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Why we bought a steel sailboat

When it comes to building boats, one of the most important decisions that must be made is the choice of material for the hull. There are a variety of materials that can be used to construct a boat hull, but one of the most popular options is steel. In this blog post, we will compare steel boat hulls to some alternate options and discuss the pros and cons of each and why we made our decision.

The hull is the outermost layer of a boat that sits in the water and is responsible for keeping the rest of the boat afloat.

Steel Boat Hulls

One of the primary benefits of a steel boat hull is its durability. Steel is a very strong and sturdy material that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Additionally, steel can be easily repaired if it does become damaged. So when we are traveling, and we are planning to go far, we will be able to easily find the materials and support needed at reasonable prices. These advantages make steel an ideal choice for commercial and recreational boats that will be used frequently and in harsh conditions.

Another benefit of steel boat hulls is their ability to be customized. Steel is a versatile material that can be shaped and formed into a variety of different designs. This allows boat builders to create unique, custom-made boats that are tailored to the specific needs and preferences of their clients. In our situation, we plan on modifying our boat for it to fit our electric motor. This involves not only removing the old diesel motor but also modifying the hull to receive a Torqeedo Pod Drive. So we needed a material that was easy to adapt. One of the downsides of steel boat hulls can be the routine maintenance that is required to prevent rust and corrosion. Rust is enemy of steel and one must remain vigilant to stop it where it starts. Additionally, steel boat hulls can be more expensive than some alternate options, particularly for smaller boats.

Fiberglass Boat Hulls

Another option for boat hulls is fiberglass. Fiberglass is a lightweight, durable material that is resistant to corrosion. With some skill, they can be easy to repair if it does become damaged, making it a good choice for boats that will be used frequently. Fiberglass can be molded into a variety of different shapes, allowing for custom designs. Additionally, there are a lot of used fiberglass boats in the market so it's quite easy to find a boat at any size or price range. However, one of the downsides of fiberglass is that it is not resistant to bumps or scrapes and one unlucky hit can sink your boat. Fiberglass hulls are susceptible to osmosis. This is when water penetrates the top layer resulting in the fiberglass fibers begin to rot. And finally, in our case, the complexity of remodeling an existing structure of a fiberglass boat to fit a different kind of engine would be highly complex.

Aluminum Boat Hulls

Another alternate option is Aluminum, which is lightweight and corrosion-resistant, making it a great choice for boats that will be used frequently in saltwater environments. Additionally, aluminum can be easily formed into a variety of different shapes, allowing for custom designs. However, one of the downsides of aluminum is that it is not as strong as steel, so it may not be suitable for larger or commercial boats, but for a sailboat it's quite suitable. Additionally, aluminum can be more expensive than some other materials.

Finally, Wooden boat hulls are known for their aesthetic appeal and are often used in the construction of classic and traditional boats. Wood is a natural material that is relatively inexpensive and easy to work with, but it requires regular maintenance and is not as durable as other materials. Additionally, wooden boat hulls are susceptible to rot and can be more difficult to repair if they do become damaged.

In conclusion

The choice of material for a boat hull will depend on a variety of factors, including the intended use of the boat, the conditions in which it will be used, and the budget of the boat builder. Steel boat hulls are a great choice for boats that will be used frequently in harsh conditions, but they can be heavy and expensive. Alternate options like fiberglass, aluminum, and wooden hulls offer different benefits and drawbacks, and the choice will be based on the specific needs of the boat builder and the end user. Ultimately, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each material and consider factors such as durability, weight, cost, and ease of repair before making a decision. Additionally, it is important to consider the specific requirements of the boat, such as size, intended use, and expected conditions of operation.

It is also important to mention that, when comparing these materials, it is essential to take into account the life-cycle cost of the boat, including the cost of materials, construction, maintenance, and repair over the entire lifespan of the boat. Steel boats may be more expensive to build, but their durability may make them a cost-effective choice in the long run. Fiberglass may be cheaper to build, but they may require more frequent repairs and maintenance, which could make them more expensive in the long run.

We chose a steel boat hull because it fit our specific needs. Though we would really love to have aluminum, we didn't have the budget for what was available at the time. We wanted to have a hull that would be strong and could travel to any region, even colder latitudes. It is important to consider all factors and take into account the life-cycle cost of the boat before making a final decision. And we feel that our boat will last for many years to come.


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