steel schooner designs

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by spaceboy, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. spaceboy
    Joined: May 2013
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    spaceboy Junior Member

    Hi to all, I am new to the site and this is my first post. I plan in the near future to build a steel boat, and after looking and reading about boats for the past few years I am drawn to the working schooner designs from such as Tom Colvin ( Sultana ), Tad Roberts and Merrit Walter ( Trade Rover ) . Sorry in advance if this is covered elsewhere, but does anyone have any info or opinion on the relative merit of these designs as cruisers. I have seen photo's of Sultana and Trade Rover for sale on the net, both have been used as charter yachts. Thanks all.
     
  2. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    These vessels are substantial projects. They also require a significant crew to operate, not to mention ownership costs. Maybe you should look into these costs in your area. Insurance, slip and monthly maintenance fees, annual haul outs, bottom painting, paid crew/skippers, utilities, annual registration, the list can be daunting for the uninitiated.

    Of course, this says nothing of the build, which can be extensive as well, on a vessel of this size. Assuming a 30 ton 70' vessel (like a Trade Rover), you're looking at a 7 digit project at the very least. So, if you have a several million lying around, with nothing to do with it . . .
     
  3. El_Guero

    El_Guero Previous Member

    Great question.

    Most of your charter yachts are decent or better cruisers.

    And since those are almost always 'crewed,' you would have a crew to worry about some of your troubles while at sea.

    Wayne
     
  4. pdwiley
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    I'm well into building a Tom Colvin stretched SAUGEEN WITCH design. I've had no trouble building to the plans and Tom has been very helpful to me along the way.

    Having said that, my boat is a 7.5 tonne displacement and so far I'm into my 4th year of quite lackadaisical building. A boat the size you're talking about is going to take a long time, it'll require a lot of metal handling gear, you'd better own the building site or have a 10 year lease so you don't have to relocate part way through.

    My advice, FWIW, is to go & buy one. Despite what you might think, you will NOT build one cheaper even if you get the hull for free.

    I didn't take this advice because I like building things and the journey is part of the process. But, I do have a big shed and a ton (actually more like 20 tonnes if I added up the individual masses) of machinery at my disposal.

    Just why do you want such a large vessel, anyway? Business or pleasure? If you want a heavy displacement schooner, build a Colvin DOXY. If you downsize a bit further, you can build a WITCH with the schooner rig. With these size vessels, there's a good chance you'll actually get it finished in your lifetime......

    PDW
     
  5. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: Barbados

    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    A gentleman here (in Barbados) had a dream 15 years ago to build a Tom Colvin fishing schooner........ after lofting the lines and laying down the keel on the beach at Carlisle Bay, frames started to be added about 8 years ago, and she is now scheduled to be finally launched later this year - a real labour of love (not to mention money).

    More info and photos of her here http://www.schoonerruth.com/

    And a neat video on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjRVCNOany4

    Re building a new Sultana, there is one for sale in Canada in the link below for less than US$ 200k - that might be more logical, and definitely less expensive, than building one yourself.
    http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1984/Tom-Colvin-Sultana-Schooner-2556898/Port-Elgin/Canada
     
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  6. waikikin
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    waikikin Senior Member

    Looks like great buying.
    Jeff.
     
  7. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Many of the ye oldie schooner charter yachts are simply head boats that take folks for a ride for a couple of hours.

    The sails are to photograph and frequently much of the gear for handling or reefing the sails was never installed.

    Many have interiors designed to sell soft drinks (or in Key West beer to underage kids ) so be sure you are purchasing a cruising boat , not just a day store.
     
  8. spaceboy
    Joined: May 2013
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    spaceboy Junior Member

    Thanks all for the input, I know it would be a huge and costly project, and will probably have to reign in my ambitions somewhat in the end, but what the hell, if you don't dream you may as well be dead. But my ambition is to go long term cruising when I retire and I am drawn to the apparent strength of these boats. I have read lots of comment about the difficulty of handling gaff rigged schooners , and yet a few designers comment that it is a much easier rig to handle. Tom Colvin in his book states that 'the three masted schooner is the handiest rig ever devised, much easier to handle than its two masted sister '. Is it just down to preference or are modern rigs superior. Again, thanks for the replies.
     
  9. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    I'm not trying to talk you out of a gaff schooner rig - whatever floats your boat. Personally, I'm building a junk rigged schooner.

    However, from personal experience in building a 12m Colvin design, I can tell you that attempting to build a SULTANA by yourself, without a LOT of materials handling gear and experience in metalwork, plus the space undercover, you are setting yourself up for failure. A SULTANA displaces 69,000 lbs. That's in the order of 30 tonnes. That is a BIG boat. Big pieces of steel. Lots of framing. Lots of welding. Big engine, big rig, dollars everywhere you look. My little toy by comparison displaces 15,500 lbs.

    I met a man who built a big ferro ketch with that sort of displacement so it can be done. However, he was a professional engineer and had all the heavy equipment available to him, plus he farmed out a lot of the construction as he had the money to do that.

    I originally planned on building a day sailer, then I got ambitious and got up to close to where you are WRT displacement. Then I had a reality check and scaled back to something I thought I might actually finish. Then I considered tooling & infrastructure, and built/bought all that first. Then I started the boat.

    Having done all that, my advice is still the same. If you want to go sailing, go and buy a boat. The only reason to build your own is because you want to build your own boat, a totally separate thing from wanting to retire and go sailing.

    PDW
     
  10. spaceboy
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    spaceboy Junior Member

    Thanks PDW, I know I am being ambitious, and when it comes time to make a choice, will more than likely have to go for a less weighty project. Here in NW UK, building under cover will be a must, so that is my first limiting factor. Can you tell me what have been the most difficult problems you faced as far as construction is concerned, and what have you needed in the way of specialist gear on top of the welding kit etc ?. have you needed a rolling machine ?
     
