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Old 27-07-2016, 10:29   #16
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Welcome, and funny that you ask - I just got home from delivering my steel yrawler to the yard to be sandblasted and painted. Over all, I say yes to steel boats. As long as you check what's behind you, yes, you can cut and weld freely - I just added new anchor rollers and "bowsprit," changed a rail so it doesn't interfere with getting to the transom ladder, gave the lifting mast shrouds a bit larger footprint and removed the stern dinghy mount because the new dinghy is going up top. In addition, it's a great faraday box, will win in any encounter with anything fiberglass or wood, including docks, and does not burn. Have you ever seen a fiberglass boat burn? It's like greased paper and very toxic smoke.

The down side: Get pros to do your paint adhesion. Once it's done right, keeping up with break-throughs is a minor job. Do it wrong, and you will join the haters of steel. Stangely, it's what's above water that rusts - even bare places on the bottom are protected by the liberal use of aluminum anodes. A minor downside is that satellite antennas and depth sounders cannot see though steel.

Next project - weld in a new mounting plate for the main seacock while she's out of the water, and replace the paired steering cylinders with a single balanced cylinder.
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Old 27-07-2016, 10:45   #17
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Super easy to work on or repair. Just cut a hole, do what you need to do and then weld it back. I was hit at anchor several times by incompetent people. I just said "don't worry about it", while looking at a small scratch on my boat and multiple thousands of damage on theirs.
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Old 27-07-2016, 10:49   #18
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

The real question is what kind of steel? All types have vastly different characteristics. Secondly, never heard of pinholes in steel hulls. Think you have been hanging out at the bar a bit too often. Steel can get "thin" but if you know how to weld, easy to repair. Steel is fairly elastic so if you hit a reef, the hull will most likely bulge inwards but not break open. Dont have to worry about lightening since its already a complete faraday cage. Any rust caught before it gets deep can easily be repaired. Coat the hull with an epoxy paint and then apply anti fouling. Need to insulate the insides to prevent condensation. If you keep up on the pain touchups, its really low maintenance.
Use to be old, riveted iron hulled yachts that sailed the Pacific a lot back in the 70s. Hulls were sound and the sailors raved about riveted hulls. The old Singer barons owned yachts were still sailing almost 100 years after they were launched.
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Old 27-07-2016, 11:04   #19
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Cap Krook, There are some misconceptions being posted about weight of steel boats. A good designer in the size range you are talking about can design a very good steel boat at the same weight as a glass cruising boat. Of course it cant be done to the light weight racing boat specs, but a properly designed steel boat does not have to be over weight. The truth of the matter is that so many steel boats are over built because the very reason that people are attracted to steel is strength. Fear of flooding and the fear of collision make people want more and more strength which means more and more weight. I went through this after a couple of years cruising in the South Pacific in a glass boat. I wanted a steel boat very badly. I wanted to be able to explore with more confidence. My next boat was a well designed, but poorly built 37 foot steel boat. It was no heavier than any other 37 foot cruising boat. I sold that boat after a couple of years because the original paint prep was not good and it was miserable to maintain. All of the previous mentions of the importance of paint prep are correct. You also ask about stability. Stability has little to do with the hull materiel and everything to do with proper design and building to the proper design. There are many good designs built in glass and a much smaller number built in steel. A well designed glass or steel boat can give you many years of safe cruising, but the small amount of steel boats available limits your choices. After many thousands of off-shore miles, I think the one thing you dont want in a boat is one that sails like a sand barge because of poor design or someone saying,"lets make it a little stronger over here". I would not say to avoid steel boats, but just to not limit yourself to the idea, and end up with a turkey that sails poorly. Enough of my opinions. _____Grant.
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Old 27-07-2016, 11:05   #20
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

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Originally Posted by mikecambrai View Post
My experiences of hull material over the past 50 years is that fibreglass is preferable to both wood and steel in terms of strength. Fibreglass hulls bounce off dock walls and even underwater rocks. Steel hulls will puncture easily.
I totally disagree with this. Steel will not puncture easily. Steel will dent.

The question of strength.

Steel unlike wood of fiberglass has omni tensile properties. I forgot the correct term.

welding is very easy to learn, is fast and is fun to do. Albeit, you will have to be careful about interior when you weld a spot else you will start a fire.

welding something on deck is easier than drilling and filling a bunch of holes.

steel hulls are wonderfully watertight. Or at least less holes less water.

