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Old 17-11-2007, 14:26   #16
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Initial painting of a steel boat is where the life of the hull is extended, provided proper maintenance occurs. In commercial ship building the hulls are allowed to rust which removes mill scale. Later, abrasive blasting removes the rust and any remaining mill scale--leaving the hull surface keyed for the paint. The clean hull is now flame washed. The basic primers are then applied to warm steel--so there can be no chance of any moisture condensing between the paint and the steel. This has to be done both inside and outside of the hull and it is not cheaply done.

For a forty foot sailing yacht the cost of the process at current prices can add as much or more than ten thousand dollars to the basic hull--sometimes enough to defray the extra costs of using alloy instead of steel.

Of course with alloy one then has to be careful of dissimilar metal corrosion and galvanic action or electrolysis from stray currents.

Fibreglass is fine as long as you do not put it onto a reef at any speed. If that happens the boat is at seriuos risk. As a surveyor once said--hit the hull a good swing with a sledgehammer--the steel might dent, the alloy will dent but not hole, the glass will fracture and probably leak and the plywood will probably be holed unless reinforced with glass. The ferro will probably crack or hole--at the very least allowing the beginnings of concrete cancer when moisture reaches the reinforcing mesh.

Now--in coral waters with plenty of lee shores and sudden bullets of wind and violent tropical squalls--what would you rather trust your life to?

Me--I have a wooden trimaran--probably one of the most unlikely vessels to survive a reef collision, except it does not have five tons of ballast to give it the energy for self-destruction. It has been fitted with a grounding keel though, so she is beachable.

One sails with additional caution in coral seas in a wooden or glass hull.

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Old 17-11-2007, 21:22   #17
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Mike and Boracay,

Thank you for your helpful replies to my post about the Van de Stadt 34. I think I am going to go ahead with the purchase. The critical factors for me are that it will sail reasonably well for cruising purposes, and I'm sure that the design will be up to it, and that I have a place to put it!

Here in Perth Western Australia we have a mining boom on, with the result that thousands of people are throwing their new money at boats - with the consequence that pens to put the boat in are often worth as much as the boat - if you can get one at all!! Since the VDS appears to be a good boat and comes with a pen - I think its the boat for me.

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Old 25-11-2007, 14:08   #18
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Originally Posted by chicky View Post
I hope someone on the forum can help me out. I'm considering buying a Van de Stadt 34 in steel. It has the deep fin keel and the spade rudder. I've been told though, that this combination will require substantial attention to the helm and will be more difficult to balance than a configuration with the skeg-mounted rudder - given it is a flat bottomed boat. On a test sail there was quite a bit of weather helm - but that could be put down to poor sail trim.

Does anyone have cruising experience with a VDS 34 with a spade rudder, and has it tracked/balance reasonably well - especially with windvane self-steering?

Appreciate the help.

I spent a lot of time sailing on a steel (mid 1970s vintage) VandeStadt 38 which had a deep fin keel and a spade rudder. It did not have any particular problem with weather helm or lee helm (provided the sails were reasonably trimmed). It wasn't a great boat for running downhill in a strong blow with any decent sized seas (but you could say the same for most boats of that era).
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Old 25-11-2007, 21:15   #19
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Having owned steel boats and having many friends that own them or have in the past, I can say they are much more maintenance than F/G boats. True, welding repair is easy, But I will say that if you hit something hard and fast enough to "pierce" a hull, you may have bigger problems than a hole. The major problem with steel is deterioration of the steel...inside and out. Most times, they are left in Marinas which can be very electrically hot and I have seen bottom disasters after only a few years.
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow - what a ride!"
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Old 25-11-2007, 23:45   #20
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There are steel vessels over 100 years old, as are some timber craft.--Keeping a steel boat requires vigilant maintenance, but it is not particularly costly as long as one does it regularly at frequent intervals. Anyone who has had to deal with osmosis in glass hulls knows about maintenance cost. There are no maintenance free vessels--but some have lower maintenance costs than others.

Most of the damage I have seen in steel boats is inside the hull--where maintenance or the original paint job was not carried out properly. They die from inyternal problems unseen. The outside problems are usually so unsightly they are fixed up in time.
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Old 26-11-2007, 04:07   #21
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I have a steel Van de Stadt 34 and am very happy with it - she's solid, with no upwind slapping forward of the keel, is relatively responsive, though does need a bit of wind to stretch her legs . . . 1987, with hopefully another good 20 before her . . mini pic is below ( because I can't seem to upload it to the profile section) . .
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Old 23-12-2009, 14:59   #22
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Having owned fg/wood and our current steel boat, this one has proven to be easiest to maintain. we pay attention to the inside as well as the outside. This is our experience only, based on our particular boat(s).
Fair winds
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Old 24-12-2009, 15:52   #23
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I beg to differ as to the effect of welding on the paint. Heres a photo of the inside of Espinas' hull after the half rounds were welded on to the hull sides. This photo was taken in September of this year, but the welding was done in the fall/winter of 2004. As you can see, its only the immediate area that is burnt, even the paint between the two lines of weld is intact. As far as I can tell the welding was done with stick, as I can see the stop/starts on the weld itself.

