Wood Vs. Metal for Passagemaker

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by pha7env, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. pha7env
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    pha7env Junior Member

    I am trying to learn the pros and cons of refitting a 45-70 foot displacement hull for use as a loop boat while we refit into a passage worthy boat. I am primarily interested in safety, efficiency and maintenance issues, but any other concerns that you might have regarding the functionality(or not) of these materials and their propulsion systems would be welcomed. Thank you for any and all comments. I have not mentioned fiberglass because i am comfortable working with, and repairing wood and metal, but if you can sway me toward Fiber of some kind, those comments will be welcomed also. robert jones
     
  2. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    "45-70 foot displacement hull for use as a loop boat"

    If you are talking about a round the world voyage as a "loop boat" that size will be great.

    If you are referring to the mud run known Heroically as the "Great Loop" , mostly ICW in the US and Parks Canada historic canals in Canada, a boat that size is hardly needed.

    The "Great Loop" was run (the wrong way (UP the Mississippi) in the 1950's with a wooden outboard . It has been done by Jet Skis and canoes.
    Unless you are traveling with a small army a far smaller boat will do fine.

    In many areas anchoring out , not a dock ,( for $2.00+ a ft is preferred,)is lots easier to find a spot with a 30 ft boat than a 70 ft boat.

    The 30ft may also use 1/10 the fuel as a 70, perhaps a concern in Canada where fuel passed $4.00 a gal many years ago.

    Speed will be the same with either boat as Canada limits much of the run to 10Klicks per hour, about 6 statute or 5 NM per hour.

    A draft near or over 6 ft will make some of the lifts locks and canal stretches impassable.
    Air draft of 17 ft MAX in some stretches.

    You might consider a cheap GRP boat that would require almost no repairs or rebuilding for under $10,000 , and just GO and enjoy the vacation.

    Traveling in a boat or rebuilding a vessel are two different hobbies.

    FF
     
  3. pha7env
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    pha7env Junior Member

    All of those thoughts are crossing our mind, and we had planned on getting a "cheap" GRP boat while searching for a larger,(50 would be perfect), footer to refit at our leisure while we pour money into the kids college. . Lynn is a nurse and i am retired, so wherever we go, i imagine she will be working some. Our kids will be with us often, and college kids come with friends so we need at least a 40 if we go GRP. We have found a few displacement boats that will work as far as draft(air and water). as as far as i can tell, a displacement hull of 50' gets better fuel mileage than a semi at 35', assuming 7 knots is a comfortable speed for the travelers. There are some exceptions i am sure. The downside to a smaller semi, is that should we decide to strike off to parts unknown we would need another boat. The downside to the displacement, as you said can be draft and length. I have talked to people who have taken larger(55') and done the entire loop. Their only suggestion that, if your draft was near 6, make sure your prop was protected and prepare to have to search for moorings. I still would love to find that 10K boat that uses less that 3 gal/hr. If i could find that, i could keep it when we got our larger one finished!
     
  4. pha7env
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    pha7env Junior Member

    To clarify my intent. We do want to be able to do the loop, or most of it with our displacement hull, but our intent is to travel and live in the islands and beyond.
     
  5. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Pha7env,

    There is wood (traditional plank-on-frame) and there is wood (wood-epoxy). You will likely find a lot more of the former like an old Grand Banks or Monk or something like that than you will the latter--relatively newer technology and done mostly in sailboats than in powerboats. But I dare say you will find some. A wood-epoxy boat is going to require much less hull and maintainence than a plank-on-frame boat. A plank-on-frame boat will be cheaper, it will probably not hold its value quite so well unless immaculately maintained, and it will be harder to sell. A wood-epoxy boat is going to be more expensive, hold its value well, and be easier to sell when the time comes.

    Overall, you will find a lot more composite boats than you will any other kind. There are good ones and not so good ones, but because there are so many, they will be easier to acquire at a reasonable price and easier to sell if nicely cared for. Composite boats are like wood-epoxy boats in that they require about the same level of hull maintenance. Remember that the vast majority of the care and maintenance of most craft is in the systems.

