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Old 22-07-2013, 11:39   #121
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Because I know no one cares about my boat (or future boat) more than I do, as soon as we got serious about buying a boat, I started burying my head in pertinent books. The first one I bought was Don Casey's Inspecting the Aging Sailboat.

I made up a list of items to be checked from Casey's 30-Minute inspection at the back of the book and pull that list out when I feel we're serious about a boat. Then I take the list (every item has the page reference from the book) and start going through the boat to do my own inspection. It's amazing what you learn!

I realize this isn't the be-all, end-all, perfect solution but I can always take what I learn and use it as part of the full inspection process. As we whittle down the list, the finding-a-good-surveyor issue concerns me more and more.
Don Casey's book is great but the over 100 photos online in Marine Survey 101 might help you even more.
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Old 22-07-2013, 13:40   #122
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Because I know no one cares about my boat (or future boat) more than I do
and no one else will be writing the cheques to fix the stuff not reflected in the purchase price either..........

....no substitute for knowing yerself what you are looking at. "you" will learn all the shortcomings of a boat anyway, IMO makes sense to learn as much as possible before buying! (accepting that will never know everything until afterwards, often months later - sometimes years ).

How folks learn is up to each but starting with a book or two (paper or online) and then getting eyes on a variety of boats and in a variety of conditions (including worse than you would ever buy!) works well. For a first boat it is hard (if not impossible) to fully appreciate how long each 5 minute job takes , and the deceptive thing is that most jobs are within the reach of the average boat owner to DIY (in whole or in part) even if they have to learn on the job - but it's the volume that gets ya.........not to say that folks on 12th boat are always any better!

Costing up each item (in cash and time) and then adding up the total is well worth the time and effort - will often enuf scare the bejesus out of ya . In time will be able to do the math in yer head - at least enough not to bother looking further , let alone spending cash on a surveyor for a no hoper.
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Old 22-07-2013, 16:42   #123
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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...will often enuf scare the bejesus out of ya .
But hopefully not beyond the threshold of pain. Otherwise we'd never own a boat.
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Old 27-07-2013, 11:40   #124
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

This thread has compelled me to look a lot more into the whole survey/surveyor thing. We'll be headed to the mid to north east coast early August and have a number of boats lined up to see.

From all we've learned thus far, here's how our game plan is forming:
  1. When we get to the boat we'll do a quick inspection. Then we'll "try it on for size" to see how we feel about the boat. If things feel good, we'll move to step 2.
  2. Do our own thorough inspection. I took Don Casey's book Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and made an accompanying list with page references to the book. So we can go item-by-item and refer to the book for how to do the inspection and take notes along the way. I'm a retired electrician so I have a lot of electrical tools and they are going into our "survey bag." I also ordered about $500 in inspection and testing tools that we'll put to use during the inspection process. Cheap compared to the potential cost of missing something.
  3. If our personal inspection reveals nothing we can't live with and we have the warm fuzzies toward the boat, we'll move to the offer stage.
  4. If we agree on a price we'll hire a surveyor and give him or her the results of our own inspection. We'll also pin the surveyor down on what his or her fee covers before hiring.
I really don't know what else we could do to protect ourselves. I love the idea of getting riggers, sailmakers, diesel mechanics, etc to do the inspections, but would they really be interested if we're moving the boat 1000 miles away after we buy it?
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Old 27-07-2013, 11:57   #125
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

I think you have a fine plan laid out, Julie... Depending on the age and condition of the rig and sails, having a rigger/sailmaker inspect them wouldn't hurt. One of the major things buyers of sailboats many times forget is to have a mechanic check out the power plant and gen set, if installed. Don't forget to have an oil analysis done on each engine you have aboard. Engine manufacturers can do this for you at a reasonable cost. Good luck with your search... you seem to be on the right track. The fact that you are moving the boat if all checks out shouldn't be a problem in engaging qualified folks to do the inspections. Count on getting some pushback from the selling broker who will no doubt come up with a list of surveyors. Don't have to tell you to do your own research on the folks you hire. Cheers, Phil
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Old 27-07-2013, 12:28   #126
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Can't you write up a contract that ensures in a proper (as defined in the contract) survey?
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Old 27-07-2013, 13:04   #127
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Can't you write up a contract that ensures in a proper (as defined in the contract) survey?
The YBAA Yacht Purchase and Sale Agreement has that built in. You just fill in the blanks. The issue here is finding a surveyor who will survey the boat as if he/she was considering to buying the boat.

