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Old 17-07-2018, 18:39   #1
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Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Hi All,

I just bought my first sailboat (1984 Hunter 34) and i'm a little miffed and don't know if this was the surveyors fault or just bad luck. The sole has some damage(see pics)and very spongy, obviously will need to be replaced both for cosmetic and safety.

there was carpet here, not glued but cut out to fit under the dinette covering the sole, the surveyor lifted the carpet to check the bilge and never looked a couple inches further to see the spongy floor and all the holes drilled in it.

in doing a little research it would appear that this might be a couple thousand dollars to have someone repair, i certainly don't have the skill or time and the cost would equate to about 10% of the surveyors appraised value.

I have asked the surveyor and the broker who recommended him and the surveyor does not respond and the broker says, "well its a boat that has lived in the water for 35 yrs what do you expect" and i get that i'm not looking for perfection but if its something that will cost around 10% of the appraisal to fix i think its pretty important.

Any thoughts?
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Old 17-07-2018, 18:47   #2
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

That's on par for a survey. It's your money, inspect the boat yourself.
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Old 17-07-2018, 19:18   #3
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

BIG, HUGE GIGANTIC MISTAKE ...... Hiring the surveyor recommended by the broker !
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Old 17-07-2018, 19:22   #4
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
BIG, HUGE GIGANTIC MISTAKE ...... Hiring the surveyor recommended by the broker !
Really. He wasn't about to kill that deal. They rarely do. Best to hire an out of state or even country surveyor.
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Old 17-07-2018, 19:27   #5
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Call Morgan & Morgan .
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Old 17-07-2018, 19:27   #6
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Hi Seasic

Sorry to hear about this. Despite the abrupt response, kmacdonald is correct.

I am very new to sailing, and bought a used boat late 2017. The issue of how much one could trust a survey was a big concern of mine.

These are the truths I decided on before the survey:

1. The survey only finds negatives and ONLY those positives that are explicitly mentioned.
2. You have to run the survey, no matter how little experience and skill you have. Ask the stupid questions, look in as many spots as you can.
3. Get as much knowledge as you can before the survey, about specific issues to look at in the specific vessel and model you are looking at.
4. Find a knowledgeable someone who knows the vessel type who can attend the survey and seatrial with you. (You did attend the survey, right? Right?)
5. If there is a question, ANY question, ask it before or during the survey.
6. Find the best surveyor you can.He/she works for you and you pay him/her.
7. Discuss your own abilities with the surveyor so they know what your level of expertise is.

But as kmcdonald said, much more succinctly:

You are the captain. You enjoy both the privileges and the responsibilities of that. This would be one of those.

Good luck! You might find that you can repair this yourself for much less than the 10% you have been quoted. Consider it a skill to learn, and getting to know your new boat. There's worse things than that.
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Old 17-07-2018, 19:27   #7
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
BIG, HUGE GIGANTIC MISTAKE ...... Hiring the surveyor recommended by the broker !
Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
Really. He wasn't about to kill that deal. They rarely do. Best to hire an out of state or even country surveyor.
Always hire your own surveyor (and your own attorney, etc...), NEVER use anyone recommended by another party in the deal.

The broker and surveyor have likely worked together many times and will many times more, so the surveyor is more concerned about keeping the broker happy than he is you...thus he is not gonna lift that carpet a few more inches.
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Old 17-07-2018, 20:46   #8
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

[QUOTE=BigNut;2675727]Hi Seasic

(You did attend the survey, right? Right?)

Yes i did attend the survey and sea trial, but it was a tag team broker showing me this over here while surveyor over there, surveyor showing me something while broker over there.

I didnt realize the extent that a broker and surveyor would work together but makes sense now. its a shame since they both work in the same marina im docked in, but there a shady people in every business i guess, but i'd still like to punch'em in the mouth.

this is partly the reason i bought an older boat and paid cash is because i knew there would be a learning curve just thought the learning curve would be more on my own mistakes then being scammed from the gate.

