I am considering the purchase of a mid-80s 35'' Hunter in North Carolina. How necessary is it to get an independent surveyor to look at the boat? How much will this cost me? How do I find such a person?
A survey is important when purchasing any boat but is especially important on boats with any age on them. Furthermore Hunters, like any budget conscious boat, is more likely to have problems than a higher quality boat for two reasons, the boats were built lighter and less expensively to begin with and people who buy ''value'' boats rarely are as willing to spend as much on quality maintenance and upgrades as someone who bought a quality boat in the first place.
Issues that one might expect with a 15 year old boat might include rigging problems, structural issues such as broken tabbing, keel/hull joint problems,delaminated frames or core problems in the deck, electrical and electrolysis problems, disabled safety systems or cobbled up installations of such critical safety items as the propane system for the stove.
If nothing else the surveyor provides a check list of deficencies that the new owner can use to put the boat back in shape. Additionally, it is a good idea to have the sails looked at by a Sailmaker and the engine looked at by a mechanic.
It is important to understand just how old a 15 year old boat actually is. At fifteen years the standing rigging is approaching the end of its useful life, some of the running rigging should also be replaced. The first (and maybe the second)set of sails are at the end of their useful life (especially with the comparatively poor quality sails that come standard on board Hunters. This is said from experiance as my family have owned two Hunters one of which was bought new and the other was bought at 15 years old.)Uphostery is near the point where the foam in higher use areas is close to shot and the fabrics are starting to show age. Engines are close to needing thier first overhaul or at least injector work. Electrical systems have enough age that connections often need to be renewed. Depending on the model instruments are near the end of their lifespan or at least need rebuilds. (I had to replace mine at 12 years because the LED''s were getting bad and they did not have replacement parts for my model any longer.)
Colletively these items, the difference between a good boat and a project, can in the worst case easily cost close to the value of the boat. SO- with all of that, a marine surveyor is your best way to know what you are getting yourself into.
In my experience a survey is not a choice; it is a necessity on many levels. I don''t know of any insurance company, for example, that will insure a boat without a survey. Also, boats are frought with problems. A survey will find these out and will give you a much better bargaining position with the seller. Although the names escape me, surveyors all belong to one or more national organizations. If you hop onto a search engine and search for marine surveyor in North Carolina. I had my 34'' sailboat surveyed in Maryland last year and I think it cost me $600. Good luck.
That is an important point about using a certified surveyor. States do not license marine surveyors so anybody can call themselves a marine surveyor. There are however two organizations that certify marine surveyors; NAMS and SAMS. NAMS has the most stringent standards for certification including an apprentice ship and an exam.I think it is important to make sure you are using an NAMS or SAMS certified marine surveyor since not all surveyors are certified. Oddly enough Ihave found that certified surveyors often have more reasonable pricing for the work that they do and are often more willing to spend the time that it takes to get things right.
You can locate a NAMS certified surveyor in your area on their website.
I can''t agree with Jeff enough; my surveyor was not certified and missed many plainly obvious things. Call several people and ask plenty of questions. You don''t want someone who is such an old salt that he doesn''t poke around in the bildge and the engine compartment, etc. If possible, be there when he does the survey. If you have any questions on either the rig or the engine separate surveys by experts in each respectively can also be scheduled. Be prepared for the surveyor to find between a handful and many problems/deficiencies with the vessel. If he doesn''t find anything, he hasn''t done his job properly. If he finds major things like delamination, blisters, etc. you may want to either reconsider buying the boat or renegotiating the price.