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Old 27-04-2010, 14:37   #1
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Questions for Wooden Hull Experts / Experienced

I'm eyeballing a 40 footer with an 1" oak hull on oak frames sheathed in 3/8" fiberglass. She's heavy but I like her looks. I'm looking for the pros and cons of such a hull, it's most vulnerable areas, the effect of tropical temps on the frp/wood bond, and the maintenance issues peculiar to it. It was built in '79 in Canada and I believe the frp was added during the build not as an after thought.

I haven't really looked at motorsailors and/or wood hulls much but can see myself comfortably living on this beast, and especially like the sheltered cockpit. I doubt she'd sail very well in anything under 10 kts of wind, but I'm not sure that's as important to me as it once was. What can you tell me?

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Old 27-04-2010, 14:59   #2
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As long as you keep fresh water out of the insides, it should be long lasting. It's rather ususual (but not unprecedented)for the hull to be planked with oak- what other info do you have on how it was constructed?

Having a layer of glass should help "proof" the hull against worm damage.
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Old 27-04-2010, 15:45   #3
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Sealing wood...

I built a ply Van de Stadt some time ago using the WEST system.

The point about the WEST system is that all wood is totally sealed against moisture intrusion.

Wooden boats are either going to be caulked plank or fully sealed. If caulked plank then the small amount of salt water that seeps slowly through may keep the rot at bay. If fully sealed (which a fibreglassed wood boat should be) then the boat's health depends on keeping the wood dry or sealing it, normally with epoxy.

So I'd suggest taking a really good look at your intended. Start in the bilge checking that waterproofing/sealing there, and then move around the boat and up to the underside of the deck. If there is any evidence of fresh water coming into contact with bare wood then there is a potential problem.

If all looks good at this point and you still want the boat then you'll need a very good surveyor, experienced in wood boats.

I would suggest that you proceed with extreme caution though. Fibreglass has been the preferred method of yacht production for almost 50 years now with very good reason.
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Old 27-04-2010, 16:46   #4
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What year was it built? Was it originally built that way? If the glass was applied after a long time of being just wood, it was probably done because the planking and frames would have been more expensive to repair or replace. If was done at the original build with all of the wood coated with epoxy, that's a different story.
This is normally seen when the owner's want to give the boat a "few" additional years floating, but the planking and frames continue to rot away.
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Old 27-04-2010, 16:55   #5
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Usually sheathing a plank of frame boat in fiberglass after the fact is a very bad sign. It tends to signal that there were rot issues so they sealed the outside of the boat. This usually means that they sealed in a lot of moisture and the rot continues to spread and the bond between the fiberglass and wood is not that great. On wooden fishing boats, this is an extremely common method of getting another 10 years of life out of an otherwise unseaworthy vessel.

It could be in good shape but I would be very suspect. It is going to be extremely hard to repair any planking and it will be very heavy.
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Old 27-04-2010, 18:19   #6
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Really you must find out if the resin used was epoxy or polyester. If epoxy, proceed with caution; if polyester, stop immediately!
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Old 27-04-2010, 19:07   #7
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Oh Joy is sheathed in C-Flex. The hull is fine. It's the leaks from above that reek havoc. Especially when it come time to replace ribs and planks. Find out what and how she was glassed. It makes a HUGE difference. Even if she was covered in polyester, as long as there was a good epoxy barrier coat applied, she should be ok. The biggest issue is the lamination method and materials used. I would sheath another wood boat in C-Flex in a heartbeat.
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Old 27-04-2010, 19:53   #8
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Very cool vessel, where to begin with some answers? First of all she is not a motor sailor, but what appears to be an adaptation of an Atkins design, (Atkin & Co. - Boat Plans), maybe an “Ingrid” that has been made into a center cockpit with an integral hard dodger, split backstayed, high aspect cutter rig, bet she sails real nice. For many reasons this is a serious cruising vessel that someone originally put a lot of thought, money and love into and that’s a great place to begin when considering a used boat. It’s quite possible if the price is right, that you could be getting a way better ship than any production plastic vessel currently coming out of a massed produced factory. Regarding oak on oak frames actually a very common build method. Serious wooden boat people when they were looking to build boats that where tough and long lasting built out of materials like white oak, teak and mahogany. If I was considering her I would want clear answers about the pedigree, you want to know about the sheathing thing for sure, I.E. was it done at the time the boat was built. I would almost bet it was considering the layup thickness of 3/8” is very robust and doesn’t sound like some slhub trying to pull a fast one. Don’t let the 1979 thing throw you, it’s not the age but the miles as the old saying goes, if your picture is a recent one she looks like a very well maintained vessel. Wooden boats built and maintained correctly have been known to still be sailing a hundred years on. I was on “Bowdin” in Maine a couple of summer ago, double sheathed white oak on oak frames, built as an arctic research vessel at the turn of the century. She was designed to pop out and lie on her side on the ice sheet when wintering in, (Try that with a fiberglass boat).
Needles to say the Maine Maritime Acadamy is still using her as a school training vessel

