Construction Issues

Here you’ll find dialogue related to yacht construction issues.

If you’d like to add a question, click on “Cruisers Q&A” in the sidebar, where you’ll find a form you can use.

Exterior use of 6061 alloy

Hi Steve,
As a long time builder, user and owner of aluminum alloy boats perhaps you can answer this question: How does the odd bit of raw 6061, above the waterline , but on the exterior, fare visually over time in comparison to 5086? In particular, we’re building a Dix 43 Pilot House and I’m looking at using a 3″ half pipe extrusion as a rub rail down each side and it is only available in 6061. The hull plating is 5086 H116. The alternative is to buy vastly more expensive 5086 schedule 80 pipe and rip it on the table saw. I don’t mind spending when it’s justified but don’t want to waste money. We love the look and practicality of unpainted alloy, but my experience in non-salt environments with 6061 is that it can look pretty nasty after awhile. Perhaps it’s just a matter of an occasional scotchbrite rub-down.
The other place we’ll be using 6061 is for the rudder shaft . It’s a spade rudder with a 115mm diameter shaft and Jefa self aligning bearings. Appearance is not an issue here, and I think the 6061-T6 will be stronger than 5086 . Do you think corrosion could be an issue on the 6061 rudder shaft? We will have a comprehensive anode system.
Thanks so much-I love the new site format!

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 16, 2009)    |    Comments (0)

Insulation Approaches for Alum. Hulls

Steve, First let me say I have appreciated the wealth of information in your books and website. Thanks!

In considering an aluminum hull for use primarily in the tropics and temperate zones, I was intrigued by your reference that on Beowulf you chose to use no insulation. You reference careful attention to the head and hull liners. Was there any attempt to provide insulation via the head and hull liners or did you just eliminate the insulation that would have otherwise been used and use standard liner materials? Also, you reference the reveals between the liner panels to promote ventilation between the liner and deck. Did you use a specific % of open space design spec, or just go more with looks? Given your experience in the tropics, would you go this route again, or use insulation? Anything else to consider if choosing to use no insulation?

Thanks for sharing your insights. David

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Steel Yacht Construction in China

I am looking for designs for a steel yacht capable of worldwide cruising and being handled by a couple. Your ideas on yacht design seem to be the same as mine, particularly those regarding the priorities of equipment, safety, layout, engine rooms and cutting down on the fancy junk.

I am a naval architect and master mariner and am stuck in China for the next four years building a series of cargo ships and tankers. I would like to occupy my spare time by building a yacht for what I hope will be my imminent retirement after 35 years of building ships. Thus the requirement for a steel design.

In China there is high quality and cheap steel available but limited skills in welding, I also have all the cutting and bending equipment available to me. I am thinking of a design of 75 to 80 feet overall, this is I think the limit that can be handled by a small crew, my wife is not a great sailor in terms of usefulness on deck, otherwise brilliant but just ballast on deck. I liked what I can see of your Locura, I am conservative, I like Beowulf but the rig is new to me. I was thinking of a staysail schooner? I would much appreciate your advice, ideas, design suggestions or even a suggestion for a complete design to fit my requirements. Many thanks and best regards, Paul

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Deck Fills

Hi Steve, What do you use for deck fills on an aluminum deck? Are the Marelon fills a good choice, or aluminum (Wilcox-Crittenden) welded on? Could I just weld in pipe with threaded ends and put a cap on the outside (keeps the opening off the deck)? Also, would you let bails for halyard/reef blocks through the deck and weld top and bottom, or do you think there’s enough strength in a fillet weld to hold it on the deck? Best, Alex

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Anodize Vs Painting

I have the opportunity to replace the spars (2) on my boat. It is a 1975 Custom 45′ Steel boat built in Italy (round chine). It has a flush deck. I have been using your encyclopedia to spec out the spars but I’m not clear on your opinion of anodizing Vs painting. To have my spars anodized (about 55 ft worth) will require a mechanically fastened joint. (tanks not long enough for the whole spar). Cost- wise, it’s about a wash. What’s your opinion?

I appreciate your help as I’m a new boat owner and a novice sailor. Your book has been a great help to me and I think the spar maker has learned a few things as well. I’m looking forward to your next book (heavy weather sailing). It sounds good from the ad. Have you thought of making a training film on the subject? Thanks for your help, Steve. Regards, Buzz

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Steel Hull–Wooden Decks in Extreme Weather

Hello, I’m looking at purchasing a yacht capable of offshore voyages in and around the Southern Ocean, I have found one which suits all my requirements except this steel yacht has a wooden deck and cockpit. Would this partial wooden construction compromise the structural strength of the yacht given worst-case scenarios in big seas? Marcus

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Lifelines/Stanchions

Good day, I am enjoy your site and also using as a reference source as I am presently having a 42′ aluminum cutter built.