    Metal is good too, but in this size range they are rare. I don't know if you'll find more steel or aluminum boats--my guess is that maybe aluminum. Metal boats have their issues, too. Steel rusts, usually from the inside out, but it seems to start just about everywhere if the hull is not properly coated and maintained to begin with. Aluminum corrodes as well, usually through galvanic action and electrolysis. It does not have to be coated, so coating maintenance, except for the bottom paint, is not much of an issue.

    The other factor that applies to all these materials is impact damage--which holds up better? Well, first of all, you are not supposed to be in situations where impact damage is an issue--you are not supposed to bang into things. All these materials, however, are surprisingly tough, and it takes a lot of energy to break holes in them. Yes, aluminum and steel will dent before they break, but you still have to be doing something really bad to puncture a composite or wood vessel. All types of materials can be repaired. In the Great Loop, there are usually any number of places along the way where repairs can take place. For composites, it is better if the repairs are done under cover from rain and excessive sun. For metals, it's OK to repair outside, but inside is better if you can get it, simply to make the job go more smoothly.

    In the end, I think your choice should focus on the design features of the boats that interest you. How will they work with your normal living habits? Is one a better layout than another? Does one have better features or equipment than another? The other very important factor is your budget--how much money do you want to spend, and how much do you expect to recover when you sell? Pick the boat with the layout and features that suit you best at the price you can afford, and consider the hull material as a secondary situation. No matter what type of material the boat is built of, you'll get used to it.

    I hope that helps.

    Eric
     
  6. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    To distill a bit what Eric says above, there are good boats (and deals) made of all materials, just as there are bad boats in all materials.

    In general any older boat will have issues, even if the seller claims the boat is perfect! (Maybe especially then.) The good deals are pedigree designs from quality builders that have had at least some of the issues addressed. A big one is a newer or low hour engine, the first thing to look at.

    Steel boats are rusty on the inside where you can't see it, so you need to radio gauge the hull plating if you are serious. If there is a problem disassembling the interior to address it can be expensive.

    Wood boats in this price category are almost all going to be older plank-on-frame boats, they will have issues that can be hard to discover. In this case mindset is important. You have to be able to deal with the fact that your boat is rotten, some folks have trouble with that.

    And glass boats also have their issues. Rusted tanks, leaking teak decks, rotten window frames, mushy core material, and so on.

    It's tough to generalize so here are some specifics. I turned these up in a few minuets on YachtWorld. Your criteria, with the caveat of only paying half of asking price (I set asking at $150k), turned up 626 boats in the USA.

    http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1985/1985-50%27-Schucker-Fibe...--2341093/MD/United-States
    Again as Eric said much depends on what you see yourself aboard, this is a big volume fiberglass boat with a small engine.

    Older steel boat in a completely different style.......
    http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/boatMergedDetails.jsp?boat_id=2460200&ybw=&units=Feet&currency=USD&access=Public&listing_id=59909&url=

    A newer wood boat ideal for protected water cruising but questionable for open ocean.
    http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1984/Custom-Cruiser-liveabo...--2434236/New-Castle/NH/United-States

    This Wiley is a boat I like the style of very much. She doesn't sell (I guess) because she's small for her length and initially tender to people (especially wives) used to big fat flat bottomed hulls.
    http://www.yachtworld.com/core/list...rrency=USD&access=Public&listing_id=1572&url=

    The GB Alaskan is almost the opposite of the previous boat, her interior is huge, but there will be issues.
    http://www.yachtworld.com/core/list...rency=USD&access=Public&listing_id=75646&url=

    And this steel 44 is another design I admire personally, though this boat has a number of issues easily visible. Like no proper stove in the galley, etc.
    http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1966/Sutton-44-2409567/Baltimore/MD/United-States
     
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  7. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Steel or aluminum presents a maintenance issue during the vessels complete service life. Dont underestimate this cost.

    Small metal boats are particulary troublesome because access to vulnerable areas like tanks and bilges is restricted. Boats under 70 ft should be plastic or modern wood construction for long life.
     
  8. pha7env
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    pha7env Junior Member

    This GB seems to be in the money(for further investigation) but i don't know how effecient they are. http://www.ladyben.com/SearchResultsFull.asp?VesselID=3988#Canvas .

