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Old 10-09-2010, 08:17   #1
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Hello from Newbie, 55' Samson Ketch

Hi, we are new to this forum but are interested in buying a 55 ft samson ketch.
I have read a lot on this forum but it takes time to digest all the information and then apply it to a boat as each one is can be seen as an individual with it own advantages and problems.
Nevertheless thank you for all the information you all made available to us.

This Boat is on e-bay for $80000 and needs work.
For the next couple of years we want to live aboard, sail some. the summer back to our residence in State College PA.
I am a mechanical / electronical engineer in the aircraft industrie and am confident that I can accomplish the technical part.
I have read a lot on this forum and it is difficult to oversee the effects of hull thickness, weight, stability, strength ans so on and apply this information for a newbie like me.
Can anybody help me with information / history about this ship. Has anybody seen it, nows how it sails or has experience / knowledge of the ferralite construction method applied?

I would thank you for your help and hope that we will meet somewhere or at least on this forum.

later J
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Old 10-09-2010, 08:40   #2
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Welcome to the Forum, Joe. I don't know anything about the specific vessel you're interested in, but I note from the eBay listing that it's in St. James City, Pine Island, Florida. One of our members, amarinesurveyor, is located in Jupiter, FL and he has something in common with you . . . Brian is a Penn State grad, so you're almost neighbors.

Here's a link to Brian's website:

Stetler Marine Surveys: SAMS Marine Surveyors, Marine Surveyor, Florida, Boating Expert Witness

Good luck! That's an attractive price on that vessel, but be cautious when something seems too good to be true . . .

"Your vision becomes clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakens."
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Old 10-09-2010, 10:43   #3
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Hi Tao,

Thank you for that help I will have to call him.
Anybody else know this ship, it is named "phoenix"
later J
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Old 10-09-2010, 11:03   #4
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1st, why do you need such a large boat?? Hopes it's not to fit in your six man hot tub?? Cost of ownership goes up geometrically with length. The cost in both manpower to run and just keep it floating increase beyond most peoples imagination. Hauling charges, berthing, materials, hardware, manpower just to get it out of a slip all are significantly greater than a 10' shorter boat that will do everything this boat will do except take up more space.

2nd. Ferro is a viable construction material for boats. Unfortunately, it is not widely accepted and resale value is nil. There just aren't many people out there looking for a sidewalk. It makes them nearly impossible to sell for a price that's is more than the recycling cost. You won't have this boat forever so will be wanting to sell it at some future date. Be sure you get it at a price that will allow you to get out of it with at least a t\T-shirt on your back.

Samson sold dreams, a messianic movement that left the landscape littered with partially finished hulls. The vast majority of plans were sold to those with little or no real knowledge of cruising. The designs were purposely 'shippy' looking and appealed to those with a romantic idea of what a sailboat should look like. That has little to do with the actual sailing reality. Samsons boats, for the most part, are poor sailors based on designs that are eons old. If you want good Ferro Construction and design look to NZ, OZ or England for really good boats.

Don't want to rain on your parade, just make you aware of some of the pitfalls of what you are thinking of doing.
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Old 10-09-2010, 11:21   #5
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Hi roverhi,
That is a good question,
We are 4 and a dog, May be we do not need that much space but if the price is right it does not hurt either. Maintenance labor part in itself is not that much of an issue for me. In first instance it will be mainly live a board since I have still some odds and ends to finish. My wife is not an experienced sailor, nor are the kids. As I have heard that a lot of relations run sour on ships. Don't think that would be for us , but a little extra space might come in handy. We will do some east coast sailing but nothing big in the first couple of years.
You are right though and we are looking at somewhat smaller 41 and up.

Later J
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Old 10-09-2010, 11:28   #6
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Hi Roverhi,

somehow my computer locked and I did not see the second part of the post.
I agree and have thoughts about ferro, it is an interesting subject.
This ship is made of ferra lite and not ferrocement according to the seller.
Some searching seems to indicate that this is the best of both worlds???????
Later J
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Old 10-09-2010, 14:06   #7
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Actually, if the price is right, it still may be not a good deal. Almost without exception, new boat owners do not grasph the bigger is SOOOOO MUUCH MOOOOOREEE EXPESSIIIIIVVVVEEE part. Surveys show that 10 feet additional in length TRIPPLEs the cost of ownership. I know a guy who built his own 58' ferro boat. He said that it cost him $10k to maintain the boat, year after year. That would be for a boat that is good to go, which this one is not.

I have a friend that was new to boating, and looking at 35' trawlers as their first boat. I encouraged them to look at something a bit smaller. They bought the 35' boat. Now, about a year later, they are thinking of selling, as it is too much boat for them, and too much $$$ (they are not liveaboards).