boatpoker: I also tapped the knowledge available at Marine Survey 101 and will use that during our more intensive inspections. Thanks for the link!
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Old 27-07-2013, 13:36   #128
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Can't you write up a contract that ensures in a proper (as defined in the contract) survey?
I think what Julie Mor is trying to do (IMO correctly) is to find out a) whether they like the boat b) whether it is worth bothering to put an offer on and c) what it is actually worth to them (or at least into the ballpark)..............before agreeing to buy it! (by signing a Contract that includes the usual Survey clause).
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Old 27-07-2013, 14:20   #129
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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  1. When we get to the boat we'll do a quick inspection. Then we'll "try it on for size" to see how we feel about the boat. If things feel good, we'll move to step 2.......by that I assume you mean simply going away and talking about it rather than asking for a demo trip (I mention that because most owners seem to be funny about doing a demo / sales trip - then again, most owners seem happy to take a while to sell )..........but I would certainly ask for a demo!

    A Step I would consider adding in here is talking ballpark price (if you have not done so before the first visit!), but definitely not an offer. If it's listed for $100k and you will be offering way less then saves time for both sides if you warm the vendor up for a price drop early on! with a drop into your ballpark. Don't worry, you can always offer less later!, but if Vendor goes all mental at a ballpark of $50k you have saved a wasted trip. The exception being if you want to treat the visit as a learning exercise (yeah, it's called being a time waster . but it's only business )..........to help get as much access and time on the boat (see comments below) you may want to say you would like to do your own thorough pre-survey inspection (many buyers leave all that to the surveyor, so he can charge $500 plus to tell them what would be easy to spot as a deal breaker ) and that the later survey is just to confirm nothing major and for your insurance company rather than as a negotiating tool.........a switched on Vendor will be happy with that as removes uncertainty later (many folks see the Survey as a negotiating tool - and they have to as by then have already agreed to buy the boat for a price that was based on a WAG rather than any knowledge), of course you could later change your mind and regard a few minor things in the survey as a deal breaker
  2. Do our own thorough inspection. I took Don Casey's book Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and made an accompanying list with page references to the book. So we can go item-by-item and refer to the book for how to do the inspection and take notes along the way. I'm a retired electrician so I have a lot of electrical tools and they are going into our "survey bag." I also ordered about $500 in inspection and testing tools that we'll put to use during the inspection process. Cheap compared to the potential cost of missing something........what you may (likely will?!) encounter is a reluctance for an owner or a broker to allow a buyer to get as "hands on" as a Professional Surveyor, for fear that something may get broken. So I would not expect to be doing much by the way of circuit testing (no harm asking though) - albeit as an electrician I am sure you do not need any tools to look at a bundle of wiring and say "dear god ", nonetheless the Mk 1 eyeball, touch and nose goes a very long way, especially when accompanied by a methodical approach and a notepad (and a camera is useful).....plus peering into (and sticking hands / fingers into) dark and hidden places. A mirror and a torch useful for that. But someone like Don Casey will cover all that stuff better than me.
  3. If our personal inspection reveals nothing we can't live with and we have the warm fuzzies toward the boat, we'll move to the offer stage.....as part of the offer you may (or may not!) want to say (again?) that the later survey will only be a deal breaker if he discovers something major that you missed and is primarily for your insurance company - the idea being to make clear that you want the boat, that likely the offer price will also be the sale price (see previous comments) and that the deal will complete pretty quickly after survey.

