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Old 01-12-2019, 08:59   #1
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how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

I'm in the process of buying a cat with engines ~4000 engine hours on them even though it is a few years old. owner tells me that the periodic maintenance done and they are ok. my questions are:

- during in the early buying process how can I make sure that the engines are ok in good condition as declared by the seller ? I'll have a survey and will check with a local engine engineer but that step might be too late..

- is it possible to write it to the agreement that engines are in good condition will be checked and if not it will be repaired/serviced by seller if they lie ?

- how can I make sure that the period maintenance done properly ? I read the engine manual and written that there are parts needs to be replaced occasionally even they are not old/broken (such as seawater impeller @ every 1000 hours.) is there a documentation that can be asked about servicing history ?

- there is an optional service for the pre purchase survey report for engine oil analysis lab check which have results come back after a week from the lab. should I do it ? during that waiting time probably I should be paying deposit to the owner.. How can I make sure that I get my deposit back if the results came back bad and I change my mind ? at this step probably I would be already paid all the expenses related to the ship yard / survey etc . I want to make sure that the declaration of the seller is correct before I get into that step so is there a way that can protect me and force the seller to reveal the truth before I go that deep.?

thanks.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:09   #2
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

I've bought an ex-charter boat (from Sunsail) and had similar thoughts to yours as it was my first boat and there were so many unknowns that I felt like I was stepping into deep water with both feet at the same time.

Charter companies lose money on boats that aren't out on charter, so their maintenance people work hard to ensure that their boats are ready. That means that they tend not to skimp on maintenance but also that these boats will have a lot of "quick and dirty" fixes that end up becoming permanent.

You won't be getting any seller to agree to a sale of an engine in "good condition". As in all things, caveat emptor. The charter companies don't usually have any paperwork at all on their maintenance and service.

I wouldn't worry about the engines as much as I'd make sure to get a surveyor who knows charter boats as they tend to get worked hard and misused by charterers.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:46   #3
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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I've bought an ex-charter boat (from Sunsail) and had similar thoughts to yours as it was my first boat and there were so many unknowns that I felt like I was stepping into deep water with both feet at the same time.
so did you regret your decision or hopefully all went well ?
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:03   #4
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

I didn't regret the decision. I ended up going aboard 30 boats in the BVI in late August (I'm not sure if you know the area, but in August the tradewinds die down and things are quite hot, so I drank what felt like 1 liter of water per boat) and took pictures and notes and in the end found a 43DS which had relatively few hours due to it being expensive (generator and A/C). Everything went well - apart from an issue with the rudder which I think that neither the charter company nor my surveyor knew about. The rudder separated from the rest of the boat while at sea (it was crevice corrosion on the rudder stock).
I would purchase an ex-charter boat again. The discounts are worth it - if you take care in purchasing the right ex-charter boat. Most of the wear-and-tear on them is cosmetic and that can be taken care of.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:23   #5
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

Zanshin speaks with wisdom, but staying with the motors for a moment: Oil analysis usually is best for catching a change in ground up metal that means something is failing, so it is very useful for aircraft engines if done regularly. Not so much on a boat and with only a single data point. Better, if you want to assess the engines, would be a compression check by your mechanic. That gets to the core of the engine's life, rather than dealing only with hoses, belts, and impellers. If you do not want to go that far, then ready starting, developing full power, and engine smoke are clues to a problem that needs closer examination.
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:00   #6
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how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

I used to maintain fleets of Army Helicopters and of course all oil lubricated components were part of a SOAP program, SOAP is an acronym of course like everything Military it stands for Spectroscopic Oil Analysis Program. We had items on a 25 hour oil analysis interval, some 50 and some 75. The nose gearbox was 25 because they failed often.
Every single Army vehicle including aircraft have regular oil analysis.
In the 15 years that I ran Maintenance not one single time did an oil analysis catch a failing component, ever. There were always other indications first.

However it saves the taxpayer Millions of dollars every year because all Army vehicles change oil now based on the oils condition and not some arbitrary hourly or calendar interval, oil analysis is excellent for analyzing oil but itís not worth a darn for analyzing components.
People will tell you its great, but I believe they believe that because they are sold that and not because they have extensive experience with it.

Do a compression test on those motors, and hopefully they donít both have new oil in them, if there is significant time on the oil remove and cut open the filters, that will tell you if an engine is making metal or not, but engines only die catastrophic deaths from making metal, and the item interval from the time they begin making metal until death is short.
Bearings donít spall for long before they spin.