Regarding the weight issue, there is a group of sailors, (I am one of them) that believe the old saying you buy a cruising sailboat by the pound. Now for the bad news, wooden boats require significantly more maintenance than a fiberglass boat of equal length and unless you are prepared to work on her yourself or have deep pockets it might be more than you are prepared for.
Again if the picture you posted is a recent one
My instincts are telling me you may be on to a very sweet boat. I would have to know some more details and would be more than happy to help you with the process if serious. If you want to send me the particulars sheet on the boat to review I would have a better understanding on which to make suggestions.
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Old 27-04-2010, 20:48   #9
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Quote:
If you want to send me the particulars sheet on the boat to review I would have a better understanding on which to make suggestions.
If you posted them here we all could- and some of us actually own wood boats.
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Old 27-04-2010, 21:52   #10
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Thanks for your opinions guys. Here's the link to the boat. It's the 41' Stephen Alexander motorsailor. I can't find anything online about Stephen Alexander but perhaps he is known by someone here. I jumped off the fence and emailed acceptance of their counter-offer of a week or so back. They wanted 39.5k and I offer 25. They countered with 30k and I accepted contingent on survey. I see they've lowered the ask to get it sold.

I've also asked about the layup and sealing of the wood on the inside. We shall see. I've never owned a boat, just race crewed for several years so I'm excited and nervous about this big move. If the hull is sound it looks like a boat that could go anywhere and would be very seakindly.

seaofcortezyachts.biz

I really like the sun, wind and rain protection of the cockpit.



And the engine looks well cared for.



The interior is ok, and the deck and equipment look serious. I will let you know what happens.
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Old 28-04-2010, 05:42   #11
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See the
USCG Guidance on Inspection, Repair, and Maintenance of Wooden Hulls (NVIC 7-95)


http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/nvic/pdf/1995/n7-95.pdf
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Old 28-04-2010, 08:36   #12
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Well, based on this:


it looks strip planked. So there's (most likely) resin at least between the seams. If the frames are good you should be okay. Let us know what the surveyor says.
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Old 29-04-2010, 17:16   #13
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Update for my Braintrust

I've gotten a bit more info, specifically regarding the recommendations of you folks. The boat was glassed when built. The interior of the hull is finished with epoxy. 2 for 2 there. The photos were taken within the last two months. This seems like such a good deal, I keep waiting for the bouncing betty mine to pop up, but so far so good. It looks like we will go to contract soon using an escrow company in Anacortes of all places. Funny reference by the broker, reminded me of CBurger's Polar expedition boat above, when he said she "could be used an an ice breaker she was so strong."

I have a few more ignoramus questions for you. Why is fresh water more likely to cause rot than salt water? And CBurger, how will this boat be any more work to maintain than a glass boat? What kind of maintenance? Is it like steel where you paint, paint, and paint some more?

Gord, thanks for the USCG blurb on wooden hulls. I haven't immersed myself in it yet but will be sleeping with it eventually no doubt. Seems I'm always saying tanks to youse.

