I have had a steel boat for twenty nine years but am in the process of buying
a plastic boat because: I am getting too old and lazy to keep up with the maintenance
on the steel hull
. Need a boat where I can have guests aboard fairly long term want a change of boats.
I am of the opinion that steel, aluminium and fibreglass are really the only three materials for a long term cruiser, ferro
and anything with wood suffer from durability and potential rot
problems. With it's high potential for corrosion
and uncertain welding properties I would prefer steel over alloy.
My overall experience with steel has been good and I believe that from a cost viewpoint I am way ahead of where I would have been with a fibreglass boat. On insurance
alone I have only ever had third party liability insurance
which is a considerable saving over 29 years. I have boating
acquaintances who have been through the osmosis
thing and would not want to go there myself.
The vessel I have now has 4 heavily distorted parts
, one of which would have lead to it's loss in either fibre glass, timber or ferro
. I have a fried whose 52' steel Roberts spent 7 weeks bouncing around on a reef in the Solomons before being dragged off by 2 trawlers, which I think is a pretty good advertisement for the durability of steel.
An interesting aspect of my present steel vessel is that the internal parts
cannot collect are completely rust free with the original 29 year old coatings however any place where water can be trapped or where the coating is not continuous and water cannot drain or is retained by capillary action, such as on in water traps created by the intersections of frames and stringers and between frames and hull
plates have had to be de-rusted and recoated regularly. However on the basis of the 29 years of experience I now have I believe that a properly designed, fabricated, coated and maintained steel hull
could be the most durable and maintenance free of all the practical hull building materials.
It was my wife who originally chose steel as a hull material for our family
boat and although I have often cursed her for it during times spent in the bilge
I think her instincts at the time were sound.