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Composite Vs. Aluminum Vs. Steel

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by Crewchie, Sep 8, 2006.

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  1. Crewchie

    Crewchie New Member

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    Westport Ct.
    I'm sure this has been discussed ad nausium but I am just beginning my research into the purchase of a yacht in the 150' to 170' range and I would appreciate knowing some of the pros and cons of the basic construction materials.
  2. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    Hi Crewchie,

    Are you looking to build or to buy a used yacht and what are your ideas of cruising speed and range?
  3. Crewchie

    Crewchie New Member

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    I am looking to buy new. Cruising range is more important than cruising speed.
  4. Loren Schweizer

    Loren Schweizer YF Associate Writer

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    Seems to me that a 150-170' with range in mind all but says steel hull at the very least with aluminum superstructure to keep the metacentric height number (GM) reasonable.
  5. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    I agree with Loren, steel is the natural choice for the hull, but today you can also build with modern aluminium, like Alustar, to the same strength. Superstructure can be in composite as well but such considerations has to do with the final design.
  6. Yacht News

    Yacht News YF News Editor

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    Welcome Crewchie....I think composites tend to be used on the much smaller yachts. In the range you are talking about 50+ meters...steel or alluminum is tended to be used by builders and owners...mainly a steel hull and aluminum superstucture or composite structure... Composties have their advantage of having a light weight (relative) construction with pretty good strength...still can be damaged in a sense pretty easily in a collision maybe with a boat or the dock etc, But you may have better MPG with those...only thing most people do not build excessively large with composites...so large ranges are limited. Aluminum...total construction is pretty rare (correct me if i'm wrong)...one of the largest to my knowledge was the Palmer Johnson La Baronnessa..It is a pretty good construction material...in terms of strength... You can have a pretty big cruising range on aluminum yachts from what i have seen...Steel as Lars said....is commonly used on the hulls of most yachts in the 50+ meter range..it can be finished pretty well...high integrity and great look overall...which i think why it is used so widely..The only problem with steel is that it rusts...so you have to get the hull perfectly finished so lessen the effect...lots of fairing, rust protectant, primers...lots of coats...etc to protect it...
  7. Crewchie

    Crewchie New Member

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    Thank you all for your input. In beginning my search I was attracted to the Westport 164 for its accomodations, beauty and cruising range but based on your consensus I should look elsewhere as it is a composition yacht. Thanks again.
  8. Yacht News

    Yacht News YF News Editor

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    Her name is Vango.........If you havent seen the review here well here is a link to it.......exquisite research and time and devotion Carl ('CCamper') and others did to make that review what it is......http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/yacht-reviews-feature-stories/5325-review-westport-164-tri-deck-vango.html if you like Heesen's work....their new 154 footer the 'Sirocco' is nice too......very upscale...we have a review on her too......http://www.yachtforums.com/forums/yacht-reviews-feature-stories/5481-review-heesen-154-sirocco.html
    Thanks to Carl and many of the captains who were willing to work with him on that ...we have many great reviews..
  9. YachtForum

    YachtForum Publisher/Admin

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    Crewchie,

    Hold on a minute! The input you're getting is based more on a custom build, as there are only a few composite choices over 150 feet. In the states, that list includes Christensen, Westport and Delta. Any member of this board who could hold is lunch down in big seas... would head straight to the same onboard any one these boats, without reservation and with a big confident smile on his face.

    If you were considering Westport's 164', you're certainly headed in the right direction. Take a look at Christensen's 157' series too. They might be composite, but they're built like steel!
  10. Crewchie

    Crewchie New Member

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    So, are you saying that in a non custom build situation,such as I am in, you would't hesitate recommending a composition yacht by Christianson or Westport. Remeber we are talking about the safety of 7 grandchildren etc. If this is accurate I would be most pleased since the ships you mentioned truly appeal to me. I would like a bit more input on this point. It is 6:24 AM and I'm on my way to Mcdonalds to pick up a ton of stuff and bring it over to said kids homes in Greenwich. Have a great morning.
  11. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    Crewchie,
    As a captain that has run boats constructed of all of the forementioned materials, I would say that fiberglass is the way to go. Technology has come a long way and fiberglass is becoming a better alternative to steel or aluminum with the added benefit of lower maintenance costs. Aluminum and steel tend to blister, so the cost for the upkeep of paint is significant.
    If I were looking to build a high quality boat of fiberglass I wouldn't look any further than Delta Marine from Seattle. While I haven't been aboard Vango, I have run a 130' Westport. It was a nice boat, but I don't think I would consider taking it across the Atlantic (or Pacific for that matter) as the seakeeping characteristics were less than stellar.
    Having also run a Delta, I can say that I haven't yet run another boat with such obvious care and thought put into engineering. Feel free to post more questions as you have found a forum with a plethora of experitise.
    BTW- you will see me anchored off the Cedar Point Yacht Club next weekend. We are coming in for the J30 North Americans on Thursday- Monday.
    Best of luck.
    Ken