Originally Posted by force8
Hi guys im a new sailer an im wondering what everyone thinks of steel hulls...??? ..any good what benifits do they have or whats there disadvantages ..???
Perhaps the best way to answer in way of disadvantages is to point out how they should be built and the liabilities that exist on the second hand market.
The biggest disadvantage of steel hulls is the number that are amateur built and some that are poorly built by inexperienced yards. 13-14 years ago we (wife and self) started looking around for a steel sail boat on the second hand market or new. The second hand ones were mostly already at or heading towards being liabilities, being very poorly built- that mainly in the way of the protective coatings and amateur adventures in fit out. Even the few that looked OK one had to wonder about the hidden issues. We decided that it was not worth the risk.
So we were fortunate enough that we could afford to have a custom boat designed and built for us. We also had the professional background to specify it properly and had access to a well regarded yard that was keen to build it for us. If you cannot achieve that yourself I would be very careful about buying
a steel boat unless you get some first hand excellent advice and support from someone who really knows what they are talking about.
The main disadvantage can be corrosion
. The quality of the preparation for and the selection and application of coatings is very important. Don't touch any boat that is not epoxy
primed/build coats and linear polyurethane
top coated. The interior
must be painted the same, less the top coat, with high built in way of longitudinals and frames where they intersect with the hull
If the boat has been faired then there has to have been care that during fairing the sanding
had not scuffed the "bite" from the sand/grit blasting of the underwater parts
of the hull
else adhesion will fail. Also, zinc rich primers should have been avoided and the coating manufacturer's specification for the coating system followed - most will provide a spec specific to the boat for no cost.
If you do that, or are lucky enough to find a boat that has been done for, then you will end up with a boat with less hull maintenance
and structural issues than your run of the mill fibreglass boat.
Some of the other important things are:
Weight can be a disadvantage and most steel sailboats are over built. But if the boat is properly built a boat of around 40 foot upwards can work out around the same as a heavier layup
fibreglass boat. Our own worked out about the same weight as similar volumed fibreglass boats from well known yards building heavyish displacement
boats. Smaller boats will come out too heavy and I personally would not touch one much under 40 foot if one doesn't want poor performance (including being crank). Any superstructure above the cabin
trunk (eg a hard dodger) should not be of steel for stability reasons and if is steel is a warning sign of poor construction.
systems should be properly designed and fitted with isolated DC systems (including for the engine) and a non amateur approach taken for galvanic corrosion
protection - that will mean less is better rather than anodes all over the boat. If the boat is proven to need a lot of anodes (more than one or two) then take it as a warning signal of poor construction in way of material selection or electrical
In wear areas ss plating should be used (including under water
, despite the contrary claims of the uninformed
) - examples to give an idea of that thinking are: for any built in steel tanks
the tank plating around inspection
holes should be trimmed in ss for the cover screws to be threaded into so rust weep from the threads does not become a problem; any standpipes used to get the likes of seacocks clear of sharp turns in the bilge
, any part which is likely to be whipped by the anchor
Avoid like the plague any steel boat with teak
laid decks, it will lead to tears and a lot of hard work/expense with rust underneath and weeping into the waterways no matter how well built. It is also wise to avoid any exterior timber trim on the boat in contact with the steel (eg rub rails on topsides, timber trims on top of bulwarks/toerails, teak
laid on cockpit
seats, etc) except perhaps for small shaped pieces under the likes of turning blocks, etc to give correct sheet angles, as it will eventually turn out to be a problem.
In the end if one is not fazed by a war against rust, a boat with amateur adventures for its fit out, etc then no problem, but my personal recommendation is that anyone without good knowledge of steel boats should go for a well made fiberglass
If it is that one is looking for the best construction (and money
not necessarily limited) then from my own point of view if I was to have another boat built for me it would be either of aluminium or of an advanced foam/kevlar/carbon composite. Not that I think we made the wrong decision 13 years ago but the world has moved on and better alternatives now exist, albeit more expensive than steel.
As a final comment many justify steel by its sturdiness for groundings, especially in riskier coral
regions, but there is a developing view that improved electronic nav systems (used properly) have alleviated that risk a lot and is really no longer a justification by itself. Its good performance in collisions remains but there again a correct implementation of aluminium or advanced composites is also good in that respect.
So a round up, if low maintenance
and performance is in any way important to you be very careful and if I was you I would not look at steel unless you have the knowledge and wherewithal to either identify a well built boat or have one built for you. That from a happy steel boat owner
Errr, and as Microship says, comments as have been made along the line of marinas not letting steel boats berth (for "electrolysis reasons"
) and insurance
companies being averse to steel (assuming, as for any boat, it is at least reasonably well built) is all baloney.