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Old 19-02-2021, 15:33   #1
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32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Hey everyone,

So I'm in the process of boat shopping, have been for a little while now and as luck would have it a boat fell into my lap, or rather two boats. The gentleman I'm renting from and his brother own two boats, they're older guys and are looking to sell one or the other, and I'm interested in buying. The two boats are radically different, and while I understand this is entirely personal preference I was wondering if anyone can maybe highlight some pros and cons I may have missed here.

Now I'll add, the plan is to keep learning to sail, gain experience and over the next 4 years do a slow refit and get ready to liveaboard full time and sail the world.

So first boat is an early 70s Wauquiez Centurion 32. Seems they have a great reputation, the interior is very nice, and in general the boat needs work but it's mostly aesthetic and would need some liveaboard amenities added (this applies to any boat in this price range it seems). Biggest drawback is I'm 6'3 and there's about 2 inches less headroom than I'd need to stand... although the cabin entrance opens above the galley so I would be able to stand and cook... I checked everything I could check and it looks good, obviously a survey will be done regardless what bout I choose...

Next is a Brent Swain design 36' sloop, launched in 1997. It's a backyard build but the man who built it had a dream to sail around the world and did a 3 year circumnavigation with this boat, and wrote a book while doing so. I've read this book now and it is very interesting to say the least. This boat needs some TLC, I checked everywhere I could inside and it seems all the rust is light surface rust, but it does need a full haul out and sand blast or grind out and there's some major work... Again (assuming the survey doesn't indicate the hull is beyond repair) this is work I would be willing to do. However, she is a bit of a pig. Sailing around here would be more motoring than anything else. But there's a good amount of headroom, a holding tank, and the interior teak is in great condition.

Is steel really that much more time and money? I mean if I hauled her out and did all the major work how much more maintenance would it be than fiberglass? And I know people love their headroom but if you're living in the Caribbean how often are you standing inside anyways?

The Wauquiez is a proven blue water boat as well... and I'd be able to enjoy sailing her here while I build my savings for the big trip...

Also both of these boats are priced VERY reasonably, the Wauquiez would be a few thousand $ more but otherwise very similarly priced.
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Old 19-02-2021, 16:01   #2
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Assuming you sandblast to white metal and then epoxy paint system + suitable anodes, you should be safe for at least 10 years assuming you touch up the little scrapes as they happen.


Sandblasting the interior is much more a bear than the outside due to the difficulty cleaning up and all the grit constantly falling to the bottom. Might want to thoroughly investigate the cost of the paint system, should not be too bad for a boat of that size. Look at Dougs thread on SV Seeker re painting and cost of materials + sources in Tulsa OK.
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Old 19-02-2021, 16:26   #3
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2ofEverything View Post
Hey everyone,

So I'm in the process of boat shopping, have been for a little while now and as luck would have it a boat fell into my lap, or rather two boats. The gentleman I'm renting from and his brother own two boats, they're older guys and are looking to sell one or the other, and I'm interested in buying. The two boats are radically different, and while I understand this is entirely personal preference I was wondering if anyone can maybe highlight some pros and cons I may have missed here.

Now I'll add, the plan is to keep learning to sail, gain experience and over the next 4 years do a slow refit and get ready to liveaboard full time and sail the world.

So first boat is an early 70s Wauquiez Centurion 32. Seems they have a great reputation, the interior is very nice, and in general the boat needs work but it's mostly aesthetic and would need some liveaboard amenities added (this applies to any boat in this price range it seems). Biggest drawback is I'm 6'3 and there's about 2 inches less headroom than I'd need to stand... although the cabin entrance opens above the galley so I would be able to stand and cook... I checked everything I could check and it looks good, obviously a survey will be done regardless what bout I choose...

Next is a Brent Swain design 36' sloop, launched in 1997. It's a backyard build but the man who built it had a dream to sail around the world and did a 3 year circumnavigation with this boat, and wrote a book while doing so. I've read this book now and it is very interesting to say the least. This boat needs some TLC, I checked everywhere I could inside and it seems all the rust is light surface rust, but it does need a full haul out and sand blast or grind out and there's some major work... Again (assuming the survey doesn't indicate the hull is beyond repair) this is work I would be willing to do. However, she is a bit of a pig. Sailing around here would be more motoring than anything else. But there's a good amount of headroom, a holding tank, and the interior teak is in great condition.

