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Old 25-10-2012, 16:33   #1
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Wooden Boat Owners

My husband and I have a wooden boat; a 37' Crocker ketch built in 1939. She's a dream. Dh is a boat carpenter, so wooden boat stuff is not scary for us. We haven't done any serious cruising on her yet, but we mean to; we live in coastal Maine currently.

Dh has a bug about getting an aluminum boat someday, if we can afford it. (Har har har), and I'm curious: has anyone here gone from wood to aluminum? He worries that, despite her excellent condition, she might be getting a little creaky for the type of sailing we'd like to do eventually. As recently as 3 or 4 years ago, she was dividing her time between Maine and the Bahamas, so she's up to a passage or two, but probably not winters in the Arctic. I don't envision us buying a glass boat ever, but I say never anymore! neversneveanymore!
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Old 25-10-2012, 19:33   #2
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Well, I guess it all depends how much you're willing to maintain a wood boat and keep her up to the task, if she was designed for it.

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Old 26-10-2012, 07:11   #3
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Part of what I wonder is how much if it is a "greener grass" thing. Sure, a half million dollar aluminum boat is going to have amenities that a 73 year old one doesn't have, but it's still a boat. Not to mention that I could put a minute fraction of that money into Sowelu and probably get a lot of upgrades (like an air head...) I'm curious to discover what I'm missing that I won't be able to live without, suddenly.
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Old 26-10-2012, 08:01   #4
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Re: Wooden Boat Owners

Just curious why you would not go Fiberglass instead. While in Santa Cruz, I saw an aluminum boat that was hauled and looked like Swiss cheese because of corrosion. I've built a few steel boats and owned many F/G boats. To me, you get more bang for your buck with F/G and way less maintenance. Also, If I understand it correctly, it is impossible to get decent bottom paint now for aluminum.
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Old 26-10-2012, 08:26   #5
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That's great feedback. As for glass, if we aren't going to have wood, we want something indestructible. I had thought aluminum was, if you kept up with the zinc. Also, dh is a carpenter-he's really a wood-whisperer. He first met a wooden sailboat at the Herreshoff museum, and it changed his life. He doesn't have that relationship with glass; he doesn't like working with it. He does, however, want to learn to work metal-that appeals to him. Maybe we could go for a steel boat, but they seem to get so dinged-up.

It's a journey-I don't ever want to be in debt for a boat (we sold our house a couple years ago to rent), so we have plenty of time to test the waters on what would be a fit for our family. I'm determined to sail Sowelu until she doesn't meet our needs anymore. We have two boys, 3 and 7, so I think we'll need a larger boat at some point and 37' seems like enough wood to manage-I can't imagine going to 45' in wood. Who knows, though?

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Old 26-10-2012, 08:27   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Celestialsailor
Just curious why you would not go Fiberglass instead. While in Santa Cruz, I saw an aluminum boat that was hauled and looked like Swiss cheese because of corrosion. I've built a few steel boats and owned many F/G boats. To me, you get more bang for your buck with F/G and way less maintenance. Also, If I understand it correctly, it is impossible to get decent bottom paint now for aluminum.
Is steel as much maintenance as wood?
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Old 26-10-2012, 08:52   #7
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Re: Wooden Boat Owners

Is steel as much maintenance as wood?


steel rusts, aluminum corrodes, wood rots, f/g gets osmosis... Add in cleaning, repairs big or small, systems maintenance, improvements and upgrades and you should stay busy no matter what the hull is made of.

I'm no expert on all materials but i think if you are diligent they probably are all similar as far as time consumption.
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Old 26-10-2012, 09:37   #8
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Re: Wooden Boat Owners

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Originally Posted by thompsonisland View Post
Is steel as much maintenance as wood?
The topic has been covered in other threads but it seems they are 70% opinions and 30% facts. I will give you an example of some steel problems I've seen. My friends Roberts 434...After only 2 years in the harbor after launching, pock marks (corrosion) began to appear. Seem the harbor was hot and the bottom cleaner did not notice it. Another friends Roberts 43 Mauritius integral water tanks began to taste salty. He hauled and found that the Mexican harbor he was in was also hot and burned through the tank.
The folks I talk to that never take there steel into a harbor never seem to have these problems, so you can conclude that stray AC current are an issue for steel boats. I have never owned wood but love looking at them. I know properly maintained, they stand the test of time. But once again, why not F/G? Is it a moral thing? There is a reason that 99.5% of recreational sailing craft are F/G. Mine is a 38 year old boat with zero hull issues. When I haul next year I will epoxy the bottom anyways. A F/G boat with years and years of good reputation is the way to go. I picked mine up last year for a song. The owner had past away and the zincs were spent so the usual damage to the running gear and I rebuilt the engine. But generally, anything to do with the hull material was perfect. Sometimes you just have to go with the numbers.
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Old 26-10-2012, 10:16   #9
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Re: Wooden Boat Owners

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Originally Posted by thompsonisland View Post
That's great feedback. As for glass, if we aren't going to have wood, we want something indestructible. I had thought aluminum was, if you kept up with the zinc. Also, dh is a carpenter-he's really a wood-whisperer. He first met a wooden sailboat at the Herreshoff museum, and it changed his life. He doesn't have that relationship with glass; he doesn't like working with it. He does, however, want to learn to work metal-that appeals to him. Maybe we could go for a steel boat, but they seem to get so dinged-up.

