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Old 25-07-2019, 21:11   #1
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Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

I am new to sailing anything bigger than an old sunfish. I finally got my wife and son into it and we are looking at buying our first boat. Most boats I looked at are fiberglass but there is one I keep seeing on Craigslist and various boat broker sites. It is a wooden hulled boat. I have seen it at its mooring as I sailed passed during lessons. I cannot see anything obviously wrong with it but I don’t really know much about what to look for other than a if it had a recent survey and the general condition. My first question is aside from the obvious building material differences, are there any significant differences in maintenance or soundness of the hull itself?

2nd. I live in Hawaii and have heard that the climate here is hard on wooden hulls. One marina will not allow a wooden hull boat without a survey in the previous year when applying for a slip.

Lastly, is it worth considering a wooden hull boat if you are not well versed in carpentry?
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Old 25-07-2019, 22:04   #2
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

You should approach an old wooden boat with your eyes very wide open. It’s a very different game from plastic boats. Find a local who is sitting on his good condition wooden boat and offer him beer to talk to you about it and perhaps even look at the boat for you. You will learn a lot.

I did last time I did that. Turned out to be Tom Cunliffe
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Old 25-07-2019, 22:10   #3
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

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Originally Posted by Surfdoc23 View Post
I am new to sailing anything bigger than an old sunfish. I finally got my wife and son into it and we are looking at buying our first boat. Most boats I looked at are fiberglass but there is one I keep seeing on Craigslist and various boat broker sites. It is a wooden hulled boat. I have seen it at its mooring as I sailed passed during lessons. I cannot see anything obviously wrong with it but I don’t really know much about what to look for other than a if it had a recent survey and the general condition. My first question is aside from the obvious building material differences, are there any significant differences in maintenance or soundness of the hull itself?

2nd. I live in Hawaii and have heard that the climate here is hard on wooden hulls. One marina will not allow a wooden hull boat without a survey in the previous year when applying for a slip.

Lastly, is it worth considering a wooden hull boat if you are not well versed in carpentry?
I've owned both wood and fiberglass. Basically, it depends on what you wish to do with the boat. Is it long-term live-aboard cruising, or is it gentle fun day-sails with the family on weekends? All hulls require maintenance, and yes, it's quite a bit more with wood. However, there's also the "charm factor" of knowing that you are sailing in a wooden boat, and if you like that, it can add happiness and smiles to the experience. It's really up to your desires, the age of the boat, and the record of upkeep. These days, most kiddies watch Y-tube and want a plastic cat, i.e., "Sailing ... huh ... what is that?"

In closing, here are two things to consider:

1) Hinckley hasn't made a wooden hull boat for many decades.

2) David Crosby lived on his wooden 59-foot schooner "Mayan" for 40 years, and sailed all over. Then, he sold it for quite a hefty sum -- but only after full refurbishment ($$$$$$$$$$)!
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Old 25-07-2019, 22:29   #4
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

Depends a lot upon whether she is traditional carvel planking or either strip plank or cold molded construction. The latter two builds when well crafted are very low maintenance, strong and light. The former has various failure modes that are kinda tough for a novice to deal with.

A bit more research on your part is needed.

BTW, we've owned our now 30 year old strip planked yacht for 16 years... and love her, so I might be prejudiced!

Jim
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Old 26-07-2019, 00:06   #5
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

Thank you for the quick replies. From what I have read the boat is a Farr design and was initially a racing boat. The hull was cold molded with 3 wood layers. I can provide a link to it. The owner has moved off island and it is being sold through a brokerage. The interior is very basic, pretty much gutted so I would have to redo it over time. Ideally we are looking for a day and weekend sailboat but eventually we want to be able to cruise between islands, maybe do some diving off of it.
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Old 26-07-2019, 00:32   #6
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

Quote:
1) Hinckley hasn't made a wooden hull boat for many decades.
Perhaps true, perhaps not, but then Joel White's yard is still building gorgeous timber boats for the discerning (and wealthy). They haven't succumbed to the lure of populism and chemistry!

