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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > Ferro-cement. yay or Nay?
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Thread: Ferro-cement. yay or Nay? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
12-10-2007 05:59 PM
DLM There are too many good boats out there....don't let the excitement of a cheap price get to you. As has been said, you get what you pay for... this has to be a heavy, heavy boat for her size....might want to check the marina, see if anyone there knows anything about it as long as the seller won't let you get close to it without a complete price downpayment...

All that glitters is not gold..

Butch
12-10-2007 05:29 PM
chrisnewtimes the problems can be numerous, water intrusion sets up internal corrosion........problem.
bad build and flaking and other nasty things happen.
this one looks like a BRICK BUILT SH.... HOUSE, not sure that you really need the agro in your life, and you may have to pay to have it taken away.......
LOTS OF BOATS OUT THERE............it's a buyer's market, keep looking and dont get depressed there is a beautiful yacht out there for you to fall in love with somewhere, that deserves your money and time and attention?? yes?

cheers
Chris
12-09-2007 05:17 PM
Valiente
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferroever View Post
But I stand to be corrected.
Nice ninja-like reflexes there joining up. Welcome aboard.
12-09-2007 02:20 PM
Ferroever Hallso, to address some other concerns raised.....
Insurance. A pain in the bum, actually. It's only worth insuring if you paid squillions for your boat. The small print that come with most policies these days practically leave you with no option but to stay put in marinas.

Hard to sell? When I had mine up for sale, I got a lot of enquiries from people interested in ferrocement. A lot. But then I decided not to sell cos I know I'd regret it in the end.

Your biggest worry seems to be that you think that ferrocement can crumble upon impact. I can't imagine anything but a torpedo sinking my boat. It is truly solid as a rock. Something big [maybe a whale] banged into the port side in 2005 and there wasn't even a scratch on the hull from the collision.

Only by going to see the boat can you really see if the hull is any good. Ask if you can take a grinder to a small part of the hull to check out below. My boat had rust weep spots, but so did the other 4 ferrocement boats that I have seen in the yard since. And all of them are still sound. Rust weeps are quite common and are not indicitive of major corrosion going on within.

But I stand to be corrected.
12-09-2007 01:26 PM
Ferroever I'm a ferrocement boat, I mean, a ferrocement boat owner and I think that $9000 bucks is a damn good deal for a ferrocement boat. For a start, the only reason they are cheap is because of the prejudices out there from people who have never owned a ferrocement boat before. You'll find very different advice from ferrocement owners, and it's not just because everybody loves their own boat medium. Bloke I sailed with last year, has a Moody, but built a ferro boat down in South Africa in the 70's, said he wouldn't mind returning to ferrocement for his plans to do more offshore/long distance cruising.

Basically, if you are considering a ferro boat, don't get all nervous about know-it-alls saying, 'There is no way for you to EVER test the integrity of the hull so you'll never know if the boat is doomed or not". Well, I say that there is a way to test the hull and that is by looking at the following points:
Is the boat old? The older the boat, the stronger the cement will have become. Cement gets stronger as it cures.

Is the hull smooth? If yes, that's a sign of a job well-done.

Tap for weak points. When I say weakpoints, I mean areas where there's some weeping - or crumbling - tap and see if it crumbles. If it does, is the area of weakness large or small? If small, it's no different to what happens to GRP or steel or wood. If you hit something, you get damage, you repair it. And ferrocement is easy to repair if what you are dealing with is minor.
I had my boat in the yard earlier this year and scraped off all the old crap down to the cement and then filled a few weak areas - not many - with a cement/west system epoxy mix and voila....rock'ard again. We then put 3 coats of west system epoxy on, followed by barrier coat, then anti-foul.

Use your commonsense. If the hull looks sound, it probably is. Especially if the boat is 20+ years old.

Hope some of this helps.
The boat you are looking at looks well-=made and has a nice strong keel.

Not that I'm any expert, just going on firsthand experience.
12-09-2007 01:07 PM
AjariBonten
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
and a book by a moody Canadian bastard on a 30 foot ferro:
No to derail this thread; but it seems to have covered all of the bases ....

Is there some connection between being Canadian and being Moody???

(Not you Val, another famous Canadian [ on this forum, anyway] who happens to be somewhat curmudgeonly???)
12-08-2007 03:42 PM
Valiente
Quote:
Originally Posted by StoneAge View Post
Yes, there are some F/C boats that need to be buried, but the ones that are good are the best cruising boats out there. Maybe this guy's ignorance is another's windfall.
I agree with this post and most of what's in it, but still maintain that the number of people who knew how to build effectively in ferro techniques was only a fraction of those who actually built ferro boats, and that of those who knew, only a fraction of those actually USED those techniques rigourously enough to have built a sound and enduring boat.

Ignorance, indolence or cheapness was the death of many a ferro boat, and has largely condemned the class, despite the outstanding qualities of several examples of conscientious ferro construction and the advocacy of such examples' owners.

My question about the "no survey" aspect would be "who the hell today could survey a ferro and give you useful data, anyway?" You'd be better off inviting a bridge or a sewer structural engineer aboard and letting him pull back some panels.

On the other hand, if it floats and doesn't leak, you could salvage a lot of stuff off a reasonably equipped boat, probably up to the purchase price. If it's actually sound for sailing, that would be a bonus. $9,000 isn't much.

