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Old 08-10-2008, 07:49   #1
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Steel Hulls...Yea or Nay

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 ..???

cheers
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Old 08-10-2008, 11:25   #2
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Advantages

strong
Impact resistant
They are usually a design suitable for blue water saling
Easily repaired and modified
The decks do not leak

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Rust
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Old 08-10-2008, 12:28   #3
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A lot of marinas won't let you enter for electrolysis reasons or so I have been told about our local area. They are harder and more expensive to insure.......m
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Old 08-10-2008, 12:45   #4
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A lot of marinas won't let you enter for electrolysis reasons or so I have been told about our local area. They are harder and more expensive to insure.......m
I have a steel sailboat (Amazon 44) and have never encountered any resistance from marinas, or my insurance company. YMMV, of course, but it has not been a problem at all (and I really love having the robustness of steel under me, with a good paint system providing excellent isolation). Cutting holes for new fixtures is more work, and you have to pay attention to different things than with fiberglass or wood... but that's the case with any boat.

Worldwide, finding skilled steel welders is reportedly easy, given how common steel boats are in the work-boat world. A good source for info in the breed is the Metal Boat Society, which has a forum.

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Old 08-10-2008, 15:26   #5
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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 plating.

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.

Electrical 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 fitout.

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 chain.

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 one.

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.
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Old 08-10-2008, 15:36   #6
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MidLandOne - ahhh, voice of experience! I agree with most of your comments, and that was a great summary.

You are 100% correct about the homebuilts and poorly-builts damaging the reputation of steel boats in general. I got way too close to buying a 53-footer that had been foamed to the bilge and had loads of other problems; it took a (rare) steel-literate surveyor to stop me from what would have been serious folly. I went off on a long learning curve, chose the Amazon, and am happy.

Still, there are glitches. The toerails hold moisture and accelerate corrosion on the mounting tabs. Any deck work MUST be accompanied by studious vacuuming to prevent little rust spots from stray particles. Some idiot used 2 mild-steel washers and 2 stainless ones on the windlass, and I'm paying for it now. Scrupulous bilge management is important, as they rust from the inside. And one must get to know ospho, primers, anti-sieze, corrosion-x, and other forms of useful goo.

I have so far had two occasions that made me very happy for the steel, one of which was an all-night abrasion against a rough industrial dock that gobbled one of my fenders into a big gaposis. Big swatch of paint gone, down to bare metal... but had it been fiberglass.... *shudder*.

Cheers,
Steve
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Old 08-10-2008, 21:51   #7
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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 ..???

cheers
Steel - Yay
Fiberglass - Yay
Ferro - Yay
Aluminum - Yay
Wood - Yay

Whatever blows your sails up. They are all different, all good and all require different maintenance and surveying techniques.
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Old 08-10-2008, 21:55   #8
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Impact resistant? Tell that the Captain Hazelwood.
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Old 08-10-2008, 21:59   #9
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I'd say nay unless you know what you're getting into. Good fiberglass can be almost ignored, but even the best steel (like wood, although less so) will need ongoing maintenance.
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Old 08-10-2008, 22:00   #10
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Welcome to the world of sail. You'll find there are as many opinions about boats and hulls as there are sailors who sail them. Many have been posted here and a search of this forum will uncover much to ponder.

Past all the plusses and minuses what kind of sailing do you intend to do? This will determine the suitability of a particular hull for you.
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Old 08-10-2008, 22:03   #11
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FWIW I think he already HAS the steel boat See his posts in meet and greet.
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Old 08-10-2008, 22:22   #12
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Yes i already have a steel hull i was just wondering its pro,s an cons an what people think of steel..When i finally get it to Australia i will be cruiseing in it up to the great barrier reef an around those sorts of places ..Because i am unexperieced sailer i think steel might be more user friendly to me an the fact its steel would probally be better for when i run a ground on reef or rocks ......touch wood ..... i better not .....
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Old 09-10-2008, 01:07   #13
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Nice looking boat...

Nice looking boat that you have there.

Getting it from Kiwiland to Oz is going to need an experienced delivery skipper.
If you go along for the ride you will learn more about cruising than from a dozen courses.
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Old 09-10-2008, 03:23   #14
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FWIW I think he already HAS the steel boat See his posts in meet and greet.
Explains alot now you've pointed that out .

So Force 8, trying a guess here, the boat is Force 8 that was in Nelson? If so then I remember the boat but not in any detail.
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Old 09-10-2008, 03:55   #15
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ur SPOT on !!! ,My father bought it from nelson maybe 2 years ago ,He bought it because unfortunatly he was getting ill an had always dreamed about owning a bigger yacht .He had a nolex 25 ,BRUMUS.He only sailed it home from nelson an made 1 trip in it back down there an all around there before he was too sick to use it again .It had been for sale for quite awile now so i deceided that it should be mine now ..Currently it is still for sale in nelson although it is in Wellington .The boat wont be off the market untill the solictor has received full payment of the boat ..BUT without my concent it cant be sold ....check it out
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