very interesting topic/debate.
just a few comments to contribute:
i helped build a FC sailboat about 30 years ago. its owner died a few years ago. the boat is still alive and going strong.
i have a friend who lives aboard a 55' FC sailboat with his family
. they love it.
the romans were good with concrete. some of their stuff is still good over 2,000 years later.
i made a kayak
out of fibreglass 30 years ago. it is still in perfectly usable condition. but it is stored out of the sun. i wonder what it would look like after 30 years in the sun. probably worse than me.
i own a 52 year old wooden sailboat. it needs regular maintenance
and varnish). no big deal. it sails
beautifully. in a race
last year (about 80 miles) it came 49th out of 900 boats. it was probably the least valuable boat in the race
. it was designed by nicholson and took two people three months to build, by hand. it cost about $10,000 back in 1958. i paid $3000 for it in 2008. how much would $10k invested in a house back in 1958 be worth today? probably a lot of money
. it is only 27' long. the previous owner got caught in a bad storm in her. the tiller broke because it was replaced with oak and not willow so it wouldn't flex. the waves were 20'...no tiller...it was dark...no self-draining cockpit
...the coastguard arrived after 4 hours...said they were lucky they were in a good quality old wooden boat because a modern fibreglass equivalent would have struggled.
i own a 32 year old steel trawler
. it is very strong. i bumped into a wreck a few years ago and got away with a dented keel
. i'm pretty sure it would have sunk if it was made of fibreglass. i have to keep it painted everywhere or else it will corrode and be worthless. i work on it all the time.
i was in a force 10 gale in the bay of biscay three years ago. the waves were 75' high. we didn't see another boat for two days. i was scared. the professional skipper
said that he was glad we were in an old moody 65. very heavy and well-built. he said boats of a more recent vintage would have had big problems in the same conditions. he sails lots of boats all over the world all the time. it's all he does.
buddy tells me about modern fibreglass power boats that come into the boatyard with cracks in the hull, sometimes almost breaking in two parts
. he doesn't tell stories. he used to look after all the diesel
submarines for the canadian navy
and teaches mechanical engineering at a local college. he knows a lot about boats and fixes the ones that get used a little. he says the ones that don't ever go anywhere don't fall apart as fast.
another buddy of mine with a recently built 45' yacht bumped into a wall. it ripped a small hole near a porthole. i looked at the damage. i could not believe how thin the fibreglass was...probably no thicker than my 14' fibreglass kayak
. scary. it was an expensive boat. i wonder why. we were in some big seas in the english channel
and the water was coming in everywhere. scary.
my dad was a metallurgical engineer
. he loved steel reinforced concrete. he said it got stronger with age, and as long as the steel stayed covered it would last virtually forever.
i was cutting some 10mm marine
the other day. this was after cutting some steel for several days beforehand. i was really surprised at how strong the aluminum
was. very impressive.
i also got a chance to compare the strength of 32 year old steel with brand new steel. i could not believe the difference. the old steel was much tougher to cut. my boat's hull is 10mm, the sides (above the waterline) are 8mm, of old steel. new builds of a similar size vessel are proud of the fact that they are 3-5mm thick, of new steel. scary.
my conclusion, based on anecdotal evidence (mine)?
i am pretty sure that i would not want to be caught in bad storm in a new boat unless it came from a manufacturer with a deserved reputation for quality. however i am sure that i could not afford to buy the quality i would need to feel comfortable in a force 10 gale. so i would buy an older boat, subject to a proper survey
, because i think they are better made, and because they cost a fraction of the price
of a new one.
my preferred choice of material, all things considered, would be FC. they are not overly heavy as you might think. built by a professional, they will outlast me. they are strong. they don't corrode. if you don't paint
them they don't rust. they don't get osmosis
. they are not hard or expensive to fix. they can look good. and they are dirt cheap
considering their performance. i hear that 35' FC yachts are the old timer live-aboards' favorite.
genuinely good steel or aluminum boats are much more expensive. steel needs lots of maintenance
and good design. a pin prick in the paint will look bad if you use it in salt water
fibreglass can be good as long as it is old and thick. i have a sneaky feeling that new boats are built thin, not because of new and improved technology, but because it is cheaper that way so the manufacturer makes more money, and because they know that very few people actually use their boats very much, and almost never in a big storm, so they (the manufacturer) are safe.
wood is good in a cold climate but doesn't do too well in humid hot conditions. if i was sticking to northern europe
then wood would be fine. otherwise probably not. i would not like to refasten the planks every 10 years. big job.
why do people avoid FC? it has to be a combination of ignorance and fashion. if i could find a good 45' FC trawler
i would buy it after selling my steelie. i would then spend about 90% of the difference in price
on women and beer
, and i would probably waste the remaining 10% on non-essentials.
does anyone know of a good 45' FC trawler for sale
, preferably one with a decent gaff ketch
rig and single