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Old 06-04-2024, 17:25   #1
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Steel hull?

Looking for my next boat. Fiberglass hull, of course, as that is all I have ever owned, know how to repair, etc.

Found a near-new, mint condition steel-hulled beauty. WOW! Mint condition. Launched in 2018. 50 hours on the diesel.

But I know nothing of this material….would this be a good way to go?

Trip will be pretty extensive….down the west coast of USA, Sea of Cortez, Panama Canal, then up to Cancun and eventually up US east coast.

Thanks for any input….

David
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Old 06-04-2024, 23:21   #2
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Re: Steel hull?

Like anything steel has advantages and disadvantages, might be that its better suited for long term long distance cruising though, quite a hands on learning curve. Been living on one for a long time..
This might be of interest >
https://www.amazon.com/Metal-boat-ma.../dp/B0070QRME4
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Old 07-04-2024, 05:20   #3
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Re: Steel hull?

It helps if the boat was professionally built. Not that amateurs can not do an even better job, but it is rare.

Then it is the paint system. If it was done correctly with good materials.

Steel boats are generally cheaper to purchase, more boat for the money. But don’t buy so big you have no funds left.

They are generally more rugged, take more abuse, than others. But insurance can be a pain because the brokers want extra stuff they don’t understand.

Tell us more about your beauty.

What model is it?
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Old 07-04-2024, 05:58   #4
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Re: Steel hull?

As an old steely myself, I can tell you that steel can be very forgiving as it is incredibly strong, even rusty steel is incredibly strong.

The big bugaboo, off course, is rusting. A boat that has been properly sand-blasted, painted, etc, will give you many trouble free years.

The big fly in the ointment is rusting that occurs on the inside of the boat, behind cabinets, under settee's, in the bilge, etc. These are places that are difficult to see and inspect.

However, a thorough yearly inspection will take care of most problems.
I had my steel boat for around 11 years. In all that time, I had some routine maintenance to address some isolated rust spots, but no more maintenance than looking after a fiberglass boat.

Mine was the hard-chine version, but many modern day steel boats have the soft chine.

When I sold the boat, the new owner had the hull " sounded" by use of a metal thickness gauge. This can be purchased on Amazon for a few hundred dollars.
Nonetheless, after 100's of " soundings" no part of the hull showed any material loss whatsoever.
That boat, now over 40 years old is still around and going strong.

It will be worth it to find out the thickness of the hull plating. Mine was 3/16", but is often 1/8" or some other gauge.

Overall, my boat sailed as well as any fiberglass model, I even raced it from time to time.

It's certainly worth a good, close look.
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Old 07-04-2024, 06:09   #5
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Re: Steel hull?

Thanks for the replies so far.

The guy who had the hull professionally built spent 30 years to finish it….then died….and the wife knows nothing about it, so it “is what it is”…..

Will be going to look at it soon…
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Old 07-04-2024, 06:44   #6
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Re: Steel hull?

As a general rule you should never buy a steel boat under 50 feet, preferably more. Smaller steel boats don't have the displacement to carry the weight of a thick enough hull and won't last long. They rust from the inside and last until the steel is used up in the cavities you can't access.

Our 71 ft had 1/4" steel below the water line and 3/16 above. At one stage in the initial restoration I divided the weight of the boat by the daily weight of rust going to the dumpster and found that the last bucket full would be in 107 years.

Next door there was an absolutely gorgeous 45 foot steel boat for sale but the "outside" paint job was all that was holding it together, you could punch a fist through the hull between the ribs.

Our 75 ton steel boat was indestructible. We took it places we probably shouldn't have. Read about surviving hurricane Hugo on board.
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Old 07-04-2024, 06:48   #7
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Re: Steel hull?

Quote:
Originally Posted by massnspace View Post
Thanks for the replies so far.

The guy who had the hull professionally built spent 30 years to finish it….then died….and the wife knows nothing about it, so it “is what it is”…..

Will be going to look at it soon…
I would think there would be some documentation. See if the wife will let you look through it. It could be rather cryptic to decifer but if there are receipts you might be able to figure some things out.

So the hull was professionally built but the PO then took 30 years to fit it out? You need to know if the hull after being built was also painted and had the interior coated. 30 years ago they mostly used coal tar epoxy - if that was all done as part of the professional hull build then you should see no rust anywhere. Can you get to see the hull on the inside?

Good luck. Sad about the PO...

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Old 07-04-2024, 07:01   #8
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Re: Steel hull?

I had the inside of my hull painted with coal-tar epoxy. Incredible stuff, hardens tough as nails. Never ever had a lick of trouble with inside rusting.

One other thing to look for is hull insulation. My boat was insulated with 1" thick styrofoam panels down to the water line. Never had a lick of condensation issues.
Insulation inside the boat is a must.
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Old 07-04-2024, 07:32   #9
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Re: Steel hull?

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Originally Posted by massnspace View Post
Thanks for the replies so far.

The guy who had the hull professionally built spent 30 years to finish it….then died….and the wife knows nothing about it, so it “is what it is”…..

Will be going to look at it soon…
If you are looking for something to take you far & wide & tough as there is based on no real info that sounds interesting if the price is right...
Something for a year or so which you can turn up & sail away in maybe not..

Sometimes helps to imagine you're buying for someone else to keep our nature human rose tinted glasses bias at arms length.
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Old 10-04-2024, 05:56   #10
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Re: Steel hull?

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As a general rule you should never buy a steel boat under 50 feet, preferably more. Smaller steel boats don't have the displacement to carry the weight of a thick enough hull and won't last long. They rust from the inside and last until the steel is used up in the cavities you can't access.

