Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 25-05-2013, 07:43   #1
Registered User
 
Snore's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: www.USCGMaster.com
Boat: Tartan 33
Posts: 1,881
When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

As I ponder moving to a more offshore oriented boat, I started studying threads about the boats that have gone down during Transatlantic trips this spring. The commonality appears to be age.

One never hears about a newer boat going missing, yes they suffer from knockdowns. But invariably, after the crew abandons their vessel, the boat shows up in fairly good condition.

So the $150,000 question is "How old is too old to go Transatlantic or to the Southern Oceans?"

There are some variables.
    1. Quality of build
    2. Prior use/abuse.
It is assumed that the actual chain plate and rigging are being maintained.

Logically, after "X" loadings of the chain plates, the mounting point will exhibit fatigue. Is it possible to SWAG "X"?


Yes, it is possible to take a home made, 1/8" plywood boat with ribs every 48" Transatlantic IF you don't hit any weather. So posting about someone who took a 1975 wet-rot across the Atlantic only means he was lucky, not that the boat was in good condition.

While I do not hesitate to take my current boat out in small craft warnings that is coastal so a "bailout" point is at worst, a bailout point is 15-20 miles away. Likewise going up and down the Bahamas is relatively safe.

But, I wonder if at some point the age of ANY vessel invites catastrophic failure from a multi-day storm.


I respectfully ask posters to avoid brand bashing.


Any thoughts from those who have offshore miles on "How old is too old to go Transatlantic or to the Southern Oceans?"
__________________

__________________
"Whenever...it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea..." Ismael ---- NEW website! www.USCGMaster.com
Snore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 08:06   #2
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: north carolina
Boat: command yachtsdouglas32
Posts: 3,113
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

My hull is 40 years old and I trust it more than some of the more recent hulls that I have seen that oil can and flex ..I dont think age has as much to do with problems as does the mandates of the EPA! I would be more concerned with the rigging and knees (or gussets) than age of Fiberglass hulls ...Do fiberglass hulls get weak enough to cause problems after being cycled for 40 years ?
__________________

__________________
tropicalescape is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 08:24   #3
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Cruising NC, FL, Bahamas, TCI & VIs
Boat: 1964 Pearson Ariel 'Faith' / Pearson 424, sv Emerald Tide
Posts: 1,531
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

There is no known reputable evidence that fiberglass degrades over time. There was some testing done years ago (by the US Navy IIRC) that showed no appreciable loss of strength.

That said, any boat is only as sound as it's maintenance. Of course an older boat has had longer to experience "deferred maintenance".

A 10yo poorly maintained boat may well me substantially less safe off shore then a 40yo well maintained boat.
__________________
s/v 'Faith' is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 09:03   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,949
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

There are so many variables, it is impossible to say, but I would argue that age is amongst the least of your worries, assuming the construction was right in the first place and it has been maintained. Luck plays a huge factor--look at all the sinkings due to hitting something floating--10 feet this way or that and the boat would have been fine. I believe that hitting something is the #1 cause of offshore sinkings. Very few boats are damaged to the point they sink in a storm--many more are abandoned premature to sinking due to the crew being injured or simply to them having had enough. Sure, there is damage during storms, but it is usually not to the integrity of the boat hull. More often it is rigging, or sails, or electrical, or the engine gets knocked out, etc.
__________________
Kettlewell Cruising
Kettlewell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 09:19   #5
Long Range Cruiser
 
MarkJ's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Australian living on "Sea Life" currently in England.
Boat: Beneteau 393 "Sea Life"
Posts: 12,828
Images: 25
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

How does one tell is an old hull is seaworthy? People ask surveyors. but do they really know? Nup they just have a look and make a guess.

I like new boats, and recent boats, because one has a better idea of the history of the hull, rigging and equipment. Yes, that generally means paying more than for an old boat.
__________________
Notes on a Circumnavigation.
OurLifeAtSea.com

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
MarkJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 09:45   #6
Don't ask if you can't handle it
 
sailorboy1's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: On the boat somewhere
Boat: Hunter 410
Posts: 12,311
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

I think the belief that fiberglass doesn't have a life is wrong! I was reading an article (wish I could remember the name) last year from a surveyor that said he is seeing older fiberglass start to have problems. He said that in looking at older boats that have had accidents etc. that he could tell there has been a loss of strength in the construction (layers no longer bonded to each other anymore), but that none of the problems were apparent from the outside.

So while I don't think we know the answer of how long a fiberglass boat will last, there is an age where it doesn't have the strength you think and you wouldn't know it till it loses the war.

So far as age goes I think I would be looking to not have a boat that is going to be older when I was though it than the oldest ones currently around, as we know they last that long.
__________________
jobless, houseless, clueless, living on a boat and cruising around somewhere
sailorboy1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 10:17   #7
Registered User
 
Mike Vogdes's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Jersey Shore
Boat: Watkins 29'
Posts: 212
I went to look at a 36' Catalina last year that was in long term storage (around 10 years) that was an absolute nightmare... This is not brand bashing, I believe this condition would happen to any production boat that wasn't properly stored. Apparently she was stored locked up tight with no ventilation, however over the years rain did find its way in and that coupled with condensation cycling with the seasonal weather changes completely destroyed the interior. The boat did have some nice equipment that was salvageable but as far as a project to renovate forget it. I was getting very high moisture readings just about everywhere even inside the cabin on exposed glass surfaces. Maybe she would dry out, but I was very leery of the condition of laminates, of course the cored surfaces were wet and much of it was soft as well. A real shame, nice boat too.
__________________
~~~ ><(((((*> ~~~
Mike Vogdes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 10:18   #8
Registered User
 
sailvayu's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Fort Myers FL
Boat: Irwin 40
Posts: 878
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

Hmmm time for a bit of fact checking. The OP has made a rather bold assertion based solely on his own opinion just reading posts in forums. I would really want to see some solid statistics before I drew a conclusion such as this. So in my mind I would dismiss this as a non fact and just one mans opinion.
MarkJ obviously you have never worked in a modern boat plant. Most new Production boat companies use low cost low skilled labor in their lamination departments. Although hard working these employees often do not even speak English as this is a dirty job with a high turnover and low pay scale. New does not always mean better.
DonL I too read that article but that surveyor is very biased and a lot of his articles are not based on anything but his own opinion. Many professionals will quickly dismiss most of what he says.
It is true engineering is better on newer boats but that said it does not mean the boat is by default better. I was worked with a engineer that was head of engineering for a major (Read world wide) boat builder, I questioned his lamination schedule and when pressed he said "Well the computer said that would work but you are right, better add another layer to the outer skin" This is not to brag but to point out the problems with modern engineering. Before computers they just overbuilt to cover their butts. Not always a bad thing.
So I say humbug old is not more likely to sink and that is just my opinion as I have no facts to support it either, just 40 years building boats!
__________________
Capt. Wayne Canning, AMS
www.projectboat.info
http://sailvayu.com/
sailvayu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 10:26   #9
Senior Cruiser
 
Cheechako's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Skagit City, WA
Posts: 19,363
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

Your question is one that there appears to have no real answer yet . It is interesting that your data shows age a factor, although that may be a faulty conclusion. A lot of old boats are used for cruising, so the fact that many that go down are old doesnt really indicate anything. The question you want to ask is: "of the boats blu water cruising, what percentage are 'old', and do those exhibit a higher percentage of loss per capita than the 'new' ones." or something like that.
I think fiberglass does get brittle. In fact I know it from observing old fiberglass boats that have sat unused forever in the field! Having said that, I think it has a lot to do with how the boat was built. Too much chopper gun without enough heavy cloth would be a problem. That would be some of the very early taiwanese boats and some others. There is at least one case of one of these (we are not naming so I wont) coming apart at the toerail fom heavy weather going down the Pacific Coast. I could see it happening; brittle thin cloth/chopper holding the bulkheads.... eventually the bulkheads start coming loose and the boat twists and works in heavy weather, the toe rail (glassed together with chopper etc) starts to crack...That combined with cheap dry rotted plywood for floors and bulkheads...
OTOH, a well built passport, Hans Christian etc old boat, will likely be less prone to suffer critical failure than a Bene or Catalina etc. I have seen the latter types destroyed or nearly so by in attentive charterers!

"Most new Production boat companies use low cost low skilled labor in their lamination departments." Yeah, but I dont see this any different than the old boat companies! It's the crap job they gave to the newbies with just a little training... The best workers wont do that job for long! In fact, with his head swimming from the fumes etc in the old days.... heck a modern plant may do a better job with the safety conveniences.
