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Old 28-09-2020, 02:55   #1
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choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

Hi everybody,

for 2 years now we are trying to find "our" ship to travel the world. Our interest is in remote areas. Hot and cold. we do not like harbors.
After combining all our experiences with the knowledge of books on naval engeneering, we have narrowed down the choice to traditional steel boats. long keel, wheel house, ketch. slow and sturdy. able to take a "beating".
Budget is max. 150k USD asking price.

the more boats we look at, the more we recognize how much traditionaly crafted boats appeal to us. "cosy". like boats from 1920 to 1979.
there are some wounderful boat interiors which we can fall in love with emediately - and they are most if the time on wooden yachts.
.. not speaking of advantages like in-boat climate and humidity, low internal noise from waves etc.

I know - wood is not the easiest to maintain, but - you know - the boat is not only a vehicle - it is our living area. hour home.
thus we are tempted to waste some thoughts on traveling the world in a wooden yacht.
is there any knowldge amoung cruisers here, of this is a bad or a very bad idea .. lol.
Are there modern possibilities, to cope with wood worms?
do the planks of wood boats really become "loose" after years of bouncing throug hthe waves - as I heard in a you tube video?



Any ideas or advise?

kind regards
ralph
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Old 28-09-2020, 03:24   #2
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

Ibetitsthisway plenty of timber yachts have circumnavigated and never had an issue.
Worms shouldn't be an issue as long as you maintain your yacht properly. The biggest issue is going to be finding a yacht with good fasteners holding the planks to the ribs. Mainly because there has not been a lot timber yachts built in a long time. So all those fasteners are going to be showing their age which is what causes those planks to come loose. Maintenance is dependent on your taste really. If you want a varnished classic then expect to spend a fair bit of time on maintenance. But if you are happy with a work boat finish then slapping on a bit of enamel paint is really not that hard and lasts well.
My old man had a timber trawler and we worked her harder than any yacht would get used. Yet the yearly maintenance was usually all accomplished in two weeks every year.
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Old 28-09-2020, 03:26   #3
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

People have been traveling on wooden yachts for thousands of years.. Im sure you could find one to take you anywhere if you really wanted.

That being said- you may want to watch Don Streets Atlantic crossing video. Everyone who crews repeatedly leaves the boat because its wet above and below all the time making conditions very difficult to live in.
You may try "Woodenboat Forum" as well. Ask around. Sponge it up all you can.

The biggest things I have read on wooden boats and experienced myself (sailed the Pacific Grace/Pacific Swift 9 summers as a teen). They drip and are very wet below, it seems even on the dry days! I am sure this is not always the case with those hardcore wooden boat enthusiasts who care and love their boats like children and perhaps that suits your style, but if you are not an experienced shipwright and your shopping "classic" wooden boats, I do believe you will get yourself into trouble as they have a tendency to hide their age well- behind frames, under joinery, in the dark and damp places- that is where the rot lives.

There is good reason why wooden boats are not common cruising vessels.

Steel has very similar aging problems as wood- the places you cannot see and the areas you cannot access are your biggest issues. Also, steel and salt water are really not friends.

In both cases if you decide to move ahead be VERY careful of your chosen surveyor and realize that money spent in that department will pay you back in spades as time rolls along. Get some training in wooden boat or steel boat maintenance and repair. Many of the yards specializing in wooden boats are very friendly to "hook" a new compatriot. There are good books about building/maintaining steel boats and wooden ones.

