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Old 09-23-2015, 08:04 PM   #21
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In the 60s and early 70s in the UK on the Norfokl Broads a company built and rented out an entire fleet of FC river cruisers , most are still afloat many in private ownership , these craft have a life MUCH harder with continual abuse from rookie operators , in fact we were considering purchasing 1 if we had returned to live. They look like high end Fibreglass up close and can be painted , blistering is not an issue or osmosis.We have seen a couple of larger vessels on the Europian canal systems and they were lovely with nice lines.I would own a FC vessel any day without any worries although it is very rare to see one in North America.
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Old 09-24-2015, 08:56 AM   #22
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I've seen a few FC yachts around and heard lots of horror stories about them. The only one I've seen that went bad was in North Queensland a long time ago. The cement was falling out of a section of the bow leaving a hole about three feet across and all the rusty reinforcing was exposed. I can't remember exactly what happened to it but wouldn't want to go sailing on her. Here is a nice looking FC ketch
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Old 09-24-2015, 02:15 PM   #23
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I saw a 45'er being built as a kid on Martha's Vineyard. I would go talk to the builder as he lathed on the cement area by area. It took him about two years to form up, rebar and plaster the cement on. It took him about 10 more years to finish her and rig her. One Nor'easter night she went up on the shore. Got two relatively small cracks in the hull. It was u repairable. Hauled, bulldozed, in the dump.

Saw ain't the same thing about 20 years later to another ferro boat. Minimal Keel damage, unrepairable, junked the boat.

Moral of the story. Stay away from ferro cement even if the price is low. They are unfixable.
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:13 PM   #24
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Yes, Refugio is ferro-cement. I posted a bit about it earlier this year:
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Old 09-26-2015, 11:48 PM   #25
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I saw a 45'er being built as a kid on Martha's Vineyard. I would go talk to the builder as he lathed on the cement area by area. It took him about two years to form up, rebar and plaster the cement on. It took him about 10 more years to finish her and rig her. One Nor'easter night she went up on the shore. Got two relatively small cracks in the hull. It was u repairable. Hauled, bulldozed, in the dump.

Saw ain't the same thing about 20 years later to another ferro boat. Minimal Keel damage, unrepairable, junked the boat.

Moral of the story. Stay away from ferro cement even if the price is low. They are unfixable.
This is a good example of why fc boats get a bad rap..most deserve it. A properly done fc hull is " plastered" in one setting.. non stop.. then covered with a tent and steamed or humidifed depending on temperature for around 3 weeks..few were done this way.
Also it is incorrect that a fc hull cannot be repaired..but it has to be done properly.

As Refugio has no doubt found out fc hulls are very dry, quiet and very tough.

The two real issues are insurability and resale value.

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Old 09-27-2015, 07:11 AM   #26
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"The two real issues are insurability and resale value."

AS well as the impossibility of a hull survey.
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Old 09-27-2015, 07:22 AM   #27
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I can really relate to most of the above comments. Done properly, they can be excellent hulls, but with certain unique issues as mentioned. Insurance and retail being the main ones. However, as others have mentioned, the seduction of the relative cheapness of the hull, was often the undoing of the owner builder, because they went big, forgetting the remainder of the fit-out is the main expense, which is why so may take forever - if ever - to finish and splash.

A perfect example is a relative of mine, who built a beautiful Sampson Seastrutter 55 in this way. He started it about the same time we bought our first boat, a 20 foot trailer yacht, back in 1979, when I was in my 30s, and our kids quite young. I am now of retirement age, into our 4th boat, and as far as I know, it is still not finished, and it cost him a marriage.
Not for the faint hearted or financially challenged that's for sure.
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:52 AM   #28
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From Tad Roberts:
"The beauty of FC is that a properly built hull is basically inert, it might just last forever. The Powell River breakwater ships are still floating, they were built in the second world war and have had no maintenance in at least 40 years....."
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Old 09-27-2015, 09:57 AM   #29
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So if built properly, a FC hull is better than other material? Fiberglass blisters, steel rusts, aluminum can suffer from electrolysis and wood rots. What are the negatives of a well built FC hull?
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Old 09-27-2015, 11:06 AM   #30
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"Fiberglass blisters"

Poorly done GRP may blister , there are many GRP boats that have never even had a single pimple.

"steel rusts"

only with an owner that does not own a wire brush and a paoil of paint

"aluminum can suffer from electrolysis "

As can the bronze ounderwater goodies on any boat

"wood rots"

Not if its kept dry,

What are the negatives of a well built FC hull

One big one is weight , most come out at 13lbs per sq ft , a wood or GRP of similar size would be about 3 lbs / sq ft.
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Old 09-27-2015, 11:25 AM   #31
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So if built properly, a FC hull is better than other material? Fiberglass blisters, steel rusts, aluminum can suffer from electrolysis and wood rots. What are the negatives of a well built FC hull?

Water soluble chloride intrusion corroding the reinforcing steel mesh. Steel expands, and cracks or spalls off concrete layer. Concrete is strong in compressive strength, but not tensile strength.

Impact damage often has a 7:1 damage ratio. 3" impact on hull equates to a 21" area or repair on the inside of hull. Generally cracking. Modern polyurethanes can seal the crack but structural weakness may still be present.
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Old 09-27-2015, 12:15 PM   #32
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So if built properly, a FC hull is better than other material? Fiberglass blisters, steel rusts, aluminum can suffer from electrolysis and wood rots. What are the negatives of a well built FC hull?
Wowwww. I found the U.S. Navy Ferro-Cement Boat Building Manuals to build a 2 engine 65 ft Powerboat.