  4. If we agree on a price we'll hire a surveyor and give him or her the results of our own inspection. We'll also pin the surveyor down on what his or her fee covers before hiring........a good idea to get an example of the style of report he will be producing (he should have a draft / old survey to hand), this being the 21st century it should look good and have plenty of pics! as well as the content being detailed......one thing that Surveyors do vary on is how much detail (and ballpark costings) they go into for stuff that is broke or on last legs, best to find out before / agree what you need......in any event if you look at the example survey just ask yourself does it tell you anything useful that own quick inspection would not reveal (Radar believed working - but not tested" ", "sails onboard but not unfurled" etc etc)...........I would also Google his name up (and his firm if different) to see whether others have made any comments. I am in two minds as to whether to give him too much detail about your inspection, a good Surveyor will use it as a heads up only - a bad one will use it as "inspiration" . But certainly the surveyor being willing to talk through your inspection would be a good sign.

I really don't know what else we could do to protect ourselves. I love the idea of getting riggers, sailmakers, diesel mechanics, etc to do the inspections, but would they really be interested if we're moving the boat 1000 miles away after we buy it?

You also want a sea trial in the contract (that is different from any demo you can get early on) - the purpose is to make sure everything works (sails go up - and down, and particularly that the engine works under load for a decent amount of time - an hour or so, not just going put put at the dock!........if you want to know the reason google up engine replacement costs and a few engine problem threads on CF - the good news is that engines rarely go completely pop suddenly , the bad news is that they (and ancillaries, including gearboxes) slowly die whilst eating $1,000's over several years (and sometimes months!) until you realise that you've spent half the value of a new engine and still have a wonked out POS ......of course if you then decide to sell you can say in the advert the engine has had a rebuild! (a word that covers many things - often sins. of ommission).


1000 miles is a fair way away, even further if the rigging, sails or engine breaks!......the solution is to pay them, most won't fall for the promise of later work from a prospective buyer anyway - even if boat will stay in home port. Compared to the Surveyor they will be pretty cheap. Certainly I would get a mechanic onboard to give the engine a once over in port and on the seatrial (see above comments).

The above a bit longer (and more rambly!) than I first intended.......
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Old 27-07-2013, 14:38   #130
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

I believe that Julie is on the right track here. By doing her own pre-survey, she can satisfy herself that this is truly the boat worthy of moving forward on the purchase. Not only will she be armed with the knowledge of the good, the bad and the ugly which puts her in a much stronger position personally to negotiate a fair price, but she will also identify areas she wants her surveyor to specifically probe on his/her inspection.
She will be relying on her own observations as well as that ofa qualified surveyor. You can't cut down the odds of getting a dog better than she is doing IMO. Phil
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Old 27-07-2013, 14:45   #131
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

Further to DOJ's points which are excellent, you might recall Rakuflames experience on her recent (couple of years ago) purchase where everything appeared in good nick but she did not have a mechanic go over the engine or have an oil analysis done (after all it was a SAILBOAT!) and I recall her getting burned when the old popper blow up on her shortly after she concluded the purchase. If the selling broker balks at an in depth review of the boat, my guess is the owner or broker is trying to hide something and I'd walk. Phil
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Old 27-07-2013, 17:48   #132
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

If you do not receive a good survey then the surveyor was no good!!

When we bought our present boat we flew a surveyor from the US to Asia to inspect the boat after we had made an offer conditional on the usual items, survey, sea trial, etc.

the survey and sea trials were so thorough that the price was reduced by 50% and we used the monies saved to replace the teak decks and refit the entire boat forward of the salon including the installation of a tool room with stainless work bench and entire new head including shower. Also, saved enough to replace all the sails and install new DC reefer system. All of this on top of the myriad of repairs that were completed by the seller.

All this on a 9 year old boat! Best money we ever spent as we still use the survey document today as every piece of equipment on the boat is listed along with model and serial number as well as condition at time of sale, hrs, etc. The surveyor even tuned the rig once the deal was completed. Survey took 3 days including haul out inspection and sea trials.

Might be an idea to ask for a previous survey report completed by the prospective surveyor to see how thorough this person is before hiring.

Sorry to hear that your guy was a dud but there are some exceptional surveyors out there. If anybody needs a good survey this guy resides in Florida and is willing to travel anywhere in the world to work. Delivers boats too if needed.

