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post #1 of 72 Old 01-08-2008 Thread Starter
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Steel Hull Construction

I was looking at buying a boat that has a steel hull. The boat is a few years old. What should I look for or questions to ask the builder? Is steel hulls better then fiberglass?
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post #2 of 72 Old 01-08-2008
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You really need to get a survey, by a surveyor that is familiar with steel boats. Corrosion is one of the biggest problems with steel boats. One person that you might want to contact via PM here is Valiente, since he owns a steel beastie.

Steel can be an excellent material for boats, particularly larger ones, but their biggest problem is hidden corrosion damage. Galvanic corrosion can eat away the hull more quickly than you would expect.

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post #3 of 72 Old 01-09-2008
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Ditto SailingDog. Make sure the surveyor KNOWS steel boats. There are some who have developed a subspecialty in surveying metal boats, it would be best to find one of them.

Any other details you can provide? Like the designer, builder, model name etc? Photos?
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post #4 of 72 Old 01-09-2008
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There's a number of books out there on the pluses and minuses of steel. You have to decide a number of generalities about it as a material before you go for it. Firstly among these is that the larger the steel sailboat, the better in terms of sailing ability. Under 40 feet, most steel sailboats are pigs due to sail area-to-displacement ratios.

I have, however, seen exceptions. My own boat is 41' 10" LOA and 29,500 lbs. light load (full fuel, no water, little gear). This is medium displacement for steel (a friend's Goderich 40 is 36,000 lbs., for instance), but is a full five tons heavier than a Catalina 42 made of fibreglass.

The surveyor is best selected from commercial surveyors who do recreational boats on the side. Fibreglass boat surveyors aren't always well-versed in what to look for (there is superficial corrosion dealt with by a wire brush and Ospho primer, for instance, versus structural corrosion requiring welding and replating or framing...but they both look like rust to the untrained eye).

The benefits of steel are, however, many. Quite a number of steel boats have become famous for safe and comfortable circumnavigations; the French, Germans and Dutch (in particular) value them for the rough North Sea, and I would say it is still the favoured hull material for high-latitude "expedition" sailing...a good third to half of the boats discussed in the magazine "Ocean Navigator" seem to be steel. It is hard to hurt and easy to fix. It requires grinding, priming and painting, but if the initial metal priming was done well, this is generally cosmetic in nature.

Good luck with your research.
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post #5 of 72 Old 01-09-2008
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Don't forget that galvanic corrosion and bonding issues are far more important on a steel boat...so if you've got electrical problems, you might be damaging your hull.

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post #6 of 72 Old 01-09-2008
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I was advised to get a boat in a material I was familiar with repairing. GRP is fairly easy, I think. But I have a friend who wouldn't touch the carcinogenic stuff. He is a steel man, runs around with bits of welding rod behind his ears, a dab hand with a wire brush and knows ever rust remover / inhibitor on the planet.

He has a point, I could not repair minor damage with tool No 1. - a hammer.

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post #7 of 72 Old 01-09-2008
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This is an especially good point if you're planning on cruising in foreign waters, far from modern boatyards. Also a good point if you're not filthy rich and plan on doing a lot of work on the boat yourself.
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I was advised to get a boat in a material I was familiar with repairing. GRP is fairly easy, I think. But I have a friend who wouldn't touch the carcinogenic stuff. He is a steel man, runs around with bits of welding rod behind his ears, a dab hand with a wire brush and knows ever rust remover / inhibitor on the planet.

He has a point, I could not repair minor damage with tool No 1. - a hammer.

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Quote:
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Ditto SailingDog. Make sure the surveyor KNOWS steel boats. There are some who have developed a subspecialty in surveying metal boats, it would be best to find one of them.

Any other details you can provide? Like the designer, builder, model name etc? Photos?
Please tell me what you think? Here is the listing in yachtworld.com. It will also cost $18,000-$22,000 to bring back to Fort Lauderdale.


Click on image to enlarge
40' Langer Cutter
Year: 2007
Current Price: EUR 299,000
(US$ 440,307)
Located In Europe
Hull Material: Steel
Engine/Fuel Type: Single Diesel
YW# 1412-1658180
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post #9 of 72 Old 01-09-2008
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This appears to be a nicely built NEW steel boat. I think the high freeboard and CC design in this size boat makes it look a bit topheavy... and you will also need to think about whether the wiring and gas stove/system were done to Euro specs and would need to be re-done for the USA. Also...you need to investigate any US import duties etc. so as not to be blindsided by anything. Interior joinery looks lovely and you don't have any teak deck worries with steel underneath. My guess is that at 24000 lbs. she is not gonna be real quick around the buoys.

No longer posting. Reach me by PM!
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Cam-

That's really not all that heavy, given that it is a steel 40' boat.

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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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