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Old 08-05-2008, 17:23   #1
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Should I get a survey? Fresh water 1996 Hunter 280

I guess I know what the answer is after reading 1,000,023 times in the forums to get a survey on a rubber duck if your thinking of buying it. Just looking for everyone to beat it into my thick scull. First time buying a boat.

Boat is/was in the water first time I saw it. Price ~ 30k asking. Seems very clean.

Survey from recommended source is $18/ft ($504) plus $200 travel (257 mi/5 hours distance from surveyor location to boat).

Yikes, just computing that I don't think the travel expense is really that bad. $.40/mile or $20/hour for driving. Anyways...

I've read/have the two books recommended (Don Casey Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and Henry Mustin Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats) books, am fairly mechanical compared to most people I've met in general.

Per owner stuffing box needs to be tightened again, I was thinking of requesting stuffing be replaced at time of haul for survey. I guess can haul the boat, survey it myself best I can, and have the stuffing replaced at the same time. Or haul, professional survey/stuffing replacement.

My quandary is the boat is so cookie cutter/new enough in boat years maybe I could save the money on a survey.

Purchase is a very large one in my financial world.

Would you get a survey?

PS please feel free to talk me out of a Hunter too! I've read the 1,000,024 post bashing them too!!!!

Thanks!
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Old 08-05-2008, 17:41   #2
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Get the survey. Be there for it as well. It will be worth it just for the knowledge that you will learn about the boat. The surveyor will tell you what stuff to check, and what to look for, etc.
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Old 08-05-2008, 18:13   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marty9876 View Post
I've read/have the two books recommended (Don Casey Inspecting the Aging Sailboat and Henry Mustin Surveying Fiberglass Sailboats) books, am fairly mechanical compared to most people I've met in general.

My quandary is the boat is so cookie cutter/new enough in boat years maybe I could save the money on a survey.

Purchase is a very large one in my financial world.

Would you get a survey?

PS please feel free to talk me out of a Hunter too!
I presume your plans are for costal cruising. A Hunter is fine overall. But some boats are better than others which is why you want the surveyor. So, make that 1,000,025.

Think of a survey as increasing the odds you get a good or decent boat. You rule out the ones that are too much or are in obviously bad shape, the surveyor carries it from there using a lot of experience and exposure.

As for cutting out that expense (and experience) by substituting a book. Good on you for having read it as it puts you a bit ahead of the game. But I know of people who used to do painting using the paint by numbers kits when I was a kid. Some even got pretty good. And it helped in their appreciation of art (or so they said). But none of them could do it themselves. This could easily end up being penny wise but pound foolish.

On the other hand, you could augment that knowledge by being present with the surveyor at the time of survey. And for some surveyors it's mandatory. That will place you one step further along the way to knowing the boat, so make sure you do so. Even if you don't get the boat the survey is worth the knowledge.

As a side note, remember you will have maintenance and possible deferred maintenance to do. If the boat price really is a stretch, you might want to reconsider.
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Old 08-05-2008, 18:29   #4
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Marty,
Are you the kind of person who can live with a potentially bad decision? If you inspected the boat and were ok with the condition and bought it. Only to find something large. let's say a soft deck 2 months later.
how would you handle this? if you'd say. No big deal, I can fix it. Then skip the survey. If your answer would be why did I buy this junk, then get a survey.
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Old 08-05-2008, 18:31   #5
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Usage is a fresh water lake and a mild one at that (not Lake Superior etc.)

I am planning on being present for a survey no matter what, period. I'm the guy who climbs up on the roof for a home inspection/crawls under the car at the dealers lots etc.

Very interesting about using the survey as a time to learn a great deal about the boat in question (what to watch for etc.) and boats in general. I had not thought of that side benefit which is important to me also.
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Old 08-05-2008, 18:33   #6
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Originally Posted by never monday View Post
If your answer would be why did I buy this...
I thought that was part of boat ownership in general some days?
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Old 08-05-2008, 18:43   #7
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100% Get a survey!!

So many reasons to, I will only list one..........

You will for evermore kick yourself if a major problem crops up and you think a surveyor would have spotted it. (Not a Guarantee he will of course - so put some effort into finding a Surveyor with good references / reputation).

Yer will be in a better position to consider saving the Survey costs on the next boat!
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Old 08-05-2008, 19:13   #8
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No brainer! Get the survey!
If you are planning on mainly relatively gentle lake sailing the Hunter will be fine - that's what they were built for in the first place.
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Old 08-05-2008, 20:26   #9
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I have saved money with a surveyor. they found problems that I didn't know about and I bargained them off the price. I have also not used a surveyor. I read Casy's book and while doing the survey myself cancelled the surveyor. I knew it wasn't worth going thru. So do your own survey with the help of Casey's book and then hire the serveyor that has a rep for killing deals. That's my two cents worth.
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Old 08-05-2008, 20:58   #10
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Do you have any technically inclined friends?

I got a survey because I did not trust myself to make a rational purchase decision.

I found that the broker would not assist me to stay on the boat long enough to check it properly.

In retrospect the surveyor was not a great deal of help, save that he empasised that steel boats rust from the inside (very good advice).

The cost of a survey and associated slipping is not cheap.

So if you have some cool headed, technically inclined friends get them to look at the boat with you.

There are check lists available online or you could probably make up your own.

If you have doubts then I suggest looking at some of the many Hunter 280 or similar boats that are available. The Catalinas have a good reputation, though they are a little more expensive. In this context a boat in poor condition will tell you more than the very nice looking ones.

