Steel or Fiberglass - SailNet Community
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 1 Old 10-21-2000 Thread Starter
Contributing Authors
Join Date: Jan 2000
Posts: 244
Thanks: 0
Thanked 13 Times in 6 Posts
Rep Power: 18
Steel or Fiberglass

What are the disadvantages of having steel hull?   Could you compare the pros and cons of steel or aluminum versus fiberglass?

Mark Matthews responds:

First, entire books have been written on the subject, so I won't pretend to throughly treat all of the pro and con arguments here, but I can set up some guidelines. Steel hull boats are incredibly strong, for one. There's a reason commercial ships are made out of this material. It's relatively easy to fix, especially if you should find yourself far a field. Welding is simple and common in just about every country in the world. Should you encounter enough force to dent the steel, it will deform for a long time before failing. For a firsthand experience, here's a piece by John Kretschmer, one of our authors who just happens to be a steel boat owner, Rust Never Sleeps.

As far as disadvantages, rust is one. Zincs on a steel boat are critical, as are prepping and painting over any spots that may be exhibiting oxidation. Steel is heavy, and while steel boats typically thrive in a brisk breeze, they can suffer in lighter airs. Aluminum has many of the strength advantages of steel, but is lighter, which means faster. However, electrolysis is even more critical on aluminum boats, and bottom paint and aluminum hulls are another subject altogether. Welding aluminum is also a trickier affair than steel, although as a side note I have a friend who showed me wood working tools can be used on aluminum—-he used a circular saw to cut his keel off after he found out the lead in the keel was reacting with the aluminum of the hull. An interesting sight to say the least. Fiberglass is strong and prevalent and relatively easy to work with—-depending on the kind of work and your tolerance for holding a sander over your head, see Blisterama Battle Royale—Surviving the Haulout, though not as strong as aluminum or steel, and it will crack on impact rather than deform. Blistering is the Achilles heel of fiberglass boats, although a well-cared-for hull will give many decades of service.

Mark Matthews is offline  
Closed Thread

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is Off
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome