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Old 14-07-2008, 14:47   #1
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Fiberglass or Steel ?

Hi all! I am new to this great forum!

I wander if I can get opinions from steel and FG boat owners about circling the mediterranean sea starting in France or Spain and returning to France on a sailboat.

We have gone back and forth between a modern design such a Beneteaus 44-47" ( the admiral likes them) or a steel boat. We have found good steel designs for about 99K asking price, give and take 20K. We have found FG boats for about the same price.

My primary considerations are:
1. The admiral has to have her space and she must like the layout. She likes modern layouts. I can go either way.
2. Price. Negotiable to around 99K give and take a few Ks.
3. Safety and comfort for up to five days passages . Speed is secondary but not to be dismissed.
4. Ease of maintenance, repair, etc. I like steel because in Europe they are easy to repair and they can take a lot of abuse from the sea (not from me of course)

Any experiences from owners of steel boats will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
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Old 14-07-2008, 15:22   #2
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Hi Matey,
Not sure what kind of opinions you are seeking. You can clearly do this trip in a yacht made in either material and still have a great time.
For what it's worth I believe most steel yacts of the size you seek were home built - and therefore may repesent extremely good value - but might not be as well finished as a GRP professionally completed job.
I'd also suggest if you only want a yacht for this single trip, it might be easier to resell the GRP yacht at the end of your voyage..........
Either way, enjoy it!
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Old 14-07-2008, 15:48   #3
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If you take your list of requirements I think none of them suggest that the material should be one or another. What does stick out is your budget. It means you are into the used boat market and probably more than a just few years old. If your 99K is US dollars then you need to find any boat large enough to carry all your stuff that is in good condition. In Euros you have a better shot money being as it is these days.

Personally, I see no huge advantage to either material just from a material basis once you are talking about older boats. For me it would basic build quality and current condition. With your budget the requirements are limiting enough to exclude a whole lot of boats for sale. Boats of FG, Steel ,Aluminum, or Ferro Cement could all take you on this proposed trip well. By the numbers there are far more FG boats than all others combined.

As to requirements.

1. You won't be able to negotiate that requirement. Many that tried never got a boat. If you meet this one requirement - stop - forget all the rest of the requirements - check the money - get the survey report - recompute the money and go for it. End of requirements.

2. There is what you pay up front and what you pay after the sale. Your budget is very tight and an older boat is going to eat 20K up front before you leave. Things are cheaper before you leave than when they break in a place you don't know.

3. It's not really a requirement you can quantify. No boat is strictly unsafe. Comfort is more a state of mind than the qualities of the boat. If you satisfy requirement number 1 you can forget this one. The Admiral knows comfort better than we both do. This may be the only requirement I really do know for sure. The admiral didn't let me pick either of the two boats we have owned so get that idea out of your head very quickly. To be quite honest she picked well. I did stack the deck a bit though.

4. No boat is easy to repair and they all cost a lot to repair. Your survey report should help indicate what it's going to cost after you pay for it. Steel may have a few extra items on the checklist but all boats of all materials can be surveyed and evaluated.
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Old 14-07-2008, 17:28   #4
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Wow! Great responses!

Thank you for the feedback. So many good points!
It is true, the admiral cannot be negotiated with. She has an eye for French designs. She loves the B473 but we (I) do not want to afford it ( it would mean too much upfront). On the other hand, after a few years we are probably selling the boat. We have found excellent older Beneteaus 44s for the low US100Ks. We would like to pay cash.

I was asking about steel for the things that go bump! in the night, such as containers and trees, etc. Steel can take in stride. I can weld it myself if torn and take my time with a more professional repair. On the other hand, perhaps I am being too paranoid...what do you think?
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Old 14-07-2008, 18:05   #5
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Quote:
On the other hand, after a few years we are probably selling the boat. We have found excellent older Beneteaus 44s for the low US100Ks. We would like to pay cash. On the other hand, after a few years we are probably selling the boat. We have found excellent older Beneteaus 44s for the low US100Ks. We would like to pay cash.
Make the money work. It's all supposed to be fun not a nightmare each night worrying about it. Nothing wrong with cash. That is what we did. It hurts for a few days but does not come back to bite you every single month. Do not over extend your money! Yes, you can sell the boat for less than you paid for.

Quote:
I was asking about steel for the things that go bump! in the night,
If you smack a container at full speed you have trouble steel or not. On a rock they all crack open when you hit hard enough. I don't see any more comfort knowing you could hit something a little bit harder when you should not be hitting anything at all. Everything can take a little bump though.