I saw one that was advertised as having a "Magic Tilt tandem axel trailer". Depending on your situation this could be a desirable option.

Have you considered buying an older boat in sound condition? The older Catalina 27's look to go for less than $10k and a good one might be found with some effort.

Surveys are a form of insurance. Can you afford to accept the risk yourself?
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Old 08-05-2008, 21:00   #11
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I was looking at a DeFever trawler in Fl. When I got to the boat the surveyor was standing on the dock leaning up against the boat. As I approached, he said "I can continue the survey if you want, but I can save you some money and stop right now." He had been there about 15 minutes and found that the stringers were rotting out from inside the fiberglass. Now, I am sure I would have found that. But it would have been embarrassing if I hadn't. The owner had to pay someone to dispose of the boat. It was less than worthless.

Sad part is, months before during a hurricane it had taken on water in the engine room. The insurance company gave him $30,000. He spent it rebuilding the Lehmans, replacing the genset, A/C, everything in the engine room all brand new. When I looked at the engine room, I was blown away by how professional it looked, with wire handlers up at deck level, all labeled. The people performing this work had to remove the engines, so it's amazing they didn't notice the stringers where the engine mount bolts went through them. I mean, they sounded like hollow boxes. But, maybe they just didn't figure it was their job to tell him, since they'd loose a $30,000 job.

So, verdict? I'd get a survey on a rubber duck.

As far as that goes, in another thread I told how I negotiated a $10,000 reduction on my current boat based on hiring a separate engine surveyor. On my first boat (1966) since it was gas Chrysler 360s (I've rebuilt a few 60's Mopars), I didn't get an engine survey. But when it came to 3208s, I figured I'd get in an expert.

So, verdict? Unless the replacement cost of an engine isn't a big deal to you, I'd get a separate engine survey, as well.

More comments:

(Edit: I just noticed someone already mentioned the educational value. But here it is again.)

Getting a survey isn't just about insuring the boat is in good shape. Every time I go through a survey process, I get a wealth of information. Even on the boats I didn't buy. It's just a good education. Make sure you're there when it happens. They'll tell you a lot that doesn't go in the survey. The survey is used for insurance purposes (and loans) so they normally write them for that audience. (When you ask for a survey, let them know who the audience is, If you're not getting a loan and will only use the printed report for insurance, tell them that. But don't insult them by telling them to slant it any particular way.

Anyway, back to the education part, they have told me things like "I'm not going to put this in, but if I were you, I'd fix ____" or, "I'm putting this down, but if you get the boat, what you should really do is _____." Or, "On this model boat, you want to keep an eye out for _____." Or like my engine surveyor pointed out, based on some of the seals, he surmised (but didn't write in the survey, because he couldn't know absolutely) that the port engine had been rebuilt, probably not too long before the previous owner bought the boat. He put in the survey that the starboard engine's cylinder temp readings were off and a rebuild might be in the not too distant future. But on the side, he said probably it was just the fuel timing. But since the engine survey wouldn't be used for the loan or insurance, he was writing the survey on the pessimistic side.

Sorry, I got long-winded. I'll shut up, now.

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Old 08-05-2008, 21:45   #12
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Hi Marty,

If the purchase is a large one for you, I might consider a boat 10 or so years older for half the money. The Hunter you're looking at is already 12 years old. This is (probably) already old enough that maintenance rather than newness is the biggest factor determining condition.

Remember, boats have a sharp depreciation curve that is all out of proportion to what they can do as they age.

Of course, you may simply just love that particular model. In that case, you're stuck and you know what you have to do.
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Old 09-05-2008, 08:13   #13
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Thanks for the posts, I'm 99% sure I'll get a survey.

I'm thinking this boat has had *most* of it's depreciation up to now, hoping I guess. Problem I have with some of the smaller older boats if I just don't fit in the buggers. 6'0 and a few extra ounces I guess (ounces=pounds and few=many )

I'll try and keep the mindset the more through I am with my survey I might "save" the money on a real survey by ruling out this boat. If I just have to get a professional survey, and it's good, then I guess I'd be stuck buying the boat!
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Old 09-05-2008, 09:54   #14
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I guess the way I would look at it (beyond all the "YES, get the survey stoopid!" answers you've gotten thus far) is this:

The boat is $30,000 - if you really like it and can't find or don't want to take the time to find something comparable. Would you walk away from the deal if it was $31,000 (IOW including the survey and haul out cost)?

Put another way, for just over 2% of the purchase price you get some piece of mind, plus perhaps some good advice on what to watch for in the future, whether to change the stuffing before re-launch, etc.
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Old 09-05-2008, 14:05   #15
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You might find one that will work on an hourly rate and then clip his wings that way.

I did a version of that for buying this boat. The surveyor did the survey and gave me a verbal report. I didnt require a written report (needed for insurance) so saved $200.

Also if you explain the situation you might be able to get the surveyor to do a quick walk through of stuff that isnt relevant. Some waste time counting fenders, mooring lines and checking the accommodation where you want to know if its been on the rocks, the mast is about to fall over or the engine is about to explode. They can do that in half the time of a normal survey.

Can't you find one closer? Do you live in the middle of the desert?

Spending $700 for a $30k purchase means you are already committed (to the boat and an asylum!).

Have you owned a boat before? Do you know some old fart who has been sailing all his life and is a stickler for detail from coiling his dock lines to polishing his engine? That sort of person can do it too. A 'surveyor' is not some magic professional, just someone who knows and isnt caught up in the sales hype.

Maybe get on a hunter forum and see if theres an owner close by that knows them. Local knowledge of a brand may be the thing you really need!

All the best.



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