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Old 21-08-2011, 07:44   #1
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Ready to Take the Plunge

Hi All,

We live in country SA and I'm now semi retired, so about to buy our first 'real' yacht. I did quite a bit of yachting (as crew) some years ago and am keen to get back into it. Looking at several prospects right now, 3 of which are ferrocement and 1 a more common GRP.

The ferros are a Len Hedges 32 and a Hartley Queenslander 35 ketch.

The GRP is a Roberts 29.

Believe it or not I'm shopping on the east coast as the cost of quite small boats here is significantly higher than over there, even allowing for the expense of sailing it home.

Regards

AussieGeoff
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Old 21-08-2011, 11:24   #2
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, AussieGeoff.

Do I assume correctly that you mean shopping on the U.S. East Coast, prior to sailing home to South Africa?
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Old 21-08-2011, 19:53   #3
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Oh dear no. I live in South Australia, and I'm shopping for a boat on the east coast of Australia, mostly Sydney.

Not that many yachties (or yachts) in SA so the price is quite high for anything big enough to be comfortable on for more than a few days.

I'm looking at a couple of ferros, both in Sydney and now one on ebay in Melbourne (that's Victoria not Florida). There is simply not much about in our price range here. I could probably make a buck by buying something in Sydney, sailing it to Adelaide and putting it on the market, but really I just want to save some money on the initial purchase of something rather bigger/better than I can get here (SA). I'm also eying off a wooden Daydream in Sydney as a fall back. I've now decided against the Roberts 29 as it needs an engine rebuild. If it was local I'd probably still consider it, I can rebuild an engine myself given the time, but not if it's on the dark side of the moon. So I'm waiting for more info on the two ferros in Sydney and watching the one on ebay. The ebay boat is only half the distance to ferry home, so that's also a selling point but the Len Hedges Cape 32 is a centre cockpit job which I quite like and it looks good so far.

Couple of other 'possibles' and we are still looking around, so nothing is set in (dare I say it) concrete...

At the risk of starting yet another love/hate ferroboat thread, I've done quite a bit of research on ferros and thet simple truth seems to be that if they are still floating after thirty plus years, it's reasonable to assume that the hull was properly constructed. Preservation of the hull is largely a question of keeping the water away from the hull material, which is equally applicable to wood and steel hulls and even to GRP. Repairs are relatively simple and even rust showing through is not the kiss of death, that too is fixable, largely a question of time and patience and the right techniques, not necessarily a boatload of money.

Downsides, and there are some. Nearly impossible to get a ferroboat insured in Oz. This is stupid prejudice by insurers, nothing more. It's now almost as difficult to get WOODEN boats insured in Oz in fact. If it's not under 20 years old and built of GRP you will have to shop around, get expensive surveys etc etc. I believe third party property damage is achievable for ferros here. I'm in a country town so 'marinas' are a non issue realistically. I'll try and get a slot at the local fishing boat jetty where the rest of the local yachties tie up or a mooring at a small place about thirty miles away where their local yacht club moor their bigger boats. (I'm a member of that club).

I've discussed ferro in detail with a civil engineer (retired) who has considerable experience with reinforced concrete. He's not a yachtie or even a boatie. He found it surprising that people would drive over bridges made of steel reinforced concrete that have had their support structures in seawater for fifty years without a qualm but if you build a floating structure from the same material there is an expectation that it will suddenly disintegrate if looked at harshly.
His primary area of concern was how the cement was applied and cured, as he considered that was absolutely critical to the process. Done properly, well, he considered it would be a very strong hull that would probably grow in strength over time, provided the armature was protected from external corrosive elements. In short, keep the hull sealed and painted. That done, he saw no reason why it should not last a very long time indeed. He also considered that any boat made of ferro which is still on the air side of the air/water interface after thirty years was unlikely to have serious structural issues if it was kept adequately sealed.

