SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 101 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,180 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
A few months ago I solicited copies of your sailboat surveys. Between the ones you guys sent me and the ones I had in my collections I came up with 14 samples.
I read them all this past week.
As I was reading them I started to doubt the premise of what I was doing. The premise was that by comparing a selection of surveys from several different surveyors I could come up with some useful data.

It occurred to me as I as I was bulldozing my way through this volume of rather dry reading that these documents were significantly different from reading a play or poetry for example. If a play is well written and the story is engaging it is a good play.

A survey however does not stand on its own. Its job is to reflect the condition of a boat. With my new found sensitivity to survey prose I'm pretty sure I could write a survey for any boat sight unseen that would read very well.
It would of course not be useful as it would not reflect on the reality of the boats condition.

In selecting a surgeon if I had to choose between an arrogant SOB who was gifted in his practice and a really nice guy who was a little clumsy with a knife it is pretty obvious who I would pick.

With surveyors too there is no guarantee that the guy with the best computer and English skills also has the best surveying skills. In fact some of the best surveyors may be old enough that the computer is hard for them.

With the above caveats out of the way maybe in some small way I can contribute to the body of knowledge.

I was a little surprised at how similar all the surveys were. There were two exceptions. One local older fellow wrote paragraphs for everything. No lists just paragraphs but all the same information was still their.

Another guy produced a survey that was about twice a long as the others with a lot of pictures.

Every survey had the following sections:

Demographics of Boat, Principles and purpose of survey.
Description of each section of the boat
Recommendations
Valuation

Some surveys were very explicit about what they could not our would not comment on. Things like the top of the rig, engine, electrical etc. Other surveys hinted at things they couldn't comment on but were not very explicit.

A couple of guys use a thermal scanner which seemed like a nice touch.
Some of the guys put their recommendations in a list at the end others in the body. I preferred the list at the end.

Some had some boiler plate that described what the numbers meant and what was acceptable. Something like your cholesterol numbers from the lab with marginal notes as to what is the normal range.

Most rank their recommendations into, safety, later and cosmetic categories.


So the big questions are:

  1. How do you select a surveyor?
  2. How do you prepare so the surveyor does the best job he is capable of?
  3. What should you do during the survey?
  4. How do you read the survey?


Select a surveyor:
My recommendation is to select the surveyor by recommendation. Visit the yard and ask around and find someone who has a good reputation.

Prepare:
With the owners and brokers permission get as much cleaned up and opened up as possible. If the surveyor can't see it will just end up in the report as "Not tested" you didn't get your moneys worth.

During the survey:
Again with the owners, brokers and now surveyors permission stay out of the way but you may be able gain access to locations so the surveyor can do his job faster.
Make time while on site to ask questions about stuff you saw that puzzle you.

Reading
If at all possible go over the survey with the surveyor in person as there may be things he will be will to say that he is not willing to write down.

Out of 14 surveys their was no mention about several things that are just as important as the items that are typically discussed.

You may be comparing two boats. From your point of view you want to know which is the best boat for the money. The survey will not tell you that.
The reason is that the primarily reports on what is there and not on what you would like to be there. For example lets say you are looking at two almost identical boats. One has a broken stereo system and 25,000 dollars worth of brand new canvas. The other one has a working stereo but no canvas.
The survey for the first boat will mention the canvas and the broken radio.
The survey for the second boat will mention the radio but will NOT say their is no dodger and Bimini. This is not like an Amazon side by side comparison of a computer.
The lesson if you a selling a boat with something broken is to take it off the boat if possible. The fact that it is missing may not be reported.

Never once did any survey say anything about the quality of the boat. If a deck cleat is loose it will be mentioned if it is too small it will probably not be mentioned.
If their is no room for a good anchor and rode it will not be mentioned in a survey, that is a boat review.
It is up to you to determine if a boat is the right model for the use you have in mind. That is not the surveyors job.
If you want someone to do that for you call Perry and pay his consulting fee.

There are no repair numbers. You will have to take the list of repairs and have the yard quote it if you can't do it yourself.

Be aware that what the surveyor can not see and therefore can not comment on exceeds what he can see.
  • The keel bolts if there is water in the bilge.
  • Wiring that is hidden behind furniture
  • Bonding between bulkhead and hull behind furniture
  • Real moisture content
  • Leaks when really working in weather
  • Top of the rig.
  • Features of all of the electronics
  • Details of the engine
  • Hoses as they go through bulkheads
  • Chain plates just below the decks.

Hopefully the above will help beginners calibrate what they can reasonably expect from a survey.

