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Old 05-10-2021, 04:04 PM   #1
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Wood boat for winter cruising the PNW, BC, and SE Alaska?

Hi! This is going to be my first post of many here in the forums! Excited to be here!

I'll bore you with a smattering of my intentions and background so that this question makes more sense. I'm yet another sailor moving into the Trawler world for the first time. Most of my sailing experience is in the Pacific North West, British Columbia, and the Sea of Cortez. I'm also a full-time nomad, roaming the western U.S. for the last 3 years. I basically spend 300 days a year in the outdoors skiing, climbing, fishing, and riding as deep into the wilderness as possible.

I’m intending to purchase within a year, but I keep going back and forth on a few things. I’ll be using the boat to access the deeper Fjords of BC and SE Alaska in the winter to access backcountry ski lines, fishing, nature photography, and of course fishing! I have experience doing this on a fibreglass sailboat already, so I’m well versed in the redundancy and self-sufficiency requirements of this type of travel.

The main reason I’m moving up into a trawler is that….well….I”m sick of camping on boats. I’ve spent the vast majority of the last decade in sufferfest mode and I’m loving having a warm refuge to take a shower, cook a good meal, hide out from the weather. This leads to me where I could use some advice…

I’ve been pretty dead set on a full displacement metal boat. I’m comfortable welding and really don’t mind the maintenance of steel, but would prefer Aluminum. Having said that, what about wood? My main issue is that in the winter I end up sailing at night quite often. Deadheads are something that I’ve experienced on a few occasions so a VERY robust hull is mandatory. I’m aiming for a functional and very well maintained work boat.

Here are my specific questions:

-If you take the varnish work out of the picture, are wooden boats really that maintenance heavy?

-I’ve read that wooden boats can be warmer in the winter due to the insulation factor. But condensation is my main worry. Do they seem more wet than a metal boat?

-Assuming a robust commercial conversion is the base hull, I’d imagine that a wood ex-seiner could withstand deadhead strikes and the minimal amount of ice we encounter in the NW.

-Any advice on finance houses or insurance outfits that specialize in wooden boats would be welcome.
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Old 05-10-2021, 05:02 PM   #2
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Wood can be a great choice. If itís not run down, it no harder to maintain. my boat has all the same pumps ,switches,plumbiig etc of any other boat. Click image for larger version

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Old 05-10-2021, 05:26 PM   #3
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I have owned an all wood Chris Craft and my present Albin trawler which is fiberglass. However, the Albin had an awful lot of exposed teak. All the decks, windows, trim, swim platform, hand rails and toe rails. There was almost as much upkeep on all that exposed teak as there was on the Chris where most of the wood was painted.

Now, however, almost all of the teak on the Albin has been painted. It looks great and if an area needs touchup, that is all it needs, a little touchup.

Why do you not consider fiberglass (GRP). It is by far the most common boat material out there.

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Old 05-10-2021, 05:30 PM   #4
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Wood can be a great choice. If itís not run down, it no harder to maintain. my boat has all the same pumps ,switches,plumbiig etc of any other boat.
Wow, she's stunning! Thank you!
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Old 05-10-2021, 05:47 PM   #5
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Why do you not consider fiberglass (GRP). It is by far the most common boat material out there.

pete
Great question! I've owned GRP boats in the past and I'm a huge fan in the correct context. For this particular use case, the only GRP boats I'd consider would be ex-fishing or work boats. Nice conversions of those are hard to come by. This boat is going to see a lot of hard use. I've had some bad experiences with production GRP boats doing this sort of thing. I've been out in some pretty rough weather only to come home and none of the doors will close and the drawers have turned into screamers. Also, the age range I'm looking at is mostly pre 1990, which means dealing with blisters which drives me a little crazy. Plus unseen core damaged. I also like how wood and metal boats aren't as sensitive to wear and tear. A small example is that no one is going to be taking their boots off to board the boat when it's 15˚F outside. The problem I had with my last boat is that even after five days of use the cockpit and topsides get trashed. Guess what I'm really looking for is more commercial and built to withstand some rough and tumble, but not look trashy afterwards. Hope that makes sense.

I'm open to the right boat, regardless of material. I just really started considering wood and was wondering what folks would have to say. Thanks!
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Old 05-10-2021, 10:17 PM   #6
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When we found our boat I was looking for “a good boat” not a wood boat.

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https://www.pacificboatbrokers.com/u...cht.asp#images

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Old 05-10-2021, 10:20 PM   #7
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Are you familiar with Tollys?
There is a 37ft Tollycraft with twin diesels on Seattle Craigslist that would do the job. A solid, heavy hand laid fibreglass hull with Cummins power in the flagship 37 ft model. (Iíve never heard of blisters on a Tolly). You can fast cruise at 17 knots in daylight to avoid night running.
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Old 05-10-2021, 10:51 PM   #8
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Have you done winter boating in the longer channels cutting into the Coast Mountains?

The salt water doesn't freeze, but fresh water does. We've seen seagulls taking fresh water baths in the middle of 4 mile wide channels and had to paddle almost 100 miles from Kitimat before salt started to crust up on our spray skirts. This means when it's -20C and the northerly outflow winds are flowing out of the mainland channels, freezing spray is a concern.

Any spot shallow enough to set an anchor is usually on a creek estuary outwash fan, so those areas freeze up during cold snaps as well. A 600 to 700 foot rode will probably get you past the ice, but some waterways like Gardner Canal can freeze up for miles near the top end.

Because of the 16 hour nights, me-thinks getting to alpine might mean overnight trips, making a trustworthy anchoring setup even more important than normal. We can experience freezing cold 40 knot northerly outflow winds switching to 50 knot above freezing SE winds coming off the Pacific within 24 hours. Not often, but every couple years for sure.

