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Old 28-04-2011, 14:54   #1
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Hull Material

I've got a question. I have been looking at live aboard vessels for a minute now and have come across several different hull materials used. Out of fiberglass, wood, steel, aluminum, ferro-cement, and composite, which would most suggest and why. For one reason or another, I have been focusing on fiberglass hulls and have no reason why. What might the masses suggest and again, why? Thanks.
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Old 28-04-2011, 15:18   #2
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Re: Hull Material

We chose wood/epoxy/glass composite for our trimaran... but I assume you mean monohulls? If I were to switch to "the dark side", I would go for a shallow draft un-painted aluminum hull. This one is bilge keeled, but others have twin CBs. (like Ovni)

They are TOUGH... forgiving of collision, sit on the bottom "upright" on a disappearing tide, and you can be approached by a dugout canoe with no damage. The material doesn't get blisters, but in marinas, I'd watch things closely for galvanic corrosion. Otherwise, it helps avoid "that sinking feeling" if you see full size trees float right by, like I have.

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Old 28-04-2011, 15:19   #3
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Re: Hull Material

I think you're right to focus on fiberglass. It's a proven material, it involves less maintenance than wood, and is, I believe, generally less expensive than steel (and definitely less than aluminum).
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Old 28-04-2011, 15:29   #4
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Re: Hull Material

There have been several threads on this topic and there is no simple answer.

You need to dope out a lot of questions first.

To simplfy you probably want to avoid ferro cement.

Cold and rocky climes tend to favor steel and/or aluminum.

Aluminum is more expensive than steel

Wood is doable, but it takes a certain kind of person.

Otherwise you are probably best with glass.

Welcome aboard and have fun poking around at past threads. Use the Google search feature, much better than the top one.

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Old 28-04-2011, 15:31   #5
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pirate Re: Hull Material

If its soundly built and well maintained all is equal... maintainance is relative to what you put into it.... leave anything long enough and its hard work... regardless
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Old 28-04-2011, 15:43   #6
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Re: Hull Material

Hand me that can opener. Someone asked for worms.
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Old 28-04-2011, 15:53   #7
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Re: Hull Material

Quote:
Originally Posted by perchance View Post
Hand me that can opener. Someone asked for worms.
LOL!

Well, something like 99% of cruising boats are plastic -- which is not an accident. Because glass reinforced plastic is an incredibly good material -- noble, that is, non-reactive almost like gold, almost, lasts forever, strong, stable, relatively cheap, easy to shape. What's not to love?

Other materials also have their strong points and adherents. Steel, though it rusts, is very strong. Aluminum is less reactive than steel and is even stronger by weight. Both metals require a lot more care where corrosion is concerned, than plastic.

Wood -- beautiful, strong for its weight, traditional, beautiful, did I say BEAUTIFUL? An enormous job to keep up.

Ferro -- well, I'll leave it to someone else to come up with some advantages of that.

Choose according to your taste.
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:02   #8
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pirate Re: Hull Material

The thing that makes me laugh is that 95% of folk have never owned a wooden boat... just repeat an 'adage'... I've owned three... no more work than GRP...
Its like that tale about Hunters and Ferro... lotta know nothings playing 'Little Sir Echo'....
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:04   #9
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Re: Hull Material

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
The thing that makes me laugh is that 95% of folk have never owned a wooden boat... just repeat an 'adage'... I've owned three... no more work than GRP...
Its like that tale about Hunters and Ferro... lotta know nothings playing 'Little Sir Echo'....
Would you agree that it depends on the boat?

Cause we have had 3, two of the damned things named after me! and they were nothing, in my experience, except wood wrapped around leaks and took a TON more time and money to maintain...

And we DID maintain them... lord how we maintained 'em...
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:21   #10
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Would you agree that it depends on the boat?

Cause we have had 3, two of the damned things named after me! and they were nothing, in my experience, except wood wrapped around leaks and took a TON more time and money to maintain...

