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Old 10-07-2019, 13:41   #1
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Surveyor for New Boat Purchase

Should we use a surveyor or other expert help during the commissioning/sea trial phase of a new production boat purchase.
- my wife and I have recently ordered a new 41' production sailboat from France using the regional (midwest) US dealer for the builder
- tentative delivery date in US is Dec of 2019
- commissioning 1st Quarter 2020
- handover date projected as ~ May 2020
- initial sailing area will be Lake Michigan

My wife and I have never owned a boat before and neither of us grew up around boating. Our experience is in chartering boats of similar size and type in Lake Superior and BVI along with other areas in the US since 2010. We have each taken a series of ASA courses (her through ASA 103 and me through ASA 106) however neither of us feels qualified to sign off on the commissioning / rigging of a new boat.

Alternatives as we currently see them include:
1 Trust the dealer/commissioning team and do the best we can from checklists we find on-line and in books
2 Hire experts to help

What do you guys think?

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Old 10-07-2019, 14:13   #2
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Location: Toronto
Boat: CS36Merlin, "La Belle Aurore"
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Re: Surveyor for New Boat Purchase

The boat will require a hundred and one things to be "fixed" on commissioning. Very few dealers on the Great Lakes have a good commissioning staff due to the seasonal nature of the work on the Lakes. Even dealers further south have problems retaining experienced staff. As you are new to the process I would definitely hire an experienced person to oversee the dealer's work. This would start with a thorough inspection of the boat as you will find defects and missing things. Some are small such as lack of doorstops and defects in the fiberglass work. The doorstops are an easy fix but the glass work requires an experienced person. Get a person who is familiar with the make of the boat. Do not rely on the dealer. They've already got your money and you won't be buying another boat from them in the near future. Having bought three new boats over the years I can assure you that if you rely solely on the dealer and your limited knowledge of boat building and boat systems you will regret not having an experienced person oversee the commissioning process.

Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 10-07-2019, 21:15   #3
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Re: Surveyor for New Boat Purchase

Thanks for the informed, thoughtful and helpful reply. Just the kind of support I was hoping for.
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Old 10-07-2019, 21:23   #4
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Re: Surveyor for New Boat Purchase

Yes, hire a surveyor and do not sign any final paperwork to accept the vessel until after it has been surveyed. This way you have leverage to force everything to be fixed before the sale is complete.

Imagine the boat has a defect when it was manufactured. You sign the papers and accept the vessel and then discover the defect. The builder attempts to repair the defect. You are stuck with the boat and must depend on the dealer/manufacturer to make the repairs correctly and in a timely manner. This is not a good position to be in. New boats can have many issues.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:37   #5
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Re: Surveyor for New Boat Purchase

I was in Fiji recently to survey a 6 year old French cat. The owner had it from new and had never had her surveyed by anyone competent. I pointed out a number of faults that should have been corrected before hand over and the owner could not believe he had been so gullible in buying her in the first place. The worst was the bare plywood bulkheads. The yard had only put resin on the bits you could see while standing on the cabin sole. So when I climbed into the bilge there was raw plywood everywhere.
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:21   #6
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Re: Surveyor for New Boat Purchase

What boatyard are you using? The best one in Chicago, and probably the most expensive is Crowley's Yacht Yard. They have very skilled people to deal with any issues that may come up.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Crowley's other that of a past customer.
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Old 11-07-2019, 12:08   #7
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Re: Surveyor for New Boat Purchase

Unfortunately you may need a proper survey for insurance no matter how many experts you hire to advise you on commissioning.

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