It's a journey-I don't ever want to be in debt for a boat (we sold our house a couple years ago to rent), so we have plenty of time to test the waters on what would be a fit for our family. I'm determined to sail Sowelu until she doesn't meet our needs anymore. We have two boys, 3 and 7, so I think we'll need a larger boat at some point and 37' seems like enough wood to manage-I can't imagine going to 45' in wood. Who knows, though?

I like hearing opinions and experiences as much as possible, and asking questions; I'm a pinball learner
fiberglass boats go back to pre-war (ww2) most boats are still around. btw; is a problem. nothing recylable there. this is also a case of the older fiberglass boats are stronger built then the newer ones. I have found some new grp boats to be wholly insufficent for blue water cruising, inshore or lake cruising only.
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Old 26-10-2012, 10:27   #10
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Re: Wooden Boat Owners

I wouldnt count on alum being less maintenance than fiberglass. Slightly higher on the "catastrophic issues" scale too.... depends. A small minority seem to develop bad corrosion real fast. Others seem great. painting the boat will be an expensive and regular maintenance item....unless you go bare aluminum or get lucky..... Still... they're great boats...
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Old 26-10-2012, 10:40   #11
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I'm sure there is plenty of reading here in the virtues of various materials! I was specifically curious about the wood to aluminum transition, but it sounds like I can get what I need by reading old threads as well.

Nothing moral, just reasons stated having to do with our taste and expertise. My experience with what the majority does, sailing or otherwise, is that sometimes it fits me but more often it doesn't. I have friends who farm with draft horses. Most folks use tractors, but they prefer horses for reasons that suit their farm and their personalities. Lots of folks like vinyl siding on a house, but I still prefer wood. Stick framing is cheap and practical, but there are still reasons to build a timber frame. And on, and on.

One thing to look into, will be to discover whether we can make the upgrades to this or another boat that make it almost exactly what we want. If we are up to managing a woodie full time, there are certainly great ones for sale for little scratch, if you know how to assess them properly.

And sometimes I'm wrong

Sounds like a metal boat isn't a magic bullet, though, which definitely answers part of my question!
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Old 26-10-2012, 10:45   #12
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Re: Wooden Boat Owners

The other thing you mind find going from wood to Alum is the metal is a lot noisier than wood.
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Old 26-10-2012, 10:50   #13
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Yeah, one thing I adore about wood is the soft sound of the spars (even when they are rattling all night, it still isn't that metal-on-metal sound). If I ever have an aluminum boat, perhaps I'll exploit the opportunity to compare its performance when run up over the only rock in the middle of a deep-water harbor at 7knots to the time we did that in Sowelu. Too bad I don't have that particular "Holy ****" exclamation recorded for posterity.
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Old 26-10-2012, 12:34   #14
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Re: Wooden Boat Owners

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Originally Posted by thompsonisland View Post
He doesn't have that relationship with glass; he doesn't like working with it.
The beauty(?!) of fibreglass is that he doesn't have to work with it - unless he wants to .

Obviously the same caveat applies to fibreglass as any other hull material - buy a bad one and will regret it until the end of eternity . Of course each has own reasons for that . IMO the most important thing about fibreglass is that it's the most idiot PO proof - the older the boat being bought is the more important that consideration becomes.

But I appreciate that a fibreglass boat does sound dull (me Father had wooden boats for 20 odd years - I bought fibreglass!, he eventually learned to do the same )......however plenty of old style fibreglass boats around that you would be hard pushed to know were not wood when inside (and some from outside) - mostly from the interior being made of wood / being laid out like a wooden boat.

Having said all that, plenty of aluminium boats around (and happy owners), but I figure that unless actually building from scratch that if sorted their will be little metal working to actually do - well, hopefully! - so the hull material becomes largely irrelevent (as it is with fibreglass), as long as the owner understands the pros and cons of whichever material used.

Not sure how this moved from wood to aluminium to fibreglass .
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Old 26-10-2012, 12:40   #15
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That's the pinball mind part So, f/g really requires no routine repairs? I read about decks leaking because the 'glass flexes, hulls opening up under way (obviously a rare exception), and whatnot. I guess I wouldn't rule it out completely, but it makes me uncomfortable because it's alien to me.
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