Our 71 ft had 1/4" steel below the water line and 3/16 above. At one stage in the initial restoration I divided the weight of the boat by the daily weight of rust going to the dumpster and found that the last bucket full would be in 107 years.

Next door there was an absolutely gorgeous 45 foot steel boat for sale but the "outside" paint job was all that was holding it together, you could punch a fist through the hull between the ribs.
It's getting tiresome that the same false argument still pops up. It's a proven fact that it's not about the boat lenght. It's fundamentally about the design, build quality and maintenance of the steel boat. There are 100 year-old steel boats in Europe less that 40ft. And accordingly you "can't access" all the cavities in a 70+ft boat without removing panelling etc, same as on any smaller boat.

I.e. lots of amazing steel sailboats are already in 35ft range, i.e. Wylo (google Iron Bark). It's been to crazy high seas and high latitudes without any sweat, including multiple winterings in Antarctic/Arctic ice (try that with your plastic boat!).

In terms of thickness, my 30-year old 40ft steel cutter is 10mm keel area 6mm and to 5mm just below waterline. Above water (deck etc) it's 4mm. Hence very similar to your 'indestructable 71ft' boat in terms of thickness. How's this is any less durable? And doing my own yearly ultrasonic surveys there aren't places where it's more than couple of fraction of percent loss of thickness, that could be counted as a device measurement error. My inside paint is almost 30 years old accordingly. A good practice for any steel boat is to temporarily strip, sandblast and re-paint inside with high-quality 2-part epoxy every 25-30 years, but mine still looks like new condition. Just to show how much a design and high quality paint matters on steel boats. A paint is where you don't cut corners on a steel boat IMO.

Yes, like with everything, there are bad-build steel boats, i.e. mill-scale not completely removed (= later problems), shut-welded lateral rib supports (small amounts of water stays standing in the intersection areas = latter problems), different metals above-below waterline (i.e. SS reelings, aluminium pilot house, brass through-holes etc = problems later). With those boats there's more things to be take into account and more work, and more suspect in durability/longetivity accordingly I guess.

IMHO that's why it's important that the steel boat is built by someone who knows the trade in-depth, and having a long tradition of steel boat building trade is very important for a builder IMO.

The known "working trick" on longetivity on any well-built steel boat is excellent (2-part) paint scheme inside/outside (inside more important since outside you can observe in detail every year on haulouts), galvanic protection (also above deck materials, i.e. no point having steel-eating SS rails, brass bolts/through taps etc) and electrolysis (or stray current) - the latter is by far the most agressive enemy of any metal boat. Here the solution is well planned electrics in terms of bonding and isolation, ditto on isolated transformer shore power.

When those simple things are taken care of, they are the strongest and sturdiest boats around per buck hands down - you can sail to pretty much any place you like, hitting docks, rocks or icebergs is not a big issue unlike plastic boats that just immediately sink with head-sized holes or broken-off-keels in even magnitudes lower impact hits in comparison. And a well built steel boat last very long time (50+ years) when those above mentioned factors are taken into consideration on building and on maintenance schedule.

Just me 2c.
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Old 10-04-2024, 06:22   #11
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Re: Steel hull?

So as we edge into a crowded anchorage heads pop up all round to check.
But when they hear the rattle of the anchor chain rolling out you get the holler: "You're a bit close aren't you?", you can answer, "Oh its OK, were steel".
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Old 10-04-2024, 11:24   #12
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Re: Steel hull?

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Originally Posted by Briis View Post

...unlike plastic boats that just immediately sink with head-sized holes or broken-off-keels in even magnitudes lower impact hits in comparison.
While the rest of your post i have no concerns about but the above line is simply absurd hyperbole and grossly inaccurate.

There have been actual tests done on fiberglass hull boats showing how much more robust they actually are.

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Old 10-04-2024, 11:51   #13
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Re: Steel hull?

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While the rest of your post i have no concerns about but the above line is simply absurd hyperbole and grossly inaccurate.

There have been actual tests done on fiberglass hull boats showing how much more robust they actually are.

dj
"Robust" has lot of dimensions. Would you rather be aground on a coral reef on a fiberglass boat with an encapsulated keel, or a steel boat? The answer is easy for me. Steel has a lot more abrasion reisstance.

OP, I owned and cruised extensively on a small steel boat (31 feet) years ago, and today own a fiberglass AWB. I can't add a lot to the above discussion except to say that keeping steel boat looking good is a constant rear guard action against minor rust outbreaks. Its easier to keep up on it if you live aboard.

The other thing I would mention is that there is a trade-off between strength, weight and steel thickness that is more acute in smaller boats. Mine was professionally built in a yard in Holland and was 5mm on hull and 3 mm on superstructure. It was super strongly built, but the weight distribution was not ideal, and it was not a fast boat. As the boat gets larger, it is easier to design a strong boat that is relatively fast under sail. How big is the boat you are looking at?
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Old 15-04-2024, 07:27   #14
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Re: Steel hull?

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Originally Posted by YANDINA View Post
As a general rule you should never buy a steel boat under 50 feet, preferably more. Smaller steel boats don't have the displacement to carry the weight of a thick enough hull and won't last long. They rust from the inside and last until the steel is used up in the cavities you can't access.
Golden rule according to who??

As someone else has already posted, there are more than their fair share of sub-50ft steelies out there - our previous one included - that sail well and will easily stand the test of time.

Good paint, good prep, good insulation and good ventilation are key.

N
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Old 15-04-2024, 07:38   #15
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Re: Steel hull?

Rusts and heavy and slow. When sailing a friends steel boat it seemed like every reasonable sized wave came over the bow.
Easy to find places for your refrigerator magnets.
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