Sounds like you've been having a blast and have "been out there" so most of this is probably not new to you. Sounds like a great plan. Like they say, if you aren't living on the edge you're occupying too much space

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Old 05-10-2021, 11:13 PM   #9
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Murray_m,

Yes sir, I am VERY aware of those factors. I don't really consider it on the edge, more of a very patient practice in risk management. The fresh water point is one of my primary drivers for a very robust hull. In previous excursions to these areas that freshwater surface ice made for some nerves on my previous sail boat. I appreciate you raising both the anchoring challenges and the fresh water issue.

Those 60 knot katabatics are not something folks read about before getting deep in the inlets. Anchoring alone isn't an option I'm a big fan of the spider web of shore lines. Makes finding the right anchorages challenging, but I sleep better when away from the boat.
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Old 05-10-2021, 11:57 PM   #10
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Murray_m,

Yes sir, I am VERY aware of those factors. I don't really consider it on the edge, more of a very patient practice in risk management. The fresh water point is one of my primary drivers for a very robust hull. In previous excursions to these areas that freshwater surface ice made for some nerves on my previous sail boat. I appreciate you raising both the anchoring challenges and the fresh water issue.

Those 60 knot katabatics are not something folks read about before getting deep in the inlets. Anchoring alone isn't an option I'm a big fan of the spider web of shore lines. Makes finding the right anchorages challenging, but I sleep better when away from the boat.
Sounds like you've "walked the walk" and are up to speed on this stuff, but fresh water on top of salt water and how it can complicate things in winter is something most people miss.

On another note, the paper charts on BC's north coast give warnings about estuary flats not being accurate due to all the material washed down from surrounding mountains since being charted.

Talked to one fellow in a converted Oregon commercial tuna boat who got caught on a drying flat that didn't exist on the chart. The muck was soft enough that by putting his engine in reverse he managed to dig himself a bathtub of sorts for his boat. Said he walked around it at low tide and took pictures of it floating level. Lucky duck!

I tried mountain touring about 40 years ago. Skis had metal edges but they were those huge, long, straight sided affairs with cheapo cable bindings and hiking boots. Went back to snowshoeing...coming down through the trees with a full winter pack was nuts.

Ran into some ski tracks in the mountains a couple years ago and those guys were going through terrain that amazed me. Gear has improved in 40 years. That, or I suck at skiing.
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Old 05-11-2021, 12:29 AM   #11
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Now that is freakish! I can see how that could happen though. BC tide ranges are no joke!

The gear is amazing now! Look up Alpine Touring. It's not cheap gear, but you never have to buy a lift ticket again. Although that of course brings in an entirely different set of objective risks. You sound like a mountain lover as well, so you understand.
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Old 05-11-2021, 12:33 AM   #12
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When we found our boat I was looking for ďa good boatĒ not a wood boat.

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https://www.pacificboatbrokers.com/u...cht.asp#images

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You now have me reading The Trawler Yacht Book and thinking about driving to Ilwaco! Rebuilt Gardner? What a great boat!
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Old 05-11-2021, 08:55 AM   #13
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The Gardner diesel caught my eye as well. I looked at the boat in Ilwaco about 3 years ago-just from the dock. It was then priced at $129k. The pictures are not current. Lots of bleed-through of fasteners on the hull. Expensive to fix correctly.
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Old 05-11-2021, 09:39 AM   #14
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Explains the price. Probably needs some replanking as well. Thats a bummer. Might ask for some updated pics anyway.
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Old 05-11-2021, 09:58 AM   #15
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Keven, you originally mentioned that your favorite material is aluminum. If that's the case, you might be better off sticking with that that. Alu boats can be properly insulated for cold climates, and the hulls can also be rebust enough even for ice conditions. They also will take way less maintenance than any other material...just plain unpainted alu.
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Old 05-11-2021, 09:58 AM   #16
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OK, I see what you are after. You are looking at a commercial grade, no frills working boat. Probably steel is your best bet although there are some pretty stout GRP boats out there.

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Old 05-11-2021, 09:59 AM   #17
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Old 05-11-2021, 12:35 PM   #18
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Keven, you originally mentioned that your favorite material is aluminum. If that's the case, you might be better off sticking with that that. Alu boats can be properly insulated for cold climates, and the hulls can also be rebust enough even for ice conditions. They also will take way less maintenance than any other material...just plain unpainted alu.
I'm leaning that way for sure. It's just hard to find a true full displacement cruiser thats not wildly expensive I found one up in Seattle that looks promising. It needs a ton of work which I'm actually good with. I love that you can leave aluminum unfinished.

I'm just not ready to rule out a stout wood boat yet. I see these huge planks put up on massive frames and smile. Plus I really love working with wood. No worrying about having a generator sized large enough to TIG alu and a lot less worry about stray current. Guess I'm waiting for someone to say I'm out of my mind for considering wood and here's why
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Old 05-11-2021, 12:42 PM   #19
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Are you familiar with Tollys?
There is a 37ft Tollycraft with twin diesels on Seattle Craigslist that would do the job. A solid, heavy hand laid fibreglass hull with Cummins power in the flagship 37 ft model. (Iíve never heard of blisters on a Tolly). You can fast cruise at 17 knots in daylight to avoid night running.
With speeds like that I'm assuming a planing hull. How are they in a 8ft seaway? I just looked at one on YW that had twin 300HP Cat diesels! That's an insane amount of power Thanks for suggesting them. Definitely very liveable boats! I'm just not looking for something that moves that fast or burns that much fuel.
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Old 05-11-2021, 12:57 PM   #20
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Looks to be a nice conversion from its commercial fishing origins, where the 'essence' of the old work boat remains:

https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/196...r-44--3817917/

Price probably reflects condition of hull
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