Pro/Cons of wood composite construction? repair? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 03-06-2006
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Pro/Cons of wood composite construction? repair?

I am considering purchasing either a Puffin 37 decksaloon built of Aluminum in Holland or of wood composite (cold molded cedar planks and epoxy) in Turkey. From what I understand the only negative to wood composite contruction is repairing it. Any information, expierence, thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you
Daniel
Boucher
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Old 03-06-2006
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What are you planning to do with it? It would seem that if you're headed to the South Pacific, for example, it might be easier to screw a patch of plywood over an inadvertent hole in a wooden hull than to try to find someone on Huahine who can weld aluminum. Electrolysis is a constant worry in metal hulls as well. Everything about boats is a compromise. What you compromise depends upon you.
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Old 03-08-2006
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I definately plan on being in the warmer latitudes. I would like the shallow draft freedom to eplore shallow rivers, bays, lagoons and to able to dry out with out using stilts to keep the hull upright. Aluminum and steel have been my first choice for saftey because of my belief that I will be less likely to sink at sea if I hit a container or my engine blows sending shrapnel through the hull. As you stated there will be compromise. I have found the boat that meets most of my demands except the cost of the aluminum construction in Holland has made it to expensive for my taste. The same Puffin cost roughly 150,000 euro more in aluminum than wood composite.

I liked your point of the ease of repair with the wood composite. My main concern is being able to repair it myself well enough to make it to a professional yard.

Thank you for your response and i appologize for the delay in mine.

Daniel
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Old 03-08-2006
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If the price differential is 150.000 euros, you could buy the wood composite boat and then a spare secondhand 40' boat to tow along behind just in case. If you're really concerned with hitting things, a watertight bulkhead (or two!) could be installed for a lot less than that.
Haven't heard of any engines blowing up recently, or of engine shrapnel sinking many boats since a fire sank an excursion steamer in Hell Gate (New York City) back in the late 1800's. What have you been reading?

Last edited by paulk; 03-08-2006 at 09:47 PM. Reason: Additional comment...
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Old 03-09-2006
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The Puffin 37 deck saloon does come with 2-3 water tight bulkheads. As far as the engine explosions, I took a diesel enginering course taught by a diesel enginer/designer/insurance investigator. In our spare time we had fun talking about the "what ifs" of boat disaters and hull material.
I sometimes tend to live on the paranoid side of the safety spectrum.
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Old 03-09-2006
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Reality

If the world was really like "Reality TV", we'd be in bigger trouble than we already are. Reading some of Dave Gerr's books on motors, propellers, sailing, and boats in general may help leaven some of the paranoia. On the other hand, I did sail transatlantic with a skipper (a WWII Destroyer Commander) who believed in what he called the US Air Force approach: "Plan Everything," he said. "Then when all hell breaks loose, it will be because you planned it that way. "
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Old 03-12-2006
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I had another sailing instructor (x-RAF) who would refer to safety preparation in his thick English accent with "so what!...I planned for it!"

Preparing for disaster can be enjoyable. Some of my earliest memories in this regard were preparing for the big earthquake that was sure to destroy my childhood home in San Francisco. As a young teenager I kept bottled water, a climbing helmut, flashlight and axe next to my bed. I actually fantasized about having a boat on my roof just in case the house slipped into San Francisco Bay. I don't recall my brothers ever sharing in my enthusiasm.

One of my favorite aspects of sailing is the relationship between the design of the boat and its ability to cope with or struggle against the sea. I find the challenges associated with the dangers and risks of being at see very stimulating. In fact I can't wait to get out there again. Hopefully soon.
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