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Old 11-08-2009, 16:45   #31
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I recently had my new boat surveyed by an genuine accredited surveyor. A lot of money (approximately 10% of the purchase price), and his big points were things like needing to replace the circular cotter keys in the lifelines with straight ones, or installing a safety bar in front of the stove, or the lack of an acid proof battery box (factory original condition). Perhaps important items, but there are MANY boats out there, sailing day in and day out, over long distances, with many of the hits that my insurance company is making me fix as a result of this survey. But, despite a careful survey, my propeller shaft fell half way out of the transmission coupling (saved by a conveniently placed shaft zinc!) on the way home -- but that wasn't on the survey. And, since there were teak covers on the edges of the chainplate knees, he didn't see or comment on the darkened plywood that I'm now debating the importance of -- it's obviously water damage, but is it "rot".

One of the biggest challenges in finding a surveyor (kind of like realtors or yacht brokers) is that most of us only use 2 or 3 in a lifetime. We have very few to compare amongst, and if we move or time passes, the ones we like or dislike are not on the list anymore. You ask around, and (like on this discussion) the general answer is "I had a couple of bad ones, and then one really good one when I lived in Kalamazoo, but he's out of business now." Or worse, "The one I used when I bought my current (and only) boat was Joe, and he was good" but no real feel for how Joe compares to Jim.

Bottom line, the only value that the survey provided was it allowed me to get hull insurance. But between the cost of the survey, the deductable on the insurance, and the big list of what they will NOT cover (I suspect if the mast goes over because the chainplates pull out, I'm not covered, or if the boat sunk because that shaft came ALL the way out), I almost wonder if I would have been better off not getting the survey or the insurance. On a more expensive boat, it's a different story -- but I still suspect that the survey's biggest value is the entrance ticket to the insurance policy and not the value of the information.

Harry
'79 Sabre 34, Annapolis
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Old 11-08-2009, 17:11   #32
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10% the cost of the boat? wow! Did the report mention the discoloration?
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Old 11-08-2009, 18:10   #33
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I recently had my new boat surveyed by an genuine accredited surveyor. A lot of money (approximately 10% of the purchase price), and his big points were things like needing to replace the circular cotter keys in the lifelines with straight ones, or installing a safety bar in front of the stove, or the lack of an acid proof battery box (factory original condition). Perhaps important items, but there are MANY boats out there, sailing day in and day out, over long distances, with many of the hits that my insurance company is making me fix as a result of this survey. But, despite a careful survey, my propeller shaft fell half way out of the transmission coupling (saved by a conveniently placed shaft zinc!) on the way home -- but that wasn't on the survey. And, since there were teak covers on the edges of the chainplate knees, he didn't see or comment on the darkened plywood that I'm now debating the importance of -- it's obviously water damage, but is it "rot".

One of the biggest challenges in finding a surveyor (kind of like realtors or yacht brokers) is that most of us only use 2 or 3 in a lifetime. We have very few to compare amongst, and if we move or time passes, the ones we like or dislike are not on the list anymore. You ask around, and (like on this discussion) the general answer is "I had a couple of bad ones, and then one really good one when I lived in Kalamazoo, but he's out of business now." Or worse, "The one I used when I bought my current (and only) boat was Joe, and he was good" but no real feel for how Joe compares to Jim.

Bottom line, the only value that the survey provided was it allowed me to get hull insurance. But between the cost of the survey, the deductable on the insurance, and the big list of what they will NOT cover (I suspect if the mast goes over because the chainplates pull out, I'm not covered, or if the boat sunk because that shaft came ALL the way out), I almost wonder if I would have been better off not getting the survey or the insurance. On a more expensive boat, it's a different story -- but I still suspect that the survey's biggest value is the entrance ticket to the insurance policy and not the value of the information.

Harry
'79 Sabre 34, Annapolis
Well, since surveyor rates are pretty well established as far as I know, at no more than $20 per foot, you must have gotten your Sabre 34 pretty cheap if the survey cost was 10% of the purchase price. What kind of shape was the boat in? And if it was not in great shape, and the surveyor did a thorough job, including a survey of the engine, I would suggest you got more value out of the survey than the insurability.
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Old 11-08-2009, 18:17   #34
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Yeah, nearly 10%. A 1979 Sabre 34 for $10,500 (it's a VERY good time to be buying!), and an $800 survey fee. Moderately well equipped, functional, decent aesthetic condition, and so far no big issues. Yes, the shaft could have been a problem, and it trashed my lip-type dripless seal, so I lost two weekends and $50 fixing it (had to move the engine 4" forward to gain access). But I've had several sails in moderately heavy air, and all systems have been very satisfactory.

