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Old 19-03-2011, 05:35   #1
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Aluminium Boat Pros and Cons - Opinions ?

I am considering a ten year old s/v constructed of aluminum. There are many salespeople whose opinions are against aluminum; yet the shipping industry is of course full of aluminum vessels. I'd appreciate any insights which may be offered.

Brief info on the s/v: She's been in the same ownership since new, completed one (intentionally) slow circumnavigation. She is owned by a commercial airlines pilot - the cliche' of course is they take excellent care of their equipment - it appears (pre-survey) to be in good shape. I haven't made my offer yet. Intend use is SE Florida, Caribbean, South American rounding of the horn.

Thanks,
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Old 19-03-2011, 05:55   #2
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Hi Daniel,

Most US sales people and US sailors think aluminium boats have a bad reputation... they are wrong: it's US-built aluminium boats that had (have?) a bad reputation. This was for good reason as there were (are?) no reputable US builders for aluminium hulls.

I do not know if this got any better. If the boat you're looking at was built in the US, I can't help you. If it was built in France, Holland, Australia, South Africa etc. then it probably is good but still you need to check with a surveyor. But aluminium boats from these countries are highly regarded.

You will get a lot of answers about electrolysis. That is one of the areas that needs attention when building in aluminium, but when this is done right, there's no issue at all.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 19-03-2011, 06:10   #3
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Thank you for the response. This particular manufacturer is from Canada and the brand name is Kanter. The designer is Chuck Paine.
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Old 19-03-2011, 06:24   #4
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

I've always heard Kanter to be one of the best, if not the best builder of aluminum sailboats in North America. No personal knowledge, but they do usually command a hight price, so that may say something.
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Old 19-03-2011, 07:07   #5
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Daniel:
I own a 1997 52' Kanter designed by Dieter Empacher in the fast crusier style. I have owned the boat for over 6 years and put about 15,000 ocean miles on her . I retired and, with the intent of completing a circimnavigation, have just completed a year long refit. I will give you the real scoop.......

Aluminum boats are excellent... you have unparalleled security sailing offshore. Most Kanters have water tight compartments fore and aft which is an excellent feature for offshore use. There is NO concern about osmosis, lamination, cored decks, (yes I have had 6 glass boats) blah blah blah. You can go below in a 60 knot wind and it is as quiet as a church- no creaking, flexing, grinding, etc... The bilges are so dry I have to vacuum out the spiders.... She sails like a witch!!!!

Now, the bad side- you must take extra care with everything you do and everyone who works on the boat. All fasteners must be bedded to isolate the SS from the aluminum- we have a huge stock of all sizes of delrin washers and bushings and use them!! We also use Tef Gel or good old Dolphinite bedding compound. There are also considerations for the electrical system which must be followed. Also there is the PAINT issue.... I would have preferred the raw aluminum, but our boat was painted and most Kanters are. You cannot remove the paint and go back to raw aluminum as the fabrication is not fair- the boat has a lot of fairing under the paint. To keep up paint on aluminum is tough. We finally sandblasted the entire boat (hull and topsides) and refaired, primed and painted with Alexseal; she is gorgeous!!! But there will be maintenance... I also dealt with the teak decks... another interesting story..

I would suggest a marine surveyor VERY EXPERIENCED in aluminum boats. Also, be sure to check the interiors of the water and fuel tanks- very common to have pitting and corrosion if integral to the hull. The area around the bowthruster required all new aluminum plate. You may contact me and I can assist you further. Which Kanter is she?? I am familiar with almost all..

I dealt with many brokers prior to purchasing my boat and looked at 5 Kanters; most people who are prejudiced against aluminum boats have no actual experience- they just hear horror stories. Kanter has also provided excellent support during our refit. The boat has a few achilles heels (we replaced all windows) but Manfred Kanter has been incredibly informative and helpful..

I will never go back to glass.....
Regards,
Dr. Michele
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Old 19-03-2011, 07:49   #6
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Sounds like Sail Nautilus has great info. for you. I just want to add that everyone I know and have met who has owned an aluminum cruising boat has loved it, and they often came from fiberglass or steel. All of them seem to agree that aluminum is the ultimate material. I think you will find that most, if not all, of the critics have had very little actual real-world experience with the material. Listen to folks like Sail Nautilus.
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Old 19-03-2011, 10:08   #7
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

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Originally Posted by Daniel J. View Post
Thank you for the response. This particular manufacturer is from Canada and the brand name is Kanter. The designer is Chuck Paine.
Kanter boats are generally very well-thought of; I considered buying an Atlantic 45 in steel. Chuck Paine is also a "name" designer. So it's likely a beautifully designed, go fast cruiser.

The build quality is unknown, of course. I don't believe that all Kanter boats are built by Kanter; some are farmed out a la Bruce Roberts. Also, while it's very true that aluminum, properly isolated, can last splendidly for many years, it is also true that if it's been neglected, it can go to hell quite quickly.

There have been many decent metal boat builders in Canada, of course, and there's more than one aluminum builder of note: HIKE, Ltd., seems to make most of the aluminum police and Coast Guard boats both here and in parts of the States.

So you need to find a surveyor local to the boat who really KNOWS aluminum. See if the firm has a significant portion of its business in aluminum, and then see if their reputation is sound. Could be a winner if the news is good. Certainly the pedigree of builder and designer is sound.
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Old 19-03-2011, 11:39   #8
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

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Also, while it's very true that aluminum, properly isolated, can last splendidly for many years, it is also true that if it's been neglected, it can go to hell quite quickly.
You can take a piece of marine grade aluminium without any treatment/paint and put it half submersed in the sea and it will last forever without any maintenance.

So I guess that with "neglected" you mean aluminium boats that don't have proper isolation between aluminium and other metals? That is correct and one of the reason that most US built aluminium yachts were (are?) bad. The quality of the welds is another factor (I believe it was Steve Dashews Sundeer that had to be re-welded for 90% or so)

These troubles seem to be isolated to US built aluminium yachts or modifications done by people who shouldn't be allowed to touch boats.

cheers,
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Old 19-03-2011, 14:02   #9
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Wow! What a great forum. My thanks to all of you for responding.

Dr. Michelle, she is "Bali Hi" a 2001 Bougainvillea. Located in Ft. Lauderdale at the moment. Know anyone in that area experienced enough w/ aluminum to engage as a surveyor?

Thanks again for the responses.
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Old 19-03-2011, 14:56   #10
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
So I guess that with "neglected" you mean aluminium boats that don't have proper isolation between aluminium and other metals? That is correct and one of the reason that most US built aluminium yachts were (are?) bad. The quality of the welds is another factor (I believe it was Steve Dashews Sundeer that had to be re-welded for 90% or so)

These troubles seem to be isolated to US built aluminium yachts or modifications done by people who shouldn't be allowed to touch boats.
Yes, I meant boats where the SS touches the alu and/or there's problems with the electrical fields aboard or at dock that turns the whole boat into a big anode.

My wife was on a delivery where the alu boom parted at a SS bail that was not separated by a bushing. I have a mild steel pilothouse with an aluminum roof where I am having to overdrill all the boltholes to take Delrin bushings AND putting in HDPE spacers just to keep the alu and steel apart.

And yet this is not always understood in terms of mast gear. Alu is tapped for SS machine bolts and in they go.

I can't comment on the welds because while I know care and special shielding gases are required, I own a steel boat...and the process is simpler and the protection is more straightforward.
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Old 19-03-2011, 15:55   #11
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Daniel J - the Paine Bouganvillea's are a wonderful design and Kanter builds a good boat (I am not sure where Alchemy's Roberts parallel came from because Kanter is a builder, not a designer).

BUT you do need to be very careful because it is now emerging that 5083 grade aluminium, which most ally boats have been built from, is not all it is cracked up to be. There have been several court cases over this - a yahoo/google search will bring up details. The most vulnerable area is inside the water tanks, especially if the yacht has a water maker. There are several yachts around which have had major problems in this respect - if you can get hold of a copy of the latest issue of Professional Boat Builder, there is an article on just this problem.
Nick, the only yacht I think Dashew ever built in USA was Beowulf, Sundeer was built in NZ. I think the welding issue you are referring to was a super yacht started in Thailand and relocated to NZ, where they found huge problems.
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Old 19-03-2011, 16:27   #12
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Or one Dashew had built in South Africa with issues.
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Old 22-07-2011, 18:01   #13
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

Located in Ft. Lauderdale at the moment. Know anyone in that area experienced enough w/ aluminum to engage as a surveyor?

Hi,
Could you tell me if you have found an experienced surveyor in aluminum sailboat in this aera?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 22-07-2011, 18:37   #14
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

My close friends had a 48 ft Perry designed aluminum boat built by Paul Luke. There are a lot of good things about aluminum.... painting them is not one of the good things. I think they had their boat painted 4 times in less than 10 years! I ran an aluminum boat building shop for 3 years, including military vessels. Generally they seemed to do pretty well, but a few had severe corrosion issues, found later to do mainly from a not up to spec batch of aluminum...
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Old 23-07-2011, 11:08   #15
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Re: Aluminium Boat Pro and Con opinions?

I just had a full survey done by Doug Birely in Stuart Florida- he seemed to have alot of experience with aluminum and had captained several aluminum boats (772 781-9068).
Sorry can't help you further south.
Regards,
Dr. Michele
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