Steel hulls SHOULD have insulation else moisure and temp are an issue.


However, in terms of sea worthiness. Not a lot you can do in an ugly rogue southern ocean wave as 10000 psi will not save your ass with any material you choose.
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Old 27-07-2016, 11:06   #21
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Oh, one more thing:

Steel boats are pretty much one offs. Try and find a buyer if you sell can be an issue.

Steel boats are more affordable
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Old 27-07-2016, 11:12   #22
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

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"Also very easy to make modifications to the deck, install new hardware, etc., because the whole structure is strong -- you just need to weld whatever you need to it."
sorry, definitely NOT true: there'd be insulation (well, hopefully, otherwise it's going to be hell on wheels...) that'll start burnning, paint will be burned off,...
the facts as I see them:
for ant/arctic adventures unbeatable, same for collisions with floating objects or reefs (although there are any number of steelboats lying on reefs & staying there, as it's simply too expensive or altogether impossible to get a tug to tow them off)

all other bonuspoint of steel have to be compared to an aluminium hull - & there steel is the big loser:
unless sandblasted on the INSIDE too (& primed within hours!) serious maintenance will have to be done sooner or later, there'll be millions of unreachable places where rust is goign to develop sooner or later.
steel is going to be heavier (costlier engine, rig, sails, heavier gear...), aluminum topsides can be left unpainted!
anecdotal evidence but still: 32' french steeler beside us in marina apooiti (Raiatea) filling to level of saloontable in the absence of the owners before discovered...(throughhull defective...)
big german steelboat in Whangarei: whenever you were looking/listening they had the generator going & an anglegrinder was running...
Moitessier's Joshua was a writeoff at cabo san lucas...
various steelhulls adorning tuamotu-reefs...didn't help them any, that they survived the impact...
You will see the steel hulls on the reefs because the glass fibre one's have broken up and washed away !!!
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Old 27-07-2016, 11:13   #23
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Scorpius (steel) was "flame-sprayed" (hot zinc galvanized) inside and out, then polyurethane sprayed (inside) when she was built. Result: no rust from the inside and no condensation. She's 34 years old and anytime I remove some foam to do something the steel behind is pristine.

And that advice that "fiberglas bounces" and steel "punctures easily" is simply bs. We have LOTS of rocks here in BC and a booming business fixing the fibreglas boats that hit them. Hull to keel joints get opened up, skegs get smashed, great chunks are torn out of bows below the waterline. I've hit a few rocks with Scorpius in my 30 years sailing her (I go some pretty challenging places - including places with no charts) and five minutes with a file taking out the burr and some paint solves the problem. Very little rust occurs six feet down underwater and given that the bottom of the keel is 3/4" steel plate (after all it IS ballast), I really don't need to worry about it down there.

The stories of steel boats surviving horrific accidents are legion and legendary. They are EXCEEDINGLY strong.

Bill Robinson, S/V Scorpius
Lund, BC
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Old 27-07-2016, 11:36   #24
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tingum View Post
Super easy to work on or repair. Just cut a hole, do what you need to do and then weld it back. I was hit at anchor several times by incompetent people. I just said "don't worry about it", while looking at a small scratch on my boat and multiple thousands of damage on theirs.
Well that says a lot doesn't it !!! Lots of plusses to a steel boat indeed.The interior preparation and sealing with the best epoxies must be the key to a boat that will not rust away from within.The outside is easily dealt with on an ongoing basis .Even some dents can be hammered out from inside too .With todays modern primers paints and epoxies one can rest assured that a well prepped interior with the best products applied will be as good in twenty years .The bilges where water might reside are of course areas that can do with those extra coats of whatever you are applying.
Pinhole leaks ?Make the hole a little bigger and fill it with bitumen as a temporary repair .Pratleys steel compound ?It gets very hard on a steel hull .Just an idea as I have absolutely no experience with a steel hulled boat but I bet it would work.
I am actually considering buying a steel hulled vessel if I do get another boat.
I think one huge consideration would have to be the fire hazard of glass fibre and the total lack of combustibility of a steel hull.Then as mentioned by another reader here the fact that the keel is an integral part of the boat and not bolted on is a definite plus. Also of course the damage sustained on hitting underwater objects with a glass boat are normally going to be far greater than with a steel hull.You know the old floating half submerged 40 ft container .Every yachtsman's non favorite ocean encounter .
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Old 27-07-2016, 12:03   #25
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

