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Old 21-09-2010, 22:37   #1
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Steel & Wood + Offshore

From what I've been reading, steel boat owners are perhaps only slightly less insane than wooden boat owners, but I think I've fallen for it.

I definitely know they require time and continual maintenance, that doesn't bother me much. What I want to know: Is having a bottomless wallet required for this regular maintenance? Obviously certain situations will require $$. I'm just wondering if those 'certain situations' are common enough that it'd make more financial sense just to spring more for a fibreglass boat. For the sake of argument we're talking about a hypothetical boat that has been well maintained by previous owners, and has had a glowing review from surveyors.

Incidentally, I wonder the same about wood. I know it's a time sink, but assuming you don't have any major restoration project to do, are you going to deplete infinite levels of $ just to keep it up?

Aside from not having to worry about debris, or lazy whales or ones with attitude problems, I think the biggest reason for my interest in steel is I have experience welding, and already have access to welding equipment. It feels very empowering. I think with enough time I could learn to do just about everything myself.

I see people asking for bluewater/offshore boats, and they're often told to stay away from Hunters, Catalinas, etc. Pretend you've never heard anything about these boats and neither has anyone else. Is there something in their design that you can readily see and go "offshore incapable!" or do you really have to rely on the collective sailing experiences if everyone who has touched them?

I ask because I'm interested in a few custom boats, and if the latter is the case it's probably best not to touch them with a ten foot poll, no? Is whether a boat is offshore worthy or not something a qualified surveyor could tell me?
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Old 21-09-2010, 23:34   #2
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It seems like you are asking some very, very basic kinds of questions here that might better be answered with some experience. Get a small 'in-shore' boat and use it for a few years, while reading extensively. I had an aluminum boat [35' gaff schooner, 7 tons], and I have had wood and fiberglass. The aluminum was by far the easiest and cheapest to maintain. Of course, I do not use engines or heavy duty electronics, so battery action was never a problem for me. But the metal was easy to deal with, outrageously tough, and a strong sense of security. Many, many production boats are too cheaply built to take across a bay, let alone off shore. Some are truly fine.
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Old 21-09-2010, 23:45   #3
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Yes,a qualified surveyor can tell you if a boat is "blue water".There is no reason to be afraid of a "custom" boat.Many of them are tougher than a production boat.And you should still worry about Whales if you have a steel boat.
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Old 22-09-2010, 00:01   #4
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While I am also a fan of steel-hulled sailboats, there are nice fibreglass and wood boats out there, as well. Boats such as the older Catalinas, Hunters, Newports, etc., - I'm talking 70s/80s vintage - developed reputations for poor quality construction because the manufacturers tried to cut corners with chop guns, thin wall construction, poor hull-to-deck joint attachment, poor quality barrier coats, etc. .

The various opinions are based on what each of us have owned and/or sailed, articles & reviews from owners, industry magazines, etc. What you need to do, both, with yourself & with us when asking these questions, is to define what the planned intended use is. If you're new to sailing, as Michael points out, you're better off getting an older boat - I'd suggest fibreglass for this - that has been well maintained, is considered a boat that sails well, has a decent suit of sails, and is cheap. I'd recommend a Cal, as they are strong, sail well, & are a dime a dozen.

If, however, the boat you're looking for is intended to take you offshore, you will find much by searching these forums. Once you have read the older posts, if you have questions that have not been addressed, ask & you will receive about a hundred different answers per question(lol), though the majority will point in the same direction.

You did mention that you're experienced with welding, which leads me to believe that you're thinking of building rather than buying? That's a lot of work. Out of interest, however, you may want to have a look at Wynand's site: Steel Boatbuilding | Steel Boatbuilding

Btw, welcome aboard!
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Old 22-09-2010, 00:07   #5
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You did mention that you're experienced with welding, which leads me to believe that you're thinking of building rather than buying? That's a lot of work. Out of interest, however, you may want to have a look at Wynand's site: Steel Boatbuilding | Steel Boatbuilding

Btw, welcome aboard!
Mike
Oh, no. I don't think I'd ever have the time or place to build one. I was thinking repairs mostly.
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Old 22-09-2010, 00:25   #6
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It seems like you are asking some very, very basic kinds of questions here that might better be answered with some experience. Get a small 'in-shore' boat and use it for a few years, while reading extensively.
Oh, no doubt. That's part of the plan. I'm currently looking at stuff in the 20-25ft range to learn on, but do plan on buying something bigger a few years down the road for offshore/long distance travel.

I'm actually thinking about a decently priced fibreglass hull for this starter boat. I've been sailing before, but haven't experienced the joys of ownership.

These were just questions floating on my mind.

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You did mention that you're experienced with welding, which leads me to believe that you're thinking of building rather than buying? That's a lot of work.
I don't think I'm that crazy. Or skilled. I was thinking along the lines of repairs, etc.
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Old 22-09-2010, 00:36   #7
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what boat?

