Perhaps another, a less tangible factor accounts for some of the hesitancy concerning metal hulls – that they’re ugly! Well, perhaps not “ugly” but maybe “less attractive” or “just don’t have those “nice lines.” Metal hulls can be single-, multi-, or radius-chine and even in fully rounded hulls and properly designed and built can be very pretty indeed. I offer in evidence a couple of designs from the board – or more correctly nowadays – from the computer of Michael Kasten, West coast designer of “modern classic” designs in both steel and aluminum for serious offshore voyagers.
Lucille is a 50-foot gaff-rigged steel motor sailer with a fully rounded hull and very pretty, by this writer’s standards. She was designed for single handed ocean voyaging. She has very generous fuel tanks and with a little help from her simplified and innovative schooner rig, range is not an issue. She can be had in either steel or an aluminum, and in the latter material would have even greater carrying capacity. Or how about Fantom, a 36-foot double ended steel cutter in the tradition of the famous Colin Archer North Sea rescue boats and designed for extended cruising in the harsh conditions of the Northwest Passage where ice is just a fact of life.
Perhaps you’ve heard that one about how single chine metal hulls all look like coal barges. Take a look at Boojum, a 30-foot trawler yacht in the tradition of the Pacific Northwest tugs in order to get the largest carrying capacity in the smallest overall length. These are actually a series of offshore capable trailerable vessels capable of long range – 1,200 to 2,600 miles – offshore voyages. That’s sufficient for trans-Pacific trips by way of Hawaii. These are single chine aluminum hulls that range from 22.5- to 30-feet.
These are just a few of some very pretty metal hull designs that are out there. But what about cost, relative strength, maintenance, repair, etc.