Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: any designer/plan suggestion for building a steel sailboat
I have not sailed on the Med so I am somewhat going on second hand information. My understanding is that (depending on the season) the Med has a strange mix of very light winds most of the time, with long periods of very high winds in between. I am quite familiar with the Roberts Spray designs, and frankly that would be close to the worst design you could chose to build for those types of conditions.
The Spray is a high drag design with comparatively little stability for its drag. Because of that the choice of rigs tend to be extremely inefficient as well. This results in a boat that is essentially a motorsailor in light to moderate winds, and which is not particularly good in heavier winds.
Steel is a really crummy material to use for boats under about 13.5 meters since there is a minimum plate thickness that can be used because of localized bending and so steel boats become excessively heavy. Having worked on the design for steel boats, and seen how they hold up over time, they are comparatively high maintenance and in most cases short lived compared to the other choices. That heavy weight of a steel hull results in a mix of poorer sailing ability, less stability, poorer motion, and less carrying capacity than a similar design executed in almost any other material. While steel has a very high strength per square area, it is also extremely dense. The net result is that compared to pretty much any other boat building material, on a pound for pound basis, steel is the weakest of the possible boat building materials to chose from. If you really want a metal boat, I would strongly suggest that you consider aluminum rather than steel.
But in any event, if you have your heart set on steel construction, then I would look at Dudley Dix's designs. Dudley tends to produce designs with efficient hullforms and rigs. His drawings tend to be very complete and more fully explain how his boats are actually built. The details that I have seen have been very clever in terms of simplifying construction while producing structurally sound designs. He would be my first choice if that I was leaning towards a steel hulled design.
There are other very high quality designers out there as well. As mentioned Ted Brewer has produced some very nice designs aimed at steel construction. I think his Kaiulani 38 is a particularly nice design.
Van De Stadt has a number of nice designs. I was recently acquainted with their Helena 38 which appears to be an exceptionally nice design. I have not seen a set of Van De Stadt drawings but they have a reputation for producing well detailed and engineered designs and providing excellent customer support.
I really liked some of Charlie Wittholz's designs. (I worked for him three decades ago) But Charlie has passed on and I can no longer find a source for his designs. I really liked his 'Departure' series. They were nice wholesome designs.
But cutting to the chase, building any boat is wildly expensive proposition, and the cost of the drawings (even if you pay a couple thousand Euro higher price for the drawings) is the smallest part of the cost. Because of that pick the best design that you can find. Building a wildly out of date, poor sailing design, only results in creating a boat that will be joyless to own and difficult to resell.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay