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Old 12-12-2012, 17:46   #16
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

FWIW

Recommendations For Sailing The High Latitudes In A Fibreglass Boat
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Old 12-12-2012, 20:16   #17
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
There's a reason most of the boats you're seeing are GRP. It's called "rust."
Nope, it's called ease and low cost of production.

Every medium has its advantages and disadvantages. Steel is fine, as is glass. Fail to maintain either one and you will eventually suffer. There is more maintenance required on the steel hull, but it is made greater by myths, created by onlookers.
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Old 12-12-2012, 21:19   #18
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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If you start worrying
about running into ice, steel should be considered in my opinion.
Yeah, tell that to the captain of the Titanic!

IMO it's really simple for the average cruiser; do you want to work on your boat or sail it?
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Old 12-12-2012, 21:53   #19
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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Yeah, tell that to the captain of the Titanic
Different steel..IRON rivets. Sort of like comparing 1950s fibreglass to todays product.

Modern steel is good, and the oft repeated mantra 'rust never sleeps', is of little consequence to any sailor who is dedicated to his steel craft.

And 'sail or maintain', is simply rhetoric.
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Old 12-12-2012, 22:31   #20
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

The real reason is engineering related. Steel due it's properties becomes realistic when the boat size is at least 50'ish and the bigger the better steel becomes. Smaller boat becomes either too heavy or too complicated (costs) if done with steel.
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Old 12-12-2012, 23:19   #21
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
As a steel boat owner I have to agree that steel needs maintenance, and not doing it is almost immediately obvious on the outside. It's less obvious on the inside, but if one looks it's almost always there.

Steel also has the disadvantage that any mistakes in planning and fabrication are pretty well obvious. Fibreglass gives a much better looking boat.

The big advantage of steel is that for a one off custom boat it's king.

I'll also argue that fibreglass is not maintenance free. It's just not obvious when it needs to be fixed.

For a boat for full time cruising my opinion is that steel is superior, if you want to leave a boat on a mooring (or in a marina) for years fibreglass is better.
I don't think it is a hot topic, just sometimes hotheads can only see one solution.
Personally I agree with Boracay’s take on steel and Teddy’s comment about steel size.

To add my 2 cents, any hull material improperly Designed, Built and Maintained will have inherent structural problems (including GRP)
At least with rust you can see and remedy the problem.

My Corten steel boat is 30 years old, sandblasted hull down to white steel 2 years ago and measured hull thickness. Wastage was only from sandblasting!

More importantly, inside bilges are like new.
Not pushing Steel, just saying these sweeping generalizations are meaningless.

However, for your budget, I think GRP will offer you more practical options of finding a well-made boat.
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Old 12-12-2012, 23:31   #22
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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There is more maintenance required on the steel hull, but it is made greater by myths, created by onlookers.
Among those "onlookers" are the insurance companies. A buddy of mine with a 20-year-old steel hull is required to have his boat surveyed every five years if he wants to keep his insurance. Costs him $1k every time, plus a great deal more to fix any problems the surveyor finds.

Beyond that, steel hulls need to be repainted periodically. Even for the do-it-yourself crowd, that's a huge outlay of cash that the GRP boat owner never has to face.

Scratch the gellcoat on a fiberglass boat, and all you've got is a scratch. Scratch the paint on a steel boat, and suddenly you've got rust.

No thanks. I'll remain an "onlooker."
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Old 12-12-2012, 23:50   #23
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

As Dave M said there are numerous threads on the subject. We only end up repeating ourselves. I have built 3 steel boats, two of them my own. The song is always the same. "I want steel because when I'm cruising, I might hit something". Then the boat stays in a harbor for eons, never leaves and is eaten alive by stray currents. I am on my 4th F/G boat now. There is a reason for that.
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Old 13-12-2012, 01:45   #24
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

Get glass; there'll be so many others with identical white glass vessels on the same pond that you'll feel part of the crowd.

