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Old 12-10-2015, 16:30   #1
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Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

Hello - I'm very new to sailing and am buying my first boat. It is a 1972 O'Day 27 that looks good to me, but I'm no expert. I've called a few local surveyors who want $1500+ for a survey. Is that normal? It seems extravagant for a boat that I'm only paying $5000 for - in fact, it prices me out of purchasing the boat. Help!!
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Old 12-10-2015, 16:52   #2
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

dont like to be negative but i think you've answered your own question by the fact of asking it in the first place.
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Old 12-10-2015, 16:55   #3
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

I'm odd.....I'll not pay for a survey on a boat that I don't need to finance. But I worked long enough in the industry to know what I'm looking at. If you don't know the difference between non functional and dirty the survey may be money well spent.


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Old 12-10-2015, 17:17   #4
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

For a $5000 boat?

Read this several times. Marine Survey 101, Do your own marine survey
Print out the checklist
Do your own survey.
Estimate how much it will cost to bring the defects to a seaworthy condition
(for $5000 - there will be defects)
Decide it it is worth the final cost to you.
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Old 12-10-2015, 17:27   #5
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

There are several books out there on how to survey a boat. I would start with Inspectiong the Aging Sailboat. After that, a 5,000 boat is pot luck. There will be issues to resolve. Some you can uncover before buying and some you won't. If your budget is tight you will be doing the work yourself. That's WILL.

My thinking is that your best bet is to learn about surveying, read the books, watch you tube videos and do your best to buy the best boat you can. Save your money for the repairs you will have to make.
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Old 12-10-2015, 17:52   #6
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

Try another surveyor. I paid about $1500 for a local, known, expert to survey this boat , a 83' wood, 1942 build. Sounds like about a <$500 job here.
Another option, find an experienced boater.
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Old 12-10-2015, 17:55   #7
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

Maybe a regional difference but a pre-purchase survey isn't usually more than $20/ft. so about $540 for 27 ft. Also you'll pay for the haul out, my yard charges $180 to haul and leave it in the slings while they go to lunch for an hour. So, I'd expect to pay $750 to $800, $1500 is abnormal to me.
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Old 12-10-2015, 18:03   #8
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

Nope. Don't pay for a survey. It's clear you don't have deep pockets for this boat, so you will be doing a ton of work yourself. The link above about doing your own survey is a good start. If you have general understanding of some basic construction you will be able to tell if the hull is at least decent or about to fall apart.

If you are a good DIY'er then the question really is: "Am I willing and able to put in whatever work is necessary to finish this boat?" If not, then be prepared to lose your $5k or don't buy the boat.

I was in the same spot. I bought a mid 30-footer for 3k. Spent 40 days in the workyard fixing things I already knew how to fix, and then for the stuff I didn't have a good grasp on, "google is your friend". There are tons of video, blog, and forum posts on almost every piece of equipment and boat out there that you will find on your boat. It may not be for your exact boat, but common sense and some brains will get you to where you need to be. There were no structural or hull issues on my boat and all the repairs were mainly "systems".

Walking into the relationship with my boat, I was willing to lose the 3k plus the other 3k I spent on work yard fees and equipment/tools/supplies costs. You need to be able to do the same. I now have a fully functional boat because I spent years online researching boats and looking at boats for sale. This, coupled with previous skills I have gained in electronics, construction, physics, and others in various parts of my short life prepared me to make at least an educated guess on when to pull the trigger. You need to do the same. If you haven't at least read up on the basics of electrical, plumbing, construction, engines, etc. you are not ready to own a boat regardless of the cost, state, or survey of a vessel.

If you are confident in things above, and can make a good educated guess on the likely outcome of putting the boat in the water and sailing it safely...go for it. I don't regret my choice as I sail around the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. =)
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Old 12-10-2015, 18:05   #9
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

I would look for another surveyor as well. Our 36' 1968 boat was less than $700, another five hundred to the yard to haul it. One way to look at the survey regardless of cost, is that there are probably enough issues to be found that will drop the purchase price of the boat by the survey cost or more (even at 1,500). Doing you own survey may make the negotiations harder, because you will get kick back in the form of "if you say so", where a survey report is harder for the seller to dispute. Down side is that the survey makes you say "I can't buy this boat", then you are plain out of pocket, so reading the books and doing you own pre-survey is probably the best plan.

Finally, as I presume this is your first boat, insurance will be hard to find (will be hard regardless because you have no track record, and the boat is old) without a survey (even if it is only liability).


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Old 12-10-2015, 18:49   #10
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

Its not expensive, its outrageous. We paid $500 for one of the best surveyors in Florida. 37ft boat and he had to drive an hour each way.
For a $5k boat I would forget the survey. Just give the boat a good look over and make sure the engine runs and the sails arent torn up.
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Old 12-10-2015, 18:50   #11
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

Would you pay a mechanic $1500 to inspect a $5000 car?
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Old 12-10-2015, 19:11   #12
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

First. If the hull is good from stem to stern. You've got the biggest part of the boat covered. That means that it will sit in the water without going down. Next check the Running rigging, Then the standing rigging. without those And sails you can't sail. Everything else is luxury, or can be had with fairly little cost. Read Slocums book. He made most of his own navigation equipment. Used sails are readily available. Once you get the boat in the water floating, you can do everything else while you are living on it. When I bought my boat I already knew that I had my work and my hobby and my home all in one place. Mac
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Old 12-10-2015, 19:12   #13
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Would you pay a mechanic $1500 to inspect a $5000 car?
When cars break down on the side of the road they don't sink. There are significantly different risks so the metaphor is rather stretched here.

That said I wouldn't pay $1500 either.

If you aren't going offshore or even coastal don't bother. For sailing around the bay and even up and down the ICW you should be just fine.
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Old 12-10-2015, 19:29   #14
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

This is all really helpful, y'all. I'm new and nervous, but having read all the things you've written and linked to has made me feel more confident. I'm going to look around for a more affordable surveyor, and if none crops up, I'll follow the do-it-myself guide.

Good things I know: It's not a hurricane boat, all the sails and rigging are in great condition, diesel motor is in good working condition, interior was dry and surprisingly fresh smelling, brand new head and tubing

Bad things I know: hasn't had a bottom job since 2011, 2 loose stanchions

I'm starting to feel better about things.
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Old 12-10-2015, 20:09   #15
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Re: Should I Pay to Survey a $5k Boat?

For those who might want to look at the boat in question, here is the craigslist post: O'Day 27 Sailboat
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