    Also this Hendel/Packard seems to have a design that might work. We are working to gather more info on her now.
    http://www.popyachts.com/Page/Site-Listing/5597/Page.html?Registered

    Love this boat, although it appears she's rusting at the water line. But, the broker will not gather more info. His answer is to schedule an appointment to see her(in Rhode Island).
    http://www.boatinglife360.com/boat-listing/1967-Custom-Built-Research-Boat-Liveaboard-60/1

    We have continue to look at anything that comes on the market (all materials) in the 40-60' range. Tad, I like a all the hulls, except the flat flat stern older steel boat that looks like an old military hull. Cool boat and i actually like the looks of it best(my style), but wonder if it might take too much power to push. It appears to have been designed to go faster than i can afford. Also like the steel 44 and, Tad, is that not a newer flush mount black electric stove top in it's galley??
    The facts are. If The boat that i buy will never be safe for open water, and we may end up going that route for a few years and then jumping up to a fitter vessel, then i might as well drop 25-50 in a Taiwanese semi with thought of maintaining but not refitting. But, if we find one that sound but needy, that we can travel some and upgrade some and travel more while outfitting for open water, that would be awesome. Don't won't a boat that cannot be made very sound with reasonable elbow grease and cash. The wife wants queen master and a decent salon.
    And yes, to me, the systems add a lot of value. If the value is there, i don't mind doing the work, but i would like a boat that i can do work on. I also like narrow and long(except for the slip fees which will only apply when traveling), because they seem more efficient and seakind. I would also require a roomy engine room and pilot house. But if we buy a non ocean boat first, i really don't care about the lay out if the wife likes it and it is priced right to get out of reasonably in a few years. Thanks and keep it coming. What does re-fastening a plank hull entail? Can you glass a plank hull, or would it add too much weight?
     
  9. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Refastening means just that--you check all the fastenings and replace those that are too far gone to save. Usually, you drill new holes so that the new fastenings go into fresh wood. You plug the old holes. It is a major job and should be done by someone who has skill in doing it. You don't know what you will find when refastening, meaning that you may also have to replace planks and/or frames. That could involve removing part or all of the interior accommodation to gain access to the frames from the inside.

    You should not glass a plank hull. Wood vessels generally are required to breath a little, and swell/shrink slightly with moisture. This means that both sides of the planking, inside and out, should be exposed to the elements. Paints are usually porous enough to allow some plank movement. By glassing the outside, however, you are sealing off exposure to one side which then won't swell/shrink like it should, and like the inside will, and that can lead to all sorts of finish and structural problems later. Not a good idea.

    Eric
     
  10. FAST FRED
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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    "I still would love to find that 10K boat that uses less that 3 gal/hr. If i could find that, i could keep it when we got our larger one finished!"

    NO PROBLEM , but the dimensions of say 65 LWL with 8 ft BWL might or might not work to sleep a gaggle.

    FF
     
  11. pha7env
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    pha7env Junior Member

    up to 65 would work but if we are going with a cheaper semi displacement then we would need to stick to within 45' + or - 10' for economics. Also, less than 6' and hopefully closer to 4' of draft due silting of the river where we will live. Link me with any boats that you think might work. If it has a nice aft and 2 bunks anywhere else, that would do for now! thanks. rj
     
  12. eyschulman
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    eyschulman Senior Member

    Devlin Boats

    Take a look at some of the designs on the Devlindesigningboatbuilder site. In particular the semidisplacement boats. All built with wood epoxy glass Lots of build-interior and in water pictures and drawings. Many boats home built all over world.
     
  13. pha7env
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    pha7env Junior Member

    The Devlin boats are really nice. I like his displacement hulls best. I'd add about 4 feet to the inside of the 42 for a larger pilothouse and engine room, and incorporate the swim platform into the hull to increase efficiency and speed! Thanks for the link!
     
  14. mydauphin
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    mydauphin Senior Member

    Owning a metal boat myself, I agree 100%. I fix wood boats all the time, they are good income for me, bad for owners. The 100% fiberglass boat is better in this size range.
     

  15. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member


    I am a bit confused - if you are refitting a hull - isnt it currently made of something already ? ( wood/steel/fg ect)

    If you are going around the world, 'basic' wood ( non glass covered) can be problematic as it can pick up pests, and prevent you from entering some national ports ( eg Australia)
     
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