Volume 1. is about the Frame Building.
Volume 2. is about the Plastering and Steam Curing

Ferro Cement Boat Building
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Old 09-27-2015, 12:18 PM   #33
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I watched a ferro sail boat being built. The core or armature is composed of many layers of what looked like chicken wire mesh. That gave the hull its shape but was difficult to achieve a fair and symmetrical hull. The cement was all done in one day by professional plasters.
As others have observed the cost of a hull is a small part of a boat and not worth the effort IMO unless you are building in a very primitive area and will add minimal other stuff to the boat..
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Old 09-27-2015, 12:26 PM   #34
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It's always risky to generalize (a generalization!), but a good FC hull is amazingly stable. Not in terms of rolling, but for temperature, sound, flexing, as an epoxy and paint base, etc.

Lots of public info on FC construction but it's all old by today's standards. There are FC boats over 100 years old. There are some that have been salvaged off reefs, patched, and refloated. As a current method it's essentially been abandoned - perhaps because there are so many fiberglass hulls still around that can be had almost for free.

The challenges come at the edges and intrusions - a major PITA to drill and cut requiring specialized equipment. And keeping the armature from corroding. A well built hull, once cured, will generally not have an issue with rusting and spalling - the problems here are evident even before launch. There is a concern about electrolysis - they are, after all, "metal" hulls.

Yes they are generally heavy, in part because it's hard to control thickness. Take a look at the cross-section of my cockpit in the photo in the link above and note the change in thickness.

And, yes, they are difficult to survey and thus hard to insure (and, by extension, hard to finance).

I'm quite satisfied with mine, but I've owned wood, fiberglass, and steel cruising boats for more than 30 years and knew what I was getting into.


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Old 09-27-2015, 12:35 PM   #35
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Copied from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrocement


The inventors of ferrocement are Frenchmen Joseph Monier who dubbed it "ciment armé" (armored cement) and Joseph-Louis Lambot who constructed a batteau with the system in 1848.[6] Lambot exhibited the vessel at the Exposition Universelle in 1855 and his name for the material "ferciment" stuck. Lambot patented his batteau in 1855 but the patent was granted in Belgium and only applied to that country. At the time of Monier's first patent, July 1867, he planned to use his material to create urns, planters, and cisterns. These implements were traditionally made from ceramics, but large-scale, kiln-fired projects were expensive and prone to failure. In 1875, Monier expanded his patents to include bridges and designed his first steel-and-concrete bridge. The outer layer was sculpted to mimic rustic logs and timbers, thereby also ushering Faux Bois (wood grain) concrete. In the first half of the twentieth century Italian Pier Luigi Nervi was noted for his use of ferro-cement, in Italian called ferro-cemento.
"ferrocement" being referred to as ferro-concrete or reinforced concrete to better describe the end product instead of its components.
Ferro concrete has relatively good strength and resistance to impact. When used in house construction in developing countries, it can provide better resistance to fire, earthquake, and corrosion than traditional materials, such as wood, adobe and stone masonry. It has been popular in developed countries for yacht building because the technique can be learned relatively quickly, allowing people to cut costs by supplying their own labor. In the 1930s through 1950's, it became popular in the United States as a construction and sculpting method for novelty architecture, examples of which created "dinosaurs in the desert".


First build Ferro-Cement boat by Joseph-Luis Lambot in 1848..
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Old 09-28-2015, 09:29 PM   #36
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Hi all, my first post here.

My mom and her husband have lived aboard a Ferro Cement Trawler for near 20 years cruising between the Ottawa area and Green Turtle Key in the Bahamas. The hull on the Sheena II is near 40 years old and completely trouble free and seemingly as strong as the day she was commissioned. She gets attention wherever she goes and many people are curious about her. She's VERY heavy for her size of course.

If I could figure out how to post a picture I would.
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Old 09-29-2015, 12:09 AM   #37
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My mom and her husband have lived aboard a Ferro Cement Trawler for near 20 years cruising between the Ottawa area and Green Turtle Key in the Bahamas. The hull on the Sheena II is near 40 years old and completely trouble free and seemingly as strong as the day she was commissioned.
Perhaps stronger - cement never stops curing and increasing in strength (though it really slows down after about a year).

Would love to see a picture!


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Old 09-29-2015, 03:04 AM   #38
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A famous FC racing sailboat here named Ragamuffin was also known as "The Flying Footpath(sidewalk to our friends across the Pacific).
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Old 09-29-2015, 03:43 AM   #39
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A famous FC racing sailboat here named Ragamuffin was also known as "The Flying Footpath(sidewalk to our friends across the Pacific).
It was Tony Fisher's original Helsal, the ferrocement boat that won the 1973 Sydney Hobart.



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Old 09-29-2015, 06:50 AM   #40
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Hi all, my first post here.

My mom and her husband have lived aboard a Ferro Cement Trawler for near 20 years cruising between the Ottawa area and Green Turtle Key in the Bahamas. The hull on the Sheena II is near 40 years old and completely trouble free and seemingly as strong as the day she was commissioned. She gets attention wherever she goes and many people are curious about her. She's VERY heavy for her size of course.

If I could figure out how to post a picture I would.
I met Mike and Sue several times between the Bahamas and Dry Tortugas. I'm glad to hear they are still out there. Please tell them Wallace says hello and will see them in the Abacos next winter.
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