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Old 03-22-2006
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Hull materials,..steel verses fiberglass,composite,wood

Well I have many questions about boats but one I have had in mind for a while now is hull material. I always see safety associated with steel. Is a steel boat that much safer than a fiberglass boat? And what are the drawbacks to steel verses fiberglass. My wife and I are going to make the bold step to cruise and take our 10 year old with us. I will have up to 300k to secure us a very safe blue water ready boat. Safety and stability are key factors to us. Thanks for any info.....Mark
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Old 03-22-2006
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Some info on your cruising plans would be helpful. Such as, do you plan to circumnavigate, or more of a coastal cruise? The Caribbean perhaps? Before you decide what boat, you need to determine what you'll realistically do with it. Then you can look for something appropriate to your plans. While steel has some advantages, if you look into them, I think you might find they are more maintainence intensive than you may want. With your budget, it should be no problem to find a sea-worthy vessel, but you might want to think a bit smaller than 50-55 feet. That's a lot of boat for two people, unless you rely on a lot of mechanical help.

Nigel Calder's Cruising Handbook might be a good starting point for getting a better feel for what you want. I think you would find it money well spent.
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Old 03-22-2006
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I am answering based on my readings. My only experience is with FRG hulls.
Steel must be kept very clean from the inside which can be difficult to track down when you are thinking aout the far reaches of a boat's bilge.

Fiberglass is definitly the choice of the vast majority of live aboards. It has been around long enough to establish its reliability. After 30 years of boat ownership, FRG is the only choice for me.
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Old 03-23-2006
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Pick your hull form first.

I have a steel boat of fairly deep draft (5.5+ft). Because of maintenance issues and resale I do not think steel hulls are for everyone but they do have many many positive points. Alum however may be for everyone. I favor something like 'Strongall' aluminum constuction by Fairmetal Boats and others.
As far as fiberglass goes take a look at Airex foam cored hull and the stories are amazing. Pounded on rocks for hours, locked in ice floes for a month and they all sailed away with scratches (but deep scratches). Even modern wood/epoxy is wonderfully confidence inspiring. Take a look at Covery Island Boatworks and the kind of boats they are building and who they are building them for, folks that "know what it takes".

Pick your style of hull and then look for the best construction in that type of hull. Jimmy Cornell who writes about circumnavigation and organinzes ocean spanning rallies has a SHALLOW DRAFT aluminum hull (may well be a 'Strongall' hull). Consider that it is harder every day to find a spot to anchor and the deeper the draft the harder it is. Also, the finest places to hang out and safest places to be usually require shallow draft. A boat that can stand up on the hard will pay you dividends many many times as well as being much much easier to find a place to store it when you have to leave it for some reason. A shallow draft cat can be run up on the beach if for some reason you had to bail out, big plus. Afterward the boat will likely be ready to go again. The cat can be beached nearly anywhere and easily (relatively) pulled up for repairs or storage. Look on Google Earth and you will see many interesting places around the world with no harbors. What if you could pick your weather and pull (plank/rollers/block&tackle) the boat above the tide line and live aboard in your beach cottage until you were ready to go again.

If I can figure out a way I would like a 40' Wharram Cat someday. Shannon makes a boat called the 'ShoalSailer' that is very interesting. It is fairly new and so there is little in the way of a used market.
Be careful about buying anything too new. There are many many many older boats that people have poured buckets and buckets of money into only to figure out that their plans had changed and they need to sell. Find one of those boats. Don't get caught up in saving $ and getting a fixer upper because they can eat up years and many 10's of thousands of dollars and unless your goal is fixing up, then spending a big chunk of your life doing the wrong thing. For some reason the fixing up almost NEVER takes months, it always takes years. The exception being someone who lives on the water with a LARGE multi disiplinary shop and years of experiance fixing stuff or Bill Gates who can write a check and say "I want it yesterday".


Lot's of choices and fortunatly most of them are good ones, just different.

Last edited by sailandoar; 03-23-2006 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 03-23-2006
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Steel rusts and needs allot of maintenance,it is very strong if well built and lightning is not much of a problem. Painting it constantly is something you have to live with. If you get a scrape you have to paint it or it rusts.Repairs to hull plates can be very costly if they have to be cut out and weld new ones in place.

Wood forget it to expensive to maintain beautiful to feel and touch but to costly in todays market.

Fiberglass allot of maintenance but a good material if well built blisters are a problem as well as osmosis some boats are built to light and in my opinion scrap when they are built.
The good thing about glass is its hard to hide any damage if it is still gel coated. If a glass boat is painted find out why and also get a blister history "SURVEY" Survey any boat you buy.

Aluminum is subject to electrolysis and requires attention as far as that goes, strength very light and strong .You must always take care that any materials used are compatible with the aluminum. A screw up on electrical things can cost you thousands.
Learn about the materials and you will do yourself a favor. Fiberglass resin and cloth are not all the same steel aluminum the same applies. Knowledge is King.
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Old 03-24-2006
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Thanks, and keep it comming sailors!!!

Thank each of you for the info as to date. I am currently, as I have been, reading reading reading. I am several months but hopefully less than a year on buying. I am stronlgly looking at a boat presently (however the owner yet does not know) called the raven. It is a Herreshoff design based on the TICONDEROGA. It is a 55 foot schooner rigged fiberglass hull. It seems to have what I am seeking in a boat. However it is noted that its draft is somewhat shallow for this style boat but states leeway is not compromised. The most important thing to me above all is safety! The second most important thing is smooth and steady at sea. Speed,....well takes a backseat as we are the type that sees the journey being the excitement and not the destination. Please,......keep giving me the valuable info as there is much knowledge I need...........Thanks again!!!! Mark
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Old 03-24-2006
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You might want to take a look at the Oubound44. This is a semi-custom built boat that you could look at, http://www.outbound44.com/main/ that might fit your purposes as well, or better than the one you have in mind.
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Free, is the heart, that lives not, in fear.
Full, is the spirit, that thinks not, of falling.
True, is the soul, that hesitates not, to give.
Alive, is the one, that believes, in love.
JCP


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Old 03-24-2006
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http://www.boats.com/listing/boat_de...ityid=13388601 Thanks John for the link to the outbound. Though I have not researched in depth they do seem to be of quality and safe. I have pasted a copy of the boat we are looking at in this post. Please check it out and give me your opinion. Also, anyone who would ,...please do the same and critique what I see as "the boat" or soemthing along that line. And also let me know why you like the outbound or feel that it would be as good if not a better choice for our needs. Thank you bunches for your time and opinion. ...Mark
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