Anyway, for what it's worth, here's some links I found helpful when ferro boats appeared on my radar. I eventually chose steel, but I didn't entirely rule out ferro:

http://www.ferrocement.org/
http://www.hartley-boats.com/books.html

and a book by a moody Canadian bastard on a 30 foot ferro:

http://www.amazon.com/Water-Between-.../dp/0385498845

(it was a good book, but I wanted to kick the author in the ass on occasion).

And here's the blog of a woman with about your level of knowledge who's trying to ready a 50 foot ferro for ocean voyaging. You'll find plenty of her trials and tribulations in the archives, plus a lot of off-topic stuff about her life.

http://www.ihaveaboat.blogspot.com/
12-08-2007 02:30 PM
sailboy21 Go team go!
12-07-2007 10:07 PM
RickLaPaz After this glowing report of side walks that sail, I'm very surprised that MacGregor never jumped on the concrete band wagon.

Oh well, another missed business oppurtunity falls by the wayside...........
12-07-2007 08:48 PM
StoneAge
Ferro can be a steal...

As an owner of a ferro boat, a properly built one, I can say that it could very well be a good boat that someone doesn't understand the construction procedures.

I know of a F/C boat here that was being worked on about 13 years ago. Guy didn't even know it. When he was told it was F/C, he just wrote off the 30,000 he had just put into it in an engine re-build and hull paint and various other things in a re-fit process. All that was left for him to do on it was the rigging. He didn't want a F/C boat, thought they were junk. Why? that's what he heard. It would be a great boat for someone (was too small for our needs) and it hasn't been finished or used (to my knowledge) since I looked at it in 1995. He didn't know it was ferro because there really wasn't any evidence of it. The entire interior hull and deck were sprayfoamed 1" thick (about 5k worth of insulation value right there ;-)) so you cannot see the hull material. Of course the person who sold it to him should have said something, but sometimes assumptions are made and these things don't get said. The exterior was smooth as glass and chalky faded like FRP tends to do. Still is. no streaks of rust or anything like that. Too bad the rest of it has gone to pot. Probably be a great bargain for someone out there...

Ferro Cement is not really a cement boat. A properly built one is a steel armature with 4 layers of either twisted hexagonical wire mesh (AKA "Chicken Wire") or the small square welded mesh. Then it is plastered with a special mix to keep the water out.

The steel armature consists of an appropriate sized re-bar framing. Ours is 1/4" solid re-bar crossed and welded every 2" on the vertical and every 4" on the horizontal.. Then there are 4 layers of square mesh on the inside and the outside of the armature. This "Webbing" is then fastened to the armature every 4" square giving the complete hull and deck a see through wire mesh look.

Then the plasterers come in. Yes, plasterers. Problem with some of the back yard builders is that they figured a cement truck from the local company that pours driveways can come and pour their boat for them.. Or they could go down to Home Depot and grab a couple of bags and a shovel.. Not so fast... There is a special mix that must be used so the plaster (not cement - different mix) doesn't react negatively to the salt water. And another hardener to ensure the proper strength. Ours was mixed on site with 2 professionals and 8 helpers over a 27 1/2 hour period. That is important too.. A continuous "pour". And then maintaining the moisture for a month after the pour. Ours was dressed in canvass and misted with hot water. Kind of a steam curing process. That was in 1973. It an even stronger boat today. I would trust her going THROUGH a 40 - 60' wave never mind one crashing on top of us.

I know of another ferro boat over on the west coast that hit a reef while under way. Immediately had her hauled only to find some bottom paint scratched away. He returned to the same reef in his dingy at low tide and evidence showed where he had hit. There was some bottom paint on a rock that had been broken off the top several yards away. And other evidence of him scraping along the bottom.

Wood and Fiberglass won't win a war with a reef. especially a coral one. Those branches can grind a hole through tho bottom of your boat before you know it. Steel might survive, but Ferro Cement will.

Point is.. This could be a VERY good boat for the money. And by the looks of the pictures, there's 10 grand worth of rigging, 3,000 in brass ports and another 1500 in dorade vents alone. Never mind a diesel and winches etc... . So you might have to deal with getting rid of the hull... It's mostly steel and they PAY you for that at your local recycler. Worst comes to worse, you find the hull a bad example, strip off all the gear and sell it. Break the hull up with a sledge hammer and sell the steel as scrap. There's probably 8 - 10 tons of it there.... Now all you have is a pile of gravel to get rid of. Know anyone who is building a driveway?

Something else to do - e-mail the broker and ask for the Official number and do a search on it through the coast guard site. It has a US registration number on the bow.. There would be a record of it being stolen or any liens on it. Also - don't expect it to look like that when you see it. And who cares what he says... Go look at it.. Offer him a price on the phone and BE PREPARED to give it to him when you see the boat and it passes your inspection.. If he stops you from looking before handing over cash, walk away. (always a good idea to wander the docks and yards without a broker present first)

As far as cement boats being slow? Yes - it takes us a little longer to get up to speed (we are registered 30.2 tons - 60 ft overall) but we stay there longer. (careful coming into the dock) and pound for pound Ferro Cement cruisers average out with fiberglass cruisers at about 35 - 38 feet. I'm talking cruising boats not racer cruisers. We travel along quite nicely at 9 - 9 1/2 knots without thinking about sail trim in 15 -20 knots. I can only guess what she'll be like when we get all the new deck gear on next spring (the Stone age is about to come out of the stone age ;-))...

Yes, there are some F/C boats that need to be buried, but the ones that are good are the best cruising boats out there. Maybe this guy's ignorance is another's windfall.
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