Basic rules of boating; Don't hit anything! Some things break easy and cost you a lot to fix them and other things don't break and still cost you a lot to fix yourself.

Welding is not the whole thing with steel. We have a lot of steel threads here and it's a much broader picture. It's all very interesting and worth some time to read through however. Steel rusts where FG does not. It's a difference to be delt with. Nothing has it all. In older steel boats the costs can be high to get back to something stable. I don't want to say steel boats are a poor choice as you might find one that works. I just would not start by saying it should be steel or not steel. The Admiral needs a lot of leeway and you need a financial arrangment that works too. Don't miss the mark over technical details.
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Old 14-07-2008, 18:50   #6
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Having worked on and maintained steel boats....get the glass boat. Rust never sleeps...no matter how good of a painter that you think you are.
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Old 14-07-2008, 19:59   #7
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The better steel boats are blasted to bright steel on both the inside and the outside. The inside is then coated usually with foam and the outside is faired in epoxy. This retards rust but will not stop it. Boats made of cor-ten or HY 80/100 steels are stronger, more resistant to rust, and more difficult to weld (the weld area has to be preheated). If you don't get a steel boat made as a quality yacht, you are wasting your time and money. So in your size range and funds I would suggest RGF or Composite. One good thing about steel is they have a great ground plane for HF & SSB radios, But those radios work fine on glass hulls all the time.

Have fun
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Old 14-07-2008, 20:02   #8
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Fibreglass will sail better, cleaner inside, does not like bumps...

A fibreglass boat will sail better (normally better design, lighter, better ballast ratio) and be cleaner inside.

Fibreglass does not like bumps or scratches. I must be the only boat owner that gets them (the ones from when the Admiral was commanding don't count). On steel I can leave them until the next slipping with no major problems.

A steel boat is not going to present as well, however I would be expecting that essential upkeep would be better done. A low $100k 44' fibreglass might be pretty close to a project in Europe (and you would not be going anywhere for quite a while). That is, if you want a boat to step on and go you have a better chance of finding this in steel in your price range.

If you bang your head on a steel boat you will have no doubt about what it is made of.

I would have thought that a steel boat would be half the price. At least they were here in Oz when I was looking.

If you are finding fibreglass boats that are the same price I would go with fibreglass.
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Old 15-07-2008, 11:23   #9
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WOOD(sorry had to say it)

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Old 15-07-2008, 12:02   #10
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Don't own a boat but have sail a very little bit on the east coast of Italy and a Lot in the Great Lakes. GRP from I have been told by people with a lot more experience than me, the older models are better as they tend to stand up to stress better (where over engineered at the time due to lack of expense and knowledge of the material). Steel in Europe depends on where the boat was built. Here there are a lot of professionally built steel boats from dutch and French yards as well a home made (more professional than not from what I have seen around). Now the hulls where professionally done the interiors where often done by the first owners. So that can be a nightmare with wiring (have seen that first hand).

Best of luck and hope to be joining you within a year or two.

Michael
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Old 16-07-2008, 14:08   #11
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the older models are better :True also nearly no osmosis in the pre 79 boats.

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Old 16-07-2008, 14:47   #12
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WOOD IS PRETTY
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Old 16-07-2008, 19:43   #13
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WOOD IS PRETTY

I am attracted to wood but I am put off by the commitment to keep it pretty. Am I exagerating?

Wood is beautifull to behold but I do not want to spend much time working on it. I think this is a point that many make.

On the other hand, I read a post ( I cannot find it now) stating that cold molded boats have the lowest maintenance of all other materials including FG. How is it possible?
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Old 16-07-2008, 21:52   #14
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On the other hand, I read a post ( I cannot find it now) stating that cold molded boats have the lowest maintenance of all other materials including FG. How is it possible?
I've had wood, strip-planked West system, cold-moulded wood and fibreglass. I find fibreglass requires the least maintenance. Dings on a wood/epoxy composite boat need to be dealt with pretty quickly or else the wood can absorb water.

I think that ferrocement requires even less maintenance than fibreglass.

My understanding of steel is that it rusts from the inside out, so I would personally avoid a steel boat that was more than a few years old BUT that is only an opinion... They are strong and there are many happy steel boat owners out there.

Good Luck !
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Old 17-07-2008, 06:59   #15
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Imagine is cold molded, and yes wood does need attention when the seal is broken. The good thing it is a very simple product to work with. Everything has a plus & minus................
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