The mantra is always to hire a surveyor. I've "supervised" a couple of surveys and seen yard repairs done on a few boats and read every survey book I could get my hand on.
This is what I’ve seen:
1. Surveyor said, I don’t do mucky bilges?
2. Didn't inspect the wheel steering, It fell apart two weeks later.
3. Tapped the hull said it was fine. We grounded very lightly boat leaked. We ground and found and extensive layer of black mush over several feet of hull between a couple layers of good glass, found out the yard had repaired the hull a few years ago. The yard re-glassed hull, job looks perfect but the mechanic complained we had ground too much. No where near a 12 to 1 bevel. He said you have to be careful as you have to know where to stop.
4. Batteries failed first week.
5. Didn’t go aloft
6. Didn’t stretch out sails.
7. Boom was re-rigged by PO from three point center attachment to 1 point. Minor jibe and we bent the boom in half. Survey says - nothing.
8. Did basic check of engine about 5 minutes.
If you need a survey for insurance OK. But based on what I've seen your standard by the foot survey is likely to miss important stuff maybe all the important stuff.
So exactly what are you worried about on an old boat.
1. Hull (You can tap till the cows come home and a quickie yard job will not show up)
2. Deck (Walk it and see if it is soft)
3. Rig (The stainless standing rig is going to fall down if it is over 30 years old but I bet you will not replace it unless you have meat hooks like stripper lures on a $8,000 boat)
4. Engine (Check temp, sound, starting, compression (will they let you pull an injector on an old rusted engine), prop, cutlass etc, good luck not missing several something’s.
5. Tanks (Check for rust leaks but where you really need to see you can’t get without taking out half the boat so you will not look.
How about telling the owner you want to look at the boat at 6PM. Show up at 5:30 take a quick look around, take your sailboat check list and randomly mark a half dozen things as failed. When the owner shows up tell him your surveyor just left and said you should offer $6.000.
Why exactly to you think the boat is offered for $8,000, BECAUSE IT’S NOT WORTH 9,000 AND PROBABLY NOT WORTH 8,000.
I know I’m the junior guy here but I have not seen the god like divination of the surveyor. I expect to get hammered on this post so have at it guys.
I think that with 8,000 at stake the OP can waste his money without a surveyors help.
On the other hand if he spent $500 for a survey and the surveyor convinces him that the 8,000 boat will really cost 8,000 purchase, 16,000 parts plus 3 years work and he chickens out it may be $500 well spent.
Maybe I’ve just seen the wrong surveyors.
As a side note I’m also looking for female companions preferably twins to sail around the world with me on my Hobie 16, please send pictures and current dental records. PS how do you lace up the trampoline, mine rotted out?