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Old 14-03-2012, 07:52   #1
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Low Cost Boat Worth a Survey ?

So I will start seriously looking at boats in may - sept. Im planning to be living aboard by october. Iv'e been doing a lot of browsing online at sailboats in the area, but haven't check any out in person yet. I'm thinking about something between 26-30 foot for my first liveaboard. From what I've seen i can find something reasonable in my area for around $5-8k. Would this be something that definitely needs to get surveyed before purchase? Or, would a survey be a waste on such a low cost boat? Also, should I be looking for boats in dry storage, or boats on a slip and have them hauled if need be for a survey?
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Old 14-03-2012, 07:59   #2
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

It depends on how handy you are, and how familiar you are with what you're looking at. When we bought ours I gave it a through inspection myself, made note or the problems and made an offer accordingly. That being said, I already knew what I was getting into as far as complete standing rigging replacement, complete 100% rewire, etc......
If you are not familiar with what you're looking at a survey will keep you from buying the $5k disaster and steer you towards the $5k bare-bones older boat in factory condition.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:07   #3
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

You're probably going to have to have a insurance survey, even if you're only going to buy liability insurance, if the boat has no fairly recent survey. Most marinas require liability insurance, these days.

At that point, you'll have to decide whether to go for a full out-of-the-water survey or just live with the results of an insurance survey. You'll have to gauge whether the added expense is worth it to you & your peace of mind or not.

I have bought boats both with & without a survey over the years & felt comfortable with the decision. When the time comes, do what seems right to you, at the time.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:10   #4
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

If you self survey, be sure to look up the known issues with a particular model you intend to check out.

Also research how to detect flaws in things like standing rigging and other items.

If you're mechanically inclined and do this research it will help negate the need for a professional survey to a large extent.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:16   #5
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

Get the survey.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:24   #6
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

In S. Calif, if the boat is over 10 years old, many marinas also require a current survey.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:32   #7
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

in reference to a current survey. What is considered current, and what kind of paperwork is provided with that as proof?
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:34   #8
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

Lets set the legal and insurance requirements aside for one sec.

Even if someone was going to GIVE YOU A BOAT FOR FREE, it would be smart to survey it. The thing is that boats are very much a responsibility and a burden as much as they are a joy and home. You must account for when taking a boat in, that you must have a place to store it, you must maintain it, and you may have to sell it or get rid of it one day.

All three of those things can cost lots of time and money. So even if you were being given a boat for free, it could become a money pit. You want to make sure that your time and the cost of your maintenance through the lifetime the boat is with you is WORTH IT for you. If you take on a boat and 3 months in a thru hull pops due to poor maintenance or setup, and the boat sinks on its mooring, that is going to be expensive!

Furthermore, you'll want to find a surveyor that you can really trust and go with him over the boat. Ask questions, and nit pick through everything. This isn't like buying a trinket to set on a shelf in a house. This is like bringing home a puppy.

Do it right.
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Old 14-03-2012, 08:40   #9
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

On a 30 ft. boat, if you are reasonably handy and well informed about boats, you can do a very good self survey, with this book as a guide:

Amazon.com: Inspecting the Aging Sailboat (The International Marine Sailboat Library) (0639785803447): Don Casey: Books

Once you complete that self survey you will be better able to decide a) whether to pursue that boat and b) whether a professional survey is in order.

One problem I have with professional surveys is they don't usually cover the thing most boat buyers need the most help with, and that is whether the inboard engine is any good or not. To get a reading on that, you will probably want to hire a mechanic who is well acquainted with the particular engine. If it's a diesel, at a minimum that will involve running the engine and doing a compression test.

If you do go for a professional survey, you should have a list of specific issues that you want checked out (from your self-inspection) and you should only hire a surveyor who has strong references. Unfortunately, there are some surveyors who are either incompetent or unable to do a thorough survey that tells the boat buyer what the problems are.

Finally, if you are serious about owning a sailboat, get a copy of this book:

Amazon.com: Inspecting the Aging Sailboat (The International Marine Sailboat Library) (0639785803447): Don Casey: Books

(note, this last book includes the previously referenced self-inspection book.)

edit: Another thing surveyors typically don't do is inspect the standing rigging, other than to look at it from deck level. In some cases they may not actually operate any of the boat's equipment either.

