Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 28 Old 12-10-2012 Thread Starter
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Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

Hi

I am looking at 24-25 foot used sailboats (San Juan, Catalina, Coronado, Kent Ranger). The asking prices are $2000-$4000. Most of my sailing will be in the Seattle lakes, and occasionally I'd like to take it out on the sound. Ultimately trips to the San Juan Islands etc are the goal.

All have been in the water for 40 years, are currently sailing and have dry bilges.

With a haul-out and the cost of an inspection that could easily be 25-50% of a potential purchase price.

I have or will actually sail the boats in a sea trial. I will confirm that all electronics, motor, sails, rigging are as advertised.

My question is: is it really necessary. I take as a given that the boats will require some work.

Thanks
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post #2 of 28 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

This can be a tough call. If you know what you're looking for and don't need to finance/insure the boat then a survey may represent an unnecessary expense esp for a very simple, uncomplicated boat such as some of the examples you cite.

But in many cases this type of purchase will be a first boat.. if you end up paying $3-4 K for a real POS then you stand to lose the whole $4K (plus associated costs)... whereas a survey would/should have detected the issues and cost you only 6-700 and left you much the wiser.

If in fact you need to insure the boat, or finance it, those institutions may insist on a survey.

But it can be a hard pill to swallow... at the very least try to get an experienced owner to tag along and filter out the real dogs... no one wants to buy 3 or 4 surveys before finding the 'right one'.
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post #3 of 28 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

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electronics, motor, sails, rigging are as advertised.
Are you qualified to tell if the hull is ok? Can you check for moisture, rsut at chainplates Thats as or more important than the above.

IMHO, Since your cost is not a lot a full survey may not be necessary and a quick look over by a surveyor may suffice. At the very least find someone who knows boats with experience to look it over. There are many Sailnetters in your area who may be willing to do that.

If you dont have the expertise to know what you are loooking at or for it is a good person who asks for help. Not saying you are dumb...just maybe have had the time to develope the knowledge or experience yet. In two years after owning a boat that will change somewhat although we are always learning from each other.

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post #4 of 28 Old 12-10-2012
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

I had a Tanzer 22 for 3 years which I never had surveyed. Towards the end, I had to switch insurance companies, because they suddenly required a survey for the boat, which I had no intention of paying for.

My new boat was finally surveyed two weeks ago, after we'd done a complete refit of her. Refit wasn't quite finished, but again, the survey was suddenly required if I wanted to keep the boat in the water year round.

Surveyor was a very nice guy, and we didn't have to haul the boat for it. Just had to provide some pre-launch photos of the bottom.

So I would say the only reason I would survey a boat in that price point is if you're really unsure about what you should be looking for (or looking out for), or if insurance requires it.
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

For a boat like that, I wouldn't (and didn't) do it...especially if it's in the water, has been sailing, and has a dry bilge. That's just me.

A bigger boat, more money, bigger goals, I'll definitely do it.


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post #6 of 28 Old 12-10-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

Thanks everyone.

No, I am not qualified to inspect a hull for moisture, rot, etc...

I am not financing the boat, and the marina I will moor at does not require insurance.

In addition, the boat I'll likely make an offer on comes with a 2012 5hp 4 stroke outboard with battery charging capability (MSRP $1700). So if the boat is a complete loss I'll still have that as well as an auto-tiller, power inverter and a number of other useful things.

This is not my first sailboat, but it is the first "real" keelboat I will have owned. If my sailing continues to progress as I hope, then this would be a stepping stone to the last boat I'll hopefully ever by - much more expensive and definitely will get a survey then.
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

As Faster said. And if you want to tie up in a marina, while you are out sailing, THAT marina may require insurance, but you may not need a survey if you can find "liability only" insurance.

However, it can cost $10,000 to have a $3000 boat hauled away and disposed of, because it is HAZMAT disposal. So even if you are buying a $3000 boat, that boat can cost you $13,000 if there's something you miss and it can't be easily fixed.

Whether a surveyor can prevent "Oh, well, it only needs another hundred. Ergh, five hundred. Ergh, gee, is that really gonna cost a grand?" is something else again.
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

I did not have a survey done. I did have a quick haul and inspected everything that seller claimed had been done. I did some research on the internet as you are doing and just decided that the 800-1000(quotes for a 30ft) was just not worth that money. I have since put that 1000 buck toward new standing rigging.

Seems surveys are a good idea on a big $$$ boats but after reading through some sample surveys online I kinda got the feeling I was paying someone to do nothing more than a visual inspection. That I can and did do.

There is a book at Barnes and Noble : BARNES & NOBLE | Inspecting the Aging Sailboat by Don Casey | NOOK Book (eBook), Paperback, Hardcover

This is all you should have to send and maybe a bit on a haul. I use progressive insurance and no survey required for liability.


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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

For a cheap, small & simple boat, spending 25% or more of the price on a survey seems foolish to me. Sort of like getting a home inspection for a garden shed.

Casey's book is good - study it in advance and take it with you to look the boat over.

The sticky at the head of this forum on "Inspection trip tips" is also good - again, read it first and take a copy with you.

Taking a knowledgeable friend is always a good idea - they don't have those stars in their eyes.
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Re: Is a marine survey really worth it for an inexpensive boat?

There's a boat inspection thread around here by a dude name Sailingdog. It's actually pretty good. Look that one up for what you can do yourself.
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