I was wondering if you have and could post a detail/close-up look at your stanchion/lifeline setup. There are several pictures on your site which show an overview and it looks like you used SS pipe going into aluminum pipe stanchion bases welded to the deck. One picture looks like you used SS pipe for some of the lifelines. I would appreciate any details you can provide.

Thank you for considering this request. Cheers, John

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Hull Material–GRP Phobia

Hi Steve, Firstly thanks for the books, most of which are bending my shelves. I am looking for my first bluewater cruiser (second hand) and am paralyzed by the conflicting hull material shortcoming. You extol aluminum but here in Australia they are expensive and few and far between ( I would love one however). Steel rusts like mad but is good for offshore can be fixed in far flung places and its integrity is sound up to the last minute before failure. GRP is very common but I understand on boats 10–20 years of age osmosis is common in about 60% of cases. Since I, like most people, need to be able to sell the boat at some stage to recover some funds, what is your advice? My view at present is I cannot trust GRP as I cannot be certain of the build quality in a second hand boat even with a survey. So using that logic steel appears to be my main option as what you see is what you get. Am I over petrified about GRP? Best Regards, Martin

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Copper Shield: Anti-Fouling on Aluminum?

Dear Steve, I have bought Your Cruising Encyclopedia & Mariners Weather Handbook from Captain Watt’s in London. I can only say they are a great life work’s to make a boat owner’s life easier with the right kind of knowledge – thank you. Also I met the owners of Condor while they were in Sydney Australia a few years ago – Skip and his wife. What a lovely couple and boat they had built in NZ to your philosophy and design.

I own a 50′ ex BOC open class yacht build in 1986 called Skoiern IV. She is built from aluminum. Because of the problems of toxicity today’s available anti-fouling are not effective without the tin content. I’m considering using a UK product called Copper Shield, using first a coating of epoxy as a primer to protect the hull, then apply the Copper Shield, which is a copper-rich anti-fouling that does not require redoing for ten years plus. My fear is the risk of using copper on an aluminum boat – is it safe? The company said yes it is. Since I would like to solve this problem once and for all, I’m inclined to try it. but I don’t want to find religion with a holy boat…I look forward to your comment, as I will need to redo the boat’s bottom soon. Kind Regards, and keep up the good work. – John

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Cold Molded Hulls

I recently looked at a Wylie 34 that is cold molded. I like the Wylie boats and currently own a Hawkfarm 28. The boat appears to be very well built (obviously a survey would be in order before going to far) but I know very little about cold mold boats. I have a friend (another Hawkfarm owner) who is a very experienced racer and cruiser–he seems to think that cold molded wouldn’t be a great choice for a cruising boat due to the difficulty in having quality repairs done if something happened “in the bak of beyond”.

Do you have any opinions on this? If the boat was sound and the design was suitable, would this put you off (I like the idea of aluminum as well but don’t see many in the 35 ft range)?

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Fiberglass Hull–Aluminum Deck

Hello Steve, I have been offered a really nice bare hull, but the mould for the deck is a center cockpit. I would like to build the boat as an aft cockpit. I could either build a deck in plywood and glass it on top afterward, but I wondered if I could build a deck in aluminum. This seems to me to be quite a good mix. Fiberglass below and aluminum above. This would suit me because I could leave it bare for non slip on the side decks and also I could build the hard dodger in aluminum. Do you think that the differential expansion between fiberglass on aluminum could cause a problem? I also wonder whether it might cause problems later with resale because it is so unconventional. Any comments would be welcome. Thanks, Howard

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Ferro Cement

Hi Steve, I am looking to buy a plan of a sailboat with between 38 & 40 feet with small draft (1.20 to 1.40 m). I know Hartley boats but I would like to contact other designers that have plans to be made in Ferrocement. Do you know any? Best Regards, Eduardo

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Zincs on Aluminum Hulls

I’m trying to put zincs on the outside of the alum. hull. No one seems to know how to do it. I can only go by what little was in your book, do they need to be tied together with wire on the inside from the bolts, and should the zincs be against the alum. Hull or can I put them on after the 3 coats of 2000e, or not have them on at all. I would appreciate any help. Thanks, Dale

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (2)

Hull Insulation

Linda/Steve, You are the woman and the man! I am building a 46′ aluminum Radford R14 pilothouse. Your specs on the FPB 83 note 1/2" Armaflex insulation on the hull – why not thicker insulation? Does your choice of Armaflex usher in a product that will become the aluminum boat standard insulation? Appreciate your reply. – John

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Aluminum Builders

I have followed your work now for severaI years always admiring the quality of your projects. I have a question for Steve Dashew. I am in the process of designing and building a 50′ aluminum boat. I would very much appreciate Steve’s input on suitable builders that he could recommend to me. I am exploring a new Empacher-designed centerboard sloop and want the best traditional wood finished interior I can manage. I have contacted Kantor Yachts in Canada, Topper Hermansen in Florida and Garcia aluminum in France. I am not quite satisfied yet with the finish work at any of these yards. I would consider any location here in the US, abroad or NZ. I have long admired Dashew designs, both for his keen aesthetics as well as his practicality and I would trust absolutely his suggestions.