Anyway i am happy to be skipper and looking forward to many more lessons!

Thank you all so much for your responses!
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Old 17-07-2018, 20:59   #9
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Educate yourself

How to Become a Marine Surveyor
How to choose a Marine Surveyor
Marine Survey 101
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Old 17-07-2018, 21:08   #10
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

The practical answer is that if you bought a 34-year old boat and do not have the skill set to fix everything, you have two logical choices:

  1. Sell it now.
  2. Learn to fix everything. That is part of seamanship.
Yes, the survey should have caught that. But it's going to be something equivalent next year, and the year after, and the year after that. From a point of view, that's a condition of age. In the scheme of aging boats, it's small beans. Really, you can learn this and you can do this.

BTW, during a survey, you pay attention to the surveyor. The broker you can talk to later.



You'll see this sort of stuff and more, on my blog and those of others.
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Old 17-07-2018, 23:55   #11
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

G'Day seasic,

Well, that's a bummer all right, but really, not such a big deal. You have several ways to deal with the problem:

Hire a shipwright to do a classy repair, make the sole like new. Big $ in a boat that will not gain much in value from the work.

Learn to do a good job yourself... but you have no time, you say.

Put a simple patch over the area and defer the proper repair till later. A bit of PVC or FRP sheet and a couple of screws will keep stuff from falling into the abyss.

Roll the carpet back and learn to live with it.

When you say "spongy", we don't really know what you are describing. If the whole sole is spongy, it likely means the plywood that it is based upon has started peeling apart,and that is indeed a big job to repair. But if it is only in the area around the hole, perhaps a small bit scarfed in will cure the ailment. And possibly, it may be due to one of the floors under the sole being compromised or missing entirely, and renewing that isn't finish work and can be done by a beginner.

One wonders what that hole was for! At any rate, for a first timer boat, flaws like this are not the end of the world. I can't see how it is a big safety issue... more cosmetic, and it will soon fade into complacency as you begin to enjoy sailing the boat.

Hang in there, don't obsess about the hole, the sole or the **sole who didn't find it in the survey. Go sailing!

Jim
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Old 18-07-2018, 00:14   #12
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Screw some ply underneath the spongy area to support it.
Flood the whole area with epoxy to stop further water damage
Go sailing.

Worry about a proper fix in a few years when you know what you really want from the boat and have some idea about how you are going to refit this one to suit your actual use pattern.

Surveyor is really just there for the insurance company - to stop you insuring a $2k wreck for $20k then sinking it. Given they don't tell you anything meaningful about the rig or the engine, pretty much all is left is to tell you whether the hull floats. And I'd hope you could work that out for yourself.
I'd expect a surveyor to have noted a hole like that in his report - but I wouldn't expect one to do anything about it if they missed it. A good surveyor may feel a little guilty about it for a couple of minutes. Maybe.

It won't stop you sailing, and a semi permanent repair with the carpet back over it will hold it for longer than most people own boats for. Bodge it up and go enjoy your boat.

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(A wise man once told me that you should always buy motorbikes and boats that already have a ding in them somewhere. Cause you are sure as hell going to add more, and it doesn't hurt as much when it's not the first one)
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Old 18-07-2018, 12:08   #13
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Seasic:

Welcome to the harsh world of yotting :-)!

