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Old 03-10-2015, 06:25   #1
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Wood or plastic

Well, this the question. I've been looking at boats online for over a year and I notice that in my neck of the woods (BC) beautiful wooden boats often come up for sale at very good prices for the buyer. I'm tempted to go with wood when I do make a move and buy, but I have preconceived notion wood is over, finished, kaput. I've heard and read that upkeep is beyond belief and the smart thing to do is go with fiberglass. Yet, on this forum I get the feeling that a fiberglass boat as well requires a lot of time and money put into upkeep. I wonder if you folks wouldn't mind letting me know what you think. Thank you John
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Old 03-10-2015, 06:37   #2
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Re: Wood or plastic

Boats require a lot of time and money lol.

I think wood boats are better off in cold water areas than the tropics.
Cold molded/strip plank epoxy boats are less maintenance than traditional plank boats which require caulking, etc.

My limitations are such that I would only have a fiberglass boat, not wood, metal, or ferrocement.

To repeat, boats require a lot of time and money.
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Old 03-10-2015, 07:09   #3
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Re: Wood or plastic

Yes, they all require lots of work. I'd say generally its pretty safe to say wood boats are more work than glass, in some cases a lot more.

However, their are some very nice wood boats out there. I own a glass boat, but I certainly wouldn't rule out a wooden boat, especially for the price you can get them at some times.

My first boat was a 17' plywood dinghy, and maintaining it was dead easy- paint it in the spring.

If I was building my own boat, wood would be my first choice.

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Old 03-10-2015, 08:17   #4
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Re: Wood or plastic

Having owned wooden boats to 48' I will say they are many times the maintenance cost of fiberglass boats.
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:09   #5
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Re: Wood or plastic

Chilie,

On a plastic boat all the maintenance you read about is in the systems. Electrical, engine, sails, tanks, etc... It is a long list, and few boats ever have everything fixed at the same time.

On a wooden boat you still have all of the above, PLUS the maintenance of the hull itself.
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:54   #6
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Re: Wood or plastic

I'm 67 and own and maintain an 83' wood boat, 73 years old. Mostly by myself. If you start with a proper painting job, prevent topside leaks, and keep good visual inspection maintenance is a few days a year. The bottom of my boat has copper sheeting, so below the waterline is just new paint and zincs. Most of the outside varnish work is painted now. The decks have a thick fiberglass top. I am a former shipwright, certified welder, etc, etc, and so have seen and worked on all the boat building materials except cement. I picked this boat because a fiberglass or steel boat similar size was far out of my price range. I bought this boat in BC.
I also carry a fiberglass Bayliner. The hull is ok, but most of the insides were such a poor job that the floor, seat supports, and engine box had to be replaced.
If you're able, your get a lot more wood boat for a lot less money. You need a good survey.
Wood is heavier, and you get a better ocean ride than fiberglass. It's also quieter.

I recommend Harry Mose at Pacific Boat Brokers. The best buying experience of my life. They have a good web site, too.
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:15   #7
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Re: Wood or plastic

Wood or Plastic?

Some boats have both!

Some nice wood boats built in the 1960s or earlier were later (1970s or 1980s) sheathed in an added fiberglass skin.

Some say this is good, as it removes the need for caulking.
Some say this is bad, as it may mean the original wood hull planks may rot, from the outside in.

Some boats glassed in the 1970s are still sailing or still in the water and still look good.

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There is a CF member who has a beautiful classic old wood schooner, that looks great today. They sail it extensively and up to Alaska from California. Their blog shows the extensive refit, with photos showing the recaulking of the hull. If you want to see that, Google Schooner Mahdee.
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:35   #8
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Re: Wood or plastic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
Having owned wooden boats to 48' I will say they are many times the maintenance cost of fiberglass boats.
My father owned a 40' wood Chris-craft and a 55' wood Mathews back when I was a kid. All I can remember was stuffing sawdust in the cracks of the Chris-Craft and having the Mathews pulled out before it sank when it got into heavy seas and the calking all came out. More maintenance, more work, more money, That's why wood boats are so rare these days. They ARE beautiful when the owner can afford to keep them up correctly.
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:40   #9
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Re: Wood or plastic