Any help would be enormously appreciated. A list of suggestions of good builders, whom he has used, would be a wonderful start. Thanks kindly, James

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Single Through Hull on BEOWULF

Dear Steve & Linda, It was only yesterday that I was pointing BEOWULF out to some of my sailing students ( I’m a part-time instructor) as she came into Marina del Rey and backed into a berth at Cal YC; it prompted me to make a visit to the Ship’s Store and part with some $’s to purchase a copy of Practical Seamanship, in which I have had my nose firmly buried ever since. Thanks for creating such a practical, logical and well-written tome; it will help make me a better, more rounded sailor and instructor, and aid in passing on my knowledge and experience to the new converts of the fine art of sailing. Perhaps you might clear up a question I have. It seems that I read somewhere that BEOWULF has only 1 (one) thru-hull. Is this so? And if so, where can I find some info on how you managed to achieve this seemingly impossible feat? I must admit I have spent some time thinking about it and am somewhat baffled. I look forward to reading and owning some more of your titles in the future. Thanks, Paul G.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Sandblasting an Aluminium Boat

Hello from New Zealand, We are a 40ft aluminium sailboat called Wyndeavor. We’ve sailed from the Pacific Northwest to New Zealand with our two kids and have recently put our boat on the market. The paint on our boat was chipping terribly so we decided to go with bare aluminium in order to help the boat sell (low maintenance). We recently had the boat sandblasted and are not too happy with the outcome. We have covered most of the deck with a nonskid product (Treadgrip) but the rest of the deck and hull to the waterline are bare. The bare aluminium is very rough and our feet and fingers leave marks. We understand that you have a lot of experience dealing with aluminium so we were wondering if you had any advice regarding these issues. Should we sand the decks? Will it get better as the boat oxidizes? Should we just leave it be? Can you help? Regards, Kelly

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (1)

Unfinished Sundeer Hull

My wife and I have read the Cruising Encyclopedia. It’s a fantastic guideline for sailors. All kinds of tips and safety issues we put on our 37ft sailboat. After reading the book we had only one wish. Making our own cruise in the year 2004 with our two daughters in a Sundeer yacht.

Buying a new or secondhand model is not possible. But we wonder if it’s possible to buy a hull of a Sundeer 56 and finish the interior of the boat in three or four years ourselves, with the Cruising Encyclopedia as a guideline. Some questions were raised when we thought about this idea. I hope you can find the time to answer the following questions. I thank you in advance.

1) Do you sell drawings of the Sundeer 56 so we can have the hull made in Holland? If so what are the costs. 2) Are there already Sundeer yachts built in Europe? If so who can I contact for information. 3) The original Sundeers are made of aluminum. I want to make the boat from steel. Is that possible? -Peter

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Hull Insulation (More)

Steve, Hope all is well and everyone is healthy. Richard and Kati have been keeping me apprised to your progress on your latest. Best of luck with it! Do you have a launch date?

As I’m insulating my sailboat, I find that I need a flexible insulation in some areas. The semi-rigid just will not work well!

Richard said that you were using scuba wet suit material. Great idea! This would work well for me several locations against the hulls sharpest curves…behind the nav station, a few lockers, under vanity, etc. So, were can I purchase this material ??

Thank You and Good Luck, say hello to Linda. – Michael

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (2)

Intermezzo’s Builder

Dear Steve, I enjoy reading your books. I am curious as to the manufacturer or builder and model year of Intermezzo, the 50′ ketch you once owned. She looks very familiar. Was she a production boat or a "one off"? Who was the manufacturer/builder and what year was she built? Thank you, Rick

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Custom Build Sanity Check

My basic question to you is in regard to my sanity along with that of my wife…We are dreaming of sailing, selling the house, sticking a chunk of money in an untouchable fund (for our eventual return in 10-15 years) and launching. But, we don’t just want to buy some fiberglass yogurt container for our trip. That would not fit our style. We want to build our yacht ourselves. I do have an engineering degree (although I have not used it) and an MBA (definitely a negative). My wife is a graphic artist with experience in interior design. Well, here is my plan. Is this do-able??????

