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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I'm new to this group and hoping to gain some advice on the Brent Swain 26' Steel Twin Keel boat before making it my home and placing all my life possessions on it.

I was blown away when I first learnt of this type of boat, I had never heard of a twin keel before but I was very excited to hear that it will allow me to access more shallow water and yet still allow my boat to self-right if it unexpectedly gets caught up in a big storm/ swell.

I am adamant that I want to buy a boat that is made of metal because its the strongest material, i plan to sail close to dive sights and I cannot bare the thought of my boat containing everything I have sinking to the bottom of the water. One day I plan to sail to polar regions too, steel will be needed for that. Speed is a low priority for me, I'm happy to sacrifice a few knots for the peace-of-mind.

I also love the sound of the enclosed wheelhouse so I can stay sheltered from the weather and reduce the risk of falling overboard while sailing.

I also hear that the design provides less rocking/ more stability. This is music to my ears. I want to sail to hard-to-reach spots around the whole world and I want to do it as comfortably as I can afford (I can't afford a catamaran).

Although a newly qualified day-skipper, I'm still quite new to sailing. I once helped as a deck-hand on 39' ketch from Tahiti to Tonga; although there were only a couple of days of rough seas, I still wasn't a big fan of rocking around so much on the boat.

I've found a BS26' boat that has been made to the highest standard I can hope for by a seasoned boat builder who built this boat as his intended retirement vessel but had unfortunately reached a state of poor health.

I've been trying to do a little research into Brent Swains boats. I've found some chatgroups discussing his 36' design but nothing on his 26' design. BS seems to have a lot of praisers as well as a few very vocal and upset critics. All I care about is whether his design will allow me to sail in deep blue water, big swell, torrid weather and if I get turned upside-down, will i roll back upright again?

Please pardon my ignorance but I have a few questions I'd like advice on before I put everything I have into one of these boats.

1. Will the steel hull bounce off anything? Or could it potentially puncture?

2. Will foam against the inside of the hull help keep the boat afload incase it punctures? Does foam affect the quality of the air in the confined space of a boat?

3. If the boat turns upside down, will it 100% deffinately right itself? What if the wheelhouse is not air tight?

4. If the boat turns upside down, will the weight of the boat burst the windows?

5. How often do boats really turn upside down? What are the odds of it happening. Aside from avoiding seriously bad weather and huge swell, what else can be down to minimise capsize risk?

6. Can I register this boat in Australia. Will its qualify as compliant?

Thank you for your help.

Alex
 

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It’s more often the skipper that is to blame for a capsize than the boat. One needs to learn proper heavy weather sailing skills and try to stick to seasonal weather patterns that are least likely to produce those kinds of conditions.

If I may say, the decision making above seems built on fear. With more experience, you’ll become more confident.

Steel boats may take a bigger punch, but you’d be surprised how much force it takes to puncture fiberglass. Neither are bullet proof. Steel also corrodes, both galvanic and oxidation. They need to be seriously inspected and maintained routinely. You’ll want to be able to inspect every inch inside and out, whereas fiberglass will likely outlive you.

Yes, BS designs are controversial. I can’t speak to form stability of that design, but no boat will be without some uncomfortable motion. What one finds uncomfortable even varies person to person. As one builds experience, one usually finds their tolerance expands, which I think is a factor of their nerves subsiding.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. Yes there are some nerves. Watching "The Perfect Storm" as a youngster created an element of concern in the back of my head. I will always follow the seasons and be very cautious. I do still however want to take the boat I purchace to every corner of the planet. I like the sound of the twin keel offering more stability but I also want to be confident that it will self-right.

Cheers
 

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I can’t say what the self righting characteristics are of a BS design. I think I’d also want to know the boats angle of vanishing stability. IOW, the angle at which it will no longer stay upright. These are home made boats and I’m not sure it‘s even known from build to build.

A capsize will tear off the mast, most likely. Then the wreckage hanging off the side will need to be cut free before it beats the hull to death, stoves in port lights, etc. Personally, I don’t think whether it will come back upright is remotely as significant as avoiding it in the first place.
 