Wood up here in the PNW is almost impossible to maintain. one example is just the winter rain will remove about 3 thick coats of varnish (to bare wood in spots) Rain is surprisingly abrasive. Then there is the black mold issue.
Even fiberglass boats have an endless list of repairs.... give yourself a chance...
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:42   #10
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Re: Wood or plastic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
...own and maintain an 83' wood boat, 73 years old. Mostly by myself. If you start with a proper painting job, prevent topside leaks, and keep good visual inspection maintenance is a few days a year...
A few days/year maintenance on a 73 year old 83' wood boat? Bull!
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Old 03-10-2015, 13:06   #11
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Re: Wood or plastic

Chile,

If you start out with a sound timber boat, there are many such in Australia, and mainly pretty old, except for the modern strip plank, epoxy & glass ones. They have annual haulouts mostly.

I have seen very few planks needing replacement. Re-caulking, yes, painting above and below, too. Most of these boats were either designed as motor yachts or fishing boats, and are quite stoutly constructed.

In Tasmania, there are a number of beautiful old timber sail boats. Yes, they do have troubles sometimes, but people also know how to fix them, and many are very enthusiastic about timber boats.

If varnish doesn't live through your rainy seasons well, you may want to paint over the varnish. Or just "suck it up". The beauty of a well built timber boat is enhanced by her bright work.

However, if it were me, I would start small. You definitely will have more maintenance than on a plastic fantastic, but then you'll have a timber boat, and the whole ambience is different. And if it turns out to be too much work, you can sell it again and try something else. No law against wanting something different.

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Old 03-10-2015, 13:11   #12
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Re: Wood or plastic

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
A few days/year maintenance on a 73 year old 83' wood boat? Bull!
Oh, I don't know, TN. He had a lot of qualifiers in that, like a sound boat with no leaks to start with, copper sheathing, fiberglass over timber on deck.

Mr. Lepke is a retired sea officer and given where he lives, I suspect he wants his boat to stay together. I'd also wager she was extremely stoutly built to begin with, and is likely to have been meticulously maintained, due to his skills.

But I'll let him speak for himself.

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Old 03-10-2015, 13:18   #13
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Re: Wood or plastic

Anne--how long do you think it takes just to wash an 83' boat, even if it's only washed twice a year?
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Old 03-10-2015, 13:38   #14
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Re: Wood or plastic

Remember, when selling, your boat will again be "a great buy at this price" meaning you will accept a major percentage loss hit. Try to feel both perspectives, not just that of the buyer.

Wooden boats require knowledgeable and due maintenance to keep up their value. Without these they will deteriorate quicker than plastic boats.

Still, I would buy wood, if I liked wood. After all, it is not so much about which material has what properties as it is about which kind of toy appeals more to your instinct.

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Old 03-10-2015, 13:41   #15
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Re: Wood or plastic

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Originally Posted by FSMike View Post
Boats require a lot of time and money lol.

I think wood boats are better off in cold water areas than the tropics.
Cold molded/strip plank epoxy boats are less maintenance than traditional plank boats which require caulking, etc.

My limitations are such that I would only have a fiberglass boat, not wood, metal, or ferrocement.
I have decided my next boat will not be fiberglass because to repair requires working with epoxy resin which is a toxic chemical. Wood is too much work. Metal for me, it's a problem because of corrosion, and ferro cement is too heavy.

All of the above types of boats also have the problem of needing bottom paint (unless you can use copper strips or something)

So this really leaves only two possible remaining options. The first:

nickle bronze - very strong, has antifouling properties, but it's too expensive.

So really there is only one remaining option for a hull which is also the cheapest to build, the lightest, the strongest, doesn't require any bottom paint, doesn't corrode, doesn't use any chemicals. It also has the advantage over all other hull types that it is flexible to absorb breaking wave impacts.

This is the skin on frame.
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