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Old 01-01-2018, 06:52   #1
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Really bad boat survey

Hopefully, somebody out there will have advice that might help.

I bought a Beneteau 381 about 3 months ago. It had been in dry dock for 3 years and was dry when I first saw the boat. The boat is 17 years old but looks very nice both outside and almost unused on the inside. I'll bitch some here, but I still think I bought well.

First, I'm a new boat owner. While a few upgrades were being done (electric hear and windlass, inverter installed), I was taking ASA 101, 103, & 104. Now, I know just enough to be dangerous.

My question is about getting stuck fixing things that I believe anybody competent would have caught in a survey. I couldn't make it there for the survey and would have just been in the way at that point anyway. However, now I've spent some time on a boat and have learned about all the working components. Try out this list for things the surveyor did not find:

The boat lists about 2.5 degrees to starboard. He stated it sits flat in the water.

I have heat/AC. There is almost no airflow in the main vent and absolutely none in either cabin.

Also for the AC/heat unit. When I put the boat in the water and started walking through items one at a time, I turned on the heat. Some valve was not functioning (no idea what that is) and seawater started flooding the boat - fast. The yard manager found the issue and fixed it. Surveyor didn't find it?

The fresh water strainer was corroded beyond use.

A hinge on the aft cabin door was so corroded that is screamed as you closed the door and was almost breaking the wood holding it in place.

Several door latches don't work or are missing.

The engine has a slow sea water leak as it runs and I have to cycle the bilge pump to keep the boat dry.

The uptake ball valve for the bilge pump was corroded and locked in place.

The gas solenoid doesn't work.

The connector tube from the propane tank to the valve leaks badly.

The strainer cap for incoming water on the AC/heat drips water

Auto pilot isn't just not working, the display is dead

Auto pilot connection through the binnacle is broken with about 3/16" of wiggle room

The transom shower head is corroded and not functional

The VHF at the binnacle doesn't transmit

The pin that stops the stove from pivoting won't engage the hole to stop rocking

Forward cabin door doesn't close

The stereo doesn't work

Threads to the shore power connector cover cap are stripped and the cap won't stay on

And, I've forgotten a few more but that's enough.

My question to you guys is - if this normal? Most of these things I found in just a few hours of routine maintenance work getting ready to launch. Now I'm wondering if the guy spent less than 10 minutes on board and just wrote a lovely review for the money.

Any suggestions? And what might it cost to get the boat level or get the AC/heat ventilation right? This could be a lot of cash for things I should have been informed of before purchase.
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:11   #2
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pirate Re: Really bad boat survey

It may come as a shock but.. the things you've listed don't come under a surveyors normal remit..
Now if you'd given a list of things to check outside the normal rig, keel, rudder and hull integrity.. another thing about surveyors.. they will not remove anything for access.. that's for you to do, preparing the boat for survey including lifting floors for bilge access et al.. the better you prepare the better the survey.
Oh.. and the 'list' could be anything from water tank to fuel tank levels or how stuff is stored since you took ownership.
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:12   #3
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Re: Really bad boat survey

Welcome!

Confused. You did out-of-water, unpowered, no sea trial, non-functional, hull only survey before purchase, and now you're wondering if you have some recourse for items missed? Or are you just wondering what the missed items will cost to fix? If the latter, I recommend asking a professional technician to diagnose and estimate repairs. If I misunderstood and you're asking something else, please clarify.

Best of luck!
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:16   #4
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Re: Really bad boat survey

Part of any survey is to operate each piece of equipment on the boat. If any piece of equipment would not or could not be operated it should be noted.

There are a few things on the list you have that I might forgive the surveyor missing, but not that whole list. I assume the surveyor saw the boat while it was floating? If not... there is a lot on that list he could not have found and his survey document should exempt those things from evaluation.

And some things, (squeaking hinges?) most surveyors would have dismissed as de minimis.

How did you pick the surveyor? Did a broker recommend him? If so get the broker involved. Is the surveyor accredited with one of the major organizations? You would have some leverage there.

If you scream loudly enough you might get the cost of the survey back. Anything past that would require a lawsuit...
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Old 01-01-2018, 07:20   #5
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Re: Really bad boat survey

I'll start with the level thing. It's almost surely from weight distribution inside the boat. I'd bet that there's a lot of gear on one side. This happens a lot with boats with an aft cabin on one side, and a laz on the other. See if you can move some stuff around.

Regarding the survey, it sounds like it was done by a guy who wasn't very thorough, but some of it is outside what a surveyor often does, like door latches. If the boat was surveyed on the hard, he wouldn't have started the engine.

I'm not excusing the surveyor, but they sort of provide a snapshot into the structural integrity of the boat, and her safety gear, and mechanical systems. Not all of them will power up all electronics, see if every faucet works, check door latches, or any number of things that have no bearing on the actual seaworthiness of the boat.

I think that the bottom line here is that you really don't have any recourse, other than to review the guy poorly.

And, anyway, none of this sounds too major to me. Welcome to boat ownership!! This kind of stuff never stops. Ever. If you get lucky, you'll avoid major expenses most of the time, and just wind up replacing fixtures and bits. Of the things you listed, the heater and the pilot might be costly, but most of it is pretty low-dollar stuff. Part of the deal with a new purchase, I'd say.
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:08   #6
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Re: Really bad boat survey

Welcome Flipz1 in the Cruisers sailing forum,
Based on what you said, your Surveyor is really incompetent and should have seen seized seacock, inoperative VHF and other obvious safety issues in a pre- purchase survey. Unless you forget to mention something you agreed about the purpose of the survey, the name of this surveyor and his location should be mention to make sure no one else will live the same experience.
With the advent of the social media’s on the internet, the reputation is a more powerful weapon than the best lawsuit.
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:30   #7
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Re: Really bad boat survey

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Originally Posted by Northbound44 View Post
Welcome Flipz1 in the Cruisers sailing forum,
Based on what you said, your Surveyor is really incompetent and should have seen seized seacock, inoperative VHF and other obvious safety issues in a pre- purchase survey. Unless you forget to mention something you agreed about the purpose of the survey, the name of this surveyor and his location should be mention to make sure no one else will live the same experience.
With the advent of the social media’s on the internet, the reputation is a more powerful weapon than the best lawsuit.


