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Old 21-07-2010, 19:28   #1
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Buying a Boat with Extensive Blisters ?

So I am looking at a 1984 Ericson 38. So far I love it. Went to get the thing surveyed and its was evident there about 1 in. or so sized blisters covered the underside of the hull. Because of I lowered my offereing price but am looking for opinions as to weather or not you would purchase a boat with a blister problem.
  • How much might it cost to repair?
  • Could the blisters weaken the structural integrity of the hull itself?
  • Would you ever buy a boat with blisters?
Any thoughts from people with the same experience would be great. Or any thoughts from anyone with same kind of problem or dilema.

Thanks
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Old 21-07-2010, 19:39   #2
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Depends on what you're going to do with the boat and how long you're going to keep it. A proper peel and bottom job would be 8 - 12 thousand. You'll never get the money back out of it when you sell. On top of that it's difficult to sell a boat with blisters so if you get her cheap and just sail a few years and sell it you might have a hard time selling. Myself, I would keep on looking and give this one a pass.
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Old 21-07-2010, 19:42   #3
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Might be real blisters. Might be just a paint or fairing failure. An honest surveyor or yard can tell you for sure. You cut a few open and examine the depth.
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Old 21-07-2010, 19:55   #4
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Let your surveyor look at them. Our boat had LOTS of blisters at survey. Surveyor said they were cosmetic. Had them repaired at the next haulout/bottom job, about $1000 worth. We are ready for a new bottom, and there are now about 10. 2.5 years later... Good call on the surveyor's part.
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Old 21-07-2010, 22:26   #5
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I would not purchase a boat with blisters. I have seen so many blister disasters around the world, and I don't know how to tell whether a repair will be successful. I know of boats that have been drying out for more than a year, and the hull is still wet after peeling the hull, and it's one year later.

I also have friends who grind out 10 or 15 blisters every year when they haul out of the water. It hasn't been a structural problem for them, and they will never sell their boat. They will live on it until they die.

Most of us won't keep our boat until we die. That means we have to sell it or donate it to charity. Most people will treat your boat like it has leprosy when they see blisters, and it will be difficult to sell unless you lower the price and lose a pile of money.

The challenges of owning a yacht are big enough without compounding the problems with blisters. At least that's the way it works for me.
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Old 21-07-2010, 22:37   #6
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Can't diagnose blisters via the internet. This boat had 384 blisters on survey. All proved cosmetic. All 1-2 cm size. All fixed for small cost. Surveyor figured the fairing compound was not up to the task. If they reappear every haulout I won't really care.
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Old 21-07-2010, 22:58   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daddle View Post
Can't diagnose blisters via the internet. This boat had 384 blisters on survey. All proved cosmetic. All 1-2 cm size. All fixed for small cost. Surveyor figured the fairing compound was not up to the task. If they reappear every haulout I won't really care.
Dittos. There's a big difference between cosmetic blisters and those that penetrate the mat.
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Old 22-07-2010, 07:18   #8
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Most blisters are cosmetic in nature. I have known many boaters that have blisters. They simply deal with them as a part of doing the boat's bottom. If the surveyor says that they are not structural, then it should be ok.

There are many people that have gotten great deals on blistered boats - the Valiants come to mind.

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Old 22-07-2010, 09:20   #9
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Yes, it's possible to get a great deal on a blistered boat. But there are also many cases where the buyer has regretted buying one.

The decision to buy one has to be made with the best information available, using a very reliable surveyor:

If the blisters are structural, walk away.

If the blisters are cosmetic, what is the worst case cost:

1) of repairing the blisters (frequently this will involve a peel)

2) of drying out the hull, including storage (this is potentially the largest component of the total cost)

3) of sealing the bottom and then applying bottom paint.

Do you still want the boat after adding this up and taking into account how long you will be unable to use the boat while this goes on (certainly several months, maybe as much as a year) and thinking about how many other attractive boats might become available during that time?

If you still want the boat, increase the total cost from above by at least 25%, add it to the asking price, and start negotiating. If the seller won't negotiate with you and give you an attractive price, walk away. You'll be out the cost of the survey, but you will have learned some very good information.

Also, do not buy the boat unless you will be able to closely supervise every aspect of the total repair. One of the few advantages of buying and repairing a blistered boat is knowing the repair job was done right.
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Old 22-07-2010, 10:31   #10
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One of the boats I own has a fair number of blisters. Both the surveyor and a boat yard said they were not a structural concern and most likely never would be. My conclusion therefore as to what to do about them is to do nothing.

As one post indicated, blisters may hurt you when it comes to resale. How much of a concern that is, will relate to how much it allows you to bargain when you buy the boat, how long you keep the boat and the market when you sell.
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Old 22-07-2010, 16:42   #11
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Cosmetic blisters: Grind 'em out, fill them, paint the bottom. Like I said, we had several hundred 2-1/2 years ago. We have 10 or less today, and we are about to put a new bottom on the boat. You don't have to peel the bottom, and you don't have to pay to put it in a shed and lay it up. JMHO here. There are MANY folks that will disagree with this.
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Old 22-07-2010, 16:48   #12
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This site has lots of information on blisters, you can also go to the home page for other topics
Hull Blisters on Boats and Yachts - by David Pascoe, Marine Surveyor
Good luck,
Steve
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Old 25-07-2010, 08:12   #13
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I bought a boat with a ton of very small blisters and spent about !4K redoing the bottom (peel. reglass, fair) which was, in retrospect, gross overkill. The blisters were clearly between the glass and gelcoat. Have not had a problem in the subsequent 16 years, but who would expect one. In all my years in boatyards, I have never seen any of the many cases of external blisters that pointed to structural damage. That is not to say there are not poor layups and laminations that lead to structural weakness, but external blisters as an indication of a reason not to buy a boat or indications of much deeper problems has been overblown IMHO. The boatyards have profited handsomely from the problem and the "fixes" are often more a problem than the original blisters--the blisters on my boat were caused by the PO having a "barrier coat" applied improperly. Get a good surveyor (preferably someone with firsthand boatbuilding experience and not one used by your local boatyard) for the WHOLE boat structure. Having smooth bottom assures you of nothing. Having visible blisters does not indicate much either.
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