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veprjack 07-18-2011 10:16 AM

Sorry for the "newbie" question. I did "search" composite but didn't find anything. I'm in the VERY beginning stages of looking for a liveaboard boat - which I would clean/fix up over time/build some equity - while increasing sailing skills. In a perfect world, it would be 37'-45' and capable of blue water sailing, in time.

Right now, with a lousy budget, I've been looking at "project boats" like older Gulfstar37 and Hardin Sea Wolf in the 30something - 45' range. Prices have been as low as $18K, but I'm sure that entails a LOT of work. Right now my budget is $25K with another $10K for initial repairs, insurance, etc. In time, my budget will grow - hopefully to $45K total. Anyway, in researching, I've seen some boats made of COMPOSITE and just wanted some opinions on that aspect - maybe wood vs. fiberglass also.

I hope my question makes some sense. Please forgive the noob question! :) It's my first post, so be gentle with me! lol...

Thanks for your help (and patience) in advance,

tommays 07-18-2011 10:30 AM

Having just spent 1.5 yers doing the Cal 29 :) thats not much money for a boat that big

The big issue is its hard to get REAL insurance on a project boat as its hard to establish a value and keep increasing it as things progress

They tend to want survey deficiencies fixed within 30 days and in my case i had to move the boat to my driveway and go without insurance while i did the refit YES i could have gone to some flaky insurance company BUT well they were flaky and had a bunch of extra fine print

When i was finished and had a clean survey in hand insurance was no problem on a 1970 hull

deniseO30 07-18-2011 10:33 AM

A composite in boat building would be things like;

A deck, fiberglass both sides with a core.

A "strip built" canoe or boat hull that is glassed in and out is a composite.

Also ,a wood boat with fiberglass on the outside hull may be passed off as a composite to the uninformed buyer.

Composites are used extensively in many things from aerospace to things in the home. Sometimes lamination's are confused with composites although You could have both in one. Plywood with boards above and below would be a composite, Some composites (and lamination's) are made with thousands of pounds of pressure to bond the layers. Simple luan plywood doors in a house are a composite; thin plywood with a cardboard honeycomb.

The big fear of cored construction in boats is the possibility of the core getting wet and rotting. Cored construction is strong because it is a composite. Racing boats are typically cored construction. Some manufacturers have also built production boats with cored hulls

WanderingStar 07-18-2011 10:35 AM

Composite hulls can mean many things. Wood and glass, high tech fibers, even ordinary fiberglass is a composite.
As far as boats to restore, I recommend avoiding wood unless you have knowledge and experience with it.

TQA 07-18-2011 11:42 AM

'Composite' as it is used in the world of boating ads often refers to a hull where the glass cloth has been replaced by a high tech material like carbon or kevlar. Do be aware that the builders were looking for lightweight and the boat might have a shorter life.

However I have also seen it used to describe a boat built using wood with epoxy see here for more info. WEST SYSTEM | Projects | Profiled Boats - Wood/epoxy longevity

While I would not dismiss a boat built with either method the vast majority of boats you will look at will be good old GRP but there is a hidden problem with many older boats that were built with wood cored decks. The wood rots if water is allowed in. Many threads on this. Try to find one with this problem and walk on the deck so you know what to 'feel ' for.

Lots of boats around in that price bracket, look hard and you will find something that has all the kit and no major problems.

Good hunting!

veprjack 07-18-2011 12:06 PM

Thanks so much. You guys are awesome! I have my work cut out for me on many levels, and I have to be wary of my tendency to be impulsive too... Irwin, Gulfstar, and Hardin are turning out to be the most "bang for the buck" so far - with regards to length/strength/accomodations/amenities in my budget range.

I met an owner of a 50' Gulfstar who showed me a little bit about looking for soft spots, etc and it was very helpful. As I make progress, I'll keep posting until I find something good. I don't think I'll do any serious looking until October - and, as a bonus, maybe the prices will drop even more as we head into winter up here in Boston?

Thanks again,

pdqaltair 07-18-2011 01:24 PM

Books. Lots of books.
Honestly, the route to knowledge is long and you won't find it in a few questions.

TQA 07-18-2011 07:44 PM

Don Caseys book This Old Boat would be a good investment.

veprjack 07-18-2011 08:30 PM


Originally Posted by TQA (Post 751669)
Don Caseys book This Old Boat would be a good investment.

It's on my list! One of THE essentials for me!:)


GaryHLucas 07-18-2011 09:43 PM

As the current owner of a 26 foot boat that started out at $6500 and has now cost me almost $30,000 and is still on dry land, let me give you some cheap advice.

1) If you buy a fixer upper make damn sure you have some place to keep it for FREE. A marina is NOT the place!

2) If you think the work will only take a couple of months spend the money to have it hauled to some place FREE. If it takes a year you break even, if it takes 3 or 4 years the $2k for hauling each way will suddenly look like a bargain.

3) Little things like Honey Do's, Grandchildren, your job sending you out of town, Prostate Cancer, that kind of thing, some how eats up a lot of boat time.

4) The $10K boat was once a $100K boat. All the parts you will need are priced for the $100K boat.

5) Learn the difference between Used and Used Up. Many one owner boats are Used Up, while boats that have had several owners doing upgrades my only be used.

6) If you are really really handy, and can do fiberglass, carpentry, metal work, electrical, and mechanical, then you REALLY need to get a second opinion from someone else, preferably a surveyor. You'll think "I can fix that!" way too often.

7) Boats deteriorate continuously, even when you are working on them. It is easy for the deterioration to outpace you, it never quits, gets tired or frustrated.

Yesterday I went down to the boat, said F it, and went for a couple hours in the sailing dinghy on a local lake. Man's gotta sail you know?

Gary H. Lucas

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