Ive owned a steel
boat ( for a short while). It was Dutch built. I am in a yard currently with a lot of steel
(a) Proper cosmetic repair of anything above the waterline , is way more difficult and expensive then GRP. Yes you can "slap on a patch" but if you want an invisible repair, its more easier to do it on GRP. Steel requires far more work, requires a good skill level and you can be faced with a complete boat repaint. Its just like damaging your car,
(b) The skills to do this type of repair are not commonly available in most boatyards
, yes youll get a guy who works on trawlers, but that isnt what you want, if you have a 2-pack LPU finish, you may need a proper paint
bay. these are not common.
(c) GRP repair people are readily available anywhere there is a reasonable boat industry, the materials are common and a good ( not neccessarily perfect) repair can be made by an amateur, leaving aside matching coloured Gelcoat
, its not a particular skilled operation
(d) While the ultimate strength of steel itself as a material is far stronger , Having seen the type of construction of steel vessels I would have my doubts, In my experience impact damage on steel causes weld lines to fail and it is a skilled job to restore such damage to pristine. Often the interior
has to partly or fully removed, unlike in a GRP job.
(f) Rust of course has been talked about already, Its not unusual to see 5 year old steel vessels look like 25 years old and 25 year old GRP vessels to look new
(g) steel is very difficult to do simple modifications,I wanted to put in a small oddments locker, in my GRP boat , that required a Jigsaw, some basic GRP components and a pre bought locker. IN my steel boat I would need a plasma cutter
, lots of grinding, a rework of the 2 part LPU finish around the opening and still the rust would start under the ope, and streak
In conclusion, if you want a workboat, and its going to take punishment, you dont mind rust streaks and it can be patched by a dodgy stick welder, buy steel.
If however you want a "fine yacht" steel is way more trouble then its worth.