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Old 11-11-2008, 11:46   #1
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Steel boat shortlist

The more I read and the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a steel hull. I would like to hear opinions around this subject.

I want something under 40' that is seakind and and seaworthy but not a slug. Does anyone have a short list?
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:05   #2
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Here's a web site for you to do some research.

RADFORD YACHT DESIGN - Home page
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:19   #3
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Thanks Jim, that looks like a great site!
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:24   #4
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You're most welcome.

Here's a site to a buddy of mine who built a 44' aluminum Radford, and is at this moment underway (see site) to Australia from Bronte.

S/V Falcon GT
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Old 11-11-2008, 12:43   #5
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Great blog Jim
I am an Australian who cheated and purchased a secondhand hand french aluminium Yacht.
Solosailer have you considered aluminum, the advantages are similar to steel without the rust.
Cheers john
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Old 11-11-2008, 13:57   #6
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Make sure the Adams 40' steel yacht is on your list - ideal live-aboard cruiser.
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Old 11-11-2008, 17:47   #7
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Major project...

A 40' steel boat is a major project. You're looking at 4,000+ man hours and $150k+. I have heard of builders putting 10,000 hours into their boat.
Don't forget that the hull is less than one third of the job.
Getting a nice finish on a steel boat is very time consuming.

A boat already in really good condition is the best way to go but if you really want to get your hands dirty then I'd strongly suggest getting a project fibreglass boat with a sound hull and a good reputation. Look at those around 38' and be prepared to do some extensive rebuilding.

Line up your transport and surveyor before you start looking.
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Old 11-11-2008, 21:26   #8
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Originally Posted by Solosailor View Post
I want something under 40' that is seakind and and seaworthy but not a slug. Does anyone have a short list?
If you go anything much under 40 foot you will end up with a "slug" as it is impossible to build a sailboat in steel at a reasonable weight at those lengths and weight kills speed.

40 foot is often stated as the minimum sensible length and you will find very few boats even at that length that are not significantly overweight when compared to even heavy builds of other materials.

For example, we have a 40 foot cruising sailboat professionally built for us in steel by a builder used to designing and building fast light cruising boats in composites. With a lot of effort and tricks eg no skeg and a composite spade rudder to save the weight of steel in those (and for performance), minimum plate thicknesses everywhere (light! -> as was expected for the build the frames buckled as the boat shrunk as the plating was welded up) and much care in fitout not to overbuild anything, we just managed to keep the weight to about the same as a solidly built fibreglass boat.

A small steel vessel which is overweight may also display other faults such as crankiness, etc due to high centre of gravity and the tendency to trade away keel ballast because of the weight of steel in the boat in efforts to decrease displacement. This can be ameliorated somewhat by using plywood for decks and cabin trunk.

So for the boat size you are talking of, if you don't want a "slug" then if you want metal go to aluminium, else go to fibreglass - that is as others have already suggested. Alternatively if you are very lucky you might find a well built light 40'ish footer or longer, else have one of that length designed and built by people who really know what they are doing (super expensive).
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Old 11-11-2008, 23:51   #9
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Thanks for all the advice. That pretty much shoots that thought out of the water. I have read that steel hulls under 40' tend to be slow. I think you have confirmed this. The cost of aluminium is out of the question. I guess I'm back at FRP.

I hate slow.
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Old 12-11-2008, 00:10   #10
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I have built 2 steel boats and I can still see all my scares from weld burns and metal cuts. I found in the end steel is more maintenance than FRP. Save your money and like others have said...you're better off with a FRP project. Lot's of them around in this economy.
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Old 12-11-2008, 01:08   #11
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Possible project boats...

When I suggested a project boat boats like these were what I had in mind.

I would expect that they would need to be trucked to beside your home (or a low rent area close to where you live) with appropriate cradle, scaffolding and cover erected to make work convenient and safe.

Working on these is going to be way more pleasant than starting from scratch. If I were doing it I would consider bulkheads on stringers, remounting the keel on an appropriate internal structure, total rebuild of chainplates and rudder and copper epoxy barrier coat for the fibreglass boats and a complete interior blast and repaint with multiple coats together with upgrading all trim to stainless for the steel boat.

Any boat considered for purchase needs a lengthy personal inspection and a competent survey.

1980 38' C&C Landfall - Fibreglass - YW# 74488-1694072
1984 38' Morgan 384 - Fibreglass - YW# 13664-998353
1989 38' Roberts Offshore - Steel - YW# 1408-1469133

Boats like these seem to pop up all the time.
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Old 14-11-2008, 07:54   #12
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I love my steel boat, she is under 40 feet and IS NOT cranky nor a slug. We have NOT sacrificed ballast she sails to the speed expected for her water line length and is extremely comfortable under way. Some designs do not sail well whatever material they fabricated from.
Fair Winds
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Old 14-11-2008, 08:25   #13
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Have you given cold molded a thought? Light, strong & easy to repair.
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Old 14-11-2008, 11:30   #14
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Have you seen the OVNI 385? Ovni is French for UFO. It's aluminium with a swing keel. It draws 1.5 feet and can be beached. My understanding is that they're not so fast. My best guess based on waterline is 9 knots.
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Old 14-11-2008, 14:28   #15
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Originally Posted by MidLandOne View Post
If you go anything much under 40 foot you will end up with a "slug" as it is impossible to build a sailboat in steel at a reasonable weight at those lengths and weight kills speed.

I would have to disagree with this. My first boat was a 32' steel yawl. Amazing boat. She could make hull speed in 10-15kt winds under jib and mizzen alone.

Syd
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