Yeah but that can quickly land the customer on the wrong end of a libel suit... as unfair as that might sound.

I think not being there was a bad idea.. it probably worked as an incentive for a bad apple to not spend a lot of time on the boat and not being thorough.
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:47   #8
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Re: Really bad boat survey

I don't wanna get into surveyor bashing, lots of info on the forums about that, but in my experience having two surveys done on separate boats in different parts of the country by sams qualified surveyors, I find them useful only for insurance requirements. In both cases I had to point out some of the major flaws with the perspective boats. One surveyor couldn't/didn't recognize the signs of a failed/rotten compression block on a 1988 Catalina 30. An extremely common occurrence on those boats, anyone with any knowledge of boats should look for that. He also didn't recognize that the lug bolts holding the motor mounts to the stringers were stripped and that the engine was sliding around, clearly visible marks on the stringers. That was my first boat purchase and by having done my research on Catalina 30's I knew more of what to look for than my surveyor who was highly regarded in the region.
From my perspective, learn everything you can about your boat and learn how to maintain it. Don't rely on someone else to find the problems for you.
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Old 01-01-2018, 08:59   #9
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Re: Really bad boat survey

No. The boat was re-floated and a sea trial was done. The surveyor and the guy acting as broker were both on the boat. They said they tested the diesel, sails, all electronics, heat/AC, etc. and I was told the boat was in the water for 3 days.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:03   #10
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Re: Really bad boat survey

The hinge thing is that the hinge was so corroded that it was 95% frozen in place. If you tried to close the door it made a loud screech and the door took an immense amount of force to move as the wood strained under the stress.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:12   #11
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Re: Really bad boat survey

Agreed. However, there is almost nothing in the starboard laz so I'm guessing the listing has existed for 17 years and nobody bothered to balance it. Auto pilot problem might be minor and the guy from the boat yard emailed me and said he was certain it was probably a loose wire someplace. Most everything else I can fix myself.

I'm just amazed that I keep finding obvious stuff that the "inspection" didn't find.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:12   #12
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Re: Really bad boat survey

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spindrift NH View Post
>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>>>>
That was my first boat purchase and by having done my research on Catalina 30's I knew more of what to look for than my surveyor who was highly regarded in the region.
From my perspective, learn everything you can about your boat and learn how to maintain it. Don't rely on someone else to find the problems for you.
Sparkling analysis.

While not our first boat, the one we've had for now almost20 years was our first inboard powered boat.

I, too, did my homework, and whatever the cost to me I took off work for two boats I had surveyed in the entire year it took us looking. On both boats it took two trips away from work, the second being the sea trial.

If you had asked "What should I look for in a survey?" we would have told you three things:

1. Get your own surveyor.
2. Research the surveyor and his list of tasks.
3. BE THERE.

So many folks on boating forums don't ask first, then, uhm, complain. And many buy as their first boat a large one - a 38 foot boat is a BIG "investment" - and then don't show up. "I couldn't make it there for the survey and would have just been in the way at that point anyway." Half of the stuff you complained about YOU found. No, you would NOT have just been in the way. Sorry, here you are incorrect.

You don't have to be a nautical architect to find much of what you did find. The boat would have had to be in the water and operating to find many of the rest of the items.

Chalk it up to experience and for not asking first.

Good luck, enjoy your new boat.
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:13   #13
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Re: Really bad boat survey

sounds like the OP got a 'standard" survey
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:16   #14
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Really bad boat survey

Surveyors are like any other profession, there are good ones, and bad ones.
When I had my Boat surveyed, I looked for and found a specialist, he actually ran the production floor at the factory when this boat was built.
I was there for the survey, I did the engine and mechanicals portion myself. As far as not taking it apart, well my Surveyor took everything apart, really tore into it, and with me being there, I learned a lot.
Now I have a decent idea of what to continue to be on guard for, where the weak links are etc.
Now that you have the Boat, it may well be worth the money to hire another survey and be there when it’s done, and ask questions. A lot of the money in a Survey is the writing of the report, if there is no written report a survey can be much less expensive.

If your going to cruise, your going to have to learn how to fix things yourself, may as well start now. Even if you have unlimited funds finding someone who is available and knows what they are doing is tough.
Most of the work I see done by Professionals is substandard, there are of course true Professionals out there, but if your constantly on the move, how do you find them?
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Old 01-01-2018, 09:37   #15
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Re: Really bad boat survey

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Originally Posted by Flipz1 View Post
Agreed. However, there is almost nothing in the starboard laz so I'm guessing the listing has existed for 17 years and nobody bothered to balance it.

I'm just amazed that I keep finding obvious stuff that the "inspection" didn't find.
Many Beneteau models have a list. Usually to the side the galley is. It doesn't take much in these fairly light displacement boats to create a list. Rather than "correcting" the list by adding lead (as some have done) it's more pragmatic in a cruising boat to store heavy stuff to correct the list. I keep all my tools on the starboard side, also extra jugs on deck, and my dink is hoisted with the outboard on the starboard side.

If you knew the boat had a list would that have scuppered the deal? And have you had a chat with the surveyor yet?
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