But make sure you also get a liferaft. Then when you hit something hard in the middle of the night - container, reef, another boatie etc- and the sea rushes in thru the gaping hole, you'll be able to reflect on all those long hours you saved not scraping rust.
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Old 13-12-2012, 03:51   #25
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

Hi guys, many thanks for all the interesting comments and I will look up the other threads as suggested, to answer one or two of them, I work as a (CAT trained) Marine Engineer and have mainly been involved in "Steel" boats, for fishing, workboats, ferries and Military applications. Presently looking to take early retirement and drift off to "live the dream" in the Caribbean full time for a few years (no ice hopefully!! apart from in the G & T). My (limited 42 years) knowledge is around the mechanicals of steel vessels and have seen the issues related to that material with someone else picking up the bill, however, the boat I have just recently sold was GRP and had craze cracking to the Gel coat and a bit of water ingress, so just wondered if steel would be a good option when I have to pay the bills myself.
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Old 13-12-2012, 04:13   #26
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

You must know plenty about steel with that work history; probably better placed to make the judgement you seek than many posters here, including me.

But bottom line I reckon is that enjoying working with the material is all part of the fun of boating. That goes for plastic as much as steel or wood or whatever. And if it's fun, you aren't counting the dollars.
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Old 13-12-2012, 05:19   #27
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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Originally Posted by Wand View Post
You must know plenty about steel with that work history; probably better placed to make the judgement you seek than many posters here, including me.

But bottom line I reckon is that enjoying working with the material is all part of the fun of boating. That goes for plastic as much as steel or wood or whatever. And if it's fun, you aren't counting the dollars.
+1 to that!
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Old 13-12-2012, 05:58   #28
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
Scratch the gellcoat on a fiberglass boat, and all you've got is a scratch. Scratch the paint on a steel boat, and suddenly you've got rust.
A fair point which is why god invented touch-up pencils!

However Bash, I was not referring to you as an onlooker. You are clearly an experienced sailor. But, many of the myths I referred to are developed and propogated by people without your vast nautical knowledge and close association with a wide variety of shipbuilding materials.

They are the dangerous ones; those who think it, and therefore expound it as the truth.
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Old 13-12-2012, 07:20   #29
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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buy the fiberglass boat
What a well-presented argument.

I own two boats: a 33 foot production FG sloop from the '70s, and a 41 foot custom steel cutter from the late '80s.

I enjoy sailing both, but only one is going to go voyaging. I wouldn't recommend you make a decision before determining what your plans are. Dodge Caravans are the most popular vehicle in Canada for the most popular lifestyle choices, not because they are great going down logging roads or doing laps at the track.

That said, if I was hanging out in the Caribbean, I'd choose a centerboard. Most of those are FG. This is by way of pointing out that "what the boat is made of" is only one in a long list of considerations, some of which will predominate as your knowledge base grows.
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Old 13-12-2012, 07:45   #30
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Re: Steel over GRP !!!

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
As Dave M said there are numerous threads on the subject. We only end up repeating ourselves. I have built 3 steel boats, two of them my own. The song is always the same. "I want steel because when I'm cruising, I might hit something". Then the boat stays in a harbor for eons, never leaves and is eaten alive by stray currents. I am on my 4th F/G boat now. There is a reason for that.
You stay in the harbour for eons?

Again, the disconnect between materials and use has little if any bearing on the material. It's like saying Bruce Roberts is a lousy designer because so many backyard builders make bulgy, overbuilt, 50% overweight hashes of his designs that sail (if they ever launch) like shoeboxes filled with sand.

Roberts' goals appear to have been to democratize home-building (and many of his designs call for steel) with straightforward plans that could be shipped IKEA-style to wherever the prospective builder was. I've stepped aboard some well-done examples of his designs (yes, they exist), but you can't judge his skill by the execution of others. Ferro-cement boats suffer from the same issues of poor or ignorant construction. Beautiful, strong and not overweight examples of that boat material also exist, not commonly, admittedly.

Similarly, well-prepped steel in boats well-assembled and not under a "more is better" logic can trump some of the miserable, cheap-ass FG boats being touted as "ocean-capable" today.

But you have to spend the time at sea on a variety of boats to understand the difference. You have to grasp the pluses and minuses of the materials in question, and factor in their expected use. There's a reason Dacron sails still dominate the cruiser market: they are inexpensive, "known", durable, user-repairable and widely obtainable. Are composite sails more efficient at driving the boat? Hell, yes. Is this important in the South Pacific trades? Hell, no.
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