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I am quite familiar with Brent's designs. Given your collective fears, Puncture resistance, Keeping a boat afloat with a puncture, Self-righting, Odds of being rolled, This is the wrong boat for you. Despite Brent's physics defying propaganda to the contrary, those of us who have actually designed boats and performed the engineering calculations find Brent's claims to defy the science and proper design practices. I will not get into detail on this here, but if you search SailNet there are very detailed discussions on these topics.

I will start with steel as a boat building material. While steel has enormous strength per square inch of material, and does offer excellent abrasion resistance, it is an extremely dense material as compared to any other boat building materials. As a result when viewed on a pound for pound basis. it is the weakest in impact resistance, bending and stiffness of all of typical boat building materials with the possible exception of Ferro cement.

I know that this seems counter-intuitive if you have not studied engineering, but because steel is so dense (lbs per cu. in), for the same weight other materials will be much thicker and that extra thickness more than makes up for differences in strength per square inch.

Over the years, a large number of naval architects, marine engineers, and yacht designers have tries to explain this to Brent, showing him the math, explaining the science, etc. Despite that Brent continued to come up with BS analogies that frankly reflect a lack of understanding of the basic science and engineering principles.

Its not that steel is a bad building material for larger boats (40-50 feet and above) , where the skin weight begins to be proportional to the displacement of the boat. But in boats under roughly 40 feet, the weight of the hull becomes disproportionately large. It is important to understand that in and of itself weight does nothing incoherently good for a boat. Weight does not equate to making a boat more seaworthy, or stable, or mean a more comfortable motion. Weight does not mean there is more strength, carrying capacity or ease of handling. It does not make the boat perform better. In fact as a broad generality, weight is mostly detrimental to everyone of those items.

When you talk about a 26 foot steel boat, the vertical height of the added weight of the steel hull, topsides and cabin structure above the center of buoyancy means that there is significantly less stability and a much greater chance of the boat being rolled and not coming up quickly. When you add the weight of the pilot house, the chances of being rolled increases further.

But also when a boat has a proportionately large amount of weight in its hull, deck, rig, and cabin structure, there tends to be some mix in reduced ballast weight, and reduced carrying capacity. The reduced ballast weight means a further reduction in stability so that the boat is more likely to roll excessively and be flipped in a steep sea.

Then there is the bilge keels. (Twin keels) By and large, bilge keels tend to have a lot of drag relative to lift. Higher drag means that the boat needs to carry more sail area for it's weight. More sail area means that the boat needs more stability. We are starting with a boat that has diminished stability due to its weight carried high and reduced ballast, but now bilge keel is added to the mix. Bilge keels generally require a lot more ballast to achieve the same stability as a single fin.

So cummulatively, stability and righting capacity are greatly diminished as compared to a boat constructed of conventional materials.

The point of this being that you would be way safer with a robustly constructed fiberglass boat. I you are concerned with grounding on coral, get one with external ballast so that you are touching bottom with metal rather than fiberglass.

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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Regarding the speed of a boat: There are a lot of sailors who have made huge passages on small boats. However, the longer you are on a passage, the longer you are exposed to being hit with a severe storm. Suppose your weather forecast is accurate out to 5 days. If you were on a 9 day passage on your slow boat vs a 7 day passage on a faster boat, you will be sailing in unknown weather for twice as long.
 

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Check out the Misty Blue looks like minor restoration get you out sailing much faster. I do have experience with this design I built a 26. Get out sail lots of boats to decide what you want. Jeff’s comments don’t sound like he has hands on experience with the design. It is a sailor designed boat based on trial and error vs theory alone. 1/8th steel weighs about 5 lb per sq foot. The twin keels are designed to have no more drag that is only a generalization. A little bit of windward ability can be lost. The density of steel definitely means that you bounce off things amazingly. The 26 is more sensitive to loading than bigger boats
 

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I am quite familiar with Brent's designs. Given your collective fears, Puncture resistance, Keeping a boat afloat with a puncture, Self-righting, Odds of being rolled, This is the wrong boat for you. Despite Brent's physics defying propaganda to the contrary, those of us who have actually designed boats and performed the engineering calculations find Brent's claims to defy the science and proper design practices. I will not get into detail on this here, but if you search SailNet there are very detailed discussions on these topics.