Its less romantic, but I am of the opinion, based on your budget and description, that there are many wonderful "Classic Plastic" boats available to you. Some Baba's and Tayana's seem to me something that would suit your style- classic lines, full keel, GOBS of teak above and below. A wooden boat feel with a proper dry living area and build like proverbial army tanks.
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Old 28-09-2020, 05:50   #4
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

Because wooden boats tend to be old wooden boats it is often everything else on the boat that makes long distance cruising an issue. I've had two, one was 45 years old when I bought it and the other 30. Everything on both needed to be upgraded for cruising. You might find that it is not the wooden hull that you find attractive for its "coziness", but rather the interior. Lots of boats built in the far east in the 70s out of glass will give you the same interior glow you might be looking for.
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Old 28-09-2020, 07:59   #5
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

Lady Ben is a website that sells only wooden boats. I agree with your criteria. Hot or cold we love being able to steer from inside the boat. It pours rain in the cold and the tropics.
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Old 28-09-2020, 08:37   #6
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

So I have had all wood, a beautiful early van der Stadt RCOD for 4 years, and I've had two other wooden decks, ply and teak on ply, one a Berckemeyer Muira sloop (8yrs.), the other a Peter Ibold Endurance 40 (10yrs).

The reason I am boring you with this is because I have now owned a plastic fantastic 50, for the last 16 years. I get my classic boats thrills on utube, a nostaligic tear jerking click away....My honest advice is, if you really want wood, build new in Cedar and Epoxy or Ply and Epoxy.

I love to serve my boat, but in a mutual relationship where we share time equally! They are all demanding mistresses, but I hate to be a slave.....I was a slave to my love of things wooden, and it wore me down.

The romance washes away very quickly, and then leaks...but if you must have a wooden boat, all I would say is "keep the pickle going", i.e. throw salt water on the decks after every rain, or every day if you can. they behave quite well then...but it is a wise man who learns from the mistakes of others....and like every relationship, the substance is more important than the romance.
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Old 28-09-2020, 08:43   #7
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

My first boat was wood. Putting aside the very high maintenance and cost to maintain I like the way they feel out at sea. They are heavy and very sea kind, have a feeling of warmth and it’s very easy to change the color scheme. However I never felt a secure as a heavy built fiberglass in terms of sinking. In your fiberglass boat if water is in the bilge you know it only came from a few possible places but wood?. Then there is the issue of major hull repairs. My boat was Douglas Fir. Good clean Douglas Fir for hull planks is getting hard to find and shipwrights to do this work even more rare. You need to really keep up on the supper toxic bottom paint to protect you hull from becoming food for things and this is another issue too, the good stuff is getting hard to find with new environmental laws, so now you get to lay there at night in your bunk and listen to the worms eat your hull. Personally if your can afford it get a heavy built aluminum boat for world adventures, you will thank me later.
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Old 28-09-2020, 08:57   #8
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

I don't like fiberglass, and own a steel boat.

There are several wooden work boats and one conversion in and out of the local yard. The thrust seems to be that if you go with wood, renew the fasteners and then lay up fiberglass on the outside, with doing the deck as well as the hull preferred. Water gets in both ways.

Wooden hulls without fiberglass overlays do not do well in this Florida environment. The first problem is the hot/cold and wet/dry extremes, that cycle wood through expanding and contracting on a cycle of several days. That's not good for keeping water out or fasteners tight. The local tragedy was an all-wood conversion that a getting-on-in-years couple invested in, in both time and money. The yard had to pull it out one day when it was obviously sinking, and even the keel is rotted away.

Another problem is shear maintenance time. Wood work above deck in this environment is varnish, caulk, varnish, caulk. Even a teak deck on a fiberglass "bathtub" boat, or pretty wooden rails, result in threads on this forum for hints on maintenance.

Then you've got labor expense. If you don't do it yourself, it'll cost a bunch more than you (or I, at least), earn per hour. I'm remembering an aquaintance at the yard, an airline pilot, who told me that it was a toss up between his hours flying versus the yards hours working on his boat.

So go for it! Get your wooden boat of your dreams. Then take the consensus in the posts above, give it a barrier layer of resin and cloth, sail off into the sunset.
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Old 28-09-2020, 09:14   #9
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

Thank you all for your very valuable thoughts.