1) Create detailed specifications and drawings of what I want. I am 50% there now after many drawings. (FYI: 55′-65′ modern aluminum hull, deck to include a classic pilot house and a sloping sheer line, modern schooner rig with marconni aft and gaff fore sail. Fore and aft cabins, bulkheads fore and aft with a water-tight, center, engine room. It should have a fin keel and a skeg hung rudder. Goal: Long-range, comfortable, easy-to-sail, high-safety factor, classic looking schooner built with modern components.)

2) Hand my plans/specs to a qualified naval architect/engineer to create the actual designs. IMPORTANT: Architect should have proven ability to produce complete “CUT” files for all Ribs, Stringers and Hull Plates. Complete hull.

3) Have these “CUT” files delivered to an Aluminum fabricator in the Austin/Houston area for CNC cutting.

4) Deliver these “puzzle” pieces to my enclosed shop for build.

5) Use certified welders (myself included), friends, family and an experienced boat-building consultant (can be remote) to assemble the hull.

6) Select components and build-out the remainder of the yacht using friends and family. Did I mention budget…Can I get the DESIGNS with CUT files under $20K??? My hopes for the entire project cost would be in the $150K range. (tools and facilities not included) I see that you have used experienced boat yards for all of your builds. Even with your experience you choose to leave the assembly to others. So, am I attempting something that I shouldn’t? I don’t think so, but then again, I have never build a boat before…other things, but not a blue-water home for my family. Any advise, suggestions or a sanity check would be greatly appreciated. Sincere Thanks, Andy

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Keel

Hello Steve & Linda, I just watched Offshore, and enjoyed it very much. I have been looking around on your website, and I think it is fantastic. Well done. I dream of having a lifestyle like yours one day.

I’m 22, and have a 34′ custom riveted aluminum round bilge, Terhou, built in England in ’59. Within the next decade or so, intend to weld something bigger (and faster) for myself.

This goal has me thinking about design, best practices, etc. You mentioned in Offshore that Sundeer’s keel is welded on. How is the ballast installed? Is it poured inside? I assume it is lead? – Ryan

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Loose Toerails

I have a Rasmus 35 and I am having problems with the toerail being loose from its screws…and am finding it difficult to extract the loose screws…any suggestions?

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Aluminum Boats on Steel Docks

We just purchased an aluminum boat. It is primed and painted with bottom paint and reg on the top sides. It has about 7 anodes on it.

We have two choices to keep the boat this summer, one has steel docks constructed of steel drums held together with steel structure covered with wood. This is all held with steel chains. The other location has concrete main docks and aluminum finger docks.

The problem is we like the community at the first as the second is a municipal marina and has little charm.

I have read about electrolysis and all that stuff, I am planning to hand Zinc anodes over the side in either case.

What are your thoughts/suggestions? Thank you. Don

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Repairing Hull Damage

Hello Steve: I have been looking for an affordable cruising boat. This weekend I looked at an Allmand 31. I really liked it and am thinking about putting an offer on her. As I was checking the hull, I noticed that the place in the boat yard where she is stored had some erosion from a rain storm, and the logs under the keel had sunk in, which has caused two of the aft jack stands to cause the hull to deflect. It looks like they were moved when this was noticed, but you can see the two spots port and starboard where there is a slight concave deflection. In your experience, will this come out?

I asked the broker to call the owner and have someone put new blocks under the boat and reposition the jack stands to structural stringers. But don’t know much about hulls when they have been flexed like that. Any information you might know about similar situations would be greatly appreciated. I want to make an offer, but I also know how important the hull is to the seaworthiness of a vessel.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Steel Boats

Greetings to you from Vanuatu…We are leaving Paradise in December to return to NZ to find a boat to go cruising for the next three to five years. All going well, we will do a circumnavigation. We are interested in steel boats and I was wondering if you could recommend the best book I could read on steel construction techniques–with a view particularity to proven or recognized standards. Also, do you know of a good steel surveyor in Auckland who could give us an opinion on one boat in particular that we are interested in at present. The reason I ask is because we have had several opinions so far and they are all conflicting!!! Many thanks for your help. Keep up the good work! Gary

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Building Trawler in China

Good Morning Steve: I have a 98 Valiant 42. I’m selling her and moving to the trawler mode. Most trawlers are just ugly–too high off the water, too much windage. I’ve found the Dieselducks designed by George Buehler and built at Seahorse Marine in China. Please look over these and let me know what you think. Here is their website: http://www.seahorseyachts.com/ Go to the dieselduck 44 and take a look at them. Please let me know how you feel about steel boats and if the design is sound. I respect your opinion more than anyone out there. Thanks again, Roy

