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Old 21-05-2013, 12:21   #1
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Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Hi All

After a long time of searching around for boats on a budget and sadly having a few horror stories with boats boats i had found unable to prove VAT status and some boats just being down right terrible, spending a small fortune on trips to view them.

I have recently found one I am considering and any opinions or pointers would be much appreciated (And its local to me).

The boat is a 14.5m, Professionally built: Ferro - Cement, Schooner built in 1987. Price: under 30k

The boat looks in reasonable nick, clean inside and no streaking from the outside except a few bits of rust on some of the rigging, not on hull, she is in the water at present and am considering to go for a full viewing now I have worked out how to finance it.

I have read through several forums where people advise against ferro boats due to the resale market, but on the flip side they are very cheap to buy and strangely I can not find anyone actually saying ferro boats are BAD.. every boat I look at seems to have possible problems: GRP - Osmosis / Steel - Rotting from the inside out there seems to be as much praise for Ferro as negativity but that is the same with all boats.

I am sadly on a budget and looking for a good sized boat to hopefully circumnavigate as well as charter from time to time in the future, I ideally do not want to take out finance so am trying to stick with my budget (under 30k).

Some questions I have spinning around my mind:
* How do I know if the hull is in good condition?
* How do I know if it was infact professionally built? (As they say it is)
* Will a well built ferro boat outlast a steel or GRP one?
* How much would a boat of this size in ferro cost to insure a year?

Any other pointers or suggestions to look out for would be much appreciated.
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Old 21-05-2013, 12:31   #2
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Ferro-cement is a very controversial issue, sort of like mono-hulls vs multi-hulls except more. A number of advocates that own them and love them and a few horror stories.

Even though I was in the business I'm not really sure how you test the integrity of a FC hull. Professionally built is a help but no guarantee. Best thing is to find a surveyor that knows and understands FC and how to survey one. If the builder didn't use the right mix, or apply correctly it could be a horrible nightmare and I have read about plenty.

You are right about the resale issue and it is a double edged sword, hard to sell but you might find one cheap because of it. When it is time for you to sell it, even at a very cheap price it might take months and months.

Also, many FC boats tend to be heavy and slow.

And bank financing and even insurance can be a problem.

But you might end up with a lot of boat for a little bit of money. Just be very careful in the survey.
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Old 21-05-2013, 12:42   #3
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Boat is a good price and a good size a lot for the money in my opinion compared to others out there.

* Weight wise its supposedly 23 tons.
* Not looking for finance - don't fancy the headache of paying it whilst we are away sailing.
* From reading seems the only way to survey it is to drill it.. (which i can't believe any boat owner happy to let you do!!..
* And Yep.. total mix of stories out there it seems.

Thanks for the input though.
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Old 21-05-2013, 12:46   #4
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Steel boats they test with ultrasonic. Would that work on FC? At the very least I would go out with a mallet or hard rubber hammer and tap firmly all over the hull to see if I get a good sound, just like tapping wood for dry rot.
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Old 21-05-2013, 12:55   #5
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Here is a previous discussion that covers in detail several of your questions. Might want to go read this.

Testing Cement Hulls for Defects . . .
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Old 21-05-2013, 12:58   #6
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zooplax View Post
Boat is a good price and a good size a lot for the money in my opinion compared to others out there.

* Weight wise its supposedly 23 tons.
* Not looking for finance - don't fancy the headache of paying it whilst we are away sailing.
* From reading seems the only way to survey it is to drill it.. (which i can't believe any boat owner happy to let you do!!..
* And Yep.. total mix of stories out there it seems.

Thanks for the input though.
Just noticed the wt you mentioned. 23 tons? I have a medium to heavy displacement GRP, 14 Meter boat that dry wt displaces half that. 23 tons sounds really heavy.
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Old 21-05-2013, 13:22   #7
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Yes 23 tons.. lot heavier than GRP but steel could be in this range too at that size.

Will have a good read through that link now. Thx
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Old 21-05-2013, 13:40   #8
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Here is a previous discussion that covers in detail several of your questions. Might want to go read this.

Testing Cement Hulls for Defects . . .
Quite a positive thread to be honest, and like I thought there is not much you can do to tell if it is good or not.. one plus is its been in the water for 23 years so it should have had problems by now.. Tricky one isn't it??