Having read some of the arguments for/against in the forums, I have seen similar (professional) opinions several times and it surprises me that many seem to discard them. I found him quite convincing.

The resale value is lower, yes. Again this is an insurance/prejudice issue largely. Upside is to me that I can buy a bigger boat for less money. I don't really care about the resale value, chances are this boat will become a family possession and will doubtless outlast me. I'm also faintly amused by people who consider a yacht (any kind) as an 'investment'. This implies it will keep it's value or appreciate. Call me cynical, but a yacht, or indeed any boat, is to some degree a hole in the water you put money in and watch it disappear. So you are paying to use it. This applies to any boat and I could argue that hull mainenance and repair on a good ferro hull is less expensive than on a steel hull and having seen first hand the effects of large scale osmosis on a glass hull, definitely less than to fix that. Bottom line is that a yacht is not an investment. Period. You will never ever get back what you paid for it and what you spent on it while you owned it. The resale value of a ferro is less than for another type of hull but then it would have cost you less to start with.

Ok, that's my position. I've kicked around yachts a bit when I was younger and been up and down the east coast a few times as crew on various boats of various hull types so I'm not a complete novice.
I've been involved in marine rescue here and learned a lot from that.

I look forward to learning a lot more over the years left to me.


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Old 21-08-2011, 20:58   #4
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Welcome Aboard Cruisers Forum Geoff
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Old 21-08-2011, 21:05   #5
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Thank you sir. Looks like a good place to be.

I like your tagline, it reminds me of something a day cruise skipper said over the PA.

'Even a bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office'

Works for me.


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Old 21-08-2011, 21:32   #6
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Nice place usually, have had 67 days consecutively in the 100 to 108 degrees F. Too darn hot, even on the water.
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Old 21-08-2011, 21:41   #7
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieGeoff View Post
Oh dear no. I live in South Australia, and I'm shopping for a boat on the east coast of Australia, mostly Sydney.

Not that many yachties (or yachts) in SA so the price is quite high for anything big enough to be comfortable on for more than a few days.

I'm looking at a couple of ferros, both in Sydney and now one on ebay in Melbourne (that's Victoria not Florida). There is simply not much about in our price range here. I could probably make a buck by buying something in Sydney, sailing it to Adelaide and putting it on the market, but really I just want to save some money on the initial purchase of something rather bigger/better than I can get here (SA). I'm also eying off a wooden Daydream in Sydney as a fall back. I've now decided against the Roberts 29 as it needs an engine rebuild. If it was local I'd probably still consider it, I can rebuild an engine myself given the time, but not if it's on the dark side of the moon. So I'm waiting for more info on the two ferros in Sydney and watching the one on ebay. The ebay boat is only half the distance to ferry home, so that's also a selling point but the Len Hedges Cape 32 is a centre cockpit job which I quite like and it looks good so far.

Couple of other 'possibles' and we are still looking around, so nothing is set in (dare I say it) concrete...

At the risk of starting yet another love/hate ferroboat thread, I've done quite a bit of research on ferros and thet simple truth seems to be that if they are still floating after thirty plus years, it's reasonable to assume that the hull was properly constructed. Preservation of the hull is largely a question of keeping the water away from the hull material, which is equally applicable to wood and steel hulls and even to GRP. Repairs are relatively simple and even rust showing through is not the kiss of death, that too is fixable, largely a question of time and patience and the right techniques, not necessarily a boatload of money.

Downsides, and there are some. Nearly impossible to get a ferroboat insured in Oz. This is stupid prejudice by insurers, nothing more. It's now almost as difficult to get WOODEN boats insured in Oz in fact. If it's not under 20 years old and built of GRP you will have to shop around, get expensive surveys etc etc. I believe third party property damage is achievable for ferros here. I'm in a country town so 'marinas' are a non issue realistically. I'll try and get a slot at the local fishing boat jetty where the rest of the local yachties tie up or a mooring at a small place about thirty miles away where their local yacht club moor their bigger boats. (I'm a member of that club).