__________________
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard











Cheechako is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 11:52   #10
Registered User
 
Snore's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: www.USCGMaster.com
Boat: Tartan 33
Posts: 1,881
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailvayu View Post
Hmmm time for a bit of fact checking. The OP has made a rather bold assertion based solely on his own opinion just reading posts in forums. I would really want to see some solid statistics before I drew a conclusion such as this. So in my mind I would dismiss this as a non fact and just one mans opinion.
MarkJ obviously you have never worked in a modern boat plant. Most new Production boat companies use low cost low skilled labor in their lamination departments. Although hard working these employees often do not even speak English as this is a dirty job with a high turnover and low pay scale. New does not always mean better.
DonL I too read that article but that surveyor is very biased and a lot of his articles are not based on anything but his own opinion. Many professionals will quickly dismiss most of what he says.
It is true engineering is better on newer boats but that said it does not mean the boat is by default better. I was worked with a engineer that was head of engineering for a major (Read world wide) boat builder, I questioned his lamination schedule and when pressed he said "Well the computer said that would work but you are right, better add another layer to the outer skin" This is not to brag but to point out the problems with modern engineering. Before computers they just overbuilt to cover their butts. Not always a bad thing.
So I say humbug old is not more likely to sink and that is just my opinion as I have no facts to support it either, just 40 years building boats!
Capt. Canning,

If you are aware of a specific website that tracks and provides data on lost vessels, please share it as facts should be the basis of all decisions. Absent such a single website, one is forced to rely on internet posts and then fact check. Please rest assured that I based my question on facts verified as best I could through research.

The facts are; Grain de Soleil appeared to be an older boat. I was under the impression that Lady Domina was also older. Additionally Edward Anker's boat also appeared to be older. All that info is available on noonsite.com. I am sure others could provide other examples of missing vessels.

Regarding newer vessels, there have been several incidents posted on this site that discussed crews abandoning newer boats, most would meet your standard of poorly built, wherein the boat washed ashore some after being abandoned by the crew.

While fiberglass may take a millennium to decay, its' service life is shorter. And it is service life that is the topic.

I believe we would all agree that 316 SS or Titanium will exhibit fatigue after a period of time and therefore should be replaced. So logically, if the chain plates should be replaced every 10-15 years (hopefully) before they fail, then by definition the underlying glass has to have a life expectancy.

Keep in mind, the question is not coastal or island hoping. The question is will in an offshore multi-day blow.

Sounds like s/v Faith and MarkJ and some others have more valid arguments- no one knows for sure, so look at newer boats. Too bad they stopped making S&S designs!

Bill
__________________
"Whenever...it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea..." Ismael ---- NEW website! www.USCGMaster.com
Snore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 12:14   #11
Registered User
 
Target9000's Avatar

Join Date: May 2009
Location: New Orleans LA
Boat: 74 Westsail 32
Posts: 1,379
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

Are we talking about vessels that go down based on hull failures? I mean could it not be that old vessels are sinking more often because many of the critical systems have not been maintained but the hull itself was alright? Are we analyzing the actual reasons for the vessel loss or just comparing the age of the boats? If we're just looking at age/loss then attributing the loss to the hull itself would be a mistake. Most of the losses I've read about are actually due to rigging failures related to a break in a rigging component itself, not the hull, or due to some sort below waterline piece failing.

On the interesting topic of fiberglass lifespan...
I've read that fiberglass can degrade in a number of ways. Resin breakdown can occur due to sunlight (just like plastics), but this would take a very long time in a thick and painted hull. The glass itself will weaken with cyclical loading that causes flexing. The more flexing the more damage and the more damage the more flexing. It starts a downwards spiral, but like some metals, if it is overbuilt/over engineered to the point that very little flexing can occur initially then it will maintain its strength for a very long time. I'm no scientist and don't know if these assumptions are correct but they seem to make a lot of sense.