The discoloration is way beyond what a survey could ever discover, because it took the removal of 2 screws on each knee to remove the trim piece -- exactly my point! I found it after the sale (and after I got the boat home) when I was cleaning things up and out of curiosity removed a trim piece. Probably the most significant potential problem on the boat and one I'm not qualified to adequately assess (I'm taking a re-caulk the chain plates and watch carefully approach), and no normal survey would ever have discovered it because it is not readily visible. So, for my $800 survey fee, I found out that my diesel tank fill hoses don't meet current USCG/ABYC standards for fire resistance -- just like 90%+ of all 1979 vintage boats out there. Perhaps not a tremendous return on my investment -- except, like I said, it is the admission fee to the insurance policy, it's primary value to experienced sailors. And the insurance company gets to feel like they are protecting their interests by making me replace that hose, and they have no clue about the chainplates (and, since I've not yet been to the top of the mast, neither I, the surveyor, or the insurance company have ANY idea what evil lurks up there!).

Oh well, life surely isn't fair. But I've got a boat I'm happy with and enjoying at a price I could afford, I've got insurance, my insurance company feels protected, and the surveyor made $400 an hour for his efforts -- everyone is happy!

Harry
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Old 11-08-2009, 18:27   #35
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Well, I'm glad you are happy with the boat. At $10k, a Sabre 34 in relatively good shape is a great price for a buyer IMO.

But $800 for two hours work by the surveyor is another matter. That sounds like a rushed survey to me. Last time I bought a boat, only 3 feet longer than yours, my surveyor worked at least six hours, spread over two days (one day on the hard, second day in water). And I think I paid him $700 about three years ago.
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Old 11-08-2009, 18:34   #36
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Well, since surveyor rates are pretty well established as far as I know, at no more than $20 per foot, you must have gotten your Sabre 34 pretty cheap if the survey cost was 10% of the purchase price. What kind of shape was the boat in? And if it was not in great shape, and the surveyor did a thorough job, including a survey of the engine, I would suggest you got more value out of the survey than the insurability.
In this area, it's more like $24/foot. And the boat, as I just described, was very inexpensive (it had been on the hard 2 years, the owners lived 3 states away, they were spending nearly $3K per year on storage, and were sellilng it FSBO and doing a VERY poor job of marketing). Survey of the engine? -- what surveyor does that? And, my point (and the point of this thread) is that most surveyor's do a "checklist" survey and don't really do a thorough survey.

But, the topsides buffed up nicely, the deck is in good condition (to the surveyor's credit, he pointed out some moisture areas to watch, but no big issues, and that isn't something a typical sailor can check on his own), there are two good mains (well, 1.5 -- one is in good shape but badly stained) and two good jibs, very nice whisker pole (and long enough --22ft!), sailcovers, recent bimini and dodger, recent refrigeration, excellent (non-original) upholstery, autopilot, ST winches, Hood Sea-Furl roller furling, Lectrasan (still an excellent option here on the Chesapeake, at least for now), no blisters, newer pressure water pump, 3-stage battery charger, recently rebuilt Volvo diesel with fresh water conversion, and interior woodwork in good shape. Yes, I wouldn't take her to Bermuda. But, then again, I'm looking for weekends and the occasional week here on the Chesapeake. Had her out the other weekend doing 4-6 upwind and 7.3 downwind (not bad for a centerboarder with a 160 PHRF). I have no regrets and while I did get a "bargain" or somewhat "minimal" boat, I do not feel that I got a "project" boat. To make her look and price like the $40K S34's on the market, I'd have to spend more than that, for sure, but I can show her to sailing (and non-sailing) friends, and pass boats on the water, without feeling like I need to say "yeah, I need to fix that."

Harry
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Old 11-08-2009, 18:35   #37
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Harry, a ten thousand dollar boat is still going to be a ten thousand dollar boat, meaning, either a very lux canoe or a 34'er in real need of LOTS OF WORK. Irregardless of survey.

Why should it be any easier or cheaper to find a good surveyor--which generally is not a state licensed professional but just a member of some guild--than it is to find a contractor, painter, or roofer who'll even show up to give you an estimate? That's the sad state of America today.

"it is the admission fee to the insurance policy, " And if your insurer gave you a list and said "Use one of these approved surveyors" you might want to complain directly to them, especially about the way the survey, for whatever reason, missed a shaft problem that damn near could have sunk the boat. Or, perhaps, mention that to the surveyor and see if he thinks an 'adjustment' might be in line.