I've discussed ferro in detail with a civil engineer (retired) who has considerable experience with reinforced concrete. He's not a yachtie or even a boatie. He found it surprising that people would drive over bridges made of steel reinforced concrete that have had their support structures in seawater for fifty years without a qualm but if you build a floating structure from the same material there is an expectation that it will suddenly disintegrate if looked at harshly.
His primary area of concern was how the cement was applied and cured, as he considered that was absolutely critical to the process. Done properly, well, he considered it would be a very strong hull that would probably grow in strength over time, provided the armature was protected from external corrosive elements. In short, keep the hull sealed and painted. That done, he saw no reason why it should not last a very long time indeed. He also considered that any boat made of ferro which is still on the air side of the air/water interface after thirty years was unlikely to have serious structural issues if it was kept adequately sealed.

Having read some of the arguments for/against in the forums, I have seen similar (professional) opinions several times and it surprises me that many seem to discard them. I found him quite convincing.

The resale value is lower, yes. Again this is an insurance/prejudice issue largely. Upside is to me that I can buy a bigger boat for less money. I don't really care about the resale value, chances are this boat will become a family possession and will doubtless outlast me. I'm also faintly amused by people who consider a yacht (any kind) as an 'investment'. This implies it will keep it's value or appreciate. Call me cynical, but a yacht, or indeed any boat, is to some degree a hole in the water you put money in and watch it disappear. So you are paying to use it. This applies to any boat and I could argue that hull mainenance and repair on a good ferro hull is less expensive than on a steel hull and having seen first hand the effects of large scale osmosis on a glass hull, definitely less than to fix that. Bottom line is that a yacht is not an investment. Period. You will never ever get back what you paid for it and what you spent on it while you owned it. The resale value of a ferro is less than for another type of hull but then it would have cost you less to start with.

Ok, that's my position. I've kicked around yachts a bit when I was younger and been up and down the east coast a few times as crew on various boats of various hull types so I'm not a complete novice.
I've been involved in marine rescue here and learned a lot from that.

I look forward to learning a lot more over the years left to me.


AussieGeoff
i can understand an insurance bias against wooden boats, because the maintenance is time-consuming and costly, and a lot of previous owners don't do much simpler maintenance.

One of your insurance issues may be finding a marine surveyor who is knowledgeable about ferro-cement boats. I wouldn't buy a boat without a marine survey, even though mine missed some significant things -- like a chain plate about to completely fail ...
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Old 21-08-2011, 22:35   #8
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

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i can understand an insurance bias against wooden boats, because the maintenance is time-consuming and costly, and a lot of previous owners don't do much simpler maintenance.
I'm not sure exactly why, but that sounds plausible at least. Frankly, boat insurance in Oz is something of a problem, and unreasonably expensive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
One of your insurance issues may be finding a marine surveyor who is knowledgeable about ferro-cement boats. I wouldn't buy a boat without a marine survey, even though mine missed some significant things -- like a chain plate about to completely fail ...
Hard to find and if I get a ferro, it won't be insurable here. Period. Even with a survey. So it will not be insured, except maybe for third party.
I can live with that in return for a lesser cost of ownership.

I'll forego a survey for a boat at the right price. I'm not averse to fixing issues myself. I have a lot of time and a little money not vice versa.

Surveys are quite expensive. In Sydney, I'm told just getting the boat out of the water there long enough for a survey can run into several hundred dollars, plus the cost of the survey. Where I am, getting the boat out might run to $50 at most and I can spend a week crawling over every inch.

I agree it's a balance between cost and the chance of hidden issues, but as you have discovered, even surveyors miss things. If it was on a ferro boat, I probably wouldn't bother. I spoke to a couple of surveyors over the course of researching hull types. They simply tried to talk me into getting a more 'conventional' hull. Translation, something they were familiar with. No, I won't say who, they are good men within their fields, they just dislike ferro.