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Old 27-07-2013, 17:49   #133
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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by that I assume you mean simply going away and talking about it rather than asking for a demo trip (I mention that because most owners seem to be funny about doing a demo / sales trip - then again, most owners seem happy to take a while to sell )..........but I would certainly ask for a demo!
We were on one boat a couple weeks ago. I'd say we spent three hours on it. At first I looked at the exterior from the dock, eyeballed the lines of the boat and looked to see if I would like looking back on it at the end of a sail or weekend. In other words, a purely emotional POV.

Then we walked the deck and I imagined the needs of moving about easily from the cockpit to the bow and back. I stood at the mast, the bow, sat in the cockpit, checked winch locations and workability. I wanted to get a feel for how she would be sailing.

Next we went below and did a cursory look, checked the galley workability, the accommodations, how would it be for trips and long weekends, etc. This was the "can I see us living aboard for as much as two weeks" phase.

All that looked great. So we moved to step 2. (The cabin was probably 110 degrees (it was 95 outside) so we didn't do as thorough an inspection as we wanted.)

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what you may (likely will?!) encounter is a reluctance for an owner or a broker to allow a buyer to get as "hands on" as a Professional Surveyor, for fear that something may get broken.
Yeah, I realize that's a possibility. If the owner is there (what? maybe half the time?) I'll ask. Otherwise I'll wait until the broker puts the stops to it.

On the boat above, the broker wouldn't start the engine or even plug in the shore power cord that for some reason was left unplugged. But we did get to open up the engine compartment and all storage areas and take tons of pictures. Wherever the camera could go, I snapped a photo.

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as part of the offer you may (or may not!) want to say (again?) that the later survey will only be a deal breaker if he discovers something major that you missed and is primarily for your insurance company - the idea being to make clear that you want the boat, that likely the offer price will also be the sale price (see previous comments) and that the deal will complete pretty quickly after survey.
Our broker told us he plans on writing up the sales agreement so if we find anything that kills the deal for us, we can cancel. He said that's pretty standard for the agreements he writes up and no buyer has yet balked.

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a good idea to get an example of the style of report he will be producing (he should have a draft / old survey to hand), this being the 21st century it should look good and have plenty of pics! as well as the content being detailed
Good point. One surveyor that was recommended by both our broker and BoatUS had on his website a sample form. It looked pretty thorough but then again, I don't have much to compare it to.

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You also want a sea trial in the contract
This is an area that got a little sticky. We told our broker we wanted a sea trial when we saw the boat above. He pretty much said, not yet. Then, while on the boat, I asked him about us being able to have a sea trial if we entered into a contract. He said the surveyor usually does the sea trial and that would happen during the 20 minute trip from the harbor to haul out and back. I wasn't comfortable with that answer. And the things he mentioned the surveyor would check were only related to the mechanicals.

But I need to raise the main and unfurl the genny and at least get a tiny feel for how she sails. Any bagged sails have to be opened up and inspected, if I feel they have any value. I intend to put that into any contract we sign.

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you might recall Rakuflames experience on her recent (couple of years ago) purchase where everything appeared in good nick but she did not have a mechanic go over the engine or have an oil analysis done
Oh, absolutely will we have a spectrographic oil analysis written into the agreement. And the more I read, the more I'm seeing a marine diesel mechanic as being just as important as a surveyor. I think a repower for a 30hp diesel is about $25K installed. I never liked gambling when the stakes are high.

Thanks guys for the great advice! My checklist just got longer!
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Old 27-07-2013, 19:21   #134
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

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Oh, absolutely will we have a spectrographic oil analysis written into the agreement. And the more I read, the more I'm seeing a marine diesel mechanic as being just as important as a surveyor.
Julie, a little info on "Oil Analysis as Part of Your Marine Survey" might help.
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Old 27-07-2013, 19:31   #135
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Re: A good surveyor does not guarantee a good survey

I guess with all you prospective boat buyers out there having the oil analyzed when inspecting my boat I better change the oil every time I take her off the dock!! That way everyone will know my engine is in perfect condition and I can get top dollar.
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