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Old 09-26-2006
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Marine Survey

I got a marine survey that I feel was grossly incomplete. On a sailing vessel should a SAMS surveyor comment on the quality of sails, standing rigging, and running rigging? Mine did not. I think (know) I got taken. The guy admitted that he is not a "sailer" and mainly does powerboats.

Let me know what you guys think.
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Old 09-26-2006
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Well...if you got a good engine survey out of it...that is more than many "sail" surveyors know how to do!
While that is true, you should have gotten a full report on the rigging, mast, sails etc..... perhaps you can at least get a partial refund and get someone else to do the balance of the boat. Did you ASK about his sailboat experience before contracting with him? If he told you then that he mainly does power...then you have to accept part of the blame. If not...then a report to SAMS on his ethics is in order.
Hey...CardiacPaul...what do you think of this one?
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Old 09-26-2006
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In my experience few surveyors will make detailed inspections of sails. I have seen a couple of them reach into the sailbags to get an idea of the age and condition, but that results in some pretty generalized comments with plenty of disclaimers.
Unless the sails are really recent, their value is not really a significant part of the purchase price.

Similarly, I've never seen a surveyor go up the rig to inspect the standing rigging - they leave that to the rigging experts who have the right equipment and the expertise to make those kinds of assessments. As Cam says above, at least you got a decent engine survey!

You may get some general statements, especially with older boats and perhaps as an observation rather than a noted defect, to the effect that the standing rigging should be replaced or assessed due to the age of the vessel. (of course there is no real way to know, unless told, if the rigging has been renewed over the life of the boat)

Also, IMO, though you want a proper thorough investigation of your intended purchase, an overzealous surveyor can cause you grief with your insurance carrier as they will often insist on recification of all "defects" prior to extending coverage. The insurance people don't necessarily know what weight to apply to the surveyor's comments. I had a comment on a recent survey that some cabin windows exhibited signs of minor leakage (not uncommon, of course) and included this fact in his recommendations. Our insurance co. (whom we had used for the previous 12-15 years) insisted that the windows be repaired within 30 days as a condition of coverage. As this was late fall on the west coast, we went to another carrier and did a proper job in the spring.

For total peace of mind, I suppose one should get a marine survey, a mechanical survey (engine & machinery) and a rigging inspection. These all require persons of different expertise. And all will want their pound of flesh!

Last edited by Faster; 09-26-2006 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 09-27-2006
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I'll pull the bagged sails and spread them out, giving them a once over.
I check operation and condition of the the rigging systems- raise & lower, unfurl, that sort of thing along with inspection of all of the deck (boom) level equipment. It'll be rare that I'll hoist myself up a mast.

Faster, I know what you mean about making recommendations.
There should be "notes" to the survey that would outline drop dead need to be done items, items cited that should be done, and items that could be done at a later time.

If you could email me a copy of what he gave you, I'll let you know what I think.
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Old 09-27-2006
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You should have checked the surveyor's qualifications BEFORE you hired him! You do that by asking to see example survey reports for similar boats, and by asking questions about what the survey will and will not entail. In general, I think mosts marine surveyors will recommend specialist engine surveys by a qualified mechanic, sail surveys by a qualified sailmaker, and rigging surveys by a qualified rigger.
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Old 09-27-2006
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I concur with Catamount's comments on what to expect from a marine surveyor. I've had about a half dozen surveys done, I do not believe any surveyors ever looked at the sails, and all did at best a superficial review of rigging and engine. The written surveys documented the limitations of the survey and recommended use of other specialists for those areas.

You should hire an engine surveyor, as a rule. If you arn't confortable with your own evaluation of the sails, you can take the sails to an area salimaker who can advise you on what the sails may need. Likewise if you are uncomfortable regarding the rigging, you can hire a rigger, who can evaluate the rigging, my bet is at about the same cost to you as the marine survey itself.
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Old 09-30-2006
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I also would have to agree with Catamount.

You really need to get a surveyor that is qualified to survey a sailboat, as sailboats have some very different survey requirements from powerboats. Specialized engine, rigging and sail inspections are going to be more thorough than what even a "sailboat" surveryor will be able to give you, but should only be done if the boat is seriously under consideration for purchase.

Even if the surveyor doesn't go up the stick, they can at least inspect the rigging that is deck level and give you a general idea of what condition the rigging there is in. BTW, most swaged rigging failures occur in the lower swages where the saltwater tends to enter the swaging, rather than the upper swages.

Most good sailboat surveyors I know of will at least take a cursory look at the sails to give you their opinion of the general condition of the sails.

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