Join Date: Oct 2005
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Just went through this
I recently purchased a 1975 Tartan 44 and went through this entire process. I had done another survey on a Valiant 40, which pased reasopnably well (pre-blister boat), but had some issues that I was not comfortable with. On the Tartan and on the Valiant, I had really good surveyors, and did my own surveys totalling 14 hours of digging and prodding.
This being said, on the sail home on the Tartan, I put 10 gallons of diesel into the secondary/aft fuel tank, and halfway across the Strait of Georgia I had 10 gallons of diesel in the bilge. After a few more miles I had water pouring into the bilge from a failed water pump. And I had no working automatic bilge pump (known issue from survey), which was actually a blessing as dumping 10 gallons of diesel overboard would have been very bad.
I knew that the boat had been delivered from Australia a year earlier and had sat pretty much unused for a year. But neither of these things failed or had issues during the sea trial (the self furling main failed on sea trial however, and the price was adjusted accordingly). The surveyor found a bunch of other issues, most minor some more than minor, but nothing to break the deal. Once put to "real use" however, the gremlins do tend to show up.
Moral of the story: even with a great survey and lots of diligence, stuff happens. I don't blame the surveyor for the things that went bad (should he have requested that the fuel tanks all be filled up beforehand)? I take responsibility for those items, and thankfully the aft tank is fairly easy to remove and repair is not a big deal. So get a survey, and more importantly, check stuff out yourself as best you can and you will get MOST of the major issues identified, but be prepared for gremlins along the way. It's part and parcel with owning a boat.