possibly will have another one on the way it might get a bit small for a liveaboard situation.
This summer I drove a big, old steel tour boat around the finger lakes and started thinking that steel might be a good way to get my family around the big marble.
I've spent a week in the Caribbean on a glorious aluminium boat but have never sailed a steel one, so I have lots of questions about their performance as cruising boats?
What are some of the better designers to keep and eye out for?
How good are they in the hot climates?
Are there any extra dangers in lightning?
Thanks for any and all advice you can give.
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Old 11-19-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

I've been building and designing steel boats for the last 36 years. I've pulled together 37 of them to my own designs. An increasing number of people around the world are building their own . Most of my clients have checked out he used fibreglass boat market , some have crossed oceans in them and came to the conclusion that they wouldn't want to go to sea again in anything which was not made of steel. The Fukashima debris field has re-enforced that opinion greatly.
Jimmy Cornell's book "Modern Ocean Cruising," the circumnavigators he interviewed have mostly expressed the same opinions. Check out our website. Just do a search under origamiboats and pick the first one ( yahoo groups) a gold mine of steel boat building information there, from people with a wide range of back grounds, and experience.
After decades of cruising and living aboard my own steel boats, I would never consider anything but a steel boat. After sailing my first boat, a ferro cement boat from BC to New Zealand, I became very interested in a steel boat for my next boat. I lost that boat on a Fijian coral reef, in conditions which would have never even damaged a steel boat. I found a steel boat made cruising far more worry and tension free, to a degree which is unimaginable to those who have only cruised in boats of lesser materials.
Lighter colours and sprayfoam insulation make them, by far, the most comfortable boats in hot climates. Being well grounded, they are the safest boats to be in in a lightening storm. You couldn't ask for better grounding.

Last edited by Brent Swain; 11-19-2012 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 11-19-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Here are a couple of boats designed by Brent





I know that they also float.
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Old 11-19-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Here are a couple of boats designed by Brent





I know that they also float.
Comox backwater, Jack??

The undeniable inherent strength of steel has to be a big comfort at sea and in rock-hopping scenarios.

With today's advanced coatings the maintenance issue is probably much reduced relatively speaking. Repairable anywhere.

But, (no offence, Brent) they're not always pretty and most are hard chine, which is OK but something you need to 'like'.. Soft chine metal boats are usually much more costly to have built.

It's not a quick easy way to build a boat, esp compared to 'plastic' so steel boats will always be in the minority in 'yachty' circles...
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Last edited by Faster; 11-19-2012 at 11:28 PM.
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Old 11-19-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Kanter yachts dose a nice full steel hull. Check them out at Kanter Yachts they make a great boat that will take you around the marble. And in style as well!!!!
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

Faster - Tis Comox.
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Old 11-20-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

The advantages are already posted. They are strong and even if more expensive than plastic boats to build commercially, they are relatively easy to build by an amateur.

The real disadvantage is weight that makes them slow boats. That is not a problem for bigger boats but it is a real problem to smaller sailboats.

Regarding smaller sailboats (- 45ft) I think aluminium is a better material. The French amateurs boat builders use a thick aluminium that dispenses internal framing and that makes it almost as easy to work with as working with steel and permits a lighter boat and faster boat.

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Old 11-20-2012
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

I'm not a expert, and don't remember ever staying in a Holiday Inn Express - but

Brent, or someone that is -

Doesn't the hard chine, being below the water line, reduce tenderness (i.e. make it stiffer) - which I count as a good thing.
I suspect it adds drag, but a cruiser is not a racer.

Brent, I don't agree with a lot of things you say - but if I was building a boat in my yard it would be one of yours.
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

I cruised for 7 years on a 20 year old Ryton 38 steel boat in the 90s. Other than the ongoing rust war I was happy and certainly very happy one night when I hit something doing 6 knots. I have no idea what it was but it put a BIG DENT in the front of the keel. I suspect that it would have badly damaged a grp or wood boat.

A little known disadvantage of having a steel boat is that in the event of a lightning strike the boat can become strongly magnetised rendering all onboard compasses useless. Ask me how I know this!
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Re: Pros and cons of steel sailboats

And all the steel boat owners i see out here are constantly fighting the battle against rust. If you want to become ONe with your grinder, all kinds of nasty epoxy, acids, paints, welders then go with steel. Sure the strength is a great plus, but the upkeep? seems like most are put together in some back yard, and the owners are forever grinding away. Great designs Brent, but the build quality on most? Forget about it!
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