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Old 27-10-2020, 03:46   #1
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Survey or not to survey

For those of us who are British citizens the whole Brexit debacle is becoming a real pain in the a**e especially around the issue of VAT. I will be shortly retiring and am fortunate enough to be able to afford a new boat which I was planning to purchase in the UK and then sail to the Med. With the potential of a double VAT whammy, which I wont go into, I am now thinking of buying a nearly new boat already in the Med and have found a used vessel which is perfect for my requirements and looks like a good buy with all the benefits of being in the Med when we exit.

Also a big plus is someone has already gone through all the commissioning issues and niggles you read so much about on these forums and from friends personal experiences when buying new.

My question is to survey or not to survey? Given the boat in question is only a few years old (2017), seems to have been very well cared for, lightly used (very low engine hours) and spends the winter on the hard under cover, would you bother with a survey?

Appreciate your thoughts.

Mike
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Old 27-10-2020, 04:04   #2
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Absolutely survey. It only takes one hard grounding to have some catastrophic unseen damage that you would be inheriting.

Also, a recent survey will give you a sense of your next maintenance items. Another Forum Member was looking at a boat recently and the survey revealed that all the thruhulls were good - but one.

Not a dealbreaker, certainly, but upon purchase probably the first thing he'll take care of is replacing that thruhull!

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Old 27-10-2020, 04:42   #3
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Most insurers require a recent survey unless purchasing a new boat. The peace of mind knowing a detailed examination has taken place is comforting when writing a large check and handing it to a stranger.
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Old 27-10-2020, 05:02   #4
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Definitely survey.

Few reasons:
1. Rule out major damage
2. Confirm vessel is sound
3. Insurance
4. Recommendations on various repairs/upgrades - some urgent, some not so
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Old 27-10-2020, 08:12   #5
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Re: Survey or not to survey

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Originally Posted by Orion Jim View Post
Most insurers require a recent survey unless purchasing a new boat.
+1 for this reason for a survey.

Will you be able to go do an initial survey yourself or will you be doing this long distance? Many examples here on CF where the long distance, sight unseen purchase doesn't work out well. Maybe you don't have the experience/skills to do a good initial survey, but its always good to be present when the survey is being done to learn and ask questions.

Also be sure to find your own surveyor w/a good reputation for doing good sailboat surveys. This maybe difficult from a far, but attempt to find someone independent of the seller's broker.

Good luck on your purchase.
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Old 27-10-2020, 08:19   #6
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Definitely as you will only have yourself to blame if you find problems later on.
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Old 27-10-2020, 08:39   #7
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Re: Survey or not to survey

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Originally Posted by Stewie12 View Post
Definitely as you will only have yourself to blame if you find problems later on.
Don't expect the survey to find everything also and some surveyors are better than others. It is always better to find a surveyor who is familiar w/sailboat surveys and especially ones that may know what to look for/issues in particular brand you want to purchase.


Doing web searches to find problems/issues of particular brands is a must to educate yourself before you get into the purchasing process. Knowing these issues helps if you personally do an initial inspection or if your are present during the actual inspection.
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Old 27-10-2020, 08:45   #8
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Agree with all. Very good advice given by the collective.

Is the nearly new boat a former charter? If so, double down on the advice.
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Old 27-10-2020, 09:05   #9
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Re: Survey or not to survey

While you might not have a mechanical (engine) survey do get a marine survey. Insurance company will require one and your lender, if you have one may require one. In addition, the survey report will document the boat equipment for your records.
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Old 27-10-2020, 09:25   #10
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Depends on your own level of boat knowledge and experience. If you have the confidence do your own survey. Most "surveys" aren't worth the paper they are printed on but if you need, or want, a loan on the boat you will need insurance. If you need to park it in a marina or even a public mooring field some where you will probably need at least liability insurance. To enter the territorial waters of many countries you will need varying degrees of insurance. If you need any insurance you will need a survey, no mater how worthless. Planning on parking it in the canal behind your house and skipping the survey and insurance, not so fast, many municipalities now require insurance for that. If a hurricane hits they don't want your beat up and nearly sunk boat leaking fuel and floating around in their canal.
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Old 27-10-2020, 09:28   #11
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Re: Survey or not to survey