I'm hoping that the experienced sailnetters will add their knowledge to this thread.
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
2,751 Posts
As one who supplied sample surveys .... Fair comments
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
451 Posts
One survey experience I had: Hired a very reputable and well recommended guy to look over a prospective purchase (in November in Michigan). Survey was done as scheduled and I picked up two copies of the 30+ page report and paid the fee. On reading the report I found that he didn't do a moisture test on the deck because it had frost on it. And wet decks were what I was most concerned about on that boat. The report was otherwise very well done and mentioned all of the things I had noticed myself. I called the guy back to see if he would return on a warmer day to do the test, he said he'd have to charge extra for that.
I haven't used him again.

One should probably specify that if weather will interfere at all the survey must be rescheduled.
 

·
Junior Member
Joined
·
3,506 Posts
I choose a surveyor who had extensive experience surveying my particular boat. He knew what to look for and why. I didn't want the window dressing stuff.
 

·
Junior Member
Joined
·
3,506 Posts
Very interesting post David. Thanks for the effort you put into this.

In the PNW I recommend Matt Harris to my clients.
Matt was busy, Resiner & McEwen did a fine job for me.
 

·
Bombay Explorer 44
Joined
·
3,619 Posts
I was shocked when I was on my boat hunt and was offered a sight of a surveys to find that a few/some/many surveyors would not even look at the mast or rigging above deck level or start the engine.

Additional experts would have to be called in for this.

I was fairly pleased with the surveyor I engaged for my current boat. I had crawled all over it myself and was happy except for two specific questions relating to the integrity of the hull and deck. He was clear on one and admitted to be uncertain on another but did some research and even called the author of the previous survey to establish if the issue had progressed then gave me a qualified OK.

But he attended the sea trial and after that when I buttonholed him and asked

"Should I go ahead " he gave me an unqualified "YES"..
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
2,751 Posts
I was shocked when I was on my boat hunt and was offered a sight of a surveys to find that a few/some/many surveyors would not even look at the mast or rigging above deck level or start the engine.


There are a bunch of things a prudent surveyor will not do and with good reason.

If I start the engine and a head gasket blows it's my fault. I will observe the owners representative start it and report on that. Starting an engine at the dock is almost pointless, this should be inspected during seatrial. The surveyor observes on the seatrial he does not run the boat.

I will not connect batteries to check the DC system. I have no idea of why they were disconnected and do not want to be responsible for electrical damage. For the same reason I will not plug a boat into shorepower.

The only proper way to inspect a mast and rigging is to lay it down and dismantle it for full access to all terminals, welds, fittings etc. I have found plenty of issues with my binoculars and 20x zoom camera but unless you are willing to pay for my extended health care, prescriptions, eyeglasses, sick pay, ambulance and casts, I am not going up a rig when I have no idea if the stuff up top is going to hold me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
I have seen surveys done on the same boat by different surveys and to read them you would not think they were on the same boat. My recommendation is to find a surveyor that knows that make and talks to you about the know problems before the survey.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,180 Posts
Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I was conflicted at first but at this time I think it is only fair to mention Wallace aka boatpoker.
I only read one of his surveys, I just picked one a random as their are several on his website, Port Credit Marine Surveys. I plan on going back and reading some more.


His was the 20 page outlier that included all the standard sections plus:

  • Standard language that explains his methodology and how to read the results.
  • A chart to explain the meaning of moisture numbers
  • Lots of pictures
  • A map of all thruhulls (what a great idea)
  • List of public records checked for recalls or other issues
  • Recommendations for upgrades

BoatPoker can probably point out any sections I have missed.


It was the most poetic survey I read and I have every reason to believe it accurately represented the boat too.

My only recommendation to Wallace is to remove the restriction on his site from printing his sample surveys and remove the do not copy watermark.
I totally understand his pride in authorship of his documents but the current restrictions do not prevent someone from printing them out if they want to. The redaction is a good idea and I would intersperce the words property of Marine Surveyor,SAMS Accredited, Ontario Marine Survey in a half dozen places on every page.

In todays world I try my hardest go get my clients to be known as thought leaders and get their name and thoughts in a many hands and in front of as many eyes as possible. Reducing friction to distribution and pointing back to the source is the name of the game.

But even now you can read them on-line and I highly recommend it.
 

