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Join Date: Apr 2006
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I think the thinking behind some of the "get a surveryor" comments may be more along the lines of "if you don't know what to look for, you don't know what to look for!"
A rubber mallet is nice, a knee-reflex-test mallet would do. And two fingers can also tap just as well. Not just the hull, but the DECK, which often will have water-penetration and delamination along hatches and edges, and the extent of that can be terribly serious.
A surveryor should also have a moisture meter, which can give a bit more information about how dry the hull is--but that also takes some experience to read and interpret.
Inside, you are looking for anything that is wrong, compared to your knowledge of other boats. Water stains on bulkheads or near chainplates. Corroded wiring. Oil in the bilge or under the engine. Engine oil that has JUST been changed, also often means something is being hidden. An engine itself usually needs a mechanic--not a general surveryor--to look at it.
Rigging may often require a rigging surveyor. Assuming it is wire, not rod? Run a cloth up and down, the presence of ANY meathooks, even one, means replace it. And the modern thinking is that rigging 10-20 years old (pick any number in between) needs replacement anyway. Check the spreader tips, spreader positions. Check the gooseneck for wear. Check the turnbuckles, any sign of rust or hints of cracks means replace them all. Lifelines? If they are coated with white vinyl, you can't tell what's under it. Stanchions? Are they all secure, or do the bases wiggle? Which probably means water penetration as well.
On and on it goes. If you start at the bow and work aft, as if you were checking a boat for a sea voyage, you should be able to survey it--if and only if, you already know what 'wrong' looks like for every system. Obvisouly at $8k you're willing to take some hances and you know there'll be some work. But some things, like keel bolts, keel leaks, water in the bilge, have to be taken very seriously if you find problems.
If the seller has any problems with a line in the sale contract about "the seller has no knowledge of any repairs or defects other than as stated herein"...find out why. A lot of folks will say "gee, i just forgot, didn't I tell you about that?" but putting things in writing forces them to 'fess up most of the time.
Good luck with it!