  11. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    But my ambition is to go long term cruising when I retire and I am drawn to the apparent strength of these boats. I have read lots of comment about the difficulty of handling gaff rigged schooners , and yet a few designers comment that it is a much easier rig to handle.

    The main purpose of a schooner today is eye candy. So many boats will do 10X better as a long range cruiser , as sails rigging and vessel weight have improved since the 1800s.

    Many used boats will cost 1/3 of what it would cost to create a new build , my advice is to read books about what makes a seaworthy boat ,and go purchase a 20 year old one.

    You will be safely underway 5 or 10 years sooner and with a vessel that has resale value.

    Contemplate listings for Motor sailors to see how easy life can be.

    The utility of Bouncing off reefs in a steel boat was much more common in the sextant and watch era than in todays $75 GPS era .

    Believe me just setting up for ocean work will be a great challenge and keep you occupied for a good while.

    Avoid BESTITIS , if you can , easiest if you cancel all magazine subscriptions.
     
  12. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    The first thing you should do, if you haven't already, is go and buy some books. These are tools you'll need. I'd recommend Tom Colvin's 'Steel Boatbuilding', Gil Klingel's 'Boatbuilding with Steel' and 'Steel Away', I can't remember the author. Then some of Dave Gerr's books on boat systems.

    If you stay away from round bilge designs and limit your choices to the single or multi-chine designs, you will not need a rolling machine. Personally I'd never build a round bilge design in steel. Far too much like hard work and far beyond my metalworking skills.

    As for equipment, I am a tool junkie so what I have is probably not all that helpful.

    What I consider absolutely essential would be:

    MIG welder of at least 250A @ 60% duty cycle that can take 15kg wire spools. Reverse polarity for flux cored wire is nice but I rarely use it. If the MIG can also act as a stick welder (mine can) this is a plus as there are times you'll want to use specialist stick rods.

    Plasma cutter capable of cutting 12mm plate. I have a generic Chinese 50A unit. 12mm carbon steel is possible but ugly and goes through tips. Cuts 6mm and thinner beautifully. I would not consider building a steel boat without a plasma cutter.

    An air compressor of at least 8 CFM to feed the plasma cutter. Bigger is better because you're going to have to paint the boat eventually.

    A band saw to make the patterns you'll use the plasma cutter to cut out for your hull plate.

    A pneumatic staple gun to tack the pattern pieces together on the hull so you're sure the pattern fits.

    Small 160A caddy type DC TIG welder with HF arc start. Also is a stick welder. Perfect for TIG welding all the stainless fittings etc that you're going to have to make.

    Lots & lots of clamps. I can't over-emphasise this. I have over 30 clamps of the Ehoma type sliding bar pattern in various sizes. Another 20 or more clamps of different types (G clamps etc). If I had another 20 I still wouldn't have as many as I'd like. You need a lot of clamps.

    At least 3 5" angle grinders. I personally have 6 or 7. It takes time to swap from a grinding disk to a cutting disk to a flap wheel etc. Lots quicker to grab the grinder for the job.

    A plate clamp rated to 500 kg. Don't be tempted by short cuts to this, spend the money and get the proper clamp for the work. They're a lot cheaper than the cost of surgery to reattach your feet after a plate drops onto them, edge down.

    A gantry and a cutting table. I made my cutting table the size of the sheets of steel I bought so I could lay one down, put the pattern on it and cut it out. You need the gantry (or overhead crane) to move the steel sheets about. My gantry is wide enough to straddle the hull plus a bit, and as high as I could get it. It's on 8" diameter castors.

    Lever blocks (comealongs) and chain blocks. I have 2 of the 250kg, 1 500kg and 1 750 kg lever blocks, 2 1 tonne and 1 500 kg chain blocks, the chain blocks on girder trolleys on the gantry. With this lot I can position a sheet of steel on the hull with millimeter precision and with no fear of it getting away.

    After that lot, I don't know. I have a full machine shop. You may not need one but it certainly makes life a lot easier. There's very little I cannot make.

    You'll also need a lot of woodworking gear to do the interior. That's where I'm at now.

    The biggest difficulty is keeping motivated over the long haul. I take about 4 months off boat work every year, which is why mine isn't finished. But - I own the land and live on site, the shed is 20m from my house. I have no pressures from rent and I don't need to commute, pack away tools, etc. The time out allows me to think about other stuff.

    PDW
     
  13. spaceboy
    Joined: May 2013
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    spaceboy Junior Member

    Thanks FF and PDW for your input. Lots to consider, I have a growing library of books on building now. It was reading Tom Colvin and George Beuhler among others that got me thinking of building. Just need to nail down which designer and size of boat.
     
  14. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    Steel is fine but requires tons of brutal labor ,UGH!!!


    Dont be put off by the fact that much of the KISS boat builders do multihulls.

    The KISS technique would be fine for a one off lead sled too.

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    Jul 28, 2003 - The KISS method should be tempered with the 5 "P"'s ... Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. I think you're trying to mix Apples &
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  15. pdwiley
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    pdwiley Senior Member

    *********. What it requires is careful thought and some equipment. Once stuff gets over 50 kg or so it makes little difference if it weighs hundreds of kilos.

    FWIW I just moved a 2 tonne machine the other day, without any powered equipment, by myself.

    The 2 things I hate most about steel boat building are:

    Sand blasting the plate. I contracted that job out. If I were to build another steel boat, I'd do the same thing.

    Angle grinding the welds. Suffer and get on with it; it's also motivation to improve your weld technique. No worse than long-boarding and fairing a glass/epoxy hull.

    PDW
     
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