Join Date: Mar 2006
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Re: Help pinpointing a leak
This yard launches probably 800 to 1000 boats a season and they want to go in the first two weeks of May, so there isn't much personal attention. There is a twenty four hour "float test" - in other words they launch at least 24 hours before your departure date. Apparently, I now know this must mean if it doesn't sink in 24 hours they assume it is good to go. The mast step was completed after it was launched and we had a TON of rain that day so I was not that surprised to find a large amount of water in the bilge as I had no doubt it was raining into the boat as they were working on this. The next day after our delivery it was apparent to me we had a problem.
I called the surveyor and mentioned the location and volume of the leak and he told me "boats leak" deal with it in the fall. Clearly unsound advice, which I obviously did not follow. Surprisingly his credentials were impeccable (Designed, Constructed and Operated a Research Submarine; Served 36 years in the United States Navy retired Captain of M.O.T.U-2 the Navy's inspection team for Submarines and Surface Ships; Twenty Year Member of Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers; etc, etc...) The boat was never surveyed in the water. I purchased it in November when all boats here are hauled out and could not do a sea trial on the boat.
The PO was ecstatic to see it sold and staying in Chicago and has asked to come sailing on it. He's the original owner of this 30 year old boat. I think if he had been trying to knowingly dump a money pit on someone he wouldn't have wanted to remain so close to it and he clearly still has a sentimental attachment to the boat, so I honestly believe this was a problem that he was unaware of.
I'm with you on the washers, they scream repair job - they are far enough aft in the bilge section that they can not be seen without unscrewing and pulling up a section of the floor - a task the surveyor did not do, although it takes about 10 seconds. Regardless, he didn't see them to inspect them.
Everything you are saying here makes sense; you are right about the PO, seems honest if he wanted to go sailing with you after it splashed this season. Without this added background info I'd be suspicious as I stated before, but I can understand where there is more reason to think that he just didn't know there was a problem (if it is a keel bolt issue). Sometimes owners also have their boat repaired by a yard without really reviewing what was done if they are not mechanically inclined. This leaves them relying on the yard for the work being done correctly and there are lots of yards that don't do very good work.
As to the Surveyor; I question his statement about "boats leak". Boats don't leak except at the prop shaft seal; and leaks inside of the bilge and inside one of the floors (sorry for calling them stringers earlier) is not a small issue. Since he was not able to see this problem since the boat was on the hard when it was surveyed he's not responsible for not finding the problem. I was not aware that the aft section of the floor was screwed down. Some surveyors will open up areas if they can be easily removed/replaced others only do what's able to be opened without tools. Unfortunately since it was not visible without unscrewing the fasteners holding the sole down he is also not responsible for not seeing the strange keel bolt that is a suspect repair.
It could be a combination of factors like keel bolts going bad, and the yard may have dropped it causing the keel bolts to fail further. Unfortunately without a witness to them moving your boat (both on haulout and launch) it would be difficult to prove unless there is some visible damage to the keel. Still, you could put in a claim to your insurance and see where it goes. You did nothing to cause this so it would not affect your insurance rates if you did recover the cost of repairs. If you have the insurance company look at it they will hire a surveyor to look at the boat so you won't have to.