Anyhow, for Surfdoc, that boat could be anything from trashed to quite refit-worthy. A link to a description would be of interest. Farr has designed lots of boats, most of which were pretty fast but not necessarily good candidates for conversion to cruising. So, more info might help us help you.

You might be interested to know that a similar Farr design in cold molded hull, Sweet Okole just won her division in the Transpac. I occasionally raced against her back in San Francisco in the mid 80s, and she wasn't new then, so longevity is surely possible with this construction.

Jim
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Old 26-07-2019, 00:52   #7
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

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Originally Posted by Jim Cate View Post
You might be interested to know that a similar Farr design in cold molded hull, Sweet Okole just won her division in the Transpac. I occasionally raced against her back in San Francisco in the mid 80s, and she wasn't new then, so longevity is surely possible with this construction.

Jim
Wow, I did not know that boat was still racing. I sure remember that name (but I wasn't racing.) That is an amazing endorsement for cold molded, and for Farr!
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Old 26-07-2019, 00:56   #8
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

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Wow, I did not know that boat was still racing. I sure remember that name (but I wasn't racing.) That is an amazing endorsement for cold molded, and for Farr!
True, dat, and also an endorsement of Dean Treadway, her owner who has kept her bright finished hull looking sweet as, and her gear and sails up to snuff, for all those years.

GOOD ONE, DEAN!

Jim
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Old 26-07-2019, 01:02   #9
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

I liveaboard and cruise in a 1942, 83' wood boat. But I'm a shipwright. Wood takes much more maintenance, more frequent haulouts. It needs to be hauled yearly and the bottom painted with a good bottom paint. Seaworms are an issue, especially in warm salt water. Other bottom growth can damage the wood, too.
My boat has a copper plated bottom. Way too expensive for most people.
Just posted this pic on another thread. Worm damage on my first big boat. I saved a piece of the keel. The holes are about 3/8" I replaced the keel.





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Old 26-07-2019, 01:13   #10
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

Sorry I have no pictures, but we had delamination on our rudder. Noticed it in Southport, Qld. Sailed to Sydney and had it fixed there, it's about a 3 day sail, if you go straight through. Don't know when the delamination occurred, but we'd already had toredo intrusion. They eventually came out into the hot sun, looking for water, and dried up, and then we repaired things. But the point is, once the barrier is gone, like Lepke said, the good bottom paint, then wood is very vulnerable.

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Old 26-07-2019, 01:53   #11
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

Not that wood boats can't last a long time...

but as a newbie do yourself a favor and don't take on a project boat...particularly a wood boat where you will need a specialized surveyor who knows what to look for. While you will read stories of people who have done it successfully, 99% wind up as money pits that never actually wind up cruising.
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Old 26-07-2019, 03:35   #12
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

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Perhaps true, perhaps not, but then Joel White's yard is still building gorgeous timber boats for the discerning (and wealthy). They haven't succumbed to the lure of populism and chemistry!

Jim
What are you talking about, Jimmy? Do you have any idea where I am from? Sure, yards will "build to order" should one have the required funds, yet Hinckley Inc. hasn't built a Sou'Wester hull in wood for ... uhhh .... well ... maybe before you were born? I don't know. Anyway, fiberglass, it is. It's the same with Little Harbor, Bristol, etc.

Not quite sure why I am taking the time to reply to your response.

By the way, I used to occasionally glance at your photo, and if I am not incorrect, it only now states something about "planking". Am I wrong?

Ciao
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Old 26-07-2019, 03:49   #13
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

To the OP (Surfdoc23). Check out these videos. Ciao, and good luck. Hope you find what you want.

Mayan:

Caulking:
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Old 26-07-2019, 04:02   #14
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, SurfDoc.
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Old 26-07-2019, 05:19   #15
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Re: Are wooden hull boats a viable option or should I steer clear?

As long as you are an experienced boat owner, well versed in all marine systems like rigging, propulsion, electrical, sanitation, etc. to the point where they are all second nature; then adding the intricacies of wooden boat care and repair probably won’t overwhelm you. Probably........
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