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Renovating an Aluminum Hull

I write seeking some advice on Aluminum boats. I have a 50 foot Ferru Pilothouse cutter. This French boat is constructed in Al but has epoxy fairing compound in varying thickness over the entire hull and deck (damn those Frenchies). The vessel was neglected for a couple of years so blisters formed over a large surface area. We’ve been chipping away at these blisters to allow air at the Al to prevent further surface deterioration and now the boat looks like it has leprosy. Inspired by your lithe bare-metal “Beowulf”, I want to remove the rest of the fairing compound to lighten the vessel and avoid the sisyphean task of regular paint and epoxy maintenance. The remaining coating, however are tenaciously adherent to the metal surface. These are some of the questions I have… 1. Is it advisable to strip the boat bare? 2. What is the best way to deal with the tiny areas of pitting corrosion that have occurred where water was trapped between the epoxy and the metal? 3. What is the best way to strip the epoxy from aluminum without damaging the hull and deck? 4. Does sandblasting have to be done with aluminum oxide grit or could another material be used? 5. Do you know anything about the French boatbuilder, Ferru? We love to sail our boat and we intend to keep her for many years. We are currently living aboard in New York. I would greatly appreciate any assistance.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Ferro Cement Construction

Steve, I have a chance to pick up a 53′ Ferro cement sail boat. It needs to be finished out with masts, paint etc. Do you have any input in the Ferro cement design. It was built in Alaska, nice lines and quality hard ware, new Volvo engine, all oak inside. I can not see any rust leaking through the cement, it is in a boat yard and has been there for 10 years. It has not sailed. Please give some input if possible. Cheers, Spike

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (2)

Welding Extruded Hatches

I have a 50 ft cruising catamaran recently purchased from the owner builder. I note in your cruising encyclopedia that you mention that only cast hatches can be welded directly to the coaming. I was wondering if there was a way to weld lower priced extruded hatches to a 6061 deck? Look forward to your comments.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Which Head?

Giving us most headache in the construction plans for our yacht at the moment is the heads and holding tanks. I have read all your books now and a few others and we will follow your advice, make it as simple as possible. Now there are a lot of heads on the market and the next one is always better than all the others. Please point out one head that you know works and that you have experience from and is simple in construction. I want to pump from head to a holding tank and then be able to choose either pumping out to the sea or to empty the tank at service stations where available. Thanks for your time and all the best to all of you at Set Sail.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Pilothouse Windows – Best Material

What do you consider the best material for pilothouse windows? Lexan, Tempered or safety (laminated tempered) glass?? Phillip

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Stern Tubes in Steel Boats

Dear Steve & Linda: Received your Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia Second Edition for Christmas 97 and I cannot stop reading it. I am at present building a 45ft steel motorsailor from a kit. The design includes welding a steel tube into the hull for the propeller shaft stern gear. As this tube is bored each end to accept the cutlass bearings and salt water is pumped through to lubricate these bearings, I am concerned about rusting of the inside of the tube and the corrosion around the cutlass bearing making for difficulty in removing for replacement bearing. Is it possible to manufacture the stern tube from stainless steel and weld the stainless to the steel hull? This would give the protection from corrosion. If it is (possible), what would be the ideal grade stainless steel? The propellor shaft is 316 grade. Regards, Dave

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Steel vs. Fiberglass

Hello, Thanks for both the Offshore and Seamanship: both were great reads. The website is always good for a bit of day dreaming as well as loads of info. Keep up the good stuff!

I’m currently looking into purchasing a smaller (27ft) Dutch classic to enhance sailing, tech and nav skills on coastal North Sea before following the big step dream.

I’ve located a Trintel 1a – in steel and a Trintella 1a in GRP, essentially the same design, both from around 1971. I’d go for steel for security; but the problem is that the steel version is about twice as heavy, still, I’m a bit hesitant about "old plastic"; I’ve read about osmosis, but have no idea what it looks like. Could you give me any ideas on what to look for?

Thanks very much, Eltjo

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Cockpit Drains

I have both editions of the Encyclopedia for Cruising. I cannot find much information regarding cockpit drains. I have a center cockpit 53′ steel sailboat with a good sized cockpit. Currently I have 4 drains in the lowest footwell. Each goes to its own thru hull. On a sail from San Diego to Fla. we had occasion to ship some water but that was rare and drained in less then 10 to 15 seconds. My question is this: I want to reduce the number of thru hulls and will be doing so on intakes and some exhausts. These drains in the cockpit are only effective on the downhill side mostly. They are only 18 inches from each other in the corner of a footwell. Can I cross connect them so that highside and lowside use only one thru hull?–Bob

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Aluminum vs. Fiberglass Construction

Recently a builder of fiberglass boats said that aluminum as a hull material is way inferior to fiberglass because:

1. Aluminum suffers from fatigue–the older the boat the greater chance for structure failure. 2. Aluminum boats are prone to failure by stress corrosion and weld corrosion.

