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  #1  
Old 08-22-2006
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Boat "examination" instead of a survey

I am, like many on here, looking for that ideal boat. In my case it would be a bluewater capable cruiser with enough room for a family of 4 to spend extended time on, and the potential to serve as a liveaboard in later years. The loa we are looking for seems to be 35-42 and we have in mind a budget of $150M including any initial refit. Obvioulsy this means we are looking at older boats.

Since the budget for a boat always becomes an issue (for most of us, anyway) it is a search for the right combination of sailing lines, look, performance, stability, comfort etc. There are always tradeoffs. And it becomes difficult for someone like me to feel comfortable with the ability to look at a boat and to guess which boat is worthy of an offer. There is so much that an experienced hand can see with a short examination that I don't think I can detect. Rigging, Chainplates, Hull fittings, overall systems condition, clues to problems, special attractive add-ons..and on and on.

Since I am aware of my lack of expertise, I am finding myself wishing I could hire someone to help me look for boats that I think fit the bill, or "take a look" at boats that I am considering. A survey by a competent surveyor would be an obvious necessity to me AFTER an offer is accepted. But it would be nice to have someone with strong knowledge of structural issues, boat maintenance issues, overall boat condition, and an ability to provide a "rough estimate" of the likely cost to refit the boat to bring it into a condition that would be suitable. This becomes particularly relevant when you are looking at boats that are 20-30 years old. It may be that a certain boat maker has a problem with blisters, or leaky decks - or that an engine appears to have problems, or the fuel tank is iron instead of aluminum.

So what would this role be called? Will some surveyors offer this service? In other words, instead of relying completely on research from reading this forum and sailboat publications, is there a structure for having somone be hired to spend an hour or two on a boat prior to the offer. Then, if the offer is accepted, that person, or another, can provide the complete survey.

I know that a knowledgeable boat broker can be very helpful. But to me there is a conflict of interest because any good broker wants you to buy a boat from him/her, and although they would want you to be happy with it, they are not likely going to talk you out of a boat that you like.

So how does someone like me find a "consultant" during the boat buying process? Just curious if anyone has any thoughts on this.
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Old 08-22-2006
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One thing you might do is read Don Casey's book, "Inspecting the Aging Sailboat." It gives you clues about what to look for BEFORE you make an offer and hire a real surveyor.
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Old 08-22-2006
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Jotun - I do have that and have found it a good resource. Thanks
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People often like to have their expertise recognized, and sailors are generally part of a helpful "community". It might be worth contacting your local yacht club/marina to find out who is considered knowledgeable--for a bottle of rum, they might offer an opinion on a boat nearby, as long as it's clear that there is no risk/liability involved. I have done this for friends/acquaintances, and would do so for others again, under the right conditions.
Frank.
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Old 08-22-2006
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A boat examination can often give you some good clues about whether a boat has been repaired and cleaned up just for sale purposes, or whether it has been properly maintained over its lifetime.

If the little things are maintained, then it is likely that the big things were maintained as well.

If the informal inspection doesn't bring up any major issues, and you are still interested in the boat, I would recommend getting a full survey, by a competent surveyor of your choice.
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Old 08-23-2006
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Surveyors will often do a 'first look' with or without you. Most times they will not produce a written report. It typically does not provide as much info as you are looking for. It takes a full survey to get the kind of complete info you seem to be looking for. Think of it as seeing the trailer vs seeing the whole movie. Typically you end up paying for a couple hours of time.

Other than that you can often get a knowledgeable friend to look at a boat with you. Having a second set of eyes is very helpful. I have done this for friends and aquaintances on dozens of boats. Its actually fun to see a whole lot of boats.

Jeff

Last edited by Jeff_H; 08-23-2006 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 08-23-2006
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I'll agree with all said here, walk the docks, find an "old salt" and chat him/her up, you'll find we're an opinionated bunch. Ask lots of questions. Chances are if both the "old salt" and the prospective boat have been there awhile, they'll know a fair amount about the boat, and the owner.
One word of caution, Everyone has bias, and just take what we all say with a grain of old salt. (smile)
One of the reasons I became a surveyor is I love crawling all over many different boats.
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Old 08-23-2006
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Good advice all. Thanks. I believe I should narrow down some choices and have a surveyor give me a cursory thought before making an offer. And consulting "old salts" makes sense - that's what I am finding on here - knowledgeable old salts. Thanks for the thoughts...
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Paul's suggestion about the local knowledge on the dock is a good one. Often, they can tell you if the boat was used regularly or left alone for months at a time. A boat that is worn out from use is going to be in better shape than a boat that is just plain neglected.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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