But take heart – what you are faced with is absolutely minor, the sort of thing experienced sailors shrug off while carrying on to important things. Others have already expressed opinions about the deportment of brokers and surveyors as well as about the actual “deficiencies” of your boat. So let's leave the “downers” at that :-)

Here is the good stuff: The Hunter 34 is a good boat (for its size) for a novice, which you seem to be. In light airs, say up to 10 or 12 knots of wind, it'll give you pleasure because the design is so markedly a racing design rather than a cruising design. She's meant to move in light airs. She was designed essentially to compete in Pacific Handicap Racing Formula races. For the most part these races were “around the cans on Wednesday night after work” club races. Tho' there are more serious races as well. Your boat is just fine for local sailing and gentle coastwise cruising, which is all that you, until you are no longer a novice, should undertake. So you chose the right kinda boat :-)

But here is some stuff to think about. I offer it to you not to turn you off the boat, but rather in the hope that it will prepare you for some of the realities of the Hunters that are not normally immediately obvious to novices, and that, knowing this, you may be able to get maximum pleasure from the boat. For serious long time cruising she's neither fish nor fowl. She is NOT a serious cruising design despite being a “tri-cabin” job. She is simply too small to be so drastically sub-divided. To try to conceal that reality from the novices, which was the market to which she was originally pitched, she was given a hull shape (“lines”) that once the wind get to 15 knots and upwards will make her a handful for a novice. Best to go home when the wind approaches 20 knots. In her “as delivered” configuration she carries, by cruising standards, MUCH too much sail, and that too high up at that! To keep her tractable between 15 and 20 knots of wind you'll need a much smaller headsail than the 150% genny that is standard, and you'll need to reef the main to the second reef. If you over-press her, she will pull her rudder out of the water and you'll be in for a nasty and quite terrifying broach. I have personal knowledge of two people drowning as a direct result of such a broach that they didn't know how to handle. You CAN do serious cruising in a Hunter 34, but you need to come to terms with the traits of the boat. It is not as simple as driving a pick-up truck. Or even a five tonner :-)

You also need to come to terms with the fact that these boats were “built down to a price” and that, in consequence, a lot of “beefing up” and “upgrading” might be required. But again, since you are a novice, this is not required at the present time. Cosmetics, yes, since that is a matter of taste rather than safety. Structural modifications, no – probably not.

What you see on you cabin floor is strictly cosmetic. Fix it if you feel compelled, or simply leave the carpet there, at least for now. The “teak and holly” surface you see is fake. It is a plastic applique. Pricey by the square foot, but you don't need much. Underneath – the “substrate” - will be 3/4“ marine plywood which you local lumber yard will get in for you. It wouldn't be a stock item, but it's easily available. The stickum for the applique is extra strength contact cement also available at lumber yards. Time estimate for an amatoor with no experience in such matters: 3 hours. Tools required: Electric jigsaw and electric drill. With blades and bits, of course :-).

You say the floor (the “sole” to sailors) is spongey. There is a hatch immediately adjacent to the area of concern. That implies that there is structure below the edges of the hatch. If you lift that hatch and send us a picture of the structure underneath, we can give you pointers on how to replace the holed, and possibly spongey part of the sole.

So be happy that you have a boat that will give a novice an excellent introduction to sailing – which is merely one aspect of cruising. Roll up your sleeves and start learning to be a cruising man. Which means having not only the skills of the sailorman, but also those of the shipwright :-)!

All the best

TrentePIeds
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Old 18-07-2018, 15:38   #14
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Thats terrible Seasic that you got burnt by a dodgy surveyor. Not all of us are shonky it just takes some asking around to find the best one.
Surveyors and brokers often work together mainly becuase in some areas its just a small market. One of the brokers I work with does not even recommend me if the boat is questionable. He employs the semi blind surveyor who has no idea but will pass the boat! Sad but true and it always amazes me how many people leave all the decisions up to the broker.
Lucky it is not a major issue that he missed.
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Old 18-07-2018, 15:58   #15
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Re: Did Surveyor make mistake or just bad luck?

Send the surveyor a certified letter notifying him that you intend to submit a claim against his E&O liability insurance. Then do so. At a minimum, you should stand a good chance of being reimbursed for the survey cost and potentially for the damage he should have easily found had he done a through job.

All surveyors have Errors and Onissions coverage which applies regardless of the standard disclaimer clause they like to include in their reports.

It would also be of benefit to identify the surveyor and broker here so others might be forewarned.
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