Based on your research and experience, these statements seem to misrepresent scientific fact. In your book, Offshore Cruising, your thoughts are very clear about the superiority of aluminum for cruising boats. We would be interested in your prospective on items 1& 2 and what the best welding process is for aluminum hulls. Thanks, John and Ruth

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (2)

Pilot House – Abrasion-Resistant Polycarb

Dear Setsail, I’m in the process of speccing out the glazing for the pilothouse on the boat I am building. I have narrowed it down to either 1/2" tempered glass or 1/2" abrasion resistant polycarbonate and am now looking for a little real world experience to tip the scale. One nagging doubt: the long-term durability of this product in the voyaging environment. I’ve read in your Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia that you recommended and used polycarbonate on your sailing vessels, but noticed that you made the switch to glass in the FPB series. After walking the docks at the boat shows and talking to designers and builders of some of the high-end custom pilothouse and raised saloon boats, it seems they all are going with toughened glass, but none seem to have any direct experience with abrasion resistant polycarbonate. What’s your experience? Best regards, Collin

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Tread Plate vs. Nonskid?

Dear Steve and Linda: I am following you book as a guide (maybe I should say Bible, as I suspect many others are also). I plan to use a lightweight tread plate on the walkways on the top of the hulls and a few other places. The builder is concerned that, when the tread gets wet, it will be quite slippery. He thinks that you must be putting something in the way of nonskid on the tread plate. I suspect he is wrong but thought I should check. He is recommending that I use normal aluminum decking and apply a cork-based product made in Great Britain [I believe]. I prefer to stay with the tread plate, but only if this going to give me good footing when wet. I would appreciate knowing your experiences with the tread plate decking, as far as being slippery when wet. Incidentally, you recommended that I go with 80 grit versus the 120 I had considered. Boy, were you right! It looks much better. I am going to use the Barnacle System, I think, and thought of finishing the bottom in 120 grit and running without bottom paint to see what happens with just the Barnaclean system. [Your thoughts?] -Bill

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Watertight Bulkheads

I just ordered a J-BOAT J 109, and would appreciate your opinion about the possibility to improve the security in terms of buoyancy if…I learnt that inflatable buoyancy bags are not currently available; to my knowledge the only builder Yachtsaver is not still on the market. Another solution for this boat would be to transform the door between the forecabin and the saloon into a water pressure resistant door, such as in boats like the Maramu by Amel. This solution is not perfect, but, since the main risk is a frontal collision, it may be a significant point. In my opinion, at sea, a door must be open or closed, and the forecabin is not usable in practice. So, at sea, this door can be closed. How to get something efficient, light, and safe? I wonder if a device such as a timbered safety door, as those for theft protection would be the solution. I am very interested in your analysis and I would be grateful if you could help me. Yours sincerely, Alain P

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Balsa Core Construction

Ladies / Gentlemen, I am writing to you because I read where you were a proponent of balsa cored laminate hull construction techniques and have employed balsa coring in the hull construction of some of your boats.

I am considering buying a used cruising sailboat to liveaboard. It is a Bruce Roberts designed 36, pilothouse / cutaway full keel ketch, constructed in 1981, and has a fiberglass hull cored with balsa.

It is not my first boat. I have previously owned a 34 foot skipjack ketch, and a 32 foot Al Mason designed steel sloop, which I lived aboard for two years.

I have searched around the Internet, fruitlessly, for articles or information about balsa cored hulls (except for the Baltek Corp. site–very informative about new technologies). Therefore, could you please direct me to sources for information on evaluating balsa core constructed hulls? Also, the boat is moored in the Ft. Pierce, Florida area. Could you recommend a competent marine surveyor in that area who could conduct a survey of the vessel for me? I am reluctant to just choose any accredited surveyor and not get someone who knows what to look for in evaluating balsa core composite hull construction.

I don’t want to buy a water logged boat. The Baltek site claims that end grain balsa has a closed cell structure and, therefore, very little permeability, even after being submerged for long periods, and covered by fiberglass gelcoat subject to seepage–based on a 14 year test they conducted.

I plan on having the boat hauled for inspection, as part of a pre purchase survey, but am reluctant to start drilling holes in someone else’s’ hull when I’m not even sure of what I would be looking for; spongy? A certain sound when banged against? Also, I am in Louisiana. Before going to the expense of going all the way to Florida, I’d like ask more informed questions of the owners, regarding construction details of the hull laminate process.