Engines normally die a slow death from simply wearing out, that shows up as low compression, down on power, smoking and hard starting when cold. It also shows up as low oil pressure at idle with a hot engine.
People will mask that with thicker oil.
If they pass a compression check, crank well make good power and donít smoke, then change the oil, be sure to put in the correct oil grade then go out and run them at full throttle with an oil pressure gauge connected, after at least a 30 min run, idle then and see what the pressure is.

However even if it passes all of these tests, the boat should be priced as if they are worn out, because they are likely towards the end of their lives. Maybe not dead yet, but they are old men, not teenagers.

If you choose to do oil analysis the technique is extremely important, first everything has to be clean like an operating room, and just like a urine analysis you want to catch mid stream not the beginning or end of the oil change.
If not changing oil it has it be immediately after shut down on a hot, not warm engine, you have to get the oil before anything can settle out.

However without an existing oil analysis trend unless itís already spun a bearing or other catastrophic failure, your not going to find anything.
If itís already in a catastrophic failure itís not likely to run another hour and is already most likely knocking etc.

Oil analysis doesnít hurt, just donít hang your hat on the results.
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:28   #7
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
Everything went well - apart from an issue with the rudder which I think that neither the charter company nor my surveyor knew about. The rudder separated from the rest of the boat while at sea (it was crevice corrosion on the rudder stock)
that is on it's own scary enough
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:42   #8
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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However even if it passes all of these tests, the boat should be priced as if they are worn out, because they are likely towards the end of their lives. Maybe not dead yet, but they are old men, not teenagers.
Priced how much % less for example ? I checked online and 45hp marine motors are around 7000$ not much expensive compared to the catamarans price ? are there other costs involved which I should be worried as well ? .

what if it doesn't pass the oil and compression tests ? should I stay away from the boat ? or if still can be bought , what should I ask from the seller to do to fix it ? is it even fixable or needs to be new now ?
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Old 01-12-2019, 11:56   #9
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I used to maintain fleets of Army Helicopters and of course all oil lubricated components were part of a SOAP program, SOAP is an acronym of course like everything Military it stands for Spectroscopic Oil Analysis Program. We had items on a 25 hour oil analysis interval, some 50 and some 75. The nose gearbox was 25 because they failed often.
Every single Army vehicle including aircraft have regular oil analysis.
In the 15 years that I ran Maintenance not one single time did an oil analysis catch a failing component, ever. There were always other indications first.

However it saves the taxpayer Millions of dollars every year because all Army vehicles change oil now based on the oils condition and not some arbitrary hourly or calendar interval, oil analysis is excellent for analyzing oil but itís not worth a darn for analyzing components.
People will tell you its great, but I believe they believe that because they are sold that and not because they have extensive experience with it.

Do a compression test on those motors, and hopefully they donít both have new oil in them, if there is significant time on the oil remove and cut open the filters, that will tell you if an engine is making metal or not, but engines only die catastrophic deaths from making metal, and the item interval from the time they begin making metal until death is short.
Bearings donít spall for long before they spin.

Engines normally die a slow death from simply wearing out, that shows up as low compression, down on power, smoking and hard starting when cold. It also shows up as low oil pressure at idle with a hot engine.
People will mask that with thicker oil.
If they pass a compression check, crank well make good power and donít smoke, then change the oil, be sure to put in the correct oil grade then go out and run them at full throttle with an oil pressure gauge connected, after at least a 30 min run, idle then and see what the pressure is.

However even if it passes all of these tests, the boat should be priced as if they are worn out, because they are likely towards the end of their lives. Maybe not dead yet, but they are old men, not teenagers.

If you choose to do oil analysis the technique is extremely important, first everything has to be clean like an operating room, and just like a urine analysis you want to catch mid stream not the beginning or end of the oil change.
If not changing oil it has it be immediately after shut down on a hot, not warm engine, you have to get the oil before anything can settle out.

However without an existing oil analysis trend unless itís already spun a bearing or other catastrophic failure, your not going to find anything.
If itís already in a catastrophic failure itís not likely to run another hour and is already most likely knocking etc.

Oil analysis doesnít hurt, just donít hang your hat on the results.
Extremely uncommon, common sense from A64pilot.
I have a little more info on oil analysis here ....
Oil_Analysis_on_Diesel_Boats
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:37   #10
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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Priced how much % less for example ? I checked online and 45hp marine motors are around 7000$ not much expensive compared to the catamarans price ? are there other costs involved which I should be worried as well ? .



what if it doesn't pass the oil and compression tests ? should I stay away from the boat ? or if still can be bought , what should I ask from the seller to do to fix it ? is it even fixable or needs to be new now ?