Barring obvious damage and/or dodgy repairs, a ferro hull that wasn't built soundly is unlikely to be still on the water after 30 years or more,
so that leaves the things that are mostly the same on any boat.
Wooden hulled boats seem to have more scope for 'issues' than ferro for the most part and I can sniff out rot pretty well.

I knocked back a glass over ply power boat some years back because it appeared to have been glassed over when not fully dry. I suspect the transom was effectively hollow and I wouldn't have trusted the hull integrity enough to float it in a swimming pool.

I can spot most things that would be show stoppers. I'm looking for a cheap larger boat, which implies it will need at least some work. I'm fine with that. I also find that reputable brokers (and I will only deal with such) are not used car salesmen and will work with you to find what you want and will be honest about issues that exist.

AussieGeoff
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Old 21-08-2011, 23:30   #9
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Welcome aboard.

Looks like you've considered all the issues so you're making an informed decision.

Good luck.
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Old 22-08-2011, 01:09   #10
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Welcome to CF AussieGeoff...and good luck with your vessel search
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Old 22-08-2011, 01:34   #11
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Thanks for that. Might have found one. Hartley 35 Queenslander Ketch, built in Port Lincoln 73/74. Waiting for details and pictures. Sounds promising.

Be nice to bring her back to home waters (Port Lincoln is just at the end of the Gulf from us)

In answer to another poster, yes, I believe we're making an informed decision, I have spent a lot of time on research and spoken to a lot of people. It's been fun really.

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Old 22-08-2011, 02:31   #12
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

G'day AG, welcome aboard.
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Old 22-08-2011, 02:51   #13
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

Thank's mate. Actually a Van De Staat Super Dogger is one of my 'possibles'. How do you like them?


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Old 22-08-2011, 03:00   #14
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Insurance, budget, plans etc.

Having just been notified that I need my 5 year survey on a steel boat I can sympathise with your position. However I would strongly advise you to carefully check the credentials and track record of any company that you may be considering insuring with.

Having built a ferro boat I can see where your coming from. A similar boat to the one that I built was taken "round the world" while a friend took his from Oz to France only to have the side cave in when he "touched" a piling in one of the french canals.

One consideration with ferro boats is that electrolytic corrosion may have taken place in the reinforcing.

Australian boats do seem to be overpriced compared with those in the US but local prices may be coming down. There does not seem to be any financial penalty in waiting and looking.

You have not told us of your cruising plans and budget so it is hard to advise, however if you are only planning local "gunkholing" then some of the larger trailer sailers may be suitable.

I recently followed a thread on this Forum where the purchase of one of the Rob Legg trailer sailers was discussed and was surprised to find the the RL24, RL28 and RL34 seem to sell for what would be considered for reasonable prices in OZ. Not true blue water boats but they may be insurable in SA (do check, just guessing!!!!). The majority look to be in Queensland but they should be trailable or truckable.

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Old 22-08-2011, 03:13   #15
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Re: Ready to Take the Plunge

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Thank's mate. Actually a Van De Staat Super Dogger is one of my 'possibles'. How do you like them?


AussieGeoff
Well I am biased as I have no option but to like mine after spending 6 or 7 years completly refitting her. Back to bare wood (ply) inside and out, epoxy coated (with glass below the water line and on decks), New yanmar 2GM20 plus all new running gear, tanks, pumps, wiring, radios etc. All new fittings, rigging, sails etc. Only the mast, hull, keel, cabin, rudder is original and they were fully inspected etc.

I think they are a bit narrow for most people these days, everyone expects more internal room but that doesn't worry me personally. I am not sure if the balanced spade rudder is the best option for an off-shore boat, again it is a matter of compromise.

Mine was built professionally using top shelf materials and it shows up as the hull and cabin were in very good condition after 30 years.

Sails well and fast (but no longer a racer of course).
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