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Old 21-11-2008, 07:42   #1
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Steel boat inspection

Dear all,

I am going to take a look at a nice 90s 46" steel boat in the near future. Apparently an independent survey has already been conducted a couple of years ago. It was then valued at 100K EUR and is now on offer for a considerably lower price.

I am not considering commissioning another valuation; rather, I am planning to inspect the vessel myself.

I would like to ask you for some hints on where to look / what for, whether to chip off paint, and where to look for hidden rusty spots.

Thanks for your time!

Max

PS: If you are ware of an older post related to this topic, please do not hesitate to point me to it.
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Old 21-11-2008, 09:44   #2
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Hi Max,

I owned and lived aboard an older 58' steel ketch for a couple of years. Not an expert but did pick up a few things. Regarding survey of the hull and looking for problems, you are more likely to have rust and corrosion issues on the inside rather than out. Look in the bilges around frames, bulkheads, under the head, etc, anywhere that water could be trapped or collect.

Also check around rudder posts, mast step, through hulls, anywhere there may be contact with other metals, very carefully around any wiring areas for breaks in insulation and stray currents. Also check grounding system carefully.

I am certain there is a lot more but these are the ones that I would start with.

Good luck. I like the idea of steel boats for strength and security. Previous owner of my boat hit a reef dead on under full sail and sailed away with a dent and a few scratches. Doubt many glass or wood boats would fare so well.

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Old 21-11-2008, 09:53   #3
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You will need to get the entire hull sonoguaged in multiple random places to determine what percentage of hull plate is left. Expect that to take most of the day. You will need a disk sander to get down to bright clean bare steel where the sonoguage will be touching the hull. This can all be done on the outside of your hull. Your insurance company, if they are a good insurance company, will require that an accredited marine surveyor do this. They will want to see the surveyors report.

Never buy any metal hull without first having the hull sonoguaged. Its for your own protection and safety.
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Old 21-11-2008, 10:15   #4
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In Sydney a few years ago now there was a great looking 53' steel yacht which kept changing hands - couldn't work out why cos it looked a treat on the land and passed surveys. Problem was that it only had bit of concrete ballast rather than steel - as soon as it found anything over 15 knts it would lie down and not come back up. Scary. Everyone in the industry knew the story but said nothing unless specifically asked. Sometimes a survey on land aint enough. Have a sail too.
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Old 21-11-2008, 10:27   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillbuilding View Post
In Sydney a few years ago now there was a great looking 53' steel yacht which kept changing hands - couldn't work out why cos it looked a treat on the land and passed surveys. Problem was that it only had bit of concrete ballast rather than steel - as soon as it found anything over 15 knts it would lie down and not come back up. Scary. Everyone in the industry knew the story but said nothing unless specifically asked. Sometimes a survey on land aint enough. Have a sail too.
You can also have an inclining test done. Generally it is not necessary for pleasure boats. There is a formula for getting a rough idea of metacentric height and that has to do with measuring a boats roll period...the slower the roll period, the less overall stability it has. All inspected passenger vessels in the US are required to have an inclining test. If your boat is a one of a kind odd duck, you might consider doing an inclining test yourself.
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Old 21-11-2008, 14:53   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idpnd View Post
I am not considering commissioning another valuation; rather, I am planning to inspect the vessel myself.

I would like to ask you for some hints on where to look / what for, whether to chip off paint, and where to look for hidden rusty spots.
I would suggest that if you need to ask questions of that nature of others then you should change tack and get someone who really knows what they are looking at, such as a surveyor experienced in small pleasure sail boats, to inspect the vessel for you.

There are a few very nicely designed and built steel sail boats around but there is a very big fleet of problematical ones and if you don't personally have the depth of knowledge and experience to separate the wheat from the chaff then your purchasing experience is liable to end up in tears.
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Old 21-11-2008, 16:50   #7
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If you dont check this out with a very fine toothed comb by somebody else that knows what they are doing, It will cost you more than you think. Been there and done that. If you cant see inside or under something consider it RUSTED.
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Old 21-11-2008, 17:03   #8
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Buying a steel boat without a sonoguage is nuts in my view, speaking as a steel boat owner.

Further, I question whether you can purchase hull insurance without a survey.

I would like to know lots about what kind of paint was applied, when, how, and by whom--especially inside the hull.

Steel boats run the full spectrum, from the very worst of boats to the very best. A little bit like Russian roulettte.
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Old 22-11-2008, 04:18   #9
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Thanks very much for the numerous responses - some very helpful information from experienced owners, just what I needed!

Quote:
..you are more likely to have rust and corrosion issues on the inside rather than out.
Thanks, I will certainly check the bilges / inside carefully, as per the famous "rusting from the inside to the outside" issue on steel boats.

