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Old 07-04-2008, 10:57   #1
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Considering buying an older steel ketch....

Hello there All!

My name's Paul Ross and this is my first post. Me and my honey are wanting to buy a bluewater liveaboard for cruising and working up and down the BC coast. I have found a steel ketch in my area which is in our price-range (35000 bucks), and it looks like a really good bet. It's in fair condition, had a refit, including sandblasting the inside and outside of the hull and application of 5 coats of zinc prior to 4 coats of Bar Rust and finish paintwork in '99, and I have been provided with a survey and sonic hull test of the boat which are recent. Most of the thickness readings indicate thicknesses of 2.7 to 3.9 mm, with a couple of spots reading as low as 2.1mm. The surveyor notes this, and does not cite it as a major issue, just recommending that these places be treated.

My concern is that I have heard tell that the average lifespan of a steel vessel is around 40 years, and this boat was launched in '73 (a good 6 years before I was launched!). What do those of you who know steel boats make of this. Is there such thing as a good buy when it comes to 35 year old steel yachts, or is it affordable merely because it is in it's last years before it would need many thousands of dollars in work done on it?

Thank you in advance for whatever counsel you might provide.
Cheers,
Paul
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:13   #2
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Originally Posted by paulherald View Post
Hello there All!

this boat was launched in '73 (a good 6 years before I was launched!).
I know nothing about steel boats but would you buy a 1973 car????
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:32   #3
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Paul as the previous owner of a steel, Cartwright 36 pilothouse, I can tell you that there is no easy answer. Firstly, the plate thickness of 2.1 mm. are quite thin if the plates were originally 4.0 - 5.00 mm at that location. Secondly, the cost of repair will vary significantly with the type of construction and the area which needs to be replated.

If the boat is hard-chine, the costs will be significantly less than if there is a repair required on a rolled-chine/ compound-curved hull. Are there adequate limber holes in the frames? Are only the longitudinals attached to the hull plating? Is there easy (or relatively easy) access to the inside of the hull at all questionable areas?

Aesthetics will also play a part in the cost of any repairs - in effect, would you be happy with simply cutting out the rusted areas and installing patches, or would you want new panels installed, the welds ground and (if necessary) faired?

Understand as well, that a 9 year old paint job is probably ready for another complete re-do. My boat was built in 1995 and repainted in 2006 - and she was used in a fresh water environment. Just to get an idea of what you are getting yourself into, you may wish to get estimates for sandblasting, replating where necessary and then repainting by a professional shop. Trust me, you will be shocked (especially if you are removing all through-hulls, deck hardware, hatches, portlights and interior joinerwork in order to do a thorough job).

Please don't get me wrong - I am a huge fan of steel cruising boats because of their strength and the ease of repair anywhere in the world. This boat, despite having been constructed in 1973, may be a fantastic value. If you are prepared to put up with exterior patches, she could be quite inexpensive to repair (and while my own boat was a bit of a 'gold-plater', I have always thought that if I owned another steel boat, i'd keep her looking like a workboat rather than a yacht and forget about expensive professional awlgrip paint jobs and the like.

A great place for you to get more specific advice/recommendations would be at the website of the Metal Boat Society out of Seattle, Washington, as I recall. I am no longer a member, but it shouldn't be too hard to find.
Goto: Welcome to the Metal Boat Society

Good luck and pleasant sailing, no matter what you choose.

Brad
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:35   #4
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Paul,
That hull is very thin. For example 1/4" = 6.35 mm, 1/8" = 3.175 mm, 1/16" = 1.5875 mm. As you can see, the hull is less than 1/4" everywhere, and is little more than 1/16" in places! How big is the boat? What was the original plate thickness?
I suggest you do a lot more investigation into how the boat was built before buying. I don't know of any boats that are built with plating that thin.
Brian
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Old 07-04-2008, 13:15   #5
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Agreed Brian - as I said, the plates are quite thin if they were originally 4 - 5 mm. A lot of steel boats around 40 feet were constructed with plating in that range; for example, 3/16" (4.7625 mm) on the hull and 1/8 " (3.175 mm.) on the coachouse. Assuming that to be the case with this boat, then the typical plate thicknesses of 2.7 to 3.9 would probably be acceptable if the lower numbers relate to what was originally 1/8" and the higher numbers to what was originally 3/16"). Otherwise, it would make me very nervous. Same thing if the areas that are down to 2.1 mm are on the hull proper and are relatively large or numerous.

I would assume that the surveyor (if he was doing his job) knew something of, or researched the original design/construction specs, but that may be wishful thinking.

Brad

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Old 07-04-2008, 17:22   #6
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Paul,

A friend purchased a steel boat two years ago. The boat has great lines and does not look to be steal. When the friend is done doing the work it will be again a beautiful yacht. But right now the boat is on the hard with extensive work repairing the joint between the hull and top side. The hull was originally built with a lip faired to the inside to attach the topside too. The lip has since rusted away at the stern, bow and shroud chain plates. It looks to be an easy fit and my friend is doing it correctly with professional help. But expensive and time consuming. The other problem is with the shaft exit and no skag support. This is all one piece and molded into the hull. The shaft seal was incorporated as one. Which means to replace the seal means cutting into the hull. So, what I am telling you? Check the boat out completely.

