Steel sailboat designs - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 21 Old 03-15-2011 Thread Starter
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Steel sailboat designs

I really like the idea of a steel sailboat... especially their ability to survive
collisions.



I think that the biggest risk while cruising is having a collision with a ship or just some junk floating around. And I got to admit, that's what worry me the most...
You can prepare your self for heavy weather but you can't do much about hitting a submerge container and punching a big hole in the hull in the middle of the night

So I've been looking for steel sailboat in the 28-33 ft range. Best size for me would be 30ft. I only found 1 or 2 steel sailboat that I like, all the other one are just way too beamy...12 ft beam for a 32 ft sailboat...can't be good for going up wind in a blow. ( Spray 28 and 33 )

So here is my question, anybody know some good steel sailboat models/designs?

I already know that those boats requirer a lot of maintenence and that small steel sailboat are slow and heavy but IMHO it's a good trade off for peace of mind.

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits." - Bernard
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post #2 of 21 Old 03-15-2011
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Wow, what an endorsement.

My understanding of steel is that it is almost as maintenance intensive as wood. You have to pull her out once a year or so for repaint or touch up.

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post #3 of 21 Old 03-15-2011 Thread Starter
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Wow, what an endorsement.
Yes, a very big one.
This guy is lucky he wasn't sailing a glass boat, I doubt that a glass boat would of survive

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits." - Bernard
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post #4 of 21 Old 03-15-2011
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Maybe he'd have been more careful in a 'glass boat. Maybe he was down below sandblasting when that buoy just kinda' snuck up on him. (Rust never sleeps.) Maybe his heavy steel hull slowed him down so he couldn't avoid whatever it was that hit him. Because of their weight, steel hulls need to be pretty big to perform well enough to justify using the material. (Small steel boats are slow because they're too heavy for their size, compared to other boats.) Big boats cost more to outfit and to operate, and are more difficult to maneuver. (see above...) Every boat is a balancing act. Steel has some good points, and some downsides.
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post #5 of 21 Old 03-15-2011
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Van der Stadt designed some steel boats around 30 feet see CLICKY

Also this is a good resource Welcome to the Metal Boat Society

BTW does the pic in the OP show a recent incident. I seem to remember seeing a boat named Gringo down in Grenada late last year.
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post #6 of 21 Old 03-16-2011 Thread Starter
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Van der Stadt designed some steel boats around 30 feet see CLICKY

Also this is a good resource Welcome to the Metal Boat Society

BTW does the pic in the OP show a recent incident. I seem to remember seeing a boat named Gringo down in Grenada late last year.
The pic is not that recent, but I don't know when it happened.
Thanks for the info, I hadn't found that metal boat Society before.

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Maybe he'd have been more careful in a 'glass boat. Maybe he was down below sandblasting when that buoy just kinda' snuck up on him. (Rust never sleeps.) Maybe his heavy steel hull slowed him down so he couldn't avoid whatever it was that hit him. Because of their weight, steel hulls need to be pretty big to perform well enough to justify using the material. (Small steel boats are slow because they're too heavy for their size, compared to other boats.) Big boats cost more to outfit and to operate, and are more difficult to maneuver. (see above...) Every boat is a balancing act. Steel has some good points, and some downsides.
Yeah I know that they are slow and need a lots of maintenance but like I said before I think it's a fair trade off for peace of mind.

I only found 2 steel sailboats that would suit my needs, so i'm not even sure yet that i'm gonna buy one... I'm just exploring all the possibilities.

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits." - Bernard
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post #7 of 21 Old 03-16-2011
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That picture of Gringo is nothing. Back around 1980 a steel sailboat got broadsided by a freighter. The dent was 9 feet deep! The boat was bent like a banana. The guy sailed it home.

You should take a look a Brent Swain Origami construction boat. There is an Origami Boat forum on Yahoo! with lots of pictures and stuff. I sailed on a 36 footer and was very impressed with the way it sailed. Steel used to be lot of maintenance, but with modern epoxy coatings that is no longer true. They also do things like weld in a little stainless anywhere you might get rubbing or chafe. Then when the paint wears off it still doesn't rust and you don't bother even touching it up.

