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Old 05-20-2001
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Hull moisture

I am in the process of buying a 1985 Hunter 28.5. Yesterday, the boat surveyor detected high moisture readings throughout the exterior of the bottom - except for a small section of the bow and stern areas.

The owner has disputed these findings, claiming that moisture readings are unreliable. The owner has since produced an "expert" to state that the moisture reading is suspect. The boat has been out of the water for the winter, and our spring season has been unusually dry. The moisture readings were done on a dry sunny day.

The surveyor says the moisture reading was fine, demonstrated the device to us where moisture was low on the sides of the boat, and then quickly shot up to pin the needle as it moved from sides to bottom. He both dragged the device across the hull, and placed it in various spots along the hull, and the needle was usually either pinned or nearly pinned. The surveyor says this boat is a ticking time bomb and I should walk away.

The surveyor examined another boat for me earlier in the year and the hull of that boat did not have this high moisture issue (that boat had a dying motor instead)

I am quite frustrated by all this as this is my 3rd try at buying a boat after a 6 month shopping odessy. I want to be sure that I am walking away for the right reason. I can''t take the owners word that all is well and my surveyor is nuts.

Any opinions.....?


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Old 05-20-2001
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Hull moisture

This is a pretty complicated situation that you are describing. A non- cored boat, like the Hunter in question, that has been out of the water for the winter, and which has been in a dry climate should not show a high moisture. Over the course of the winter the boat should be able to dry out on its own to the point that low meter readings would be expected even in a boat with water absorbsion problems. So I can understand why a seller would be skeptical.

On the other hand, you have hired a surveyor that you have trust in. He moved his instrument around the hull and demonstrated both high and low repeatable readings depending where he was on the hull. This suggests that his moisture meter is working and that your surveyor knows how to use it.

I would have to say depend on yoru surveyor. He is working for you.

BUT if you have any serious question about the findings, get a second opinion from another surveyor. Get recommendations from people in the local repair business as to who they think is a knowledgeable surveyor and ask that person to come out and take new readings. It should not be all that expensive to get just moisture readings on a 28 foot boat.

The other peice of this puzzle is where this moisture is coming from. I would also ask your surveyor where he thinks this moisture is coming from.

Good luck

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Old 05-20-2001
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Hull moisture

My advise:
Walk away. There are alot of other boats out there. If the surveyor sees a problem such as you are describing I would be very hesitant to buy the boat.
One comment though on these moisture readings. I read an article about a year ago on this topic and there are no moisture readers that are "calibrated" for fiberglass." They were never even intended to be used in fiberglass, but as far as detecting moisture in fiberglass boats this is the only "noninvasive" technique available. I think that different brands can give very different readings. The only 100% reliable techinque is actually getting a core of the area in question--a little hard in this case since my understanding is that it is most of the hull under the waterline. This is something the owner may want to do, since if you don''t buy the boat other surveyors will probably find the same potential problem and he is going to have a problem selling the boat.
I''m pretty sure the article on moisture detection in fiberglass boats was in one of BoatUS''s magazines they send out--you can always contact them and see if they had an article on this: (they are an insurance company) Its an interesting topic.
Good luck
Rob ~~~~_/)~~~~
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Old 05-21-2001
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Hull moisture

This has turned into quite an educational experience. The owner agreed to let us remove the bottom paint in 6 areas of the bottom which showed the highest moisture readings. With the paint removed, the moisture read was within normal range. Put the meter on the paint, and the needle pins. Put the meter on the exposed bottom gelcoat, and the meter shows 2% moisture - well within tolerance. Apparently, there is something in the bottom paint the is causing a false reading. This was done at the suggestion of a 2nd surveyor. The 2nd opinion idea was a good one. Everything seems ok.

Thanks for the feedback.

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Old 05-25-2001
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Hull moisture

Same thing essentially happened to us. First surveyor said to drop it like a hot potato, second came in and placed meter on the gelcoat INSIDE, where there was no paint, and it showed no moisture. We questioned the first surveyor''s call because he also said that he could find no delamination anywhere. If the cored hull on our boat had been as wet as he said, winter freezes should have torn the laminates apart all over. Of course we let the seller know how very concerned we were about the high moisture readings...
There are also stories out there about boats dropping in price by $10,000 or more because of ''blisters'' all over the bottom when they get hauled for survey. The blisters turn out to be in the paint, but not in the gelcoat... Caveat emptor & Carpe diem!
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