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  #1  
Old 10-18-2008
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Surveys? Often Recommended, but how good are they?

One consistent piece of advice across what ever sailing forum you read in re to buying a boat, is GET A SURVEY.

I am living and learning through others as I get nearer the day when I take the leap and buy the cruising boat. I have heard all the advice re surveys.

My expereince with a N=1 as I watch a couple get SV Zephyr in shape to get them around the globe and back home. They bought the first boat they looked at, but had a survey (out of the water) done. I read the survey. It was written in pretty general terms with a couple minimal items raised on a boat built in 1982. The surveyor was sought out in Washington state area and came highly recommended by more than 3 different sources.

They wanted to upgrade the standing rigging before departing. Since starting that process it has been a cash black hole that appears to have no bottom.

So I am curious what other's experience is with surveys; the quality of and post survey expereinces.

Thanks for sharing your insight.

DW
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Old 10-18-2008
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I have always had a survey, selected the surveyor myself, not the brokers. There are good ones, better ones and sorry ones. Ask around.

They are not miracle workers. For example, I recently bought a new to me boat, had it surveyed, and then the next week when the water was dead flat, the sun light perfect, I could see a flaw in the hull midways between the water line and toerail about the size of a large platter. In "regular" conditions you would never see it. Obvious some repair had been made, but neither of us saw it.

Same boat, it was pouring rain when we sea trialed and surveyed. Tough to get moisture readings on a boat that has been sitting in the rain for three days. But we made do.

Every boat I have had, 6th one now, one new the rest were used the surveyor has saved me at least what the survey cost in either knowledge or directly with a cost reduction in buying the boat.

Do they miss things, sure. Do they make mistakes, we all do. Was I POed that the repair was missed on my boat, yes for a few days. But a good one will give you the information with no agenda, no emotion...as Dragnet used to say...Just the Facts

I look at them kind of like a Dr., you pay them for an opinion of a boat at a point in time. You then get to choose to agree with them, or ignore them and do what you want.

That being said the decision to buy (or not) is yours alone, you have just used a second set of eyes, ears, knowledge and experience to help you along.

As to your notes, my guy is very detail oriented. I think I had 2 A items (must be repaired or insurance won't bind) a couple dozen B items and a page of "observations"....such as this is a 1991 boat, when it was made you did not need a propane solenoid...you do now, buy one install it and get a CO monitor as well...those kinds of things.

all the best

dave
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Old 10-18-2008
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In my experience the well-recommended, typical surveyor catches the first 60-70% of faults, only the best get 90% or better. Characteristics of the best;
1. they book at least three or more weeks out
2. they charge a premium rate, including travel time with a one day minimum, no negotiation.
3. they spend a big part of their time traveling overseas

Beacuse I was impatient, I had my last purchase survey done by a surveyor new to me but recommended by someone I knew, he could do the boat the next week. The survey missed stuff that subsequently cost me plenty including a leaking fuel tank.

Any survey would be better than none, but a survey by the best is worth many times over, every penny of the premium you pay.
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Old 10-18-2008
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Ditto to the comments above. A good surveyor can save you a ton of money and keep you from making a huge mistake. You will probably also find that lending banks will require a survey in order to approve the financing so it may not be optional.
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Old 10-18-2008
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All a surveyor is good for is getting financing & insurance. They are required for that.
Read the books and study and do your own survey and then get an insurance company approved surveyor to dot the I's and cross the T's.
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Old 10-18-2008
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You may find this interesting

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/buying...-surveyor.html
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Old 10-18-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xort View Post
All a surveyor is good for is getting financing & insurance. They are required for that.
Read the books and study and do your own survey and then get an insurance company approved surveyor to dot the I's and cross the T's.
Unless you are as knowledgeable as a surveyor I could not disagree more. A good surveyor know what to look for, ehere to look for it and and how to interpret what he finds. I might know what to look for but I certaintly don't know where or how to look for it and I probably don't know what I'm looking at when I find it. Granted I'm no boat expert but I'm willing to bet I represent 95% of the buyers out there. Go for the survey but as mentioned previously, with your own surveyor, not one recommended by the broker.
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Old 10-18-2008
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I have often, for myself and for others, acted as a "survey filter".. by that I mean that we have enough experience looking at and buying a variety of boats over the years that, though not a surveyor, I can spot and/or find the types of flaws that would typically be deal breakers for most. Being able to do so can reduce the number of surveys you might otherwise pay for, only to reject the deal in the end. Most experienced boaters, esp those that are mostly DIYers should be able to do the same.

I have run into good and bad surveyors, on more than one occasion I've pointed out things to a surveyor that was missed. Nobody's perfect, as mentioned above, and buying a boat in the end is to some degree an act of faith.

Generally the cost of a survey is well worth the peace of mind, and as mentioned is often recouped in an adjusted price. Use an independantly recommended person.

But for myself, I'll do a thorough enough go-over that by the time I've ordered the survey I'm hoping it will be a formality. But I'll still get the survey because, hopefully he/she will find something I've missed (if it's there) ...

As a new buyer, choosing to pass on a survey is a risky venture to say the least.
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Old 10-18-2008
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If nothing else you will be hard pressed to keep your emotions under check once you found "your boat". A surveyor as long as he is not working for the broker could care less, he is getting paid by the foot.

That being said this is what I have seen a surveyor miss.
1. Idler wheels fell off as they were rusted through.
2. Boom bent in two because the boom was re-rigged from a 3 point connection to a 1 point connection.
3. Keel was repaired and checked by surveyor. If fell off in the lift.

So at least our surveyor is capable of missing significant big stuff.
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Old 10-18-2008
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If someone cannot evaluate a boat he is going to own, he is not ready to own the boat. It's my opinion. Boat construction is not a rocket science. Construction is very simple, most system are rudimentary compare to systems we have in a houses and cars. If you are buying used boat, most likely there is a ton of information on any given models on internet, with all possible flaws shown. There are books and courses.
It’s especially important if you are dreaming to “go places” Stop dreaming, make first step, learn about the boat.
If you going to buy the boat – take digital camera with you. Shoot every inch of the boat. Especially shoot every corner you actually cannot see – under floors, bilge, under settees, hull to deck joint, etc.
Do not trust your eyes; take as many pictures as you can, bring them home, drool over them one evening or too, take notes… Go there second time and check every point you didn’t like – cracks, rust, bubbles, color mismatch etc…
Now you may need a surveyor, as a second opinion, or may not…
My surveyor didn’t find 70 % flaws I knew already there. I had to hire him to get insurance.
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