Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Auckland New Zealand
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Scheduled trip - part 3
OK So let's deal with surveys.
Given the extent of the trip I was about to do and the short time that I had to prepare, also the fact that I was buying a boat sight unseen on the internet (scary business, by the way), I figured that the boat needed to be properly surveyed.
I commissioned three different surveyors, one to do the boat itself, one to do the mechanincs (engine, transmission etc.) and one to do the rig.
I received three reports, all of them with disclaimers way longer than the reports themselves and all of them with only minor defects listed. This in a way was good because my insurers required only those things described in the reports to be fixed. If the reports ahad been complete and properly done, I would have had a whole lot more work to do. Flipside, I would've had a safer boat.
Let's look at the things that were missed.
The rig report was good. No real issues but the rig is, after all, in a sound condition. The only thing that was missed was the fact that the stack pack lazy jack lines were frayed and as hard as heck and resultantly never made the total voyage. Also one of the stiffeners in the stack pack envelope was missing. I'm not too critical of this because I'm not sure that the stack pack is really part of the rig. He also reported that the line for the first reef was missing but this was told to him by the seller. What he never reported was that the second reef line was ragged and also had to be replaced and that the main halyard was frayed were it passes over the sheaves at the top of the mast. I checked the sheaves and they were at least OK.
The hull report:
- said specifically that there were no water leaks and the surveyor even said that on the day of the survey, it was raining in San Diego, apparently this is unusual. In reality we had water leaks into every single orifice the boat has. Every hatch, portlight, stantion, even the boot around the base of the mast and the base of the steering binacle leaked. I guess the surveyor could have at least put a hose over the decks before making this assertion.
- completely missed the fact that the stuffing box on the rudder shaft was stripped and could not be tightened. This was quite a serious omission because this was not just a drip, this was a liberal squirt of water with every nuance of movement on the rudder. He also missed the fact the locking nuts on the cable ends of the steering cables were loose and in fact they failed on the voyage and had to be reassembled. This is how we came to discover the leak. This all in spite of him saying that he inspected the quadrant and found it to be sound.
- While talking about the rudder, there is also enough play on the lower pintle bearings to cause the rudder to loudly "clonk" with every sideways movement and, yes, the boat was hauled out for the survey.
- completely missed the fact that the cockpit manual bilge pump was not working. When I stripped it to find out why, the pump cavities were packed full of foreign objects like bottle caps, cable ties, bits of wire,the list goes on. there is no strum box on the pick-up pipe. Given the combination of this and the leaking stuffing box, quite a dangerous combo.
- completely missed the front head skin fitting that was solidly blocked with barnacles. The head could not be flushed and the seacock could not be closed.
OK so he got a few things wrong that ended up causing us considerable issues on the voyage. What about the mechanical inspection? He missed:
- the main mounting bolt through the 110v alternator was halfway out even though the protruding bolt and the nut and washer were in plain view on the engine bay floor.
- The exhaust elbow (glass fibre) was cracked 3/4 of the way around and in fact broke in half after a couple hours of running. This was also a major contributor to excessive water in the bilge. Thank goodness for a Rule 500gph electric pump but then again, given all our problems with our electrics these things were of importance.
So, in short, never trust a surveyor report totally. EWspecially when they e-mail you a disclaimer that has to be signed for and returned before the report becomes available to you. These surveys cost me a total of something like US$600.