S&S, want to trade boats a while? I've always thought you had the prettiest SV here. I mean, I'd take Beowolf if I could afford her, but doubt I could afford even 6 months upkeep. And Charlie, I might not have considered a wood boat at all if not for your show and tell. Thanks to all. If it don't work out, I'm gonna come looking for you tho'.
lol.

More later.

Oh, one more thing. When I asked about rot, the broker told me there had been a problem that had been taken care of very well. The PO has photos and receipts documenting the repairs. I'll be interested to see those. ciao.
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Old 29-04-2010, 17:36   #14
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Looking back, I made the wrong assumption that the boat was glassed sometime after it was built. Since it was glassed in the first place, that is a good sign.

Salt water sort of pickles the wood and helps keep it from rotting. Many wooden boat owners will actually throw around buckets of salt water on deck regularly for this reason. On a boat that I used to work on, one area was consistently missed with buckets for a few years and sure enough, it was the first to rot. For freshwater to get into a hull, either the deck is leaking or a water tank is leaking. If you discover that either of these are true, it warrants careful investigation even if the planking has been sealed as you indicate. On wooden boats where there is always some water in the bilge, it is common practice to taste it and make sure that it is salty although with a glassed hull, depending on what the stuffing box is, there may be no entry for saltwater.

If there is indeed rot, it will be difficult to replace. Wooden boats are generally repaired from the outside in. With a hull sheathed in fiberglass, you either need to remove a lot of fiberglass or figure out a way to do the work from the inside. Some framing work is usually possible from the inside but planking work definitely requires access from the outside. The reason that wooden boats are more work than glass boats is due to the need to constantly replace wood or put in dutchmans or bungs as patches and also the fact that wooden hulls need to be painted much more regularly. A sealed wood hull that was done properly can last a long time before having any rot problems. Since this boat is sheathed in fiberglass, it won't need to be painted as often as a wood boat.

If you are interested in pursuing this, having someone who really knows wood boats look at it would definitely be worth your time and money. If there is no rot, it could be a very good boat for the right purpose but if it needs any work, it would likely be a very large project.
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Old 29-04-2010, 19:02   #15
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Just by looking at the pictures of the motor it looks cleaner than my kitchen table. IMHO it looks like it was and still is a much loved boat. Believe it of not it is possible to get a great yacht at a resonale price. People are generaly thrown by the age thing, and the wood thing, coupled with a lousy economy and this can work greatly in your favor. Regarding your question regarding the maintenance thing, wood is a dynamic material that is usually in motion, expansion and contraction and for this reason builders usually don't use the same coatings to finish the exposed surfaces as they would on fiverglass or steel. Now considering she is stripped planked rather than a carvel type solid plank on frame construction, in theory the movement of the outside of the hull should be somewhat stabilized. Canadians seem to love this build meathod and it is rumored to produce very strong stiff hulls. Now back to the coatings thing, wood surfaces do not do well with very durable two part polyurethane paints. As a matter of fact some of the better paint manufacturers specificaly reccemend against these types of paint over wood. That leaves a single part enamel that has a much shorter life span than the aforementioned. Now on your interior areas that are not exposed to sun, rain and the like you paints will fare better, on the exterior depending on environment your paint cycles will be much shorter, specificly on the areas of the superstruture. Regarding the rot thing, it sounds like this vessel was built to the highest standards, if they went to the trouble to coat the interior wood with epoxy I would be willing to bet that all the bilge areas and nasty little crevices and places that can catch water and cause rot will be protected. The idea with coating wooden boats with epoxy prior to finishing is to do just that, stop rot. Needless to say wooden boats take more in the area of overall attention, don't let that this disuade you. If you are planning on living aboard you will get to know the boat very well and be able to give her the attention she deserves. I think this is going to turn out to be a life changing experience for the better. It would be great to know who the designer was, not just the builder, an important part of the puzzle. I have attached a you tube link of one of those 100 year old wooden boats that are still sailing, no engine. I think you potential boat is a direct decendent of theese types.

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