Mate, any boat that floats will get you around, different if you are sailing around the capes single handed. The production boats are just beautiful, grab one and go. There is a lot of nonsense and posturing about the "best blue water" yachts. The old full keel lead weights days are over, grab a plastic fantastic!!? My 31' GRP Adams cc is a blast, so comfy and sails great.
Good luck from Keith.
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Old 22-09-2010, 00:47   #8
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If you're new to sailing, as Michael points out, you're better off getting an older boat - I'd suggest fibreglass for this - that has been well maintained, is considered a boat that sails well, has a decent suit of sails, and is cheap. I'd recommend a Cal, as they are strong, sail well, & are a dime a dozen.
Obviously not for a maiden voyage, but do you feel such a thing would be nice for going up the west coast of Vancouver Island?
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Old 22-09-2010, 01:02   #9
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Ahoy Schoy, as I remember from my 3 months spent in Victoria and Vancouver Island last year, there were a lot of great yachts for sale in the Marinas there, I suggest a visit to the Marina in Victoria, on the point lookig at Seattle and ask the agent there, lots of great boats from 30K cad upwards. All good for what you want, look on craigslist?
Cheers mate.
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Old 22-09-2010, 04:21   #10
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I don't believe that Hunters , Catalinas etc are strong enough for offshre work...sure people have taken them offshore and got away with it, but if you're in a real blow, you want a boat thats goling to hang together and not have bulkheads cracking and hulls flexing (read Beneteau/Jeaneau here also). Steel is great, but requires continual maintenance. wood is great but a bit delicate when coping with coral reefs (having said that my boat is cold moulded timber, no rot, no leaks and its 35 yrs old!).
For my money I reckon aluminium is the answer.

For some really good advice on all aspects of offshore yachting read Steve and Linda Dashews Offshore Encyclopedia...it helped me refine systrems and work out what is important and what isn't

All the best from Noumea. New Caledonia ....
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Old 22-09-2010, 05:50   #11
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And you should still worry about Whales if you have a steel boat.
I did not mean to give the impression that I thought I could weld on a cow-catcher and plow through them.

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All good for what you want, look on craigslist?
I'll check it out. I've mainly been using yachtworld.
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Old 22-09-2010, 07:00   #12
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You should also consider ferrocement boats... they're tough and easy to maintain... just steer clear of the home built ones... often they cut costs using mild steel...
but anything thats got a Lloyds100A and a professional build should be good for years to come..
If your buying under 30ft stay with plastic/wood/aluminium.. steels just to heavy
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Old 22-09-2010, 07:35   #13
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You should also consider ferrocement boats... they're tough and easy to maintain... just steer clear of the home built ones... often they cut costs using mild steel...
but anything thats got a Lloyds100A and a professional build should be good for years to come..
If your buying under 30ft stay with plastic/wood/aluminium.. steels just to heavy
There are professionally built ferrocement boats? I thought they were pretty much exclusively homebuilt.

How is surveying accomplished? I would've thought it impossible without knocking a hole in the hull.
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Old 23-09-2010, 17:12   #14
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Obviously not for a maiden voyage, but do you feel such a thing would be nice for going up the west coast of Vancouver Island?
Yes, provided the boat you've bought is specifically capable. What I mean is that the West Coast of the island is, if anything, more dangerous to navigate than heading off for hawaii. As long as a boat is stable and doesn't leak, it'll take you across the ocean. Where the skills of the sailor and the ability of the boat to sail/power out of trouble become most significant is when coastal sailing. I'd recommend lots of sailing on the east coast of the island - intercoastal - before taking a shot at the west coast, including some night-time sailing, as the ability to recognize lights at night is extremely important along the coast. Early/mid 1970s Cals are very well-built, tough boats, very forgiving. They are usually of the racer/cruiser hull configuration, and sail well. They're also relatively cheap, which is why I mentioned them.

To save yourself too much outflow of cash, regardless of the brands of boats you decide to look at, compare what has been updated on each. You don't want to have to replace/rebuild/refit sails, standing rigging, engine, basic electronics, windows/portlights/hatches, stove, heater, batteries, anchor + chain/rode, etc., right off the bat. I also recommend doing a comparison of surveyors, prior to choosing one.

In the size you're looking, steel & ferrocement are not considerations, aluminum will cost you a lot - if you can find one - so you are really considering wood or fibreglass, or a composite of plywood & epoxy. If you prefer to avoid maintenance, assuming you'll have the boat for a couple of years, I'd recommend fibreglass & a boat that has just had it's hull repainted, preferably, decks as well.

Best of luck in your search!

Mike
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Old 27-09-2010, 09:26   #15
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There is some good advice here. but in short steel and wood both require a bit more maintenance than a standard foberglass hull. Steel are issues with galvanic corrosion. Wood is simply wood detioration. both are costly and require lots of maintenance. If your looking to samve money go fiberglass over the long haul.
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