I like the fact that concrete is more maintenance free compared to the likes of steel that is if it does not crack open.

Thanks for the thread link, Any one else got any ideas?

Anyone got a 14.5m insured ? and how much you paying?
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Old 21-05-2013, 15:41   #9
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I would contact some insurance companies if I were you as in NZ it seems that you can't insure Ferro boats anymore. We tried a couple of brokers on behalf of a friend and we were told that you can't insure a rock as a boat. Hopefully that's not the attitude where you are. Happy sailing
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Old 21-05-2013, 15:51   #10
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

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Originally Posted by NZGrant View Post
I would contact some insurance companies if I were you as in NZ it seems that you can't insure Ferro boats anymore. We tried a couple of brokers on behalf of a friend and we were told that you can't insure a rock as a boat. Hopefully that's not the attitude where you are. Happy sailing
LOL.. Yeah i have a feeling the insurance could be a tough one will do that tomorrow. cheers for the heads up..
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Old 21-05-2013, 16:04   #11
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

I believe that ferro boats got a bad rap years ago because they were an inexpensive building medium that encouraged a lot of backyard builders to take on construction without much of a clue what to do, under budgeted and waning interest.
I've been aboard some really fine ferro boats, well designed, supurbly finished and fairly good sailers for heavy displacement boats. I've also seem some real disasters!
Even turned down deliveries of some quite questionable builds!
Concerning insurance, that can be problematic. However, with a thorough survey by a marine surveyor of the insurering company's chice, you might be OK. Good luck on your search... Phil
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Old 21-05-2013, 16:31   #12
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

Thanks it seems everyone has the same view, through the mountains of forums i've read through, everyone says there are some horrible DIY jobs out there but then there are also some great professional builds out there, except for the likes of NZ not insuring them and reading about one that sunk in minutes after an ocean crossing (little scary).. I suppose unfortunately this could happen with any boat if conditions were bad.
They do not sound terrible boats.
Can anyone actually tell me that a professionally built ferro boat that has a marine survey completed with no problems found on it, be worse than some GRP, Wood or Steel boats in the same condition?.
Anything you think I should ask the current owner on a general viewing before any sea trials?

If he has circumnavigated in it it must say something about the boat right?
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Old 21-05-2013, 17:03   #13
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

I am sadly on a budget and looking for a good sized boat to hopefully circumnavigate as well as charter from time to time in the future, I ideally do not want to take out finance so am trying to stick with my budget (under 30k). (OP)

You dont want advice from anyone with experience on this proposition - while its nice and i concur, for everyone to wish you luck, I doubt whether anyone will actually encourage you. If you want to circumnavigate - you'll hopefully learn what is and isnt possible given your circumstances before you start looking for a boat. If you want to run a charter boat business - same. If you want to live on a boat - same. If you look at all these things separately and then figure what one boat will effectively do them all at your budget - let us know please.
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Old 21-05-2013, 17:06   #14
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

As a quick calculation 14m = 46'.

Boracay is steel, about 44' and has a weight of about 15 tonne.

Along with scarce and unreliable insurance you'll likely find that it's more difficult and expensive to slip and the long term maintenance is much more expensive.

I built a ferro boat a long long time ago and would hesitate to recommend one for serious voyaging. There are just too many unknowns. For live aboard it could be just fine and maybe be OK for short coastal trips.

30k is still a lot of money. Add the increased risk and operating costs and it's not going to be cheap.

You don't say why you want such a big boat. As a comparison the Beneteau 343 may be suitable for what you want, has well understood architecture, may be readily resellable and would have long term cost that is comparable to the boat that you are considering.

Do keep in mind that modern production yachts have much better ustilization of interior space than older designs.

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Old 21-05-2013, 17:07   #15
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Re: Looking at buying Ferro Boat - Any pointers?

If Yogi Berra were online, he might say something such as...."Yeah--ferro cement boats are so popular and so well-loved that you can't find them." There must be a reason why after decades of them being constructed as a "low cost" alternative that there hardly seems to be any of them. There must be a reason why wood has gone away pretty much, why steel and aluminum have a following, albeit a small one, and of course fiberglass is everywhere and seems to last forever...but ferrocement?? I dunno..it's just never taken off. It may have its orthodoxy and its tiny, very tiny following of adherents and enthusiasts, but there must be a reason why it just is not that popular. I don't know...but it is something to consider.
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