As tempting as it is, think REALLY hard, and make sure you are not cutting the $$$ close, so that unforeseen expenses put you under. Boat can sink, and they can financially sink people as well.


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Old 10-09-2010, 14:34   #8
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For 80k you can get a lot of older frg boats that need only cosmetics. I'm prejudiced towards the Whitby 42, with two double bunks and two heads works well for a family. I think with Fer-a-Lite you are dependent on the skill of the builder to fill the voids, something they may not have done.
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Old 11-09-2010, 07:05   #9
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Thank you all for the wise words of caution. We are not in a hurry and see how it developes.

later J
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Old 07-11-2010, 22:34   #10
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55 ferro boat

Hi, this boat has been on the market for years. I know something about it as I have been thinking about that darn boat since 2008 and it was for sale before then..2006 i think. I never made the trip down to actually look at it as I started crunching numbers and it just was not worth it. now if I lived on the water with my own dock and could work on it there, it might be fun to own. It would be a boat that you would never sell as it is just not that type bank will loan money on it, at all, I asked. Getting insurance is also a bit hard but not impossible. The boat was stolen right before it was commisioned so the story goes and the thieves let it go adrift and it beached and got water damage in the boat. hence the engine problems and all wiring is probably shot. The boat is set up for long distance sailing and would need to be refit for a family type boat. It has a fairly deep draft and would be tough moving up and down the intercoastal. The reason I found your post is because I do a search on it every now and then to see if it is still out there for sale. I hope to move to Tampa some day and if that happens I may actually go and look at it. I estimated that just to get it sea worthy enough to move to the east coast I would end up spending over 15000. It is a nice looking boat and it may not sail very fast or be very agile but it sure looks like a good live aboard and in the right place would be fun. It must be solid as it has been on the hook in a bay for years and has weathered numerous hurricane and storm seas. Please buy it, then I will stop thinking about "someday" and can move on to a nice steel boat or aluminum or something that wont take me years to rebuild...Just be sure you find a survey guy that really knows ferro boats and can determine if the interior meshing is rusting or not, when i was seriously thinking about it I couldn't find anyone that made me feel very good about their knowledge of these types of boats. Having said all that if I could have gotten it cheap enough I would have probably bought it. Just something cool about a 2 masted ketch with a pilot house.
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Old 07-11-2010, 22:45   #11
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Oh yeah from what i remember the designer's son "Samson" actually built the boat..actually 2 boats sold one and kept one. That was the rumor anyway.
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:17   #12
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Welcome to the forum.

I too have been watching the boat in question. As the manufacturer of Fer-A-Lite I have several concerns as to whether it is actually FAL or not.

It is my understanding that they used the material to core the hull, and then built up a couple of inches of glass over it. We had asked to find out where they got the material from.

The method they described is not the approved method of FAL construction.

Many folks have been coming up with backyard concoctions and touting it as FAL.

The boat in question has been on the market for an extremely long time for the price.

Granted it is not a seller's market right now, but still it should have moved, or at least seen some bidding or offers on it.

FC and FAL are viable methods, if done properly.

FAL in our opinion is better

If you are not familiar with sailing, my next comment is you may be going for too big a boat.

You will probably have a few less adrenaline filled moments learning on a 42' boat as compared to a 55' especially during docking and/or suddenly finding yourself in tight spot situations.

The other thing to keep in mind that the cost of sails, sails handling equipment, ground tackle and just about anything else for a boat goes up in price in a logarithmic rate relative to size.

Also of course dock fees, yard fees and haulout fees may all be affected by a larger boat.

You probably can get it surveyed and insured, but probably not at the value you would need for a loan.

However, if you are interested in the boat and can find a surveyor with FC experience, feel free to have them contact us in regards to how to identify FAL.
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Old 15-03-2016, 14:50   #13
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Re: Hello from Newbie, 55' Samson Ketch

Hello All in this specific thread. I am the owner of the mysterious Samson from St. James Island. I have been working on her for several years, new engine, new paint, new bowsprit, new rigging, etc. I have come to realize that my dream of living aboard this beautiful boat with my dogs and husband was my dream alone, lol. Anyway I have her for sale and if anyone is interested please email me.
Thanks, B
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Old 15-03-2016, 15:16   #14
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Re: Hello from Newbie, 55' Samson Ketch

Wow! I wondered what became of the Phoenix.. Some pics would be great just to see how far back from the brink you have brought her. She still in Florida? Put her in the classifieds section. One never knows. Amazing how much things change. I first saw this boat back in 2008. Since then I've lived in 5 houses, one boat and one basement. I've moved about 4 times, bought a 60 ft boat, refurbished it, lived on it, sold it ...and now miss it every day. Thinking about buying another almost just like it. And in all that time the Phoenix remains. ...

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