I have scrapped a couple of spots just to see how the surface is, and its intact, with no rust. So the idea that the paint is ruined for 1-2ft around a weld would seem to be incorrect.

BTW, this boat was built in 1959. Some of the interior paint is still red lead as far as I can tell, and its in good shape. There areas of corrosion in the engine compartment but from what I can tell its from continuous water leaking into the hull from several openings that were never sealed. I'll be sandblasting them this year and sealing with epoxy.

SV Sabre Dance, Roberts Offshore 38
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Old 24-12-2009, 17:45   #24
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Dutch Steel Boats

If you are in Europe - the expertise in terms of design, construction and maintenance of steel boats lies with the Dutch.
Here is an example of one of Henk Tingen's designs built in Holland in the 60s of Corten steel; still in perfect condition - circumnavigated and crossed many oceans. Pictured here in Langkawi - Malaysia.
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Old 24-12-2009, 19:18   #25
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I have a steel boat myself. I am dealing with some rust issues. It can make me nervous. Not sure how well I am dealing right now, not enough time to tell. But I did get some rust in the bilges. For some reason I can not fathom the coal tar epoxy separated from the steel. Now I have to go back in and recoat. I'm using a zinc epoxy top coated with a two part finish. I think that where I can get to it I'm doing OK. But I have a couple of stringers where I just can't seem to get to the back side.

The boat is in a distant port, on the hard. I only get to it once a year for a few weeks. Kinda silly I know but such is life.

So I will see how it all looks in the summer.

BTW, we are buying another boat and asked Ted Brewer for his opinions to narrow down our selection. For $300 bucks he will gladly chat, well worth the money. Smart and personable guy. I found him very non-biased and surprisingly open minded.
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Old 24-12-2009, 20:19   #26
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Could not agree more with Laidback…. The Dutch are masters working with steel and their fit out using commercially oversized engineering solutions fills me with confidence.

StarGazer is also built of Corten Steel, her bilges are like new and except for some problems where they clad the cockpit in teak strips (which I have since removed and repaired) I have had no welding issues whatsoever)

Built in 1984 and showing no hungry horse signs after a couple of circumnavigations, or rust in the bilge, I would give this builder an A+
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Old 24-12-2009, 20:43   #27
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Get in touch with Brent Swain a designer of great steel boats and regular contributor to this board.
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Old 25-12-2009, 04:44   #28
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Oz steel yacht design

Well Boracay, being in Oz you may have noted several versions of "Freya" by Trigve Halvorsen. This has been built for many years in various lengths on a customised basis 35' thru to 65'. Double ended, moderately long keel. All done well I think and certainly blue - water capable. These come up for sale from time to time. Original design still available.
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Old 06-01-2010, 06:48   #29
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Hi all: I had a Dutch built VDS design ,35 ft..Boat sailed reasonably well,crashed into coral,hit coccrete docks,other boats could tie her up anywhere,beach her for a bottom scrub and anchor where no one would dare etc.,etc.. When screaming thru a black night steel is incredibly reassuring and saved my bacon from my many transgressions in the sea gods domain;my 1st choice to bang about in the 3rd world where nav aids and seatow are few and far between. Btw I sail more often and faster now in my glass contessa 32; I just got tired of all that extra maintenance.
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Old 08-01-2010, 14:28   #30

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Originally Posted by tenknots View Post
One thing that is not often mentioned about repairing/adding onto steel boats by welding is that the paint on both sides will be ruined for one or two feet around. It will all need to be carefully sanded away and primed/multi-coated. And if you can't get to the other side, corrosion will start quickly.

Incidentally, another good steel boat designer is Van de Stadt.
I find that welding only affects the paint for 2 or 3 inches either side. If you are welding stainless on , quenching it quickly with water reduces the distance heat will travel.
Fibreglass boats are less maintenance only if they are used very little . For heavy use, steel is less maintenance, because welded on cleats and other deck fitings don't work loose or leak. That is why comercial boats prefer steel.
Using stainless on all deck fittings and for trim on all outside corners can reduce maintenance by up to 80%, as it's mainly outside corners that have problems with paint chipping.

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