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Old 01-01-2011, 21:08   #1
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Aluminum Boat

I have an island packet 320 and was thinking about selling it for a 34' Ted Brewer Aluminum yacht. What boat will last longer and have less maintenance cost?
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Old 01-01-2011, 23:35   #2
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We have a 46' aluminuim Catamaran. We were anchored in a river with 3 or 4 Knot tidal flows when a 16 ton steel unmanned yacht dragged and hit sideways square across our bows.
Damage was two dints 10 or 15mm deep, and two 50mm dia. spots of paint loss. A new 16mm bridle rope was broken as the yacht slid off. Our boat then re-anchored itself.
I don't know what damage would have been done to a fibreglass Cat, but I suspect it would be consideralby more..
Every different material has different problems. You simply take them into account when you look after your boat.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:09   #3
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Sailing320.

Which Brewer design are you considering?
Sailing Vessel Designs for Aluminum ConstructionTed Brewer Yacht Design
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:27   #4
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My hunch would be the glass one mainly because the maritime world is geared towards servicing them. I can say one thing for sure - it's easier to sell a production glass sailboat than a custom aluminum one. There is a larger audience for glass than aluminum.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:46   #5
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Fiberglass has the lower maintenance cost, but aluminium is a very close second.
The only practical difference you will see are where the aluminium is painted. Gelcoat has got a lifespan of perhaps twice that of paint on an aluminium surface. The paint is purely cosmetic so many aluminium boats leave the surface completed untreated. If you can live with the appearance this will result in less maintenance than a fiberglass boat, but most boats paint at least the deck. The paint can deteriorate without damaging the aluminium, but if you want it looking nice it will need repaining before a fiberglass boat needs painting or re-gelcoating.
The antifouling paint is also dearer for an aluminium hull.
The difference in maintenance between aluminium and fiberglass is very minor you will spend much more time and cost on maintenance of the sails rig etc than you will on the hull.

In terms of lifespan both materials give such a long life its difficulty to be sure which will last longer. I believe aluminium will outlast the modern fiberglass boat, but time will tell.
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:54   #6
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FWIW, If I could find an aluminum (or steel for that matter) boat that I could afford, I'd be on it like white on rice! But then again, I can weld as good as anyone, so that certainly colors my opinion. I have a background in commercial vessels, and I can say that grinding your keel over rock in a metal boat doesn't cause near the trepidation as it does in a glass boat!
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:47   #7
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Aluminum boats are VERY popular, and bring a good price in Europe. They are much tougher than fiberglass boats. (ESPECIALLY AFTER HITTING A LOG). They have cleats & such welded on, and FAR fewer holes in them.

As a professional boatwright, I can say that fiberglass "boat pox" is no small matter to deal with!

Of coarse, Aluminum boats have issues too, however, If I was to switch to monohulls, I might very well go with un painted aluminum, like my world cruising friends on MOMO!
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Old 02-01-2011, 08:52   #8
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. . . I have a background in commercial vessels, and I can say that grinding your keel over rock in a metal boat doesn't cause near the trepidation as it does in a glass boat!
Keels are not a problem be they FRG or metal. Usually they are solid or filled and sealed so the only threatening problem is knocking one off the boat.
- - I typically use the convenient excuse when somebody see the bare FRG on the bottom of my keel during a haulout as a process of "periodic barnacle removal" by dragging the keel over reef or sand. Some epoxy and putty and the keel is back to original shape.
- - What is a major difference is the main hull of the boat. Metal affords a better chance of surviving a collision or pounding on the rocks than FRG. FRG is flexible - to a degree - but will fracture and fail to maintain water tightness whereas Metal will only dent/deform in the same strength impact.
- - There is a lot of "junk" floating around in the oceans including lost shipping containers to logs and trees, etc. Not to mention crazy or incompetent boaters who ram you. Or they smash into you by anchoring on top of you. So in general, metal is preferred over FRG and the boat prices reflect this.
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:18   #9
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Aluminum has its pros and cons- just spent months in a yard doing a refit on a 52' Kanter..... alot of welding involved. Advantages of aluminum are the lack of hull to deck joint- just a welded seam- and the incredible strength and durability of the chainplates (large welded straps applied to the ribs of the hull). I can say that the repair of fiberglass can be longer and more problematic than aluminum; we just cut it out and weld in a new plate anywhere we found a problem.
A few points of interest;
-I would never buy an aluminum painted boat- ours is and it is difficult to keep paint on it without corrosion. Can you live with the unpainted look??
-Every project involves Tef-gel and plastic washers- you must insulate everything from the aluminum.
-I have sailed the boat in 70 knot winds and seas over 25 feet: it is amazingly quiet and dry. My glass boats would groan and flex, springing leaks where none were before. This aluminum boat never leaks and is incredibly well insulated.

There are trade offs with every material; I actually purchased this boat after my glass boat fell over in a Florida yard during a hurricane. The hull was crushed and I realized I had been sailing the oceans in an "eggshell"; aluminum or steel have a much better margin of security in collisions.

The resale market for aluminum boats is limited- still a major prejudice against them in the states versus Europe...

I would recommend an extensive survey by a surveyor experienced with aluminum boats prior to any purchase- I passed a few by after the survey results. Good Luck!!
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:35   #10
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sailnautilus, could you document the repairs you had to make on your Kanter. The Kanter 53 is one of my dreams if I ever hit the lottery jackpot. How old is your boat and how extensive were the repairs to the hull/deck?
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Old 02-01-2011, 15:50   #11
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The boat that I am looking at is on yacht world. 2005 34' Brewer for $249,000. I will keep the boat in Miami. Does the warm waters increase my maintenance cost?
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:35   #12
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The boat that I am looking at is on yacht world. 2005 34' Brewer for $249,000. I will keep the boat in Miami. Does the warm waters increase my maintenance cost?
Fiberglass boats have more osmosis problems in warm water, but it wont effect an aluminium boat.
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:40   #13
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Almost all of the really tough workboats these days are being made of aluminum. Fiberglass looks prettier and more yacht like though.
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:45   #14
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The boat that I am looking at is on yacht world. 2005 34' Brewer for $249,000. I will keep the boat in Miami. Does the warm waters increase my maintenance cost?
I had a look on yacht world. looks like a nice boat.
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:40   #15
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The boat that I am looking at is on yacht world. 2005 34' Brewer for $249,000...
Apparently, you’re looking at Brewer’s “MILLIE J”, a 35' (LOA = 34'-10") Auxiliary Cruiser.
Ted Brewer Yacht Design
Construction of Millie J Brewer Custom Aluminum Sailboat For Sale
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