Quite frustrating being off the water at the moment, really frustrating! (especially when you hear of all the fish being caught currently)
Well, this is what happens when you regularly use a boat specifically designed for shallow calm water (like for east coast lakes and estuaries) on Darwin Harbour which while it can be quite calm most mornings, chops up into fair sized waves for most trips home across the harbour in the afternoon.
I hope you can see the 45cm long hairline crack along the front portion of the keel section of my boat in the image here
I have heard, and read a long time ago, that a few other aluminium boats (mine is a Stessl) have also developed similar stress fractures in their various welds from the constantly flexing of the light aluminium pressed hulls.
I believe in affect of the punching through the chop waves too much - having said that it is a huge repetitive impact punching through wave after wave and what aluminium weld could handle such constant punishment over extended periods of time
I had the same problem two years ago with this boat but the fracture was a little smaller in length and had it re-welded readily. (might also been the reason why the guy sold the hull to me so cheaply!)
I have been told that I will always have this issue now it has happened twice - as you can't properly weld from just the outside of the hull (due to rib placement on inside etc).
So I have been looking at a bigger boat (dreaming really!), particularly something in fibreglass.
Used to have a fibreglass boat in my previous life on the east coast (had a Hewes bonefisher) but not working in IT anymore with money to burn like I had in the 90s. Secondary school teaching might be more fulfilling and a heap less stress but definitely is not paid the couple of hundred bucks an hour I used to earn being a computer systems analyst and project manager.
I was also thinking of making a flats boat like I did when I was a 17 year old teenager (1980). I took this 25foot old cruiser with a seized diesel inboard (rotting away on the farm down the road), chopped its guts out ribs and all with a chainsaw and grinder. Then placed the right amount of weight in the right places to represent motor, me and fuel. Then put it in the dam on the farm and marked the hull 9 inches above the water. I then got the chainsaw out again to cut off the excess above that. I then put a few panels of ply on top for casting platforms, lots of sanding, grinding and shaping, add in a cockpit and a low profile centre console, add some layers of fibreglass and gel coat to hold it all together, copiuos and I mean a lot of sanding, and sanding, and sanding til my arms almost feel off. Add in a second hand 60hp motor and I was SWOFFING the flats of Moreton Bay and Jumpinpin on a great little 17foot flats boat.
From a new boat perspective......
Currently love looking at and drooling over the Cobia 21 bay boat - awesome 'turn-key' fibreglass boat for round US$43k plus transportation to Australia ($10-15k) - great value even with the falling $AUS. Such a boat if made in Oz would be $70k plus!With such a boat I can still do my tropical flats SWOFFING in Darwin and Bynoe harbours, but also head offshore to chase sails, big macks and longtail tuna off Dundee and Peron Islands - and not even worry about ugly chop on the way home - yes I will still have to slow down a bit to soften the ride as in any boat but no rigid joint welds in aluminium to get a hairline crack in.
But with the wife super keen to finishing off the purchase of our rural block in February 2015 (and start to build on it at end of year), I doubt any new or used boat purchase is going to happen in the short or medium term (if at all! - might have to go back and work in computer industry! - as much more money per hour than teaching). If I can find the right large cruiser hull to attack with a chainsaw, the idea of making my own boat looks very interesting (use the 60hp four stroke I currently have and sell the hull once its repaired, to pay for the cruiser conversion).
But when you think about it, you can get a second hand even almost new pressed aluminium 5m side console with a 75HP four stroke for $25-$35k (for which will most likely get the same problem of keel weld fracture and wont even be built with SWOFFING in mind) and in comparison you can get a superb SWOFFING specific brand new boat with a 150four stroke for a little more, Plus with all the bells and whistles as standards rather than extras - why wouldn't you buy the overseas boat?
Furthermore, even the price of a heavy plate aluminium of similar size is well over $45k (if not $55k) more once you add all the bells and whistles and a decent motor big enough to push the heavier boat even more.
You also must compare that the price of just a new 4 stroke motor here is Oz is almost the price of the whole package of some types of "turn-key" bay boats in the US using the same motor. So you are basically getting an awesome boat & motor - for the price of a motor here in Oz - i.e. free fibreglass boat. (we also must ask why this is so - it cant just be quantities sold in the US)
I will just have go out and buy a lottery ticket - wishful thinking given the poor statistics and chances of winning!!!
So at the moment trying to find someone to re-weld the keel. Updates soon.
Am hoping the guy who did it last time can do it again.