Any thoughts you might share with me on the subject would be appreciated. Thank you for your time and consideration. By the way, your boats, and the design logic underlying them, are brilliantly conceived. Sincerely, Ed

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Aluminum Catamaran

Dear Sir, We plan to build an aluminum catamaran (sail) 47′, with round, relatively narrow (4′) hulls. We have several good alu-motorboat builders in the region–however no catamaran built here except the Osram IV which is a chaine hull. One builder would like to build the boat, if I would roll him the plates, one hullside 4x12x 8 1/4 or 3/16–He is welding nice motorboat hulls, nice seams etc… but how do I form the plates? I found one large rolling machine, but it’s outside and the rolls are very, very rusty … and what about the next step to get the compounded curve? I read about the English wheel, but that’s good only for steel, because the tracks are on the outside. The necessary (local) expansions of the prerolled aluminum sheet are pretty small, because of the narrow width of the hulls, I even can calculate it, but how to expand the metal???? Thanks for any advice, Christian

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Pilot House Storm Shutters/Built-in Flotation

Hello! First let me just say how much I appreciate your books, your designs and your web site. You really are unique!

We are starting to seriously think about "getting off"and I therefore have a lot of boat design features to sort out.

I hope you can help me with these two: Storm shutters. How did you deal with storm shutters on the Sundeer series? I think about the large windows in the hull and the "pilot house". Are storm shutters used or are the windows simply designed to be "storm proof"? Insubmersibility. What do you think about insubmersible boats, or modifying a boat (injecting foam in interior spaces that are not used for example) so that it becomes insubmersible? I have seen your comment on the Yacht Saver, but this seems like a costly and technically complex solution (just another thing that needs surveys and that will malfunction when it is needed). Another thing is the problems with large balloons inside the boat in a crisis situation. I hope you will take the time to answer these questions. With regards, Erik

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Treatment of Bare Aluminum Decks

Dear Steve and Linda: In addition to the above I also have both (editions) of your Encyclopedias. I am using the latest Encyclopedia as a guide, as we design a 65 x 32 aluminum catamaran, which will draw two feet when fully loaded. It is being designed by Grant Robinson in St. Augustine, Florida. It is to be built by Topper Hermason of Amelia Island, Florida. Your Encyclopedia has been more than invaluable and so I bought it for Grant to serve as a basis to make sure we are clear on what we are discussing. Based on your writings, I am going to leave the vessel unpainted and ground to 120 grit. I plan to spend years in the Southwestern Pacific. I am very concerned about what deck temperatures I should expect with unpainted deck and hulls in the tropics. I know you are very experienced in this area and would appreciate your input. Do the decks get too hot for comfort? Are you still happy with an unpainted aluminum vessel? What temperature ranges should I expect the deck to reach given being in the tropics and on open seas? I do appreciate your taking time to respond to the above. I look forward to your next book, which I understand will be available within a short time. Sincerely, Bill

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Draft for Cruising

Hi, I am planning a circumnavigation and am in the process of buying the appropriate boat as large as possible for two to handle. At the moment it looks like an X-562 will fit our needs fine. It can be delivered with a 2.8m draft and a 2.5m draft. I am going North Europe-Canaries, West Indies, Galapagos, Fiji, NZ, Australia, India, Red Sea. Can you give me an indication of the draft which in your opinion allows us to go the most nice places on the route?

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (2)

Cabinet Hardware

I really like the push knobs you use on your galley cabinetry, but cannot seem to find them locally. Could you let me know who your supplier is? Much appreciated, Wendy

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Windows Attaching to Aluminum Structure

Dear Steve, I have just read the glazing section for your FPB boat with much interest. Can you tell how the windows where attached to the aluminum structure? Many thanks, John H.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Calculating Construction Weights

Dears Sirs, I have read your book Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia with great pleasure and have decided to go on with building a new alu boat, about 45 feet. From a local designer I have got a design plan, including the areas of the hull, deck, cockpit and cabintop (the complete outer skin). The builder I have contacted is calculating the building costs for the aluminium parts by kg. The weight of skin of the hull, deck, cockpit and cabintop should be 1800 kg, excluding the inside frameworks and tanks. Do you have a good guess about how much the complete aluminium-part of the boat will weigh? The builder claims it you be factor 1.5 = 2700 kg. Regards, Jan B. Hansen, Sailmaker

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Boat Materials and Reefs

Hi Steve, Absolutely the best investment I have made before going full time cruising is your Offshore Cruising Encyclopedia. However I am hoping you can elaborate on one small statement that I keep coming back to, and it has a major bearing on the type of yachts we are looking at purchasing. As you’re aware, there are many more fibreglass boats to choose from, even in the South Pacific where steel is reasonably popular choice. Which seems to confirm your statement that "on average 1 in 12 yachts that spend more than 2 years in the South Pacific basin ends up on a reef permanently". As I am looking at the South Pacific, the Great Barrier Reef, and the archipelago of Western Australia’s Kimberley Coast – much of which is still not charted – as the areas we most wish to spend our time. I had resigned my looking to steel or aluminium yachts, however I have found a strongly built balsa cored 40′ cruising yacht that I particularly like, but I keep thinking about those reefs and rocks. Any more information you can give me or direct me to in helping me make a decision on whether to buy this yacht or keep looking would be very much appreciated. Regards, Peter

