Depending upon how much work you want to do yourself, there are some remarkable deals out there on steel boats. One of our other posters is now running around southern florida
on a 45 footer dutch built steel ketch
he paid 5k for...yeah that's right, 5k
Took him 7 weeks to get it in the water
Steel boats can be very good, or very bad. Here's the deal. If it was taken care of, i.e. well painted with the right coatings and watched for accumulation of water etc. in the bilge
, they can be very good. If not, depending on whether you're willing to spend a few weeks learning
to weld steel plate, they can still be pretty good, or abysmally screwed up.
A properly coated steel boat has a lot of advantages. The weight distribution makes for a nice blue water ride, generally they are strong as the dickens, watertight (no hull/deck joint) and have good survivability with groundings, scrapes against various things , including reefs
...and will 'win' an altercation with a fibre or wood boat.
On the other hand, you want to keep a couple of chemicals on board
hehehe First is a rust converter type, I like "The Right Stuff" , you can get it at autoparts stores. You get a scratch on the hull
? dab this stuff on and you have months to get around to doing your primer and recoating. No kidding, months. Amazing stuff. Second thing you want is toilet bowl cleaner called "Snowbol" or something similar. Get it at the dollar store. Its hydrochloric acid in concentrations of 14 to 20 percent. This stuff cleans organic stuff off of other stuff really well
You can also take a rusted bolt and soak it in this stuff and get down to clean metal. Don't let it run onto your bottom paint
cause it eats copper
but you can use it on deckstains that won't come out any other way, rust stains, dirt, whatever. Get some Baking soda to neutralize it when its done its thing and rinse away.
ok, with steel you need to watch your zincs, you want good ones at all times, and lots of them. Once the boat is properly coated and painted, having owned both, I think they require less maintenance
Some are built so smoothly you wouldn't know they were steel, others more industrial looking
hehe. Make sure you watch for water in the bilges.
Speed wise, I think you'll find *generally* not as fast in light airs as lighter boats, but can usually carry on longer in heavier seas with greater comfort than lighter boats...as a cruiser..take your pick
Other than that, hard to generalize other than If you get a steel boat, consider opening up the interior
and two part fire retardant foaming the inside of the hull
. Helps with three problems. First, steel boats are like drums...you can really hear what's going on in the ocean, all the time
LOL. Foaming solves 90 percent of this. Second, steel will drip condensation
like a faucet in the northern lats when cool. Foaming solves that problem too. Lastly, what happens to steel is that they rust from the inside out, from the moisture trapped inside and poor coatings. You need galvanized primer, then a few coats of epoxy paint
, then foam. As a final touch paint
over the foam with some cheap
latex paint and the fire retardant factor goes way up. Do your hull this way and you won't have water coming into contact with steel, inside of the boat stays amazingly dry, electronics
last much longer, life is much better on board, hell even your clothes quit smelling so musty. Leave the bilge
under the engine
unfoamed, just double up on the epoxy
Lastly, in a lightning
storm, you're inside a faraday cage.
The biggest thing tho, and what motivated me to move to steel was my father's incident with my previous boat. He took it out alone, forgot to turn on the fuel
power, put it into a rock jetty at about 3mph and knocked a hole thru the bow big enough to crawl thru. Fortunately it was above waterline and there were no seas running. The commercial
who went over my current
brewer designed steel boat told me the steel in the bow "looks like a damned ice breaker" heheheh
oh, one more thing, if you go fibreglass, I'd STRONGLY advise staying away from a cored hull, or cored decks for that matter. Here's why. I don't care what ANY builder
says..and I mean ANY!!!!,,, fibre boats 'work' in a seaway, they twist, they flex, that core
starts to separate, then all those neat little fittings screwed into the hull, the deck
etc. start to move, then a tiny little air leak happens,, now when the hull flexes you have a pump...if its wet outside, you get water sucked in, that water migrates, the core
separates some more. I've seen older coared boats actually squirt water like a geyser out the hull deck
joint.....then, there's blisters
Don't get me wrong, there are some serious solid fibre hulls out there, generally older as the incentive to build light in the name of 'enhanced performance' has the amazing coincidental effect of lowering builder
costs (funny how that works) as in boat building, weight equals money
. Some of those older hulls are way overbuilt, and as solid today as the day they left the mold
. Can be had for songs
If you have some cash, and you're mortgage isn't an ARM, this is a damned good time to be looking for a boat, and a nuts good time to be looking at steel.