The best,

Mike

S/V Kestrel
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Old 07-04-2008, 23:13   #7
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shop around there are alot of steel boats for sale in various stages of build/repair. I dont know where you are but if you google sailboats you'll find listings from all over the world and it might be worth the price of a plane ride to find something that is a steel (er steal).
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Old 26-07-2008, 15:34   #8
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Many steel boats are built with 10 gauge plate , a little over 1/8 in . They are still
incredibly strong compared to glass . Keep in mind the older thicker plate steel boats
are heavy and slow . Welding in new plate is not that complicated . I would rather do
that any day than repair a fiberglass hole . If you are in BC get involved with the
Metal Boat Society based in Bellingham , WA
Good Luck
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Old 26-07-2008, 20:16   #9
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Major maintenance in your future?

As I fit out Boracay I try to keep in mind that sometime in the not to distant future I am (or someone else is) going to have to do some major maintenance.

As this is going to mean pulling out all of the interior furniture I have bolted (as opposed to glued) every major component.

If the boat that you are looking at has a glued together fitout then that is going to have to be rebuilt along with the steelwork.

Do you have access to, or are you going to, a place where major work on a steel boat is feasible?
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Old 26-07-2008, 20:28   #10
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If you are thinking of steel boats or already are
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Anywhere in the world !
Welcome to the Metal Boat Society
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Old 26-07-2008, 23:32   #11
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Plate thickness

Have built a 30' and 35' steel yacht - both with 3mm plate. A little more difficult to get fair but probably worthwhile to use - keeps the weight down.
So plate thickness should be fine if it started off like that.
Nevertheless I would agree that there are many unfinished projects out there which might be more interesting and allow you to customise your layout. Repairs and renovations are much slower and more expensive that original work. Keep looking unless this one has everything in good order.
Richard
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Old 13-05-2014, 10:22   #12
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Re: Considering buying an older steel ketch....

Think Hull is a little thin? In the U.K. and Holland it is often very difficult if not impossible to Insure a steel boat unless the hull thickness is 4mm. minimum at the critical sections of the Hull. Standard hull of new boats built over here is 5mm. and 4mm. upper structure. in the old days as our Ketch which was built in 1973 it was 6mm and 5 mm. after 40 years the our Hull minimum thickness was measured at 5mm during our purchase survey. That is when we were told that 4mm minimum was required for for a "straight forward" insurance.

So maybe you want to think about it again?

Raoul.
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Old 14-05-2014, 00:53   #13
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Re: Considering buying an older steel ketch....

My dutch steel yacht is 50 years old I have no idea how thick the steel is and I dont care I will happily take her offshore.Big holes dont just suddenly appear they show huge amounts of bleeding before anything happens.If the boat you are looking at has been properly painted with a good epoxy paint it should be good to go.
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Old 18-05-2014, 20:28   #14
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Re: Considering buying an older steel ketch....

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Originally Posted by builder dan View Post
My dutch steel yacht is 50 years old I have no idea how thick the steel is and I dont care I will happily take her offshore.Big holes dont just suddenly appear they show huge amounts of bleeding before anything happens.If the boat you are looking at has been properly painted with a good epoxy paint it should be good to go.
Hello Dan , your post scares me. if your hull has bleeding in the wrong places and you hit a sunfish ,container ,or log than surely that bleeding will rapidly become an in flow of water that you bilge may not be able to keep up with . if this was to happen 1/2 way between NZ and Australia I think you maybe in big trouble .

good luck Dan

cheers

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Old 18-05-2014, 20:36   #15
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pirate Re: Considering buying an older steel ketch....

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulherald View Post
Hello there All!

My name's Paul Ross and this is my first post. Me and my honey are wanting to buy a bluewater liveaboard for cruising and working up and down the BC coast. I have found a steel ketch in my area which is in our price-range (35000 bucks), and it looks like a really good bet. It's in fair condition, had a refit, including sandblasting the inside and outside of the hull and application of 5 coats of zinc prior to 4 coats of Bar Rust and finish paintwork in '99, and I have been provided with a survey and sonic hull test of the boat which are recent. Most of the thickness readings indicate thicknesses of 2.7 to 3.9 mm, with a couple of spots reading as low as 2.1mm. The surveyor notes this, and does not cite it as a major issue, just recommending that these places be treated.

My concern is that I have heard tell that the average lifespan of a steel vessel is around 40 years, and this boat was launched in '73 (a good 6 years before I was launched!). What do those of you who know steel boats make of this. Is there such thing as a good buy when it comes to 35 year old steel yachts, or is it affordable merely because it is in it's last years before it would need many thousands of dollars in work done on it?

Thank you in advance for whatever counsel you might provide.
Cheers,
Paul
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