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Boat Costs Breakdown

I read the article about Beowulf in Yachting magazine and I really liked it. The approach you took when designing this boat is how it should be. I’m really interested in a different boat. I’m a young man around 30 years old, have a small construction firm. We build large residential houses. And I have a dream. I would like to sail the world for five to ten years. When I came out of the university, three of my friends and I were an inch away from buying a boat and leaving. Something happened with one of us and we didn’t go. The dream is still there. We all took jobs and started our careers and our plans were put aside. Until we read this article. What I’m interested in is why you choose aluminum and, since we are four people, is it smart to increase the sail area? I still have more technical questions but I will ask them in time. We also would like to know what kind of budget you worked with (to see if it is possible for us to want a boat like yours). Can you split it up into: Hull, rigging/sails, interior, equipment, design cost. Thanks. -Sjors

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Motorsailors

Hi Steve, You built some 74′ Motorsailors that are illustrated in the Cruising Encyclopedia, but not mentioned anywhere else that I can see. Can you tell us more about your Motorsailors. What are your current thoughts on Motorsailors? What IS a Motorsailor? BEOWULF is sometimes referred to as a Motorsailor and may be the best example of the breed. John T

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Aluminum Hull Electolysis

I have an alum. yacht. It’s been sitting on blocks for 6 months so I can work on it. I noticed a month ago a small hole the size of a pin head appeared. Now I have 14 of them, all in the area of the heads. Any ideas why? How can I stop it, and fix it? Any advice would be appreciated.–Dale Quigley

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Finding Leaks on Newly Launched Boats

(We just launched)…an Angelo Lavranos 43 (Barefoot) in British Columbia. It is unpainted. However, I was surprised to find a couple of deck leaks: One in an interior corner of a deck locker, one where the weld was apparently polished too far, and a burn-through where the genoa track flat bar is welded to the 3/16” deck plate. The builders are good welders so I was surprised by these. In your experience with unpainted aluminum boats have you seen this before on new boats? Regards, David

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (2)

Steel or Aluminum

Steve, Seeking your wisdom and guidance. I am looking at a 42′ boat built in Holland made out of steel or aluminum. I live on Long Island and keep the boat in a marina. What is your suggestion for longevity and ease of maintenance, steel or aluminum? I am not so concerned about the price differences, but want the boat to stay healthy and metal hulls are basically an unknown to me. Thanks kindly, James

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Leaking Deck Hatch

Hi Steve Any suggestions for a leaky goit deck hatch (the one under the vang)…thinking of putting some wet suit neoprene in the gasket…Very annoying, Phil

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Hard Dodgers

We cruised the Pacific for 5 years from LA to NZ, Japan & Aleutians with a standard s/s frame & Sunbrella soft dodger. Our boat is center cockpit, glass construction.

I’m looking for suggestions on materials and approach to getting a hard dodger built–and looking less ugly than most. A friend used 1/8″ ply with glass & epoxy on his s/s dodger frame but this core bends in only 1 direction and is hard to form-fit. I’m wondering if aluminum is a better choice.

I’d like an opening in the front but nothing hinged–more like a removable panel that can be swapped with a panel of standard dodger window material. Zippers can leak under pressure–so a zippered panel might not be the answer? Any suggestions appreciated.

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Centerboards

Dear Steve and Linda, heaving read all of your books I would like to thank you for your advice given there. As only one example, we’ve changed our mainsail to an extra-roached, fully-battened one which gave us 1 knot extra speed at all courses, which is a lot for 34 feet. Having a double backstay we don’t see any problems even with 30 cms overlap.

My question now is: What do you think of centerboards? We are interested in a 43′ Dutch aluminium Koopmans design which has no keel whatsoever. She sports only internal ballast and the centerboard seems rather small (weighing around 400 kg). The boat was constructed for falling dry in the North Sea. She has a long waterline and a draft of 1,20 meters board up and 2,50 m board down. The rudder is fully integrated into the hull and in line with the ship’s bottom, more just like a motorboat. Is the rudder surface of approx. 1,2 squaremeters large enough and the profile (not balanced) effective to steer the ship in a heavy going?

Thanks for some advice, and have some fun with your grandbaby. Andreas

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Non Skid on Aluminum Decks

Hello Steve, We have an Aluminum boat and we’re in the midst of denuding the deck of fairing compound. With no anti-skid, what do you think are the best deck shoes to use to minimize the chance of careening overboard in heavy weather.

Thanks for the help. Edward

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Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)