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Old 11-06-2015, 10:42 PM   #4
TDunn's Avatar
City: Maine Coast
Country: USA
Vessel Name: Tortuga
Vessel Model: Nunes Brothers Raised Deck Cruiser
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 873
I have some experience with this since my 1936 boat is carvel planked and my 36 footer is fiberglass. Rot is always a problem on a wooden boat. However, planks below the waterline in salt water do not rot. Above the waterline most rot is caused by deck leaks. If your decks are tight you will have minimal rot.

As far as leaking goes, all carvel planked boats leak when they have been out of the water for a while. Once they are in the water, the planks swell and, if the boat is sound, the leaking stops. For example,after a winter ashore my boat leaks when launched. Immediately after launch my bilge pump cycles once every 3-4 minutes. The cycle rate slows down quickly though so that after 4-5 hours in the water the pumps are only coming on maybe once every 40 minutes. When my boat is fully swelled up the pumps come on for7-8 seconds every eight hours. My boat has quite a lot of 79 year old planking below the waterline,which is sound.

Maintenance is factor with a wooden boat. You will need to recaulk the boat periodically. The time frame ranges from about 10 years to 20+ years. Other than that you want to keep on top of deck leaks (fix them immediately) because fresh water causes rot. Also you should keep the seam putty below the waterline in good shape. That is simple, just use a putty knife to apply new putty if a chunk falls out. Beyond that hull maintenance depends on your skills. Replacing a plank isn't actually hard. I can replace a plank in about 4 hours. Routine maintenance includes painting the topsides. If you want the boat to stay looking great, you should paint the topsides annually. That is a 1-2 day job on my 33' boat. I use Petit easypoxy and the result is quite nice.

Cons - A wooden boat isn't as tough as a glass boat. Pounding through big seas is hard on a wood boat. Even the toughest boats will work a little and will leak more after dealing with rough conditions. Also, if you hit something, you can break a plank which is a definite emergency. I carry pieces of plywood to nail over potential punctures, but you have to be fast to do that and the boat will leak badly until you get it hauled out. I have three bilge pumps with independent float switches. Two are 1500 gph pumps and the third is 8000 gph rated. My big pump is located above the other two so it doesn't come on unless the other two aren't keeping up. It has never come on except in tests. A wooden boat can be difficult to insure and some marinas don't like them. Wooden boats can also be hard to sell and unless they are true classics, they won't sell for much. Most people view a wooden boat as a huge maintenance night mare. However, I spend about the same amount of time maintaining my glass boat as I do my woody. The tasks are different though.

Pluses - I think wood boats are quieter than glass boats. Wood is also a better insulator than glass. Wood boats can be repaired easily by anyone with decent wood working skills. Materials for the repairs are pretty cheap. Finally, wood boats have their own community. If you have a woody, your are instant friends with all the other wooden boat owners, bot pleasure and commercial.

Things to look for in buying a wooden boat. First make sure you get a wooden boat surveyor. I wouldn't buy a boat that wasn't silicon bronze fastened. Check the systems, particularly on an older boat. Some old systems really should never have been used on a boat. If the boat is sound and surveys well, there isn't really much to fear.
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