Is steel really that much more time and money? I mean if I hauled her out and did all the major work how much more maintenance would it be than fiberglass? And I know people love their headroom but if you're living in the Caribbean how often are you standing inside anyways?

The Wauquiez is a proven blue water boat as well... and I'd be able to enjoy sailing her here while I build my savings for the big trip...

Also both of these boats are priced VERY reasonably, the Wauquiez would be a few thousand $ more but otherwise very similarly priced.
Without seeing the boats our responses here will be more on the steel vs fiberglass decisions that have been discussed many many times.

I just want to mention that I had a steel pig boat as you call it for 15 years and it took me across an ocean and far beyond, and I loved that pig, I was cruising and not on a rush. The pig really took care of me and I retributed. I felt very safe and secure.
However, the maintenance was hard. You are always mending painting sanding, no matter how well the boat was built, something on deck will rust. Check The Old Sea Dog on Youtube, see his boat when he first bought it, then check the last episode.

This is your first boat. Get one and go sailing then make the decision. Since your initial investiment is low, don't go for a major project at this point, you may not be sure of exaclty what you want. And BTW, headroom is inportant - bad weather and rainy days exists, specially in your neck of the woods - be gentle with your back.

Good luck and keep us informed.
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Old 19-02-2021, 16:46   #4
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Yes, we have 2 steel boats so not allergic to steel.

No one can answer this but you. We dont know anything about intended use or the boats your budget or expectations or skill set.

In all likelyhood yiu could make either one work if you have it in you.
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Old 19-02-2021, 16:54   #5
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2ofEverything View Post
Hey everyone,

So I'm in the process of boat shopping, have been for a little while now and as luck would have it a boat fell into my lap, or rather two boats. The gentleman I'm renting from and his brother own two boats, they're older guys and are looking to sell one or the other, and I'm interested in buying. The two boats are radically different, and while I understand this is entirely personal preference I was wondering if anyone can maybe highlight some pros and cons I may have missed here.

Now I'll add, the plan is to keep learning to sail, gain experience and over the next 4 years do a slow refit and get ready to liveaboard full time and sail the world.

So first boat is an early 70s Wauquiez Centurion 32. Seems they have a great reputation, the interior is very nice, and in general the boat needs work but it's mostly aesthetic and would need some liveaboard amenities added (this applies to any boat in this price range it seems). Biggest drawback is I'm 6'3 and there's about 2 inches less headroom than I'd need to stand... although the cabin entrance opens above the galley so I would be able to stand and cook... I checked everything I could check and it looks good, obviously a survey will be done regardless what bout I choose...

Next is a Brent Swain design 36' sloop, launched in 1997. It's a backyard build but the man who built it had a dream to sail around the world and did a 3 year circumnavigation with this boat, and wrote a book while doing so. I've read this book now and it is very interesting to say the least. This boat needs some TLC, I checked everywhere I could inside and it seems all the rust is light surface rust, but it does need a full haul out and sand blast or grind out and there's some major work... Again (assuming the survey doesn't indicate the hull is beyond repair) this is work I would be willing to do. However, she is a bit of a pig. Sailing around here would be more motoring than anything else. But there's a good amount of headroom, a holding tank, and the interior teak is in great condition.

Is steel really that much more time and money? I mean if I hauled her out and did all the major work how much more maintenance would it be than fiberglass? And I know people love their headroom but if you're living in the Caribbean how often are you standing inside anyways?

The Wauquiez is a proven blue water boat as well... and I'd be able to enjoy sailing her here while I build my savings for the big trip...

Also both of these boats are priced VERY reasonably, the Wauquiez would be a few thousand $ more but otherwise very similarly priced.
Just my $0.02: If you can afford to choose, don't get a boat with headroom that forces you to stoop every moment you are below. If you want to spend any time on this vessel, you want to enjoy it down there.

There are 32-footers out there with plenty of headroom for a 6'3" person (I sail on some of them with a buddy who's your height)

I can imagine a lot of compromises being worth it, but not that one.
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Old 19-02-2021, 17:07   #6
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Yes, we have 2 steel boats so not allergic to steel.

No one can answer this but you. We dont know anything about intended use or the boats your budget or expectations or skill set.

