Thanks for the comments and I completely agree with all of them and that is why I did say:
"almost never happen" and not never, which means that it sometime happens. Of course if I crash the boat on a rock something bad will happen but when you get hit by other boats (which is what I was thinking of) usually the aluminum only bend most of the time. Unfortunately it doesn't come back as polyester would do. That is the reason why I have a nice bump on one side (port) of the hull. A friend of mine OVNI got hit by a pontoon that went loose during a boat show
and finished squeezed between two pontoons. The boat had a very bad hit on the water line. As it was during a boat show
(Grand Pavois in la Rochelle) for which his boat was used for demonstration the boat was hauled out and fixed by the shipyard but no water went in. Not sure polyester would have given the same result. Those are the cases I was thinking of. An other OVNI got badly hurt by a other boat, in Martinique
2 years ago. The hull was seriously bended but no hole. A very good paper about this case was published in the french "Voiles et Voilers" at the time.
Most (not all, I become careful in my wording now) boats that go in the arctic or antarctic regions are steel or aluminum for this very reason: hitting or pushing ice is less dangerous if you are made of metal.
Conclusion: everything can happen and there are examples that support both view points.
"easier to spot" and not easy to spot as what ever you are made of in very big seas your are not visible.
Now, if you are moored by night with fog
, even with the light on ,you get better chances to be spotted by a radar if you are made of steel or aluminum. That was my point as it is a very frequent situation.
"Makes possible … to beach …". Of course it is just an option. I beached the boat a few times for maintenance
(e.g.: changing anodes, checking the rudders or the propeller
after coming across fishing
devices or floating ropes etc …) and on the sand for pleasure. Of course you need to have tides that allow for doing it. With my boat it is a bit tricky to beach on the concrete as I have a forward looking sounder I have to protect, usually with a tyre but it is very convenient. I agree you don't buy a boat just for that!
"hitting whales or other things": I perfectly agree with you. No one is lucky all the time but last year, during the ARC Europe, one of the yacht did hit a whale one day after leaving Bermuda
and sunk. The keel was the issue not the hull by itself. The people on board were rescued by a cargo ship. I believe that with an OVNI and a lifting keel the hit may have had less dramatic consequences. Of course it is just a assumption.
In the same domain it did happen to me to go in shallow waters I did not spot early enough or was not aware of (despite the forward looking sounder that is not always swiched ON). With my previous Dufour
boat I got stuck as we were in the low tide phase. With the OVNI it did happen twice (once in Martinique
, entering le Marin) and the keel just went up, the sound of it scratching the bottom forced me to lift it up completely and we went off unharmed. Of course I should have been more vigilant but no harm was done.
For the last two we seems to have the same opinion.
So I am not saying that aluminum or steel boats are perfect. OVNIS are just one of the kind, they just happen to have a lifting keel. Because of this combination that exist on many other boats there are a few risks that some people, including me, think they minimize. Not because they are OVNIs but because of the combination Metal + Lifting keel.
It would be the same if the brand was Allure, Garcia, Meta, Boreal and a few others.
It is all about minimizing risks , not risks exclusion as it is impossible. It is also about beliefs of course and some of mine may well be wrong.
To be complete there are lots of very negative points in having an Aluminium or Steel boat.
Corrosion is first, particularly the galvanic one and also the need to isolate very piece of metal that is fixed to aluminum with a special product. This is a real pain.
for all electrical equipment
and the impossibility to use the hull as ground.
Impossibility to use seacocks that are not plastic which carries a risk in very cold waters.
Extra cost when compared with fiberglass
Mandatory use of metal free antifouling that are almost twice the price
of conventional ones
And surely a few others I forget.
Nothing is perfect we just try to find the solution we believe to be the safest.
Thanks again for the comments as it forced me to clarify and give details.