If you hire a surveyor, my advice is to have them do a 2 part survey: part 1 with the boat out of the water, and part 2, a sea trial. That way, the surveyor can do a thorough inspection of the hull, rudder, deck and interior in part 1 and check out everything else, including the engine, instruments, autopilot, sails, furlers/drive train and rig (at least partially).
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Old 14-03-2012, 09:37   #10
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

Speedo,

I appreciate your reply. Thank you for the reference to the book. I am getting a copy off ebay as I type. I'm an aircraft mechanic and very comfortable with inspections and many of the substrates used in the construction of boats. I will however admit my lack of experience as this will be my first boat. From the replies I've received I think whether i get a survey or not will be determined by how comfortable I am with the boat and its condition. Thanks
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Old 14-03-2012, 09:56   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDRichlen
Speedo,

I appreciate your reply. Thank you for the reference to the book. I am getting a copy off ebay as I type. I'm an aircraft mechanic and very comfortable with inspections and many of the substrates used in the construction of boats. I will however admit my lack of experience as this will be my first boat. From the replies I've received I think whether i get a survey or not will be determined by how comfortable I am with the boat and its condition. Thanks
I am also a 30 year aviation mech. I surveyed my 26 foot $10k boat myself. It is not rocket science for the mechanically inclined. Do a google search on your boat type to browse forums and read up on problems specific to the type. Sort of like doing an A.D. search.

I have a survey checklist I used. It pointed out a lot of areas to look at and was generic but quite thorough. PM me with an email address and I will send it. Nice to have as a discussion doc if you engage a surveyor.

Also there is a dimension of how much money is $5k to you. Worst case is you get an absolute lemon of a boat. Not likely if you are careful. A boat survey is a piece of cake if you are experienced doing annual inspections on aircraft.

Not sure about who specifically needs to sign off a survey for insurance purposes. Sounds like insurance company bs. Also marinas requiring surveys? There is more floating juk in most marinas than you can shake a stick at... Probably all true. God I'm glad I live overseas...
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Old 14-03-2012, 09:57   #12
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

I usually get a survey, but didn't on my last boat purchase; because....
1. I was prepared to sink money into it.
2. I was prepared to sell it at a loss if I was unable to repair it.
3. The offer I gave the seller reflected both obvious issues, and my best guestimate of issues that were likely, or possible to show up.
4. The seller was willing to give me a substantial price break to sell it "as is".
5. Even though I have so far spent double the purchase price of the boat repairing it, and expect to triple that...I still have a sailable boat for less than what I expected to pay.

...So far I am still on schedule to have it repaired and on the water by summer.
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Old 14-03-2012, 10:07   #13
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

It's a tough one. I've bought a couple without survey. I'm pretty good at inspecting myself though. For that boat you likely will not need an insurance survey. At least I didnt just getting coastal insurance from my auto insurance company. If you really think a surveyor will find stuff you already dont know about, then It might be worth it. They dont find everything though. (they have missed holes in fuel tanks on two boats I've boat, but ... how would they know?) You can pretty much figure the boat will have wet deck core somewhere, a surveyor can maybe tell you how extensive though. Surveyors are not good at engines, that would be done by an engine surveyor. Bolt on keel? Unless it's been rebedded you can figure the surveyor will say you need to anway....
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Old 14-03-2012, 10:09   #14
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrymc View Post
You're probably going to have to have a insurance survey, even if you're only going to buy liability insurance, if the boat has no fairly recent survey. Most marinas require liability insurance, these days.
I have not needed any survey for liability......just doesn't make sense as they're not insuring the vessel at all.
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Old 14-03-2012, 10:14   #15
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Re: Low cost boat worth a survey?

Like ex-calif said, it's not rocket science.

Self survey;
Check for leaks, (or stains that might be a leak)
Look for cracking or discoloration around deck hardware.
look for rust, dark, discolored or cracked spots on rigging. If it looks new it probably is, if it looks old it probably needs replaced.
walk around deck if it has a spot that deflects under your weight, you probably have water intrusion, leak, rotten core....
check hull same way, tap it, if it sounds different is may have been repaired, delaminated, blister,...
Look for wavy patterns in paint, surface/gel coat may be a repaired spot.
Check zincs, if one is more ate up than others check that part of boat very carefully.
If they are all brand new seller is hiding something, (or just trying to give you new zincs).
Look for blisters.
Try everything on the boat to see if it works, if a lot of electrical is not functional or corroded it obviously is not used much. (I wouldn't take a boat out without making sure no burned out bulbs in nav lights).
Look at the mast, boom, pulleys, sheets, sails, sail covers, furling, reefing, etc...That should give you a good idea of how well boat is used, and maintained.
Check all thruhulls, and hoses.
Unless you are one, or plan on repowering anyway, have a mechanic check the engine. (you can check the oil, belts pulleys, look under oil pan; I had one rust out once (big pain)).

I'm sure a professional surveyer can give a much more comprehensive list, but for a rank amateur that should be a good start. If you are getting the boat at the "right price", only you know how comfortable you are with the repairs and the time and cost to get the boat to your satisfaction.

As pointed out before the boat I HAD professionally surveyed, he missed several things that came back to bite me.
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