My advantage is to live 3 hours drive from the heart of the Worlds recreational steel boat building Industry : north holland.
There are many (old) steel yachts for sale in very good to Prestine condition no matter what age.
Seeing how plastic and aluminium behave in a crash ... I find no reason NOT to go for steel for a go anywhere do anything yacht.

I thought i might find wood boats in equally Prestine condition.. but ... yes... i am worried about the future rott

I am absolutely not Worried about rust!
And ... having hit the shallow ground 2 times this year allone... steel is my friend ... lol.

Regards
Ralph

Maybe i Stick to the Plan of an old and "cosy" steel hull boat.
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Old 28-09-2020, 09:38   #10
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

There are quite a few old wood boats around here and I know a few of the owners. A HUGE problem these days is getting appropriate wood to replace the planks that need it. Yards used to carefully stack and air-dry beautiful Douglas Fir for YEARS before using it to build or repair boats - and these small yards were common up and down the BC coast. Now only one or two are left (in remote places like Sointula). I've been told by VERY experienced wood boat owners that they are replacing the same planks year after year because they simply cannot get good wood to do it right.


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Old 28-09-2020, 09:48   #11
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
I don't like fiberglass, and own a steel boat.

Wooden hulls without fiberglass overlays do not do well in this Florida environment. The first problem is the hot/cold and wet/dry extremes, that cycle wood through expanding and contracting on a cycle of several days. That's not good for keeping water out or fasteners tight. The local tragedy was an all-wood conversion that a getting-on-in-years couple invested in, in both time and money. The yard had to pull it out one day when it was obviously sinking, and even the keel is rotted away.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT put fiberglass over wood and expect it to prolong the life of a boat. It does just the opposite. Wood needs to "breathe". Putting fiberglass over it traps the moisture underneath and the wood just rots away - in a hurry. Structural integrity is soon lost. Most of the old Chris Crafts (fiberglass over plywood) died early deaths - and they were built of dry material in a controlled factory environment! Applying fiberglass over wood on an existing boat is signing its death warrant!
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Old 28-09-2020, 09:49   #12
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

The only time I worry about my steel boat is when I'm threading my way into a marina full of fiberglass eggshells with my one prop and no thruster.

I did have one marina operator tell me not to worry; the boats across from us had not paid their slip bills in months and I was welcome to have an accident...
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Old 28-09-2020, 09:51   #13
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

"Do not, I repeat DO NOT put fiberglass over wood and expect it to prolong the life of a boat. It does just the opposite. Wood needs to "breathe". Putting fiberglass over it traps the moisture underneath and the wood just rots away - in a hurry. Structural integrity is soon lost. Most of the old Chris Crafts (fiberglass over plywood) died early deaths - and they were built of dry material in a controlled factory environment! Applying fiberglass over wood on an existing boat is signing its death warrant!"

Hmmm. I wonder why it is the preferred route around here. I don't see any boats returning with problems.
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Old 28-09-2020, 09:56   #14
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scorpius View Post
Do not, I repeat DO NOT put fiberglass over wood and expect it to prolong the life of a boat. It does just the opposite. Wood needs to "breathe". Putting fiberglass over it traps the moisture underneath and the wood just rots away - in a hurry. Structural integrity is soon lost. Most of the old Chris Crafts (fiberglass over plywood) died early deaths - and they were built of dry material in a controlled factory environment! Applying fiberglass over wood on an existing boat is signing its death warrant!
I donít understand this. Are you saying that the wood planks can only breathe from one side, that if one side is sealed with epoxy they cannot breathe from the other side? And how does underwater wood breathe? Unless you cover both inside and outside of a plank wonít it still be exposed to the air on one side, the same as the underwater hull planks?

Please explain.
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Old 28-09-2020, 10:00   #15
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Re: choosing a wooden boat for cruising the world?

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
The only time I worry about my steel boat is when I'm threading my way into a marina full of fiberglass eggshells with my one prop and no thruster.

I did have one marina operator tell me not to worry; the boats across from us had not paid their slip bills in months and I was welcome to have an accident...

Hear! Hear!
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