In all likelyhood yiu could make either one work if you have it in you.
Yeah I understand no one can answer I'm just looking for some broader points of comparison. Intended use is to live on it, so being a slower boat doesn't matter when it's all ready and good to go. However, that'll be in 4 or 5 years so a pocket cruiser would be nice as well....

Here's a question though, looking through the boats today there were some pictures of it being built. It's insulated with spray foam - Does spray foam create a water tight seal or would I need to rip it out to get to the steel? From every part of the hull I could see from inside the boat it still looks well primed (at least for a 25 year old boat).

Quote:
Originally Posted by DMF Sailing View Post
Just my $0.02: If you can afford to choose, don't get a boat with headroom that forces you to stoop every moment you are below. If you want to spend any time on this vessel, you want to enjoy it down there.

There are 32-footers out there with plenty of headroom for a 6'3" person (I sail on some of them with a buddy who's your height)

I can imagine a lot of compromises being worth it, but not that one.
Yeah well honestly it's the price... These boats are both welllllllll below market (and they're not up for sale otherwise). That's the compromise, equivalent condition boat otherwise will cost multiple times more... But I understand with the headroom... I never did feel so comfortable as when I stood up in the steel one lol


I think the fact of the matter is this:

Buying the steel boat is ideal for 4 years from now, when I am finally ready to leave and go cruise long term. It has headroom, and it's a comfortable size for a forever boat. There's WAY more work required short term, and more maintenance in general, but the boat will suit all my FUTURE needs.

The Wauquiez is great for right now, it's ready to sail and would be great for the weekends and holidays I get off work. It draws less and is cheaper to own and maintain, but I would probably want to sell it at some point for something I can stand in....

But... I think I would buy the 36 in a heartbeat if it was fiberglass, but it has been somewhat neglected the last few years and... I feel it's almost too much of a risk to take on a project of this size as a first boat. It's pushing 25 years now...
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Old 19-02-2021, 18:02   #7
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

From someone who has built a steel yacht and has owned it for 30 + years.
Are you learning to sail or learning to fix boats? You will be able to fix boats better when you are a more experienced sailor.
Assuming you buy either of them (and don't be too influenced by price, as you tend to get what you pay for), my call would be to buy the one that needs the least work and will be the most fun and buy a more serious boat later.


Regards,
Richard.
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Old 19-02-2021, 20:20   #8
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by boden36 View Post
From someone who has built a steel yacht and has owned it for 30 + years.
Are you learning to sail or learning to fix boats? You will be able to fix boats better when you are a more experienced sailor.
Assuming you buy either of them (and don't be too influenced by price, as you tend to get what you pay for), my call would be to buy the one that needs the least work and will be the most fun and buy a more serious boat later.


Regards,
Richard.
Thanks Richard, I think you're right... I'll probably go with the smaller French boat and enjoy the remote islands of the pacific northwest here for the next few years while I get ready for the big trip
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Old 20-02-2021, 09:51   #9
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2ofEverything View Post
Hey everyone,

So I'm in the process of boat shopping, have been for a little while now and as luck would have it a boat fell into my lap, or rather two boats. The gentleman I'm renting from and his brother own two boats, they're older guys and are looking to sell one or the other, and I'm interested in buying. The two boats are radically different, and while I understand this is entirely personal preference I was wondering if anyone can maybe highlight some pros and cons I may have missed here.

Now I'll add, the plan is to keep learning to sail, gain experience and over the next 4 years do a slow refit and get ready to liveaboard full time and sail the world.

So first boat is an early 70s Wauquiez Centurion 32. Seems they have a great reputation, the interior is very nice, and in general the boat needs work but it's mostly aesthetic and would need some liveaboard amenities added (this applies to any boat in this price range it seems). Biggest drawback is I'm 6'3 and there's about 2 inches less headroom than I'd need to stand... although the cabin entrance opens above the galley so I would be able to stand and cook... I checked everything I could check and it looks good, obviously a survey will be done regardless what bout I choose...