A survey will be money well spent, if not just for your peace of mind. Use a good surveyor of your choosing in the area of the boat. They will undoubtedly find some issues either large enough to discourage the sale or small enough to proceed. When I had my boat surveyed before I made the purchase there was one large issue (compression post) that gave me enough leverage to reduce the price of the boat by $5,000 (over three times the cost of the survey).
Cheers,
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Old 27-10-2020, 09:36   #12
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Most certainly - survey.
Find a good surveyor who does a survey (not just a list of equipment).
Ask for a separate engine and rig surveys. You would not be sorry..., surveyors as a rule are not diesel mechanics and do not climb masts. (As a disclosure - I am a retired surveyor who never had a complaint from a client).
The cost of a survey is negligible when compared to cost of purchase. The knowledge gained will be highly valuable.
Once again: get a real surveyor, see his previous reports before choosing.
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Old 27-10-2020, 09:41   #13
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Survey for all stated reasons but also it will be a requirement to insure.
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Old 27-10-2020, 09:43   #14
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Would you buy a used car that was "only a few years old" without having your favorite mechanic give it a once-over? Maybe it was in a frame-twisting accident. Maybe the previous owner didn't change the oil. Boats cost more than cars and are vastly more complicated. This makes surveying them more involved - and more worthwhile.
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Old 27-10-2020, 10:23   #15
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Re: Survey or not to survey

Without knowing much information most would err on the side of caution and go for a surveyor. And those posting before me have done exactly that. The OP provided little information about the boat nor what she’ll be used for, value of spend etc. We do know the OP’s view of BREXIT and whilst it’s tempting to debate, may be another time.

To survey or not to survey is a very interesting topic. So perhaps a word for the negative side.

There are surveys and there are surveys, many are little more than educated guesses as to the value of the boat (for insurance or tax say), and then there are the more serious surveys where the integrity and soundness of the yacht are checked. The prospective owner conducting a survey needs to be clear on the purpose and communicate this. A few survey types include:
Valuation
Rigs & Sails
Hull
Corrosion
Propulsion

The reality can be that finding and organising a survey is very difficult. Perhaps the remoteness of the boat, and /or lack of local expertise with respect to the vessel you’re pursuing. Surveyors might be experienced with hulls and rigs but how do you survey a motor?

To do a comprehensive survey require:
Boat availability (in working order) both in and out of the water.
Test sail/motoring period.
Accurate log book

And so we need a good weather window, travel or crane availability, and (usually) owner availability.
How can this be timetabled from afar? Perhaps the surveyor will be willing to make the necessary arrangements locally; perhaps not. Obviously too this all costs money.

I’ve heard/read of many stories (you’ll find a number on this forum) where everyone arrives at the boat and the motor won’t go, or our travel lift booking has been screwed up or is needed for some urgent boat lift. For whatever reason the survey can’t go ahead as planned.

Another factor is who the owner(s) is. Will you get to know him/her well, will he/she be willing to help with questions post sale? Is there a comprehensive and up to date user manual for the vessel? How long has the current owner had the vessel, what has it been used for and why is the owner selling? For example, perhaps the yacht has been owned for 10 years by a couple and they’ve decided they’ve had enough of the cruising life (OK we know in this case it hasn't been). Given the yacht has been their transport as well as their home, possibly they’re far more likely to have taken good care of the boat.

Eeek! It’s just starting raining and all my hatches are open ... sorted, back now, sorry about that little interruption.

If you’re going to travel to see the yacht will there be an opportunity to spend a few days with them whilst they show you over the little ship and how she works? During that time you’ll be able to gain a reasonable impression as to their honesty and integrity.

Can you rely on a survey done locally? How do you gauge their independence/competence/reputation?
Something I discovered in my part of the world is that pretty much anyone can put a sign saying ‘boat surveyor’ on the sides of their van. There is no Surveyor’s Assn nor any recognised qualification.

Personally I’d always go see a boat to make my own evaluation before getting in professionals. It’s hardly difficult to see if the photos and the boat are the same. If the photo of the engine showed it as all sparkly clean but what you see in reality is an old rust stained banger, well what can you make of that? There are web sites dealing with how to undertake your own survey. Mostly non technical, simple tips and tricks to look for.

Another option is having someone you do/can trust locally (qualified) and sending them on a short overseas holiday.

OP whatever you decide, don’t do so because of what a bunch of unknown keyboard warriors tell you from their comfy chairs. But personally, a 2017 boat. I wouldn't bother to do any more than get an insurance survey.

Oh and one last word. Some will suggest you can gauge an engine’s soundness by an oil test. I’ve a simple response: oil change! Anyone selling a boat should make it tidy and presentable, a good old clean/polish, a bit of splashed paint and an engine service.
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