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Old 22-05-2013, 17:15   #1
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Yacht Viewing Tomorrow? - Ferro Cement - What to look for??

Hi All

I recently started a thread Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers? and got some positive and some negatives which was useful, although it was more along the lines of if Ferro was good or bad as a construction material discussion.

Tomorrow/later today I am going to view the Ferro-Cement Yacht, can anyone suggest what I should look for?.

I must point out I have been told the boat was re-epoxied and anti fouled last year, and overall looks in good condition would staining from internal rods be visible with a new epoxy coat that quickly if it was compromised? The yacht is currently in the water so I can not check below the waterline until I get it hauled out at a later date.

Boat details: 1987, 14.5metre, 23 tonne, Ferro-cement Schooner. Supposedly professional build.

Things to look out for on a viewing:
1, Hairline Cracks or any cracks in the cement
2, Staining seeping through from armature
3, Metal staining in the bilges, in cupboard etc..
4, Build quality notes & Pictures

What would you check out on a viewing of a ferro yacht or infact any yacht?
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Old 22-05-2013, 17:39   #2
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Re: Yacht Viewing Tomorrow? - Ferro Cement - What to look for??

Look down the hull for smoothness and evenness. A well built ferro should not be wavy and look almost like fiberglass. And as you mentioned, rust.
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Old 22-05-2013, 18:21   #3
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Re: Yacht Viewing Tomorrow? - Ferro Cement - What to look for??

Rust stains from the cement not being sealed and moisture getting to the wire. We have a 70' hulk that other than this, would make a good boat. That and the trees growing in it.
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Old 22-05-2013, 18:32   #4
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Re: Yacht Viewing Tomorrow? - Ferro Cement - What to look for??

I will reply to my post on your other thread but agree with the above. If she is well built she will be nice and smooth on the outside. Epoxy wont cover up cancer in the ferro which will be noticeable with small lumps or bulges in the hull. This is basically the internal rods and wire rusting. On the interior it is ok to see very small bits of rust as this is usually where the tie wire they have used has come through. I have a few of these in mine and arent a problem, usually just coat it with fish oil.

You want to take not of what the decks and cabin is made of and cross reference this against the original plans. Some were deigned to have wooden coach roofs etc but people went ahead and built it in Ferro which throws out the stability. Have you checked out the ferro boat website and the forum. A lot of good info there and definately buy the book which has a wealth of knowledge.

Dont rush the purchase, there are plenty of them around. Take a heap of photos and post anything suspect up here and I am sure you will get knowledgable feedback.
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Old 23-05-2013, 02:53   #5
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Thanks for the input so far.
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Old 23-05-2013, 05:41   #6
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Re: Yacht Viewing Tomorrow? - Ferro Cement - What to look for??

I'll add a tip: Of course check out the hull as thoroughly as you can, but don't stop there. A much larger part of the value of the boat is represented by the rig, fitout, propulsion system, and gear. A boat of that age and price will only be a buy if it can be used hard without major fitout, so there needs to be a lot of useful life left in the major systems. I would not even consider a boat like that (leaving aside completely the question about whether ferro is a good idea or not), for a circumnaviation, unless the standing rigging has been replaced fairly recently, unless the sails are in very sound condition, and propulsion system is good.

Replacing any one of these things will already put you a negative value position. You might be able to knock around a coast somewhere with 10 year old (or 30 year old) rigging, baggy, fragile sails, and a wheezy motor with 6,000 hours, but you will really not want to be crossing oceans. Plumbing, electrical, refrigeration, electronic systems can also really bite you in the behind -- the cost of fixing and upgrading them adds up really fast.

Whether or not any older boat is a buy or not depends entirely on the life left in systems versus price of replacement versus value in refit condition. The numbers very often don't add up. The best buy in older boats is nearly always one which someone loved and just did a cost-no-object refit on without realizing that he would never recover the cost.

One way to look at it is this: To totally refit a worn-out 45 foot sailboat would probably cost around $100,000, give or take $25k -- repower, new rigging, new sails, new electronics, new plumbing and electrical systems, refinishing etc. The average life of those systems is probably around 10 years. What is a totally refit 25 year old 45 foot sailboat worth? Well, it depends of course -- a Swan or Hinckley is going to cost different from an old production boat, and an old ferro boat different again. But hardly any of these is going to be worth $100,000, other than the Swan or Hinckley or similar. So when you buy a 25 year old sailboat, you're buying the residual value in all the different systems which are depreciating every year. This is much more important than the hull. And since a major system will likely not be worth replacing at all on a boat that age, the useful life to you of a boat like that will depend very much on the remaining useful life of the weakest major system.

Boats are not like houses -- there is no underlying real estate and no inherent value. At some point, they get scrapped, other than the 0.1% of boats which have such intrinsic value that they are worth restoring over and over again. How far is a given old boat from the scrap heap? That's the real question to ask when considering paying any money at all for one.
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Old 23-05-2013, 05:44   #7
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Re: Yacht Viewing Tomorrow? - Ferro Cement - What to look for??

Another really important point on a boat of that age which I forgot to mention -- tanks.

It can cost many thousands to replace rusted-through or leaky tanks, and black iron or galvanized tanks -- common during that era -- don't usually last longer than 20 years or so.

You will definitely want to be sure about the tanks.
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