·
69' Coronado 25
Joined
·
323 Posts
I am a skilled maintenance mechanic (plumbing, electrical a/c d/c, hydrolics, pneumatics, etc...),a machinist with knowledge in metallurgy and have extensive skills in fiberglassing and fabricating. I have done my own surveys on 3 of the 4 boats I have owned, the insurance co's accepted my reports with a disclaimer of non prejudice, the one survey I had done was exceptionally done (physically) but lacked info on the report. I wonder how some can get away with charging a fee for scrap paper while others seem to be underpaid. I recommend that you ask for references and a template of a report.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,180 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I am a skilled maintenance mechanic (plumbing, electrical a/c d/c, hydrolics, pneumatics, etc...),a machinist with knowledge in metallurgy and have extensive skills in fiberglassing and fabricating. I have done my own surveys on 3 of the 4 boats I have owned, the insurance co's accepted my reports with a disclaimer of non prejudice, the one survey I had done was exceptionally done (physically) but lacked info on the report. I wonder how some can get away with charging a fee for scrap paper while others seem to be underpaid. I recommend that you ask for references and a template of a report.
Of course the guy that really knows boats and knows computers enough to create poetry is the best.

But if all I could get was the guy that knows boats and his survey was on a napkin and the insurance guy would accept it that is good enough.

If the old dude looked at the boat and said.

"Well young fella, you really don't want this boat, she's been hit hard. See that buckle under the aft end of the fin keel."

I don't care if he writes anything down. He still deserves his fee if he finds a deal breaker I didn't find.

It's like the old story of the retired engineer that was the leading expert on some industrial machinery. His old company had a problem they couldn't figure out and begged him if he would look at some equipment for them even though he was retired.

Once he got to factory and listened for a minute he borrowed a wrench and took a quarter turn on a nut and the noise went away.

The foreman was very happy as they had been trying to fix the noise for weeks. He asks how much. The retired engineer said $1,000 dollars. The foreman questioned the fee. The engineer said OK then how about $5 to tighten the nut and 9,995.00 to know which nut to tighten.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,180 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Starting an engine at the dock is almost pointless, this should be inspected during seatrial.
Pretty strong words.

I'm assuming you are looking for vibration, smoke etc under load at different RPM's

Anything else

Also what is your take on the temperature guns.
One article was saying that they could even pick up elevated temperatures in wiring indicating poor connections.

Seems like it would probably take a long time.
Might be a good idea in high am devices like anchor windlass or power winches.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,180 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I have done my own surveys on 3 of the 4 boats I have owned, the insurance co's accepted my reports with a disclaimer of non prejudice,
Tell us about that if you don't mind. What year, what state, country.
Exactly what idi non-prejudice mean applied to whom.
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
2,751 Posts
Thanks David. I agree with your thoughts on accessibility to the reports and will give it some more thought. I know that no matter what I do someone somehwere can beat any redacting or whatever other security measures I use. I am a little gun shy as someone managed to beat my security some years ago, modified my report and used it to get insurance. When a claim arose I was guilty until I could prove the report had been tampered with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,180 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
When a claim arose I was guilty until I could prove the report had been tampered with.
Wow, and I thought you were from Canada.:)

How did you prove the report was tampered with?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
583 Posts
Boat Insurance/Auto Insurance,
I can go buy a car that may be in need of brakes, may leak gas, oil and might even have no working tail lights and bald tires. It may even need a whole new front steering gear and a new windshield.
I can then walk into any Autoplan Insurance agency and buy insurance.
I can then hop into that car and drive down the highway at 110kmh toward oncoming traffic that is traveling at the same speed. No questions asked.
But, if I want insurance on a boat, it has to be in top working condition.
I have to have it surveyed at $12 per foot.
I may have to pull it out of the water for this survey at a cost of $500 or more plus dryland storage fees.
It cannot have any leaks what so ever.
The rig has to be inspected.
The sails have to be inspected.
The deck has to be inspected.
The hull has to be inspected.
The motor has to be inspected.
The overall appearance is scrutinized.
The wiring has to be inspected.
The lights have to be inspected.
And on and on it goes.
It's a seven page report on every aspect of the boat.
If anything is not up to par I can be denied insurance, moorage and the marina I am up on the hard at can deny me a lift back into the water.
Our boat only goes 6.5 knots flat out and we use it maybe once a week.
Just because we own a boat doesn't mean we are some huge source of money.
What a scam.
 

·
Dirt Free
Joined
·
2,751 Posts
Wow, and I thought you were from Canada.:)

How did you prove the report was tampered with?
The original was backed up on a separate hard drive and filed as a database showing dates of creation and modification. The latest date was long before the date that showed on the false report. He had also changed the spacing in the report from percentage to pixels and I was able to show that in almost 3,000 reports I had always used "percentage" spacing. There were a few other small technical differences.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
547 Posts
Very interesting post David. Thanks for the effort you put into this.

In the PNW I recommend Matt Harris to my clients.
+1 for Matt Harris at Reisner, McEwen & Harris up in Bellingham, WA. I just had him do a survey and he was very thorough, encouraging of having the prospective buyer aboard, and he didn't hesitate to call me over to see firsthand the things that concerned him and to explain why with more color than you'd get in the written report.
 
1 - 20 of 101 Posts
Top