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Old 03-11-2010, 09:28   #16
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How about in the tropics?

I have read that wood is a bad hull choice for the tropics. Does anyone have input on whether a well maintained older wooden boat (34 ft custom built) would make a reasonable coastal cruiser for Costa Rica? I saw one listed for sale at an attractive price and which has circumnavigated in the past. I don't yet know what its condition really is. As someone who has never owned a sail boat, I would like to make my mistakes on a less expensive boat but I don't want to spend all my time working on it. As a novice, would it be better to play it safer with a fiberglass boat?
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Old 03-11-2010, 13:41   #17
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In my thoroughly amateur opinion:
As many here could tell you a wooden boat in the tropics is going to need a lot of care... included in that care is a watchful eye for problems and really good housekeeping... rot and worms etc., etc.
With this kind of boat you are buying the previous owner as well as the boat itself for sure. Lapses in care could mean the end of any woody but there is no reason that a well-cared for wooden boat can't be just fine around Costa Rica.
What would be helpful would be getting your hands on a lot of wooden boat books from various sources... Lin and Larry Pardey are great sources.. Their documentation of wooden boat construction and maintenance methods is really extensive and reader freindly. A great source for any prospective wooden boat owner.
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Old 03-11-2010, 14:12   #18
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IF the boat was well built and has been properly maintained, wood is not that much work to keep up. The main caution I give though is that wood does not react well to neglect. If you stay on top of keeping the coatings up etc, it's not that much work in an absolute sense BUT YOU CAN'T LET THE MAINTENANCE SLIDE.
The advantages are that wood has a very high strength to weight ratio and can be fairly easily repaired, it also has a potentially unlimited service lifetime. It also doesn't blister etc. Our present boat spent a good deal of time in the carribean with no ill effects, of I wouldn't let that put you off.

So IMO there's no perfect material- each has advantages and disadvantages. You have to decide if the qualities of the material are something you can work with.
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Old 03-11-2010, 14:29   #19
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G'Day all,

To sum it up: If you neglect (from circumstances or inclination) maintenance of a glass boat, it looks bad. The same treatment for a traditional wood boat will allow caulking to fail, worms to get in or dry rot to invade. Any of these can cause sinking...

Your choice.

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Old 03-11-2010, 14:53   #20
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wooden boats in the tropics

Thanks everyone for your feedback. It has been very helpful. I will keep researching and learning and looking at boats when I can. Meanwhile I get to at least spend three days cruising on a sweet 44' trimaran to Cano Island, Costa Rica in January. I expect to learn more about sailing and have a great time.
Long days and pleasant nights,
Kevin
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Old 03-11-2010, 18:38   #21
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Two things to say here.

Steel.

Maintain it.


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Old 03-11-2010, 19:01   #22
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I had a steel boat once. Never again. No offence to the steelies out there. But I am not a maintainence man. I enjoy plastic boats wholey and soley because I am a lazy person and would rather be drinking a beer than chasing every little chip in the paint work and working on rust prevention. If I was planning on hitting a reef at 6 knots, yeah, steel is the go.

Timber also requires a reasonable amount of work.

While a glass boat requires a wash down from time to time, a timber boat needs revarnishing of the brightwork at least annually if its been out in the elements.
Obviously, plastic boats have a higher cost and higher resale due to thier higher demand.

The advantage of steel is that it is cheap to repair. Generally, As long as you can weld you can repair it. Timber requires some skill to repair planks, stringers etc.

Glass doesnt usually have too much Osmossis compared with rust in a Steelie. Rot in a timber boat varies greatly on the boats history.

What hasnt been mentioned is the composite boats. Glass over ply/balsa/foam whatever. These are usually strong and light as long as delamination hasnt occured. A delaminated section will be rather weak and somewhat difficult to repair depending on the location and the nature of the delamination.

Hope this helps

Oz

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-11-2010, 19:49   #23
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The ultimate in no-maintenance boats are good FC boats.

Really, I haven't had to do that much maintenance on my steel boat. I'm coming up on the 30 year mark, and need to re-do the bottom pain but the topsides have all been redone one the cheap, and while it isn't a 'professional' job, I'm happy with the quality.

Nothing wrong with a plastic boat, though. They're marvelously simple, and repairing the blisters that eventually pop up is quite simple.
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Old 13-11-2013, 09:36   #24
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Re: Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

What happens to a steel hull if it rolls and fills with water ?
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Old 13-11-2013, 09:45   #25
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Re: Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

The same thing that happens to any ballasted monohull made of any material... it sinks....
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Old 13-11-2013, 09:46   #26
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Re: Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
The same thing that happens to any ballasted monohull made of any material... it sinks....
That's what I was going to say.
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Old 13-11-2013, 09:51   #27
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Re: Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

Oh, I think some ballast boats would still float if they have sealed compartments .
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Old 13-11-2013, 09:58   #28
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Re: Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

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Oh, I think some ballast boats would still float if they have sealed compartments .
Maybe with a lot of them, each cubic foot of air only gives you 64# of floatation. For a 30000 lb boat I think that's about 470 cubic feet of air reqd just to get neutral.
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Old 13-11-2013, 10:07   #29
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Re: Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

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Maybe with a lot of them, each cubic foot of air only gives you 64# of floatation. For a 30000 lb boat I think that's about 470 cubic feet of air reqd just to get neutral.
That seems to sum it up pretty well. Years ago a company came up with a plan to make mono-hulls unsinkable by installing an auto-inflating bladder system inside the boat. Never sold because it worked out you would have to install enough bladders to fill the interior space of the boat to keep it barely awash.
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Old 13-11-2013, 10:10   #30
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Re: Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

I used to work for a company that made "unsinkable" powerboats, chambered hulls. Without ballast it does work, if you dont put too much stuff on the boat. But it's nip and tuck getting there. We actually filled some boats with water etc in testing... Level floatation without turning turtle is another issue.....
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