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Old 29-11-2015, 19:06   #1
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Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

Steel vs Fiberglass sailboats. pros and Cons
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Old 29-11-2015, 19:17   #2
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

Could you maybe give a little more information, or is it just homework for the rest of us?

This has been discussed to death, so it would be nice to know why you're asking.

If you're just going to sit and look at boats in a marina: no pro's or cons. Both can be beautiful or not-so-beautiful.

If you're going to work on one: plastic all the way, less work

If you want to buy a boat and aren't sure if you should go with steel or plastic: what's your intended use? Are you sailing to the coconuts or where there be icebergs?
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Old 29-11-2015, 20:43   #3
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

I am looking at a 38ft steel center cockpit ketch. seems to be in reasonable condition.
I am 100% disabled vet that has discovered the healing power of sailing and quiet! I have several years of sailing experience up and down ICW and Atlantic ocean. I wish to share my experience with other vets. My experience is all fiberglass but a 38ft center cockpit ketch for 18,000.00 must be looked at!
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Old 29-11-2015, 20:50   #4
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

I would like to know where the discussions are!
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Old 29-11-2015, 21:04   #5
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

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Originally Posted by avoisine View Post
I would like to know where the discussions are!
Hi Avoisine,

If you haven't used the search function for the forum it is towards the top of the screen. SEARCH is third from the right.

Several search options. Advanced search gives you more flexibility in the search. Google search gives better general results. Here's a few previous discussions. Enough reading I think to keep you tied up for a couple of hours and should answer your questions.

The second thread started as a comparison of steel vs aluminum but has a LOT of information about steel boats in general. Some of the discussions are a few years old but the information has not changed.

Steel Hull?

Steel or Aluminum

Advice on Buying Steel

Wood, Steel, Fiberglass . . .
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Old 29-11-2015, 21:07   #6
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

If you want to go sailing then a condition reasonable steel boat is NOT what you want even at 18k . Go plastic.

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Old 29-11-2015, 21:08   #7
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by avoisine View Post
I am looking at a 38ft steel center cockpit ketch. seems to be in reasonable condition.
I am 100% disabled vet that has discovered the healing power of sailing and quiet! I have several years of sailing experience up and down ICW and Atlantic ocean. I wish to share my experience with other vets. My experience is all fiberglass but a 38ft center cockpit ketch for 18,000.00 must be looked at!
Click on the links in my previous post for the in depth information but short answer, steel rusts.

The rust is more of a problem on the inside that out. Little nooks and crannies where water collects can rust a hole through the hull if neglected. Need to keep them painted or they look like a rust factory.

Another thing, if not insulated, in cool weather will sweat a lot on the inside.
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Old 29-11-2015, 21:26   #8
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

Steel is generally cheaper foot for foot.. It has a lower resale price as most people want plastic.

Traditionally, steel cruising boats were home made through the 70s and 80s and many have sailed the world several times. But as many are home made, various qualities of construction can be found. (note: get a surveyor who specialists in steel boats).

They are generally tougher and can take a grounding. But they do require a lot more aesthetic work. Any small chip in the paint will quickly turn to a strip of rust down the side of the boat -thats why many were painted in darker colours.

They tend to rust from the inside out. (usually in small corners and joints etc.)

They are very simple to repair. A few lessons in welding and you can fix you own boat easily and cheaply.

Having owned an Alan Payne Temptress many years ago, I can say I have always felt safe on a steel boat. But the work was too much for me. (though I can be a lazy bugger and prefer a beer to hot and grotty work.

Steel still has a place on the oceans. If I was going to cross the pacific I would be satisfied with a steel boat. But if I want a boat to go booze cruising from bay to bay and have minimum fuss I would definitely choose plastic.

I have owned "One" steel boat- that was in my bullet proof 20s. Since then, "four" plastic boats.
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Old 03-12-2015, 22:53   #9
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

I think I know the $18K steel boat you're mentioning, currently in florida. A Dutch design ketch, I think it once went to Haiti too. The previous survey said the hull has taken a beating. It will also turn into one hot oven in summers.

The only reason to go with steel is the supposed safety factor, if you bash into something. However you really should not be bashing into things in the first place, nor is that a real issue for most sailors unless you're in uncharted waters or dealing with floating hazards like icebergs.

A 38 footer will be too small to carry the sails necessary for the weight of a steel boat, which is why generally 40 foot and above is recommended for steel. In high latitude waters.

Remember, there is also safety in being able to get the heck out of the way of things (storms, other boats, reefs) quickly, instead of bashing into them.

Plastic is also far easier to repair (welding will never be as easy as mixing up some epoxy) and you don"t have to worry about rust or plate wastage. There are older boats under 40 feet in fiberglass which are in the same price range, but which may require fixing a few soft spots (not such a big deal, actually) Fixing boats is a constant chore anyway, why make it harder by fighting rust on top of it all.
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Old 04-12-2015, 06:20   #10
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

Quote:
Originally Posted by avoisine View Post
but a 38ft center cockpit ketch for 18,000.00 must be looked at!
Generally steel is a reasonable choice for many sailors, but 18k will not buy 38ft at a ready to sail condition.
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Old 04-12-2015, 07:02   #11
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Re: Steel VS Fiberglass sailboats

Everyone assumes you need steel for high latitude but the fact remains that here in Newfoundland the vast majority of the fishing boats are fibreglass. I'm talking 99% . Many of these take part in the seal hunt in heavy arctic pack ice. Fibreglass has the advantage of lighter weight which will slip upon the large pans as opposed to being crushed by the pressure of up to200 miles of ice driven by the ever present wind.

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