Well salty if you're really inthrald with all those steel pilot house sloops around the PNW I would suggest checking out Brent Swain boat designs there are dozens of them around the BC coast.
I only had some welding experience in high school
before building, it's not really that hard to learn how to do it as that other guy said on the flat is easy uphill is a bit more tricky, and actually overhead is pretty much the same as on the flat, you just get showered in sparks at the same time. Anyway now I can lay down a nice weld without really thinking about it eventually your body just learns how to move the rod, it just takes a bit of practice. So far all the maintenance
specific to steel (other than the engine
or rig) I've had to do is touch a few spots on deck
or something has chipped the paint off, very easy just sand paper and paint. The real key is to have a lot of stainless trim any place wear is going to happen, like corners, edges, rail, handholds, padeyes and places where the rigging
is attached - something to look for if buying
a steel boat.
I weld stuff up quite regularily, mostly cause I'm still in the process of getting everything setup "just right" - and I don't think anyone will deny that that job never really ends.
I agree with osirissail
about being very cautious if buying
a steel boat, there are a lot of nightmare steel boats out there. Mostly there are good reasons to why they are so nightmarish, sprayfoaming is a good example of this, there are a lot of older steel boats that have been foamed without painting underneath the foam, the builders would just sandblast and then spray in the foam, in time there was a whole lot of bad rust hidden underneath the foam which would be just hell to cut out and fix. With steel the idea is to insulate the interior
so as to prevent condensation
even if it's fresh is not your friend. If looking at a sprayfoamed boat to buy if it doesn't look like there was a good coating of paint underneath it just walk away. The sprayfoam if painted underneath does a really good job insulating cause not only does it have a nice R rating but it acts as the vapor barriers as well to prevent any moist air from contacting the hull
. This is where it surpasses laid in panels
as try as you might it's impossible to seal the hull as effectively as sprayfoam will. My bilges are dusty, (and not sprayed) due mostly to the foam, other steel boats I've been in aren't quite as dry feeling and normally have some water
condensing in the bilge
. The other thing said about polyurethane
foam is that it's a fire hazard - this is true only for older foam, they've changed something in it now and it really doesn't burn, I was filling in small gaps the sprayfoamers missed with a can of foam and accidentally set it on fire via a static spark off the straw did it ever go up but only the fresh stuff, the stuff that was not yet cured, scary but I ended up with a burned up spot only about a foot wide and only the surface - this is after climbing out of the boat grabbing a pale of water climbing back in and dousing it, it's quite fire retardant nowadays.
Another big disaster can be when people attach wood trim to steel, such as wooden cap rails, handholds, companionway
door jam, ect. you'll see rusty weepings coming out from between the wood and the steel, plus now you have to varnish
the wood too.
And I would look at putting the money
and time into making sure that everything is done right (overbuilt) yourself rather than relying on a "professional" who makes more money
by cutting corners, it's better insurance
than any policy and no worrying about whether Lloyds approves or not.
I would, if you're going to look at buying a steel boat take someone with you that has a steel boat and knows how to at least avoid the most dangerous pitfalls. But I am definitely a big fan of steel any other hull and I would have destroyed it by now, it's easy to attach things to the hull strongly enough to be able to lift
the boat by, and you don't have water leaking through all the deck
fittings, no bedding fittings in, your anchor winch
isn't going to be torn off the deck in a gale, my biggest concern when anchoring
my boat is dragging and beating up other peoples boats, not running a ground, that would just be an inconvenience, not other boats dragging into me, and not my through-hulls failing and the boat sinking. Crossing oceans, really the only thing that is going to hurt a steel boat is getting run down by a freighter, containers and whales probably won't sink you, so unless you have some other way of filling the boat with water you're good
Here's my favorite steel boat story, this boat Gringo got hit by a freighter in the south pacific
and continued to sail all the way back to north america
And if you're going to be sailing around the PNW steel is nice as there's lot of rocks and vicious currents.
As far as price
I think steel is the cheapest material for a hull as well, back in the days of cheap oil
glass was the cheapest by far but those days are over, I guess ferrocement might still be cheap
but steel is stronger and easier to work on and wood, well if you know what you're doing..... My 36 foot boat cost me about 30 grand to go sailing, I don't think you'll find many nice boats for under 1000 a foot, the design is simple and easier to build than other steel designs due to it being frameless.
Basically a steel boat can be totally awesome or a total disaster - which may be why someone is selling it, it's all really in how it's been put together, as a general rule
I would avoid a steel boat that looks like it's trying to disguise itself as a fiberglass boat, boats are all subjected to the same problems as one another and steel boats go about solving them in a different way than fiberglass.