Next is a Brent Swain design 36' sloop, launched in 1997. It's a backyard build but the man who built it had a dream to sail around the world and did a 3 year circumnavigation with this boat, and wrote a book while doing so. I've read this book now and it is very interesting to say the least. This boat needs some TLC, I checked everywhere I could inside and it seems all the rust is light surface rust, but it does need a full haul out and sand blast or grind out and there's some major work... Again (assuming the survey doesn't indicate the hull is beyond repair) this is work I would be willing to do. However, she is a bit of a pig. Sailing around here would be more motoring than anything else. But there's a good amount of headroom, a holding tank, and the interior teak is in great condition.

Is steel really that much more time and money? I mean if I hauled her out and did all the major work how much more maintenance would it be than fiberglass? And I know people love their headroom but if you're living in the Caribbean how often are you standing inside anyways?

The Wauquiez is a proven blue water boat as well... and I'd be able to enjoy sailing her here while I build my savings for the big trip...

Also both of these boats are priced VERY reasonably, the Wauquiez would be a few thousand $ more but otherwise very similarly priced.
My recommendation would be to keep looking as there are many boats out there for sale. You have identified some drawbacks on both of these boats and while there are always tradeoffs time is on your side if you keep looking...you will know it when you see it. My boat search took me five years and I'm not sorry.

Good Luck.

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Old 20-02-2021, 10:24   #10
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

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Originally Posted by 2ofEverything View Post
Thanks Richard, I think you're right... I'll probably go with the smaller French boat and enjoy the remote islands of the pacific northwest here for the next few years while I get ready for the big trip
That would make sense - but your height is possibly a real issue. Can you stand upright in the cockpit under the boom, for example? Although you could recut the bottom of the mainsail at an angle to gain a couple of inches if necessary.

The north is not the caribbean - so more time below decks too.

Of course these are not the only 2 boats for sale in the world - you might look at others?
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Old 20-02-2021, 11:06   #11
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

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That would make sense - but your height is possibly a real issue. Can you stand upright in the cockpit under the boom, for example? Although you could recut the bottom of the mainsail at an angle to gain a couple of inches if necessary.

The north is not the caribbean - so more time below decks too.

Of course these are not the only 2 boats for sale in the world - you might look at others?
Yeah that's right, I can stand in the cockpit under the boom with the hatch open so for cooking and washing dishes I'm able to stand under the cover of the dodger, and as far as I'm aware those are the two major times I would be standing (maybe? The rest of the cabin is just a dinette and the head/berth). Also I fit in the v berth so that works as well. As far as the rest of the cabin it's about 1 or 2" shorter than my height, so it's not too bad....

And yeah I know I've been looking at boats for a few months now. The thing is this is more of a friend to friend sort of deal and the price is so attractive that even if I was to buy another boat in a few years whatever financial loss I may incur on this one is negligible. Selling a well maintained 32' Wauquiez shouldn't be an issue, especially considering how tight the boat market has got up here in the last little bit.

Also, I'm not going to be living aboard during my time here, that was the plan originally but I've been able to find a slip for very cheap and there's no reason for me to liveaboard now, so it would be a short trip/weekend boat for the next few years.

The big thing is the local Yacht Clubs aren't running courses this year (at least the ones in my area due to covid) and I feel like gaining experience in the next while is more valuable than spending the extra year or two looking for a boat. As well as just the general enjoyment of having a boat for the next few years...
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Old 20-02-2021, 11:26   #12
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

Sounds like you might go for it?
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Old 20-02-2021, 11:29   #13
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

I know a little about that steel boat and it was properly primed before foaming so there shouldn't be any issue there.
If you've read his book then you know how capable a boat it is. Especially in the trades.
Since you are staying in the island for now you'll be sailing very little and motoring a lot no matter which one you choose. I know which one I'd rather motor in.
It's easy to think you will just get another boat for your off shore but that likely means another time consuming refit.

Decisions, decisions.
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Old 20-02-2021, 11:31   #14
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

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Sounds like you might go for it?
Yeah seems like I'm just convincing myself doesn't it... I'm still actively looking at other boats, haven't quite made up my mind yet
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Old 20-02-2021, 11:34   #15
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Re: 32ft plastic vs 36ft steel

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The big thing is the local Yacht Clubs aren't running courses this year (at least the ones in my area due to covid) and I feel like gaining experience in the next while is more valuable than spending the extra year or two looking for a boat. As well as just the general enjoyment of having a boat for the next few years...
Join Bluewater Cruising. They are doing lots of courses on-line now. Weather, radar, diesel engines, optimizing your sail plan, etc
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