View Full Version : Trying to make a decide on wood or fiberglass, etc
02-19-2003, 09:57 PM
I am about to buy a boat 40 or 50 feet we have not decided sail or power. But we are leaning towards a live aboard trawler or something like a moving house. I love the old wooden boats, but am afraid of what people have said about them being a like a horor story.
02-19-2003, 10:33 PM
As my Dad used to say: Stand back and let the dog see the rabbit!
02-19-2003, 10:35 PM
Just imagine your hull breaks up on a deserted island.... What are you going to use to toast your marshmallows? Fiberglass....? I DON'T THINK SO!
Also, it's easier to get a chunk of wood to repair your hull, on a tropical island inhabited by bone nosed sumo wrestlers, than it is to find west system epoxy, and fiberglass mat.....
Plus... Wood floats better, and is quieter.
02-19-2003, 10:44 PM
You come here to the WOODEN BOAT forums and expect unbiased, impartial advice as to whether your boat should be wood or fiberglass? :rolleyes:
I think you know what my answer is - besides, there are enough fiberglass boats in the world. Give a woodie a home.
02-21-2003, 01:59 PM
Go for fiberglass. If you even have to ask the question you do not have the passion and will to maintain a wooden boat (especially one that big). If you have unlimited cash, then of course this is not an issue, you can pay someone else to do the work.
I love wooden boats but realise I will never be able to maintain a big one....so my plan is to have a fiberglass hull, with wooden deck and interior....I'll hide as much plastic as I can. I will of course always have a small wooden sailing dinghy built with my hands, but I know my limitations!!
02-21-2003, 02:18 PM
If I had to live aboard a boat and couldn't face wood's alleged maintenance needs, I'd go for steel. If you think F'glass is maintenance free, perhaps living aboard a boat is best kept as an amusing fantasy :rolleyes:
02-21-2003, 03:11 PM
no, steel has to be kept painted, or it rusts like the dickens. i'd think you'd have to go for aluminum if you want really maintenance free (and really ugly) LOL.
02-21-2003, 05:26 PM
Any boat in that size range is going to require a lot of time and money to maintain. I'm a small boat man myself so I can't speak from direct experience here, but everything I've seen indicates that the maintenance differences between wood and fiberglass DECREASES as the boat gets bigger. The reason is that much more the maintenance goes into systems unrelated to the material used for the hull, such as the electronics, engine, rigging, etc.
The big caveat is always that wood cannot be ignored they way other materials can be. Problems on a wooden boat, if attended to early, are generally much less painfull than if they are ignored for a while and allowed to grow. One implication of this is that before you buy a wooden boat you need to have a very thorough survey done to make sure the previous owner has not been ignoring problems. A second import implication of this is that being a good wooden boat owner requires that you know enough about wooden boats to recognize problems when they crop up and that you know where to look for potential problems and how to prevent them. If this is your first boat of any significant size (say large enough to have a cabin) then you may well not have the necessary experience to do a good job of owning and maintaining a wooden boat. The way to gain that sort of experience is to first own a boat in the 20-30' range.
One point about the other side of the coin here...I've seen people put huge amounts of time and money into bringing back run-down fiberglass boats. A boat in that size range that's in good condition is going to cost quite a bit of money no matter what material it's made of. And, if you value your time at all I think it's almost always more cost effective to get a boat in good condition than it is to get a boat on the cheap and try to restore it to good condition; which means, as well, that it's hard to make back the money you put into restoring a boat, if you then decide to sell the boat.
02-21-2003, 05:31 PM
If you have to ask--choose fiberglass.
02-22-2003, 11:54 AM
WWheeler, I said Steel because you can get mild steel fabricated/repaired almost anywhere in the world. Inert gas welding aluminum is a less common skill. And our questioner sounds like a guy who isn't into doing what needs to be done. A Scott said, if you have to ask.... :rolleyes:
[ 02-22-2003, 11:55 AM: Message edited by: TomRobb ]
02-27-2003, 11:03 AM
I concur with the "if you have to ask, go glass" recommendation. I love wood boats and hold their caretakers in deep reverence, but I know my limitations. I have a Maine-built 28' FG sloop with an all-teak interior and enough exterior wood trim to keep me cursing; I personally can't imagine dealing with a wood hull on anything larger than something I could build myself in my basement. Even then, I'm going the non-purist route of a glued lapstrake hull.
02-28-2003, 03:09 PM
If you think FG is low maintenance, check this out. Leaky Boats (http://www.yachtsurvey.com/leaky_boats.htm)
This is an excellent site with many good articles on yacht surveying, including a critique of the El Toro fiasco.
02-28-2003, 03:21 PM
Thanks, Wheeler, I've been looking all over for that site. I used to amuse myself with his stories and photos of some very expensive junk. This site is a gold mine for what to look for and avoid. It's amazing how many large boats lack sufficient framing, and with all the turnover in the industry you cannot assume a name represents the quality it once did. You can hide a lot of sins with gelcoat!
[ 03-01-2003, 08:17 AM: Message edited by: Rocky ]
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