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Old 18-06-2021, 06:37   #1
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Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

Ok, maybe not. But I think I might become a surveyor.

Quick version is I asked him to specifically look at some things during survey on a 50+ boat. One being rudder bearings. He called out some superficial things and rated everything else satisfactory. I had seen the boat on the hard and told him I had felt some play in the rudder and wanted to see if the bearing play was excessive.

Reading over the survey there was nothing that would bring concern to anything. So I moved forward with the purchase

After purchasing the boat found lots of things really quickly without disassembly. Found all the electrical in was wacko, shorepower 110 completely unsafe. Found the boom at the gooseneck was wore out, (needed to be bushed, the rig had been down in a hurricane and the mast had a splice below deck behind the pullout. It looks (or sounds) like the foredeck at the babystay lifted about 1/4 inch and creaks, and the rudder bearings were completely shot, not to mention the linkage from the gear drive steering to the quadrant is wore out and the hole where the endlink goes through the quadrant has about 1/4 inch of play allowing the pin to move almost 30 degrees in the hole. On the first passage the rudder bearings were squeaking so loud I thought it was the rubber dinghy at first rubbing on the solar arch, It got progressively worse over the next 300 miles to the point where every it needs immediate repair and who knows about the rudder.

We have kids onboard and so these kinds of things are extra concerning. Not to mention cost. During purchase I was looking at two boats that were the same make and made the decision to purchase this boat based on his survey. Obviously I am concerned about resale value and safety. I think there may have been some facilitation of sale happening (maybe a relationship between the seller and surveyor)

I called the surveyor. He immediately offered to refund the cost of the survey (1000.00). That doesn't even begin to touch the repairs. He offered the refund as long as I sign an indemnity agreement. Im hesitant. Thoughts?

Im not super keen on a lawsuit but these things are going to cost a ton, I have only owned the boat for 2 months. These things are precisely why I had a survey in the first place.

Thoughts? Any good marine attorneys willing to chime in? Do I sign it and take my 1000.00 back or do I start the process?
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Old 18-06-2021, 06:43   #2
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

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Originally Posted by JArcherM View Post
Ok, maybe not. But I think I might become a surveyor.

Quick version is I asked him to specifically look at some things during survey on a 50+ boat. One being rudder bearings. He called out some superficial things and rated everything else satisfactory. I had seen the boat on the hard and told him I had felt some play in the rudder and wanted to see if the bearing play was excessive.

Reading over the survey there was nothing that would bring concern to anything. So I moved forward with the purchase

After purchasing the boat found lots of things really quickly without disassembly. Found all the electrical in was wacko, shorepower 110 completely unsafe. Found the boom at the gooseneck was wore out, (needed to be bushed, the rig had been down in a hurricane and the mast had a splice below deck behind the pullout. It looks (or sounds) like the foredeck at the babystay lifted about 1/4 inch and creaks, and the rudder bearings were completely shot, not to mention the linkage from the gear drive steering to the quadrant is wore out and the hole where the endlink goes through the quadrant has about 1/4 inch of play allowing the pin to move almost 30 degrees in the hole. On the first passage the rudder bearings were squeaking so loud I thought it was the rubber dinghy at first rubