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Old 01-03-2016, 02:35   #1
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Steel Vs Fibreglass

Hi Everyone

This question has probably been flogged to death on this forum but I'm new and not experienced so forgive me for putting the question out there...once again!

I am about to buy a yacht - my first And my question is Steel or Fibreglass? Steel feels "safe" but has its problems with maintenance, weight, insulation, etc, and are possibly home built (some good some bad). On the other hand, I feel a little vulnerable in a glass hull or is this just my inexperience, and once I am a confident sailor there should be no reason to worry? Plus advantages of glass - low maintenance, light, insulating.

I would appreciate your views, experiences and recomendations for a purchasing a cruising blue water yacht.

Cheers Daz
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:09   #2
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

GRP boats are not as fragile as you think. In fact GRP is rather tough and resilient.

Have a look at this video:
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Old 01-03-2016, 03:33   #3
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

I've owned both and have no preferences either way. Steel is great for living aboard and long term cruising, as they like to be aired regularly to prevent condensation. GRP is great for a weekender and also long term cruising.

Don't stress about the whole "steel always rusts and needs HEAPS of maintenance argument". It's often quoted by people who've never owned a steel boat, but heard from a friend of a friend of a mate who maybe did. Yes, steel rusts, GRP gets osmosis and wood rots. But like anything, looked after properly, steel will last you just as long as anything else.

My current boat is steel and I'd take it across the Atlantic in a heartbeat. The GRP boat I had did seem a tad... flimsy...

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Old 01-03-2016, 04:54   #4
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

Unless you're planning in playing with icebergs, GRP is plenty strong. A decision like this should more come down to the condition of the boat overall, and your opinion of the boat. Any boat, if it doesn't stir your soul, becomes business rather than pleasure.


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Old 02-03-2016, 04:12   #5
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

Quote:
Originally Posted by K_V_B View Post
GRP boats are not as fragile as you think. In fact GRP is rather tough and resilient.

Have a look at this video:
Wow! Man, they gave that boat a beating and it survived so well. I would never have believed it especially after running into the rock wall - 3 times!

Thanks for a great eye opener on the strength of GRP
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:15   #6
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
Unless you're planning in playing with icebergs, GRP is plenty strong. A decision like this should more come down to the condition of the boat overall, and your opinion of the boat. Any boat, if it doesn't stir your soul, becomes business rather than pleasure.


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Too true Sailmonkey - I'm looking for that boat that I fall in love with there's one out there After watching the GRP crash test video I'm a little more confident in GRP too
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:19   #7
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

Hey Ausnp84, Thanks for your thoughts. I got a question for you - how do you find steel in the extreme temps - Hot and cold? And how do you insulate and still keep the hull interior accessible for inspection.

Cheers Daz
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:19   #8
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

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Originally Posted by ausnp84 View Post
I've owned both and have no preferences either way. Steel is great for living aboard and long term cruising, as they like to be aired regularly to prevent condensation. GRP is great for a weekender and also long term cruising.

Don't stress about the whole "steel always rusts and needs HEAPS of maintenance argument". It's often quoted by people who've never owned a steel boat, but heard from a friend of a friend of a mate who maybe did. Yes, steel rusts, GRP gets osmosis and wood rots. But like anything, looked after properly, steel will last you just as long as anything else.

My current boat is steel and I'd take it across the Atlantic in a heartbeat. The GRP boat I had did seem a tad... flimsy...

n
Hey Ausnp84, Thanks for your thoughts. I got a question for you - how do you find steel in the extreme temps - Hot and cold? And how do you insulate and still keep the hull interior accessible for inspection.

Cheers Daz
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:26   #9
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

The vast majority of boats out there are GRP. Very few of them, if any, break up unless wrecked and left for the sea to destroy them. GRP, like steel, is almost infinitely repairable. If you want the ultimate in strength, to survive a grounding on a coral reef, say, then steel is the way to go. Google Rev Bob Shepton to see what's possible in a GRP boat. (There are many others, too.)


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Old 02-03-2016, 04:32   #10
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

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Originally Posted by Daz1964 View Post
Hey Ausnp84, Thanks for your thoughts. I got a question for you - how do you find steel in the extreme temps - Hot and cold? And how do you insulate and still keep the hull interior accessible for inspection.

Cheers Daz
We've had the steel in +33 and -10 and with the fans going / hatches open or diesel heater, it's comfortable. Our hull is insulated by 1" / 25mm closed cell foam panels and I could access it by removing wall panels. In saying that, the interior of the boat has 6 coats of epoxy primer paint on it so I don't expect it'll need a de-rust for another 10-15 years

Any boat in extreme temps should be insulated and you'll need a heater and fans / plenty of hatches. Just think of it like a car, if that helps.

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Old 02-03-2016, 04:42   #11
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

Today steel has been pretty much substituted by aluminum on the sailing yacht industry for the same type of boats were steel was used before.

Regarding steel not only the boat will have a lot more maintenance, specially if it is not a new one, as it will be heavier and therefore a less good sailboat, mainly if it is a boat smaller than 60ft. On big yachts that difference is not so evident.

A steel boat will only be justifiable if you do want a very strong boat to be sailed extensively as a voyage boat, sailing on the trade winds and in regions were the winds are not weak. It makes sense if you intend to sail uncharted water or remote places were yacht repair facilities are not readily available (and if you have not the money for an Aluminum yacht).

As a general use boat, used mostly for coastal sailing on traditional cruising grounds and an occasional ocean crossing, I would say that trading the superior hull resistance and superior maintenance for a better and lighter sailing boat makes sense and it is not by chance that is the choice of most.

But ultimately only you can decide. Maybe you like to work with steel find maintenance entertaining and don't mind to have a slow boat, specially in light winds and really appreciate the extra toughness. Some like to use Hummers as city cars
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:42   #12
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

There is no perfect hull material, but do not forget aluminium. It has most of the advantages of both steel and fibreglass with few of the drawbacks.
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:54   #13
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

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There is no perfect hull material, but do not forget aluminium. It has most of the advantages of both steel and fibreglass with few of the drawbacks.
Yes, if you can alfford it go for aluminium.

If its your first boat you might consider steel as its more resisitent to damage. I would not say its safer, but it will take grounding and bumping things without significant damage. A glass boat will almost always require minor repairs after dings.
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:10   #14
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

Just a couple of thoughts having watched the video again: the rig stays up, despite repeated shocks. Attaching wire rigging to GRP is clearly well understood.
I would have liked to have seen them ram that boat into the side of another one. I've seen GRP boats badly damaged in racing incidents in this way. I dare say steel would be stronger in that instance, too.


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Old 02-03-2016, 05:27   #15
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Re: Steel Vs Fibreglass

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polux View Post
Today steel has been pretty much substituted by aluminum on the sailing yacht industry for the same type of boats were steel was used before.

Regarding steel not only the boat will have a lot more maintenance, specially if it is not a new one, as it will be heavier and therefore a less good sailboat, mainly if it is a boat smaller than 60ft. On big yachts that difference is not so evident.

A steel boat will only be justifiable if you do want a very strong boat to be sailed extensively as a voyage boat, sailing on the trade winds and in regions were the winds are not weak. It makes sense if you intend to sail uncharted water or remote places were yacht repair facilities are not readily available (and if you have not the money for an Aluminum yacht).

As a general use boat, used mostly for coastal sailing on traditional cruising grounds and an occasional ocean crossing, I would say that trading the superior hull resistance and superior maintenance for a better and lighter sailing boat makes sense and it is not by chance that is the choice of most.

But ultimately only you can decide. Maybe you like to work with steel find maintenance entertaining and don't mind to have a slow boat, specially in light winds and really appreciate the extra toughness. Some like to use Hummers as city cars
I'm curious... Have you ever owned a steel sailboat? As it doesn't sound like it.

Ally is a great material, but a bitch to repair, is a nightmare with corrosion and needs anodes dangled off it whenever in a marina.

The "breakeven" for steel boats is 40ft, but yes, a brand new Beneteau / Jenneau / etc will still outperform it. Still, I'd trust the steel boat more than a new plastic one.

Steel boat maintenance? I don't know where the rumour came from that steel boats need more maintenance. ANY boat needs maintenance - period.

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