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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Boat Review and Purchase Forum > questions about surveys
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Topic Review (Newest First)
11-17-2006 11:44 AM
ModMMax I recently purchased a power cruiser in Florida. Hired 2 surveyers, one for the hull and one for the engines. The $2k was well spent. The owner spent $15k to keep the deal on track. We ended up with a great boat at a great price with lots of upgraded items.
11-17-2006 11:35 AM
Bob1112 Here's my personal view of surveys, having bought and sold boats for over 20 years:

1. Yes, survey a new boat. The manufacturer's warranty is not enough. As someone else said, these are not cars; and problems with new boats can arise in two ways: manufacturing errors, and dealer set-up errors. I've had new boats where the transmission oil plug was left off, and where the forward/reverse label was backwards on the transmission lever. There can also be major errors in fiberglass lay-up, engine installation, and so on. The greatest bargaining power you have is withholding payment. Once you pay, enforcing the warranty can be like arguing with your spouse ("are you sure it doesn't work?" "well, Fred was just there yesterday and he said it worked"). Sure you can threaten suit, but gosh, this is supposed to be fun!

2. Not all surveyors are created equal. Some worked in boatyards for years. Others might have just taken a course. And be careful of somebody recommended by the seller.

3. The survey will not discover everything, not by a long shot. Do your own inspection before, and use a flashlight and a pocket mirror. Then accompany the surveyor, and ask "what's that drip mark?" "what's that stain?" and so on. Two sets of eyes are better than one.
11-16-2006 07:53 PM
sailingdog I'd agree about being there for the survey. You will learn a lot, and often, the surveyor will have recommendations about things that might make the boat better for you, but aren't necessarily a problem. A good example of this I've seen was on my friend's boat, where the surveyor gave a recommendation for re-routing the hoses for the head, to minimize the amount of waste standing in hoses, to help elminate odors from the head area of the boat. The hoses weren't really a problem, but re-routing them made the head less smellly and easier to maintain.
11-16-2006 03:32 PM
gc1111 Early in this thread it was recommended that you accompany the surveyor when he does the work. This is excellent advice, not to check on how he is doing his job, but to learn. Surveyors are usually old salts with a lot of experience. If you get them to talk to you while doing the survey - explaining what they are looking for and why (and spinning some yarns about the various disasters they have witnessed) you will learn a lot. If you end up buying the boat, you will have learned about this specific boat, not just generalities from a book. It takes a certain amount of sensitivity to set up the right relationship with the surveyor (some of their horror stories are about the client hiring them :-) but it can be very fruitful.
11-16-2006 03:08 PM
Faster It's very true that, while a survey - and even the brief seatrial - will point out many things good and bad, it's not going to catch it all. and it is usually during the first delivery that many things crop up.

After having been through several deliveries in the past few years, most of them involving bringing a boat from Wash state to BC, I've found the most common issue you're going to face is fuel quality. Boats that have typically been on the market for some time are likely to be overdue for filter changes, or simply have had old fuel go bad.

Prior to any extended delivery (and even across Georgia Strait can turn into a longish trip), I'd recommend changing fuel filters before you start. Two things: you give yourself fresh filters, and second, you figure out how to do it on your "new" boat at the dock so if you have to do it again in a seaway, at least you know the routine.

And make sure you have more spares!!
11-16-2006 02:52 PM
drwill
Two other points

First, you should be aware that even a top surveyor won't catch everything. Second, and more significant is that the surveyors report can be used to renogotiate the price based on the cost of signficiant defieciencies. My survey revealed worn engine mounts and flex drive, among other items amounting to ~$2500, which the seller dropped off the purchase price.
11-16-2006 02:48 PM
trod44
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.

Tony
11-09-2006 08:38 PM
JakeLevi CP

great post, good chuckles, sound information.


I cant understand, or want to, anyone who wants to buy a boat without a survey.
11-09-2006 05:21 PM
sailingdog CP-

LOL... I think I know who you're talking about... penny-wise, pound foolish.

There are often very pretty boats that were cleaned up for sale, and if you look in the nooks and crannies, you'll see that the boat wasn't maintained or kept in anywhere near the condition you would be guessing from its current appearance. Look in the deep corners of the bilge, and under the deck, inside cabinets...etc. You'll often find the real story in those places. Surface appearances don't generally mean jack.

You really can't do much about stupid though.. there's far too much of it running around.
11-09-2006 03:57 PM
Bluewater4us I agree that a survey is a must. These people are paid to do a professional job just like other professions. They can find things that you might just miss. I just had a survey on a 36' catalina and used a surveyor that was recommended by several people. When I recieved the survey it was very detailed. Even more so than I imagined. Other sailors that saw it said he was very picky. I like that. Now I own it as of 2 days ago. And with the survey I have my own personal list of what to fix. Now I will make a copy and start crossing off things as I go. I think it is a great tool to have. Helps make an educated decision.
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