I will start with steel as a boat building material. While steel has enormous strength per square inch of material, and does offer excellent abrasion resistance, it is an extremely dense material as compared to any other boat building materials. As a result when viewed on a pound for pound basis. it is the weakest in impact resistance, bending and stiffness of all of typical boat building materials with the possible exception of Ferro cement.

I know that this seems counter-intuitive if you have not studied engineering, but because steel is so dense (lbs per cu. in), for the same weight other materials will be much thicker and that extra thickness more than makes up for differences in strength per square inch.

Over the years, a large number of naval architects, marine engineers, and yacht designers have tries to explain this to Brent, showing him the math, explaining the science, etc. Despite that Brent continued to come up with BS analogies that frankly reflect a lack of understanding of the basic science and engineering principles.

Its not that steel is a bad building material for larger boats (40-50 feet and above) , where the skin weight begins to be proportional to the displacement of the boat. But in boats under roughly 40 feet, the weight of the hull becomes disproportionately large. It is important to understand that in and of itself weight does nothing incoherently good for a boat. Weight does not equate to making a boat more seaworthy, or stable, or mean a more comfortable motion. Weight does not mean there is more strength, carrying capacity or ease of handling. It does not make the boat perform better. In fact as a broad generality, weight is mostly detrimental to everyone of those items.

When you talk about a 26 foot steel boat, the vertical height of the added weight of the steel hull, topsides and cabin structure above the center of buoyancy means that there is significantly less stability and a much greater chance of the boat being rolled and not coming up quickly. When you add the weight of the pilot house, the chances of being rolled increases further.

But also when a boat has a proportionately large amount of weight in its hull, deck, rig, and cabin structure, there tends to be some mix in reduced ballast weight, and reduced carrying capacity. The reduced ballast weight means a further reduction in stability so that the boat is more likely to roll excessively and be flipped in a steep sea.

Then there is the bilge keels. (Twin keels) By and large, bilge keels tend to have a lot of drag relative to lift. Higher drag means that the boat needs to carry more sail area for it's weight. More sail area means that the boat needs more stability. We are starting with a boat that has diminished stability due to its weight carried high and reduced ballast, but now bilge keel is added to the mix. Bilge keels generally require a lot more ballast to achieve the same stability as a single fin.

So cummulatively, stability and righting capacity are greatly diminished as compared to a boat constructed of conventional materials.

The point of this being that you would be way safer with a robustly constructed fiberglass boat. I you are concerned with grounding on coral, get one with external ballast so that you are touching bottom with metal rather than fiberglass.

Respectfully,
Jeff
1 /8 mild steel is a bit over 5 lbs per sq foot similar to 3/4 inch of fibreglass. A typical cabin deck on a 26 foot fibreglass boat might be 3 lb per sq foot If you take a sledge hammer to 1/8 steel plate say with a 4 foot width and remember the energy stored in the bend of the steel the sledge hammer will just bounce off. The same thing will chip through 3/4 fibreglass quite quickly. While steel boats are all one price fibreglass has a hull deck joint and holes for ever stanchion etc. While Jeff's claim that steel is a good material for only 40 plus foot boats was true 40 years ago new techniques of eliminating extra unnecessary framing have made that not true today
 

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That is the same type of grossly inaccurate claims that Brent liked to make. Over the years a large number of yacht designers, marine engineers, and people with engineering backgrounds have provided detailed calculations demonstrating that comments like that are fanciful and ignore the reality of the situation.

As I previously mentioned, there are detailed discussions all over the internet that completely debunks statements like those. If anyone is interested in understanding the reality of small steel boats and in particular Brent's small steel boats, I suggest that you Google those discussions to better understand the merits and liabilities of small steel boats and in particular Swain's designs.
Jeff
 

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Jeff I meant to say all steel boats are one price not price. That was spell check. Yes I’ve read all that stuff mostly a bunch of juvenile name calling etc. I am happy with my boat because I know that the mooring bits won’t rip out of the deck. If I end up on a beach it can be bodily towed off with a tugboat. It’s not a fragile price of furniture. I’m not sure exactly what I said that is grossly exaggerated but I’d really go sailing than worry about internet drama.
 
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