But a 34' sloop with a good pedigree for $10k? I would expect a bare hull, or a tired engine, or bulkhead problems, and most definitely used-up sails. And it still may be a steal!
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Old 11-08-2009, 18:43   #38
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Well, I'm glad you are happy with the boat. At $10k, a Sabre 34 in relatively good shape is a great price for a buyer IMO.

But $800 for two hours work by the surveyor is another matter. That sounds like a rushed survey to me. Last time I bought a boat, only 3 feet longer than yours, my surveyor worked at least six hours, spread over two days (one day on the hard, second day in water). And I think I paid him $700 about three years ago.
And that get's back to the real question of the thread. I asked around. My good buddy with a C&C 38 he's had for 15 years gushed on about the guy who did his boat, including going up the mast, but I wasn't about to pay his travel from SC! The guy is still in business, and I learned a lot from his web site about what I WISHED my surveyor would do. Others gave answers like "Jim did mine, and it was OK." This guy was mentioned by at least two people, I think from internet groups though. Even though I sail a lot (primarily racing), and with a fair number of people, the number of people I know who have personally bought a boat in the last 5 years is very small (is "zero" a number?), with most of them having owned the same boat for over a decade. The exception is the guys I race against on my other boat (which I've had for 15 years), but Lightnings don't get a survey very often . And perhaps I should have spent more time on the telephone interview part of the hiring process. But again, the point is that a referral and a SAMS membership (yes, I checked on that) don't amount to a hill of beans.

Harry
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Old 11-08-2009, 18:51   #39
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"Survey of the engine? -- what surveyor does that? And, my point (and the point of this thread) is that most surveyor's do a "checklist" survey and don't really do a thorough survey."

There are surveyors who survey engines. The last one I used, the one who worked at least 6 hours, did a great job surveying a Perkins 104. And it was much better than a checklist survey.

Maybe he was exceptional. He was certainly the best surveyor I've hired. But I know of several other outstanding surveyors, and I am sure there are several in the Annapolis area.. you just have to find them and let them know what you expect from them before you hire them.
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Old 12-08-2009, 18:21   #40
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I think there can also be a big difference between an insurance survey and a purchase survey.
Guess what? Insurance companies want to see a hauled Condition & Valuation survey by an accredited NAMS or SAMS surveyor. They do not want to see any of the so called "insurance surveys" which is just a list of items on the boat. If your boat is outside the USA and you can't find a NAMS or SAMS surveyor, get a sample survey and review it. If hiring the surveyor for insurance purposes, you can ask your agent to have the surveyor approved in advance with a sample survey. Past performance, in this instance, is usually a good indication of future performance.
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Old 17-08-2009, 20:05   #41
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bstreep,
When we were looking for our boat in Texas, one of the brokers asked who will you use to survey, we said Mike Firestone or Roy Newberry. The brokers response to that was "Oh, they are deal killers you may want to use someone else." Needless to say I told him I would us one of them and after that the broker and I's relationship went south from there. Those 2 are the most highly recommend surveyors on the gulf coast. But there booking time can be as far out as 3-4 weeks but well worth the wait.
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Old 17-08-2009, 20:10   #42
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bstreep,
When we were looking for our boat in Texas, one of the brokers asked who will you use to survey, we said Mike Firestone or Roy Newberry. The brokers response to that was "Oh, they are deal killers you may want to use someone else." Needless to say I told him I would us one of them and after that the broker and I's relationship went south from there. Those 2 are the most highly recommend surveyors on the gulf coast. But there booking time can be as far out as 3-4 weeks but well worth the wait.
It's funny - because they really aren't deal killers. They are just good, honest surveyors, who really do the job correctly. When we did our survey, Mike started around 8 am. He didn't finish until about 6:30 pm.

And, if their lead time is several weeks, there must be a reason why!
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Old 17-08-2009, 20:15   #43
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I know they are very good. We used Roy on a survey. Honest, good, through.
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Old 29-09-2014, 15:58   #44
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Re: Good Surveyors - Hard to Find?

If you need a surveyor in Florida, Paul Anstey is great. I had a broker tell me he was a deal killer. That broker just wants to sell a boat that is priced 40% above market. If you ask me, as a buyer, that is exactly the kind of surveyor I want working for me.
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Old 30-09-2014, 13:14   #45
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Re: Good Surveyors - Hard to Find?

What if we were to start a thread of surveyors that we had personally used and were good. Only names that could be used were the ones you had used. Like most on this thread, I have used good and bad ones. I only want to know the good ones and where they survey...
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