Quote:
Problem was that it only had bit of concrete ballast rather than steel
I have actually spent the last couple of summers sailing on my parents' small yacht, which does not have a proper keel (there's some iron ballast at bilge-height). The lifting keel does not have any weight at all. This "feature" permits travel in the shallow waters of the Dutch coast at the cost of being an absolute pig to sail (as described above). So this is actually something I would look for due to my personal experience! The Dutch design in question is solid and tested however, and I should not think that this is an issue. Regarding the ballast, it says on the designer's web page:

"..lead ballast ingots in the keel are secured with detachable steel plates.."

Quote:
Never buy any metal hull without first having the hull sonogauged.
A few of you are adamant on this point - I accept it. I am now considering having the hull strength checked professionally. However, the vendor wrote to me:

"There is an independent survey from 2001. The hull was minimum 4-5 mm"

I think the boat has been on the hard since - do you think the survey should nonetheless be done again?

Thanks again for the useful advice and a good chat!

Max
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Old 22-11-2008, 05:07   #10
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Seven yrs is a decent time for any boat. You will not have been told about the grounding, submersion at the dock or other similar trifles so just do it. I have skipped a survey on a metal boat myself - missed a couple of critical points which cost several K extra, was caught by a problematic motor and underestimated the maintenance of some corrosion near the toe rail. Overall maybe 30K more than expected. Get it surveyed - might not find everything but will probably find something you would not or at least give more balanced judgement.
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Old 22-11-2008, 05:20   #11
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Certainly, you are the second steel owner on this thread who skipped the inspection with it ending in tears (the other is badsanta - thats actually the title of one of my favourite films). Good advice, well taken!

There is some visible rust on the hull and I would consider it a project anyway. Since I don't have much cash but a lot of time on my hands this would be the way to get my hands on my very own reasonably sized boat soonish.

As the boat has been on the market for quite some time now, I am considering putting in a rather low offer, hoping to get good value. Steel boats seem to be out of fashion and the market is probably in bad shape due to recession fears etc. Perhaps a low valuation as per a new survey would help there as well.
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Old 22-11-2008, 13:35   #12
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Risk v's Reward...

As one who brought a steel boat and found a few problems I would endorse most of the previous comments.

I might disagree with a blanket requirement to "sonoguage" the plating on a cheaper boat, unless it can be readily done for a realistic price. We don't require core samples from fibreglass boats for most purposes - this looks like the steel equivalent.

It sounds like you are considering that this boat might require a lot of work. That would be in line with my experience - more work than I ever imagined.
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Old 22-11-2008, 14:32   #13
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Regarding plating thickness checks my view is that if a pleasure boat looks run down enough to raise any suspicion as to plating thickness being compromised then walk away from the boat - it is as simple as that. Any experienced surveyor in steel, or other knowlegable person will be able to size that up in a couple of minutes just by a brief inspection.

If a pleasure boat has been so neglected you can be sure that the whole boat is a dog, the problems will go far deeper than first thought and will be an uneconomic proposition to put right, both in terms of your manhours and cost. It will only be worthwhile if there is some romantic attachment to the vessel such as it being the restoration of a classic and cost being of secondary concern

In saying the above I come from a background of employing a team of around 35 surveyors.

I would take Boracay's comments to heart regarding the work required in a project and myself recommend making up a comprehensive budget in both manhours and costs for the remedial work, with a good contingency allowance, before any commitment to purchase of the boat. As part of that I would also suggest that you write yourself a brief as to what you want to end up with in terms of the finished quality of the boat and the extent of the fitout and equipment that you have as an objective for the finished project ie a finished scope type document which sets out the bounds of outcome expectations in which you will manage the project.
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Old 23-11-2008, 15:16   #14
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Thanks.. Another contrary opinion regarding the survey as well, thanks boracay. I shall get a quote for a survey and see how that relates to the total cost. I have picked up somewhere that the seller usually pays for the survey in Europe; one can try at least.

Wow, input from an industry professional!

Overestimating my own engineering skills definetely a threat here. Nonetheless, I am really hoping to get away with a rather low offer here; the agent revealed in his e-mail that the last survey performed in 2001 (presumably to sell it?); the price is "negotiable" and

Quote:
Ship is almost 2-3 yaers ashore
A fair value bid below the asking price may be gratefully received in this case.
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Old 24-11-2008, 00:17   #15
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As the boat has been on the market for quite some time now, I am considering putting in a rather low offer, hoping to get good value.
You are buying a pandora box.
So you should offer VERY low. If you are not ashamed of your own offer, you are offering too much.
I go by this rule all the time....and I am shameless!
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