OK, In my opinion when buying a used boat, you need or ought to realize itís a used boat, thatís why your not paying new prices.
Only you can determine if the boat is worth a price that you can agree to. Even new boats are not perfect though in fact it seems they often come with very many problems.
Now many believe that they need to take the cost of fixing and or repairing every single item that they can find and the seller should either fix or replace, or deduct that from the sales price of the boat.
If you seriously tried that with me, Iíd slam the door in your face, and I think most would. I proved the boat knowing itís not perfect, my price reflects that knowledge.
In my opinion you determine what it costs to make the boat they way you want it, then decide what the boat is worth to you and offer that amount, or a little less to give wiggle room.

Just me, but Iíd be more comfortable running a Cat with old engines than a mono, you have a back up engine, but Iíd price the boat expecting on having to replace the engines in a couple of years.
But depending on which engines, how they were run, their condition, and how they were maintained, itís possible you may get many more years out of them.
Some engines go 10,000 hours, not many, but some. Some donít make it to 5,000 hours too.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:50   #11
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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OK, In my opinion when buying a used boat, you need or ought to realize itís a used boat, thatís why your not paying new prices.
Only you can determine if the boat is worth a price that you can agree to. Even new boats are not perfect though in fact it seems they often come with very many problems.
Now many believe that they need to take the cost of fixing and or repairing every single item that they can find and the seller should either fix or replace, or deduct that from the sales price of the boat.
If you seriously tried that with me, Iíd slam the door in your face, and I think most would. I proved the boat knowing itís not perfect, my price reflects that knowledge.
In my opinion you determine what it costs to make the boat they way you want it, then decide what the boat is worth to you and offer that amount, or a little less to give wiggle room.

i think the crucial point here is disclosing these defects beforehand before I find them on survey or with an engine mechanic. Because what my assumption with 2nd hand buying is "this is a used boat and with typical wear out but not deep problems hidden somewhere not mentioned". I wouldn't mind if the seller disclose the problems here and there and let me know beforehand with the price for the vessel with these defects then I would be fine with it. however , if the seller didn't mention these beforehand and let me find it ... I think it's the sellers responsibility now if this is not to their best knowledge. Am I thinking wrong ?
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:56   #12
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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i think the crucial point here is disclosing these defects beforehand before I find them on survey or with an engine mechanic. Because what my assumption with 2nd hand buying is "this is a used boat and with typical wear out but not deep problems hidden somewhere not mentioned". I wouldn't mind if the seller disclose the problems here and there and let me know beforehand with the price for the vessel with these defects then I would be fine with it. however , if the seller didn't mention these beforehand and let me find it ... I think it's the sellers responsibility now if this is not to their best knowledge. Am I thinking wrong ?
Been involved in a few thousand deals. Never, ever believe a broker or a seller unless they are your mom or dad.
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Old 01-12-2019, 13:00   #13
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how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

No, your right and if you find things that you know they know about. You walk away or keep looking your choice, not all people are honest. Iíd say that it seems not many are.

Now if your in the middle of a survey and come up with a show stopper you can most probably save a lot of money by looking at the surveyor and saying Iím done I wonít buy it now, how much discount can I get on your survey if I take you to lunch and you donít have to bother with writing a report? I saved a bunch that way, cause why would I want a professionally written up survey report on a boat that Iím not buying?
Itís also why in my opinion why you need to be there for any survey.

Although in my opinion you can usually tell a whole lot about a boat yourself before you involve a surveyor. I dismissed many, many boats by myself.
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Old 01-12-2019, 13:15   #14
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

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Now if your in the middle of a survey and come up with a show stopper you can most probably save a lot of money by looking at the surveyor and saying Iím done I wonít buy it now, how much discount can I get on your survey if I take you to lunch and you donít have to bother with writing a report?
A not uncommon practice for Sharon and I. It takes at least as long (sometimes much longer) to write the report than it does to do the survey. We typically discount by 50% if we don't have to write a report. Sometimes we do a one pager just to prove the "straw that broke the camels back".
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Old 01-12-2019, 15:44   #15
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Re: how to safely buying a charter catamaran with high engine hours

For my current boat which had similar engine hours, the "subject to survey" in the sale agreement specifically included oil and compression testing.
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