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post #8 of 21 Old 03-16-2011
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Thought I had posted something yesterday on this but seems that post has gone a roaming.

The Womboat is a steel Van de Stadt 34. (Van de Stadt Design - Van de Stadt 34) Do we like her ? Yes we do. Would I go out of my way to buy another steel boat ? No I wouldn't. In fact we bought her despite the fact she was steel, not because of it.

Van de Stadt do design a whole range of quite desirable boats that can be built in steel, wood or aluminium. Beth Leonard and Evans Starzinger (Beth & Evans) built a VDS47 in aluminium.

Especially with smaller craft the advantages of steel are ultimately overwhelmed by it's weight. Compared to the aluminium or wood versions we displace nearly 1t more yet carry 200kg less in the keel. I'd never pretend that Raven is a fast boat though she is no sluggard. However her non steel sisters are generally speaking going to be faster.

Now the VDS34 is a relatively modern design. Her limitations brought on by steel construction detract from what is an essentially good design. Go to something like a Roberts Spray and you are going to end up with a sailing brick, particularly if you go for a small one.

As for maintenance, there is really no denying that a steel boat is maintenance intensive and you have to be constantly on the alert for potential problems. That said, provided the basic construction and materials are good I don't think steel is as bad as traditinal timber planked.

PeterSailor ... what where the two options you mention ?

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post #9 of 21 Old 03-16-2011 Thread Starter
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PeterSailor ... what where the two options you mention ?
The two designs are: Mason 33 and the tom thumb 305.

My favorite one is the mason 33 which has a low free board, small beam and a reasonable draft ( around 5 ft I think ). I only saw two of these on the internet so the chances that I can find one for sale in 1 or 2 year are pretty thin...

The other one is a Bruce Robert tom thumb 305, IMHO the tom thumb look far better then the other full keeler designed by Bruce, but they are still quite beamy(11') for their length(30'4'')... That combined with the shoal draft(4'6'') is just IMHO not good at all to crawl off a lee shore in a blow with a nasty chop...
I was curious to find a few picture of that boat but couldn't, I only saw a small plan on the Bruce Robert web site.

After a few days searching all over the web, I think that I will stick with the glass sailboat because I can't find any steel sailboat with my critaria....and there is way more boat to chose from in fiber glass.

Here is the link to one of the two mason 33 that I found.

1968 Mason Mason 33 steel sailboat for sale in New York

I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits." - Bernard
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post #10 of 21 Old 03-16-2011
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What is your current boat ? Doesn't tell me on your profile and I don't recognise the design.

I confess I have never been a fan of Roberts. Seems to me originality is not his strong point and many of his designs are somewhat clunky to my eye. Nonetheless plenty of people who have owned a Roberts seem/have seemed to be perfectly happy.

For a boat of its type the Mason looks OK to me but hey, I am no Jeff Halpern. To be frank I am over full keels. Having owned both a full keeler and more lately a fin keeler there is no way I'd willingly go back though I was perfectly happy when I had one .. except when reversing the bugger under power.


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Originally Posted by PeterSailer View Post
The two designs are: Mason 33 and the tom thumb 305.

My favorite one is the mason 33 which has a low free board, small beam and a reasonable draft ( around 5 ft I think ). I only saw two of these on the internet so the chances that I can find one for sale in 1 or 2 year are pretty thin...

The other one is a Bruce Robert tom thumb 305, IMHO the tom thumb look far better then the other full keeler designed by Bruce, but they are still quite beamy(11') for their length(30'4'')... That combined with the shoal draft(4'6'') is just IMHO not good at all to crawl off a lee shore in a blow with a nasty chop...
I was curious to find a few picture of that boat but couldn't, I only saw a small plan on the Bruce Robert web site.

After a few days searching all over the web, I think that I will stick with the glass sailboat because I can't find any steel sailboat with my critaria....and there is way more boat to chose from in fiber glass.

Here is the link to one of the two mason 33 that I found.

1968 Mason Mason 33 steel sailboat for sale in New York

Andrew B

“Life is a trick, and you get one chance to learn it.”
― Terry Pratchett, Nation

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