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Old 10-10-2009, 21:54   #1
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Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .

Hi all,

I wanted to get everyone's opinion on which is best, if that even exists as I do know that it really depends on what the boat will be used for, etc...

In my continuing search for out boat, I've come across excellent examples of all 3 categories of hull material. I wanted to get the real dish on the collective brain trust of this forum if there was one material that really was the best for all 'round for hull material.

I can only assume that all 3 will have their pros and cons, etc.. I just wanted to get everyone's real world input on their favorite material.

Thanks for everyone's time and participation!!
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:25   #2
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For "leave it in the water" casual coastal cruising Fiberglass wins for me.

For full time expedition and great adventures to wild and wooly places...Steel.

For a classic day sailor that lives in my garage (or living room) that I can caress and stroke and love and be the envy of all...wood.

If I have to chose a “one size fits all” Fiberglass wins again.
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Old 11-10-2009, 04:49   #3
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I have lived on and worked on all three. [2 GRP, 1 steel, with no problems - one day a year for rust maintenance and I grew up with a 100 year old gaff ketch]

However after all of that, I will stick to GRP but will say that the right boat will speak to you.
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Old 11-10-2009, 15:38   #4
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Thanks for the replies!! much appreciated!!!
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Old 11-10-2009, 17:32   #5
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We have had fiberglass boats since I was a kid and we have never had a hull problem or fiberglass problem in that 40 years.

If I was going ice breaking I would borrow a steel boat for that one crusie and give it back.

A guy along the dock has a wooden boat - old - and he has just finished rechalking it. I can see each and every plank and it aint nce.... wood if perfect looks nice as James says great to fondle
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Old 27-05-2010, 04:25   #6
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I hate to bring back and old thread but, can anyone give me the pros and cons, in their opinions about all 3 materials for liveaboard (steel, aluminium, wood). I am fully aware that each one has their pros and cons for being hull material but can y'all give me their real world experience and opinions about each one as their hull..

Thank you everyone for your time and input!!

Cheers
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Old 27-05-2010, 04:56   #7
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James S put it quite well. Same answer applies whether liveaboard or cruising.

I have also owned steel, wood and several glass boats so can offer some expansion on his comments.

Wood - can often find a boat for less up front cost. Ongoing maintenance can cost more or take more time. If you are living aboard and have plenty of time to do a little all the time to stay ahead of the job, you have the woodworking skills, painting/varnishing skills, the space and tools to do it, then wood may work for you (you will certainly work for the wood ). If you will be in cold areas or winter on board wood is warmer and better natural insulation characteristics so you will be warmer and see less condensation inside.

Steel - While it will not be a do or the hull will rot away issue you will also have to keep some regular paint going to keep rust streaks cleaned up. If you are serious cruising in tough water steel is the way to go. PO of my steel boat whacked a reef head on at 9 kts, all sail flying and came away with a dent and a scrape. Glass or wood hulled boat would be scrap sitting on that reef. Test the hull thickness before buying to look for thin spots. Worst corrosion is usually from the inside out, around frames, bulkheads, ribs, etc where water can get trapped.

Glass - Like he said, generally least maintenance, best material if you need to leave it sit for long periods between use. Of course glass boats can have their problems but they are well known and if you check before you buy you should be ok.
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Old 27-05-2010, 07:53   #8
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Recently I replaced a shingle roof with steel. The roofers used steel plates coated with some super durable material that resembles a hard plastic. No metal is exposed and the roof is guaranteed for 50+ years. There is no maintenance required, and the seams overlap so that no water can get underneath. I wonder why this same (or a similar)technology could not be used on a steel hull.
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Old 27-05-2010, 08:05   #9
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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Recently I replaced a shingle roof with steel. The roofers used steel plates coated with some super durable material that resembles a hard plastic. No metal is exposed and the roof is guaranteed for 50+ years. There is no maintenance required, and the seams overlap so that no water can get underneath. I wonder why this same (or a similar)technology could not be used on a steel hull.
Possibly due to the flexing of a boat hull? There are some pretty darn good coatings and sealers for steel hulls that address the issue pretty well. The problem is mainly around joints, flex points, connections with other metals and anywhere you drop something or scratch the surface.
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Old 27-05-2010, 08:09   #10
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Just adding a bit to Skipmac's summary
Steel - it could be easily repaired in the remote areas using local welder, also you can find good deals on steel.
Fiberglass is still the easiest to maintain.
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Old 27-05-2010, 09:38   #11
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Steel - it could be easily repaired in the remote areas using local welder.
Very good point. You can find a welder in just about any small town or port in the world. May not look as pretty as the work from a fancy shop in Newport but it will get the job done and get you home.
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Old 01-11-2010, 23:36   #12
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Fiberglass is without a doubt the best 'hands-off' material to have a boat made from, especially if you don't have any specific expertise in working with steel, aluminum or wood.

Aluminum is really coming on strong as a viable alternative to steel, with greater research being done for which grades and thicknesses to use in structural components, and which to use for skinning the boat. It's close to a no-maintenance material that doesn't even really need to be painted..but there's always that danger of someone dropping a penny in the bilge

Steel is the most rugged of the materials, bar none. As others have said, here and elsewhere, you can ram into a rock reef at full speed and come away with nothing more than a dent and scratch to go with your story. Like wood, it also requires constant maintenance, and it won't take 'no' for an answer. Most paint systems are good for 20-30 years if done properly, though, so the cost isn't really that high. Mostly it's anodes that make up the cost, which can get spendy in tropical temperatures (or when your paint starts to go in patches).
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Old 02-11-2010, 05:38   #13
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Steel - it could be easily repaired in the remote areas using local welder, also you can find good deals on steel.
Fiberglass is still the easiest to maintain.
This is a myth. Yes if you own a beat up fishing trawler. But not a properly and finely finished yacht. The Dutch , arguably the best and most prolific steel boat builders first extensively fair the weld then apply an epoxy slurry and fair it then coat in a temperature controlled environment a LPU paint system. Repair of this process requires significant expertise. The easyist material to repair is grp a proficient amateur often the owner himself can doa proficient and virtually invisible repair without needing expert facilities

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Old 02-11-2010, 08:14   #14
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Even easier to repair than steel is cold molded. It is forgiving if you aren't a master at the product, and strong. The material is easy to carry aboard, and doesn't take any effort to apply. No large amounts of electricity needed to repair. Just a wee bit of paint to cover the work. You can do the work anywhere you can get the area dry.......i2f
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:16   #15
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
This is a myth. Yes if you own a beat up fishing trawler. But not a properly and finely finished yacht. The Dutch , arguably the best and most prolific steel boat builders first extensively fair the weld then apply an epoxy slurry and fair it then coat in a temperature controlled environment a LPU paint system. Repair of this process requires significant expertise. The easyist material to repair is grp a proficient amateur often the owner himself can doa proficient and virtually invisible repair without needing expert facilities

Dave
That 'myth' worked for number of boats I know... And you are right. As far as I know there were no Dutch boat builders present and no epoxy slurry was applied. No LPU system as well. But it worked and the boat continued sailing.
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