It would seem that any boat built well enough to endure the cyclical loading forces of the open ocean would be able to last a very long time, and there is a lot of evidence this is true when you consider the number of old glass boats still out there doing open ocean crossings.

It would really seem like the weak points in a lot of these boats isn't the hull itself degrading but that the bulkheads/stringers and other structural pieces eventually failing due to neglect or damage that allow the hull to begin flexing or being damaged.
__________________
Let your heart tell you where to go, but let your brain tell you how to get there.

Sundowner Sails Again
Target9000 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 12:42   #12
Senior Cruiser
 
Jim Cate's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2008
Location: cruising SW Pacific
Boat: Jon Sayer 1-off 46 ft fract rig sloop strip plank in W Red Cedar
Posts: 11,453
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snore View Post
Capt. Canning,

....

While fiberglass may take a millennium to decay, its' service life is shorter. And it is service life that is the topic.

I believe we would all agree that 316 SS or Titanium will exhibit fatigue after a period of time and therefore should be replaced. So logically, if the chain plates should be replaced every 10-15 years (hopefully) before they fail, then by definition the underlying glass has to have a life expectancy.
....

Bill
Bill, I fail to understand the logical connection between replacing chain plates and the life expectancy of GRP.

The primary reason for chainplate replacement is the risk of one or more failure modes based on the vulnerability of stainless steels to corrosion. GRP does not have a similar failure mode. In a properly designed chain plate, fatigue is not a frequent cause of failure but crevice corrosion is.

Without access to data on the losses of "blue water" cruising vessels, arguing about statistical relationships between age and frequency of loss is conjecture at best. But, I would point out that IME, once one gets away from yachting centers and out into the world of long range cruising the proportion of older boats increases dramatically. Not only do folks tend to set out in older boats, but by the time that one has been cruising long enough to be part of the "long term cruiser" population, even a boat that was new at the outset is now 10+ years old! This preponderance of older boats in the fleet will certainly be reflected in any loss statistic.

Everyone seems to agree that how a vessel is maintained will influence its suitability for off shore cruising. In this case, older boats have had a larger probability to have suffered at the hands of an indifferent owner than a younger boat, and this could be detrimental. So, as others have said, one needs to evaluate the specific vessel that one proposes to take offshore. I think that this is axiomatic! And yes, I firmly believe that quality of construction and design will influence how well any boat survives the rigours of seafaring. Starting out with good bones will always be a good thing!

Cheers,

Jim
__________________
Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II , lying Port Cygnet, Tasmania once again
Jim Cate is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 12:55   #13
Freelance Delivery Skipper..
 
boatman61's Avatar

Community Sponsor
Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: UK/Portugal
Posts: 20,208
Images: 2
Send a message via Skype™ to boatman61
pirate Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

Well I've had a couple of Bendi's... the youngest was 5yrs old when I acquired it... great boats..
However... given a choice between a 5yr old 331 and a well maintained 70's Westerly Longbow....
It'd be the smaller brick sh*thouse Westerly every time...
__________________


Born To Be Wild
boatman61 is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 13:08   #14
Guy
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: So. Oregon, USA
Boat: Seafarer36c
Posts: 4,308
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

Not so sure about "decay" of fiberglass. Glass does not decay. Polyester resin continues to dry and shrink over it's life so I suppose it gets more brittle. If it's a crappy lay-up and water gets in all bets are off. Methods using a chopper gun are frought with problems.
Old boats are cheaper and you can go to sea much more cheaply and there in may be part of the problem with some older boats sinking.
I have to say, some of the workmanship on old boats from the far East could give all old boats a bad name.
__________________
Guy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-05-2013, 14:17   #15
Registered User

Join Date: May 2010
Location: near San Jose, CA
Boat: Yankee Dolphin 24'
Posts: 113
Re: When is a Hull too Old to Go Offshore?

I've read in numerous forums that most boats sink due to thruhull failure (shaft seal included). I've also read of a number of offshore sinkings that were attributed to thruhull or shaft seal failure. I think it is much more likely that if there IS a higher rate of sinking of offshore old boats, that is more likely due to old or poorly maintained thruhulls than to any problems with old fiberglass.
__________________

__________________
tenchiki is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
hull, offshore, old boat, old vs. new

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 16:20.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.