And we DID maintain them... lord how we maintained 'em...
ROLF... the 1st boat I ever owned was wood.... it took me 18mths to get her together... and myself... bad bike accident...
At the launch the 'Sages' said because she'd been on land for 5yrs (abandoned.. bought her of the yard for the price of the bills) she'd take a ton of water before she sealed/plimed up.... she did not take a drop....
I'd primed the hull every evening with buckets of seawater hauled by hand after everyone had gone home...
Learning the properties and how to deal with them makes life so much simpler....
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:23   #11
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Re: Hull Material

heh... yeah well... the LAST boat I will ever own will be plastic all over the outside...

But I confess to loving to look at boats like yours.. and I will show up for the occasional recaulking and fairing party and I bring food ; -)

And that hauling buckets of water and 18 months to rehab.. you wanna try and explain how that comes under the heading of easy?

just sayin...
; -D
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:27   #12
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Re: Hull Material

Should you decide on glass...

The yard I worked in for a while specialized in blister repair, HUNDREDS per year. The peel, fair, glass, barrier coat jobs could easily run 20 to $30,000! This was also true of the high dollar brands, that were supposedly "resistant", and only 5 years old.

If it were possible with a NEW hull, #1... I'd try to get an ALL epoxy hull, OR I would barrier coat the bottom before launch at > twice the mills that the product suggest. It is not enough thickness, considering "holidays" & "sanded spots" over a lifetime of maintenance. Then I would keep a dusty dry bilge for the life of the boat. EVEN if I had to build an epoxy glassed sump around & under the engine, shaft log, and mast base!

Until you have done a three month (all day, every day) blister repair, It is hard to imagine what a pain this can be.

Fiberglass has a remarkable lifespan, and the old, THICK (= slow) versions are relatively impact resistant, BUT not like Aluminum. In Europe, it is a popular choice, not an "also ran" like here.

"Longevity" of fiberglass reinforced plastic was unknown for a VERY long time, and has absolutely nothing to do with it's popularity in the US as a building material. The material's popularity & universal acceptance was totally about profit! A fiberglass hull can be built in days or a couple of weeks. This makes for a lot more profit and lower cost in the end, which in turn, sells more boats.

Other than the potential for blisters, (which can be minimized as I pointed out)... and the fact that they can break "like glass" in a collision, (worked on LOTS of them), it is OK for most folks. For serious cruisers that are willing to pay more, and want a boat that can actually have the bow CAVED IN, and still sail home, Aluminum is a viable option.

Otherwise, I have a friend with a THICK glass hull "slug" of a truly blue water boat, and he has a massive oval bulkhead "submarine hatch", between the cabin & front 1/3rd of the boat. It also gives peace of mind!

The biggest choice in the US, will certainly be in FRP, as it represents 95% of what's available.

Best of luck in your decision, M.
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:35   #13
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pirate Re: Hull Material

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarafina View Post
heh... yeah well... the LAST boat I will ever own will be plastic all over the outside...

But I confess to loving to look at boats like yours.. and I will show up for the occasional recaulking and fairing party and I bring food ; -)

And that hauling buckets of water and 18 months to rehab.. you wanna try and explain how that comes under the heading of easy?

just sayin...
; -D

The hard bit was dragging myself across the road with my arms to see if the bike was OK.... below mid spine was not responding....
After that everything seemed easy...
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:40   #14
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Re: Hull Material

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The hard bit was dragging myself across the road with my arms to see if the bike was OK.... below mid spine was not responding....
After that everything seemed easy...
oh, you wooden boat guys.. always with the excuses!

But yeah, I imagine after that it all looks relatively easy ; -)
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Old 28-04-2011, 16:53   #15
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Re: Hull Material

I've had wood and glass boats. To start I love wood boats,the way they look and even more the way they feel when you sail them. BUT wood boats don't tend to do well in tropic climates. Everyones heard of worms, how many have heard of putty bugs? I can't even haul a wood boat in Ft. Lauderdale anymore.The only do it yourself yard won't haul them. If you like to work on a boat buy wood. If you want to sail buy glass.
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