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You will see the steel hulls on the reefs because the glass fibre one's have broken up and washed away !!!
...& where is the steel advantage then???
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Old 27-07-2016, 12:28   #26
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

I have a steel 34' sail boat that was built in the Netherlands. Since I've never owned a fiberglass boat, won't have a lot I can compare with. However, agree with what has been mentioned that a steel hull can be very water tight, I don't have any leaks and my bilge is bone dry. However, I think this is attributed to the fact that the hull is well insulated and I keep hatches cracked to keep fresh air circulating and the condensation down. As mentioned above, how well the previous owners maintained the yacht can make a world of difference - in my case the previous owner took immaculate care so my job is much easier to keep up the maintenance. Before I bought this boat I looked at many steel boats which would have been a lot of work. I also recommend when you get a surveyor that that person has some experience inspecting steel boats.

On a steel hull it is very important to make sure the hull anodes are in good shape, and should be checked with a silver-chloride reference cell on a regular basis. Any paint defects also need to be watched/repaired, as the previous owner had to get some rusted areas repaired where water seeped through hairline cracks in the coating that developed at certain stress point along the gunwale.

Given that my sail boat is quite heavy, it still will make some headway in light air, but performance is generally much better in moderate to heavier winds.

This is my first experience with owning a steel boat (or owning a sail boat), I have been on a steep learning curve a over the past few years but overall it has been a good experience.

Good Luck,
Brian
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Old 27-07-2016, 12:43   #27
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Been working on or around steel ships for too many years to want one for pleasure. Some other posters are correct in that it can last a long time but the examples of the ships given might be a little misleading.

Ships are scanned by various methods to determine the integrity of their hulls. The thing is most surveyors look for less than 20% degradation to determine that a hull is sound. The last tug we had owned and just sold had one and a quarter inch sheathing. It takes a long time to degrade that to where it becomes an issue. Much like the navy vessels already mentioned.

Now this isn't the thickness of steel found in any sailboats. We have owned a well cared for tug with quarter inch steel that was less than 20 years old and needed a new bottom.
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Old 27-07-2016, 13:10   #28
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

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...& where is the steel advantage then???
I would much prefer going onto a reef in a vessel which stayed together (retained it's structural integrity) than something which was battered to pieces, sunk under me, and left me to be dashed against a coral reef by wave action.

I have both a steel and a fibreglass boat at the moment because I am getting old and lazy and am having problems keeping up with the maintenance on the steel boat otherwise I would keep it.

The steel boat has a number of dings and dents in it each of which would have been an expensive repair in any other material and at least one of which would have lead to a sinking. Steel is an ideal material for the over adventurous or careless or just accident prone.

The big maintenance problem is internal corrosion. However, it is relatively easy to keep water out of the boat because the above water hull can pretty well be permanently sealed by welding. The problems with my steel boat have occurred because the builder designed in water traps and I have not been very rigorous in how I installed various pieces of equipment over the years leading to leaks.

In engineering terms steel is what engineers refer to as an "honest material" in that defects are readily identified and remedied unlike say fibreglass where poorly laid parts may delaminate under stress. Also as previously stated it does not burn.

I am reasonably certain that having had 29 years of learning and practice in keeping a boat away from the hard and nasty bits in a very forgiving steel boat I will now have a fair chance of the replacement fibreglass one surviving me.
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Old 27-07-2016, 14:35   #29
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

I have a steel boat, I have owned many fiberglass boats and chose steel for it's strength, I expect I may often sail single handed, and have heard of floating shipping containers that you will never see until to late. I expect steel would be the only thing to survive a collision with one at full speed. I used to teach composite material construction in college, even built the first fiberglass highway bridge. I also have been a professional welder and machinist. You can learn all about the preparation of my boat "Steelin Time" and even also about the bridge on my website

I also plan to travel where there are icebergs during my circumnavigation, I think steel is the only reasonable choice for that. Feel free to connect and ask questions. Jon
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Old 27-07-2016, 20:03   #30
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Re: Steel boat – heaven or hell?

Hi There
This is a fantastic yacht... and I also own one.

Trademe NewZealand

GANLEY TARA
Asking price: $110,000Listed more than a month agoWatching Listing #: 1086298766
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