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Old 04-27-2013, 02:49 AM   #1
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steel hulled or aluminum hulled....

Hello and greetings to everyone.I am a new member who is interested in a 70 to 80 foot trawler to retire and live aboard on.I am an inexperienced boat owner and this will be my first vessel .The initial question(many more to follow! ) is what are the advantages/disadvantages of steel hullled as opposed to aluminum hulled vessels. I have tried the search function,but no luck.Thank you all in advance for sharing your opinions!!
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Old 04-27-2013, 04:11 AM   #2
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70 to 80 feet.
If you have that much money you may be better looking at a production boat such as , Nordhavn, Kady Krogen, Selene , Dashew FPB or for faster boats (semi Displacement) Fleming , etc,etc.
Mind you there are plenty of good custom builders and designers all over the world.
Get out and about and charter a boat with a skipper for a week or so to get the feel and also see what you want in the design.
Cheers
Benn
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Old 04-27-2013, 06:24 AM   #3
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I am a new member who is interested in a 70 to 80 foot trawler to retire and live aboard on.I am an inexperienced boat owner and this will be my first vessel

A boat is not a house , for 5000 +years folks have been experimenting in making great use of space.

Unless you will be traveling with a crew of a dozen or more even washing (never mind maintaining) a 70-80 ft boat is more than a full time job .

For a couple a 40-50 ft boat is easier to maintain and operate as a retirement vessel.

Where do you plan to go? What are the desirements ?
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Old 04-27-2013, 07:19 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by pwrwgn View Post
what are the advantages/disadvantages of steel hullled as opposed to aluminum hulled vessels.
Sorry your question turned into a collection of sermons about everything but hull material ...

An owner/operator can maintain an 80 foot metal boat. It is not easy, it requires skills that many (most?) people probably lack but are perfectly capable of learning.

It is common for a crew of 2 to maintain a 100' boat to a very high standard. They do it by contracting a lot of the labor (day worker help to varnish or wax) which allows them to concentrate on routine cleaning and upkeep. It is a full time job though, make no mistake about that.

Most 70 or 80 foot boats sit un-crewed and unattended all week (or for weeks on end) and don't suffer any great insult. Boat fanatics love to claim the boat would sink or fall apart in days if they were not such magnificent mariners and watched it every moment.

Now, to your steel or aluminum question - steel is very easy to repair and perform paint touchup. The problem is not the steel you can see, it is the steel where you can't see it. Standing water between frames in places that get no ventilation and you can't see it will corrode quickly and eventually destroy the boat's value. It can be repaired easily but it is expensive to haul and crop bad steel then replace it and repaint it. Steel is strong, you can easily modify the hull and superstructure if you want to learn to weld and finish.

Aluminum is also strong, relatively corrosion resistant, but it has its own problems. Exterior paint is a pain, a little scratch will allow corrosion to form bubbles under the paint that must be quickly repaired or they will spread rapidly and look terrible. They do cause damage but it takes time. Ugly is not necessarily dangerous. The good side is uncoated aluminum is generally very corrosion resistant (that is why you see so many bare aluminum workboat hulls) and the problems with standing water in the bilges and hidden places are not such a big deal with aluminum.

You can learn to weld aluminum just like you can learn to weld steel. It just takes different hardware and techniques but any reasonably adept individual can learn it quickly. As a matter of fact, welding aluminum with a spool gun may be easier than welding steel with a stick for many people.

There are as many aluminum boats as there are steel boats. Different strokes for different folks and all that. Larger yachts might have a steel hull because it is cheaper, and an aluminum superstructure because it is lighter. So there, you get both materials on the same boat.

Try and ignore the naysayers. It's your dream, your plan, and your own life. Go for it.
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Old 04-27-2013, 07:39 AM   #5
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Steel hull, alu superstructure. See dutch yacht builders.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:24 AM   #6
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Rick is spot on but the advantages of unpainted aluminum using the correct alloy can not be stressed enough. It is the only material that is fully suited to the marine environment. If galvanic and crevice corrosion is properly addressed then an alloy boat will last forever.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:37 AM   #7
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For years I drove both steel and aluminum hulled vessels servicing the GOM (Gulf of Mexico) oil patch. Most of the replies already posted cover the relative advantages/disadvantages very well. To them I would add the comment that aluminum may not suffer the corrosion threatening steel, but I have seen electrolytic damage to many of the 95' aluminum crew boats in GOM service that literally left them unable to pass USCG inspection without extensive and expensive refit. For the size vessel you're contemplating I would therefore recommend modern-alloy steel. A Dutch or German build would be a safe bet.
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Old 04-27-2013, 08:48 AM   #8
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We built the Florida Bay Coasters out of steel except for one Chuck Neville design that combined a steel hull with aluminum superstructure. I regret we did not build that boat of 100% aluminum!

Steel is less expensive but a real maintenance night mare, as mentioned above. Aluminum fairs better since you use thicker panels - it also needs less framing. And, if you don't mind the look of oxidized aluminum, it can be left bright with no paint!

If your budget allows, go for aluminum. Likewise, hire a good naval architect who can realize your dreams.
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:17 AM   #9
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Since you are in Alaska a visit to the major harbors will show you all manners of Al boats. Last year the neatest pleasure boat big Al trawler I saw was in Petersburg.

If you are interested in resale and trying to maintain some sort of yacht quality I'd recommend you look at a few of the larger FRP Nordhavns. This will give you a bench mark for layout, systems, fit and finish for which to compare any Fe or Al vessel.

For a new build metal vessel in the 70 to 80 range, you do I hope know the price range you are getting into. For a used metal vessel in this size there are bargains galore for a good reason - few buyers vs more who are going for FRP. On a used metal vessel keep in mind the metal related headaches mentioned by RickB and others in the above posts.

There is/was a large steel hull vessel for sale in the PNW named "Scorpius." Arctic Traveler who frequents this site has Captained this vessel - he lives in Juneau. I'd suggest you talk with him directly.
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:25 AM   #10
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Is this poster related to GG???
A 70-80ft vessel as a first boat!!!
Unless a full time crew is intended, he has no idea!!
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:39 AM   #11
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he has no idea!!
Not uncommon for the under experienced. Sometimes it is best to answer their questions and not worry about their motivations. That said, lots of teenagers (site owners and mods too) use these sites to stir things up to get participation - it works.
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Old 04-27-2013, 12:21 PM   #12
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Sometimes it is best to answer their questions and not worry about their motivations.

Hear hear.
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