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Old 03-08-2013, 20:18   #1
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Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

G'day mates,

I would like the opinion from those of you who own or have owned a vessel built in Foam Sandwich or Aluminium, what are the pros and cons of owning a Tri, Cat or Mono built from: (1) Foam Sandwich, (2) Aluminium?

The reason for my question, I have four vessels in my sights, one of which I plan on purchasing as a live aboard, after checking out the vessel but before doing anything, I thought I would seek the advice of owners, past and present, of Foam Sandwich or Aluminium built vessels. All four vessels range in size from 35' to 42' and are around the same asking price of $70,000

Thanking you in advance for your advice.

Bill
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:16   #2
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

G'day Bill.

My current cat is aluminium and I did a fair bit of research before building. Launched last year and has the feeling of strength and rigidity compared to the previous cat which was foam sandwich.
Aluminium- check particularly for corrosion. I had an Engineer design a system of anodes and after a recent inspection, am now happy with my choice.
The foam was the old fashioned GRP/ Airex / GRP. Boat was a Crowther 45
but she did a lot of hard work and no signs of delamination. However, in a seaway she seemed to twist and flex and added to worries when the going was tough!

Hope this helps,

Cheers, Bob
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:45   #3
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

Hi Bill

There is no ideal boat building material but for a long distance cruising boat I think aluminium is best option.

With both aluminium and foam cores it is imperative to get a good one. They are both materials where the good boats are fantastic and the bad boats are dreadful. Do lots of research.
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Old 04-08-2013, 05:07   #4
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After talking with two long time owners of aluminum boats and having one myself about 6 years ago, i would never one one again except for maybe a Ab ul al rib. Corrosion issues were a constant and major problem and haulouts and lots of yearly maintenance sanding, painting zincs etc etc were much more intensive than a Frp boat.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:00   #5
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

Our mono boat is a mixed sandwich/solid construction and I would go this way again. Still, I would avoid boats with sandwich used below waterline - just in case one day I were to touch another hard object permanently attached to the sea bottom.

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Old 04-08-2013, 10:10   #6
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

An aluminum multihull in that size range may be pretty heavy.

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Old 04-08-2013, 22:43   #7
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

G'day mates,

Thanks for all your views, all are noted I know nothing about Alloy or Foam Sandwich vessels but from the feelings I had aboard two Alloy boats, one, a 40' Alloy Tri' in the Med, the Alloy vessel was lighter than a similar sized vessel built if FG. And two, my nephews 18' Alloy fishing boat, it too also felt to be lighter (not as stable) on the water as his previous 18' Glass boat. My nephew told me he would much rather have his older FG boat as it was much more stable on the water, so I'm guessing a Multi of any size built in Alloy would be lighter than a same size multi built in Glass, and that's just what Multi owners want, strong and light vessels but as I said, I know nothing about Alloy or Foam Sandwich vessels, I do not know for sure.

Thanks again for your views mates

Bill
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Old 04-08-2013, 23:19   #8
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobFord View Post
G'day Bill.

My current cat is aluminium and I did a fair bit of research before building. Launched last year and has the feeling of strength and rigidity compared to the previous cat which was foam sandwich.
Aluminium- check particularly for corrosion. I had an Engineer design a system of anodes and after a recent inspection, am now happy with my choice.
The foam was the old fashioned GRP/ Airex / GRP. Boat was a Crowther 45
but she did a lot of hard work and no signs of delamination. However, in a seaway she seemed to twist and flex and added to worries when the going was tough!

Hope this helps,

Cheers, Bob
G'day Bob,

The Alloy Cat I'm on about was built in 1985 so she's not new but from the pictures, she looks to be in good nick and the owner says, she's ready for sea. Still, just to be on the safe side, I would have her hauled-out for inspection before I took her to sea.
The Tri is FS and it too, from her pictures, looks to be a nice vessel. She was reported as sold a couple of times over the past year but each time she has popped-up on the sales pages again. I do know that some sites mark an ad' as SOLD if/when the seller pulls the ad', so I do not know if the Tri was sold, then the buyer backed-out of the sale, or what.
I'll do my best to check-out any vessel I plan on buying.

Cheers Bob,

Bill
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Old 04-08-2013, 23:41   #9
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
Hi Bill

There is no ideal boat building material but for a long distance cruising boat I think aluminium is best option.

With both aluminium and foam cores it is imperative to get a good one. They are both materials where the good boats are fantastic and the bad boats are dreadful. Do lots of research.
I agree 100% mate, there's no ideal boat building material but I believe, for a long distance cruising boat I think a well built Ferro Cement boat, like this New Zealand built 43' Fisher, would be hard to beat...I would also consider a well built Hartley South Seas or Queenslander...Sand and Cement is available world wide
I further believe, whatever vessel one buys, built in whatever materials, it is imperative to get a good one.
As I plan on staying between SE Asia and Australia, I believe a Multi would best suit my needs.

Cheers,
Bill
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Old 05-08-2013, 00:52   #10
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

My glass boat I designed and built with my wife alone was launched in 1977. She has been a daily charter boat for almost 28 years without let-up. No corrosion, no bubbles, no delamination. Lived aboard for years on the West Coast and settled down on the North Gulf of Mexico Coast. Two simple processes to prolong the life of a FRP boat is 1. apply a coat of UV proof black resin over the gel coat before the 1st layups. 2. do not roll out the layups. They must be squeegeed to remove air bubbles. I vote glass, you have too many other things to worry about.
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Old 05-08-2013, 01:49   #11
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

Weight depends on a lot of factors, but generally aluminium boats are considerably lighter than a similar construction in sold glass fibre. They are about the same as a cored fibreglass structure.

Epoxy cored structures with exotic fibres are considerably lighter again.

There are some practical limitations. Aluminium thinner than 3mm is very difficult to weld. Very small boats, such as tenders used a pressed structure but this is not practical for larger vessels. This can be a limitation on smaller multihulls.

Aluminium boats require a complex and expensive network of aluminium framing to provide most of the strength. This is is very involved for a multihull structure and there is a lot of temptation for builders to cut corners especially in smaller multihulls.

Also consider that many old racing boats were built out of aluminium often with the the primary goal of the absolute minimum weight possible.

Be very careful with cheap aluminium boats. They are usually cheap for a reason and there are boats that have been constructed out cheaper, unsuitable, grades of aluminium and other horror stories.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:48   #12
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Re: Foam Sandwich or Aluminum Vessel

An aspect of alloy vs. foam sandwich is (as mentioned) the fact that while alloy craft is welded, foam sandwich can be (to some extent) built as a monocoque. Now with specific strength/flexibility requirements of a multihull, one of the techniques may result in better ability, on the side of the designer and builder, to meet the mechanical requirements with each material's intrinsic features.

Sort of like to say we build dugouts in wood, cruising boats in plastic and airplanes in alloy, and there is a very sound engineering reason why it is so.

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