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Old 11-09-2017, 03:35   #1
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Fiberglass for polar cruising?

I see it very often that for polar cruising metal boats are recommended, why?

I do understand that steel is much stronger than fiberglass and survives a collision with an iceberg better, but a continuous slow abrasion might do much worse: scrape off protection layers (paint, zinc...).

I do see <30k$ veteran FG boats crossing the NW passage, or landing Antarctica...

I understand of course that a protected rudder, encapsulated keel and solid-strong construction are musts, but are there any further reasons why one should take an extremely expensive aluminum or a rusting and very heavy steel boat?
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:11   #2
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

Plenty of images of cats and GRP in the Artic and Antarctic circles.

I thought the done thing was to give the hulls a kevlar wrap.

Hull material is probably much lower on the list of needs/desirables than one would think.
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:15   #3
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

The coatings on icebreakers tend to hold up tolerably well, including in the regions around the WL where they spend a lot of time in contact with ice.

That said, it seems like the further north you go, the less well charted things are, including rocks. And steel deals with that at 5kts a lot better than does fiberglass. Plus given the kadiabtic winds in such regions I'm thinking that it's a bit more common for boats to get pushed into rocks accidentally. Including when anchored.

Also, should you get holed somewhere way up north, or way down south, you'll likely be waiting for rescue for a lot longer than in more well travelled areas. Ergo a stouter mother ship.
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:15   #4
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

Was with a guy recently that several years back sailed to Antarctica in his 25 year old jeanneau 47. Hes the sort of guy that saw it as not an issue......much tuffer than me.
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:19   #5
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

Here are a few images that tend to get thrown around







Shamelessly stolen from another thread.
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:31   #6
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
The coatings on icebreakers tend to hold up tolerably well, including in the regions around the WL where they spend a lot of time in contact with ice.

That said, it seems like the further north you go, the less well charted things are, including rocks. And steel deals with that at 5kts a lot better than does fiberglass. Plus given the kadiabtic winds in such regions I'm thinking that it's a bit more common for boats to get pushed into rocks accidentally. Including when anchored.

Also, should you get holed somewhere way up north, or way down south, you'll likely be waiting for rescue for a lot longer than in more well travelled areas. Ergo a stouter mother ship.
Point taken, however, I've heard about FG boats surviving full sped groundings on rocks with a few dents. Obviously not cored hull/bolted keel designs. Precautions, like forward looking sonar+an additional kevlar layer would of course on my list for such a passage.
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:57   #7
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

Depends on how you define 'polar' and what you plan to do there....

Google 'Dodo's Delight' .. 'Bob Shepton'..... The first Dodo's Delight was lost in the ice... to fire...

Ice itself is no big deal....
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:10   #8
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

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Depends on how you define 'polar' and what you plan to do there....

Google 'Dodo's Delight' .. 'Bob Shepton'..... The first Dodo's Delight was lost in the ice... to fire...

Ice itself is no big deal....
I was thinking on doing the NW passage once. I suppose a simple Iceland-Greenland passage in the right month wouldn't be so problematic.
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:18   #9
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

It doesn't seem an issue

Over wintering in ice? Different game.....
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Old 11-09-2017, 08:42   #10
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

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It doesn't seem an issue

Over wintering in ice? Different game.....
I met Chris Bray (red junk sail) recently at Christmas island, really nice young guy, even did our laundry. Come up to my girlfriend in the supermarket and said " are you on the yacht? I'm Chris , if you need anything, borrow my car, laundry etc let me know". Top guy.

Check out his photography online, hes good.
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Old 11-09-2017, 14:14   #11
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

I have been in the ice in a carbon boat. It did have a Kevlar skin on the bow so was built pretty strong. Noisy though, you could hear all the ice running down the hull like it was tearing a hole. We did hit a few small bergs pretty hard when pushing up The fjords. The bow rose right out of the water on one before sliding off sideways. The only damage we did other than taking a bunch of antifoul off was some dings under the transom. Got caught out, catabatic wind pushed a lot of ice on us when right up a fiord, then a chunk fell of a glacier and made some decent waves. Transom went up and slapped back down on a few little growlers and pushed through the outter layer of carbon. Worth noting if you have light weight boat with a shallow transom angle.
This was a pretty high performance boat, 88ft long weighing 40ton with 4ton of water balast. Pleasure to sail.
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Old 11-09-2017, 15:35   #12
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

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Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
I met Chris Bray (red junk sail) recently at Christmas island, really nice young guy, even did our laundry. Come up to my girlfriend in the supermarket and said " are you on the yacht? I'm Chris , if you need anything, borrow my car, laundry etc let me know". Top guy.

Check out his photography online, hes good.
We know Chris and Jess pretty well... he's an example of a kid who grew up on a circumnavigating cruising boat. Shows what such an upbringing can spawn!

Really interesting family... his dad, Andrew Bray, writes free lance articles for various publications and still (mostly) lives aboard in the Pittwater area near Sydney. Valued friends!

Jim
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Old 14-09-2017, 16:33   #13
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

Do you regularly sail in very cold water? If you don't, then you have no idea how dangerous it can be. And the further from the regular sailing lanes the more likelihood you will run into something that can easily put a hole your boat. Also getting help may not be a question of longer time, but more a question of no one showing up at all.

In this case, you don't want to be in a position of having your boat punctured.

When you are hundreds of miles from anywhere, no one is coming because they are not as crazy as you.
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Old 15-09-2017, 18:17   #14
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

Well...its seems I can take my 450 into the NWP, along with a kevlar wrap!
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Old 15-09-2017, 21:26   #15
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Re: Fiberglass for polar cruising?

One of the charter boats running down to the Antarctic penisular was a GRP ocean 60 schooner. Seemed to cope Ok. Prehaps a bit tough on the gelcoat. Metal has a much higher safety margin.. this shows why A strong metal boat is prefered.. http://youtu.be/nsOsWEo4p1Y
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