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Old 25-02-2014, 18:38   #1
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Pro's and con's of timber, steel and fiberglass for older boats.

Hi folks,

I am a newbie here so forgive me if much of my ground has been covered by others before me.

Having retired, I am looking to buy a cruising yacht. I have started monitoring the boats for sale pages and it seems thereís no shortage of boats that prima facie fit many of my requirements and budget .

My maximum budget is approx AUD80,000. This means I can pay $80k if it is exactly what I want, in total ďsail away no more to payĒ condition. Much more likely is that I will buy a boat for less than that and then be prepared to some spend some time and money to bring it up to scratch.

I have reasonable mechanical aptitude, reasonably good woodworker and have done some fibreglassing. Iím a lousy welder. Generally, Iím pretty reasonable in the DYI stakes, and have plenty of tools in my shed.

The following are my broad criteria:

I have no interest in racing; only cruising, so sea kindliness is important
The boat must be capable of ocean passages
Monohull only
I want to be able to sail short handed and sometimes single handed
Probably not less than 30ft overall because I want standing headroom below
Probably not more than 40ft because Iím thinking that the bigger boat and bigger sail areas will be harder to handle on my own. My gut feel is that around 36ft would be about right.
Long keel, and beamy.
Probably cutter rig, or maybe ketch.
Prefer aft cockpit, and tiller steering.
Must have a fundamentally sound hull, mast, spars, standing rigging etc and Iíll use a marine surveyor to check any boat I shortlist.
Obviously the more I have to spend on upgrading engine, sails, electrics, internal fit-out etc, the less Iíll pay for the boat, but Iím not afraid of that provided the hull etc is sound.

In my budget range it is likely that the boat I buy may be 20 to 35 years old. Iím open to steel, fibreglass or timber construction but not ferro-cement. Iíd be really interested to hear views on the proís and conís and traps of each material, and hull longevity given the likely age of the boat Iíll be buying into.

Any other comments about my criteria would also be interesting.


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Old 25-02-2014, 20:06   #2
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Re: Pro's and con's of timber, steel and fiberglass for older boats.

You have just asked the 1000 answer question. I would suggest that you use the search function and look for steel boats, wood/timber boat,s and any other feature you want. If you want to go cruising I would not recommend a ketch or yawl , only because they make mounting a windvane difficult. The 1000 answers will be 90% opinions (just as mine are) but you will learn a lot from them. Best of Luck. ____Grant.

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Old 25-02-2014, 20:14   #3
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Re: Pro's and con's of timber, steel and fiberglass for older boats.

I don't (not wood) have an (not wood) opinion (not wood) on this subject (not wood) so I'll just (not wood) keep to myself (not wood).

Actually wood boats are beautiful boats but I know I don't have the discipline to own one and keep up with all the maintenance. Not many people do.
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Old 25-02-2014, 22:27   #4
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Re: Pro's and con's of timber, steel and fiberglass for older boats.

Pretty simple really;
If you love doing ongoing maintenance, handy with wood and like classic/traditional boats, get traditional wood.
If you love doing ongoing maintenance, handy with steel and want a really strong hull, get wood.
Otherwise, get fibreglass

IMO, epoxy encapsulated wood is a great comprise between traditional wood and fibreglass.

FWIW, I have only owned wood (traditional and epoxy encapsulated) and steel
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangereous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. T.E. Lawrence
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Old 25-02-2014, 23:20   #5
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Re: Pro's and con's of timber, steel and fiberglass for older boats.

Im with Capt Tim on the wooden boats, I love em, grew up with them, and sailed them for a long time! BUT when I bilt our first real cruiseing boat I used steel! The upkeep on a wooden boat alone makes any other material seem really cheap ! Heck a real well bilt Ferro boat is almost upkeep free, except for paint! If ya can find a well made steel boat, thats in good condition, thats where I would be looking! That wood is something! Looks so fine when it's bristol, but I know I can't do it ! so no wood for me !!
Bob and Connie
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Old 26-02-2014, 04:20   #6
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Fibreglass #1. Old wood and steel boats scare me. I wouldn't discount a ferro on a tight budget, but you're aiming above that most likely. Epoxy ply construction is ok, but like ferro you need to make sure it's a good 'un.

Last but not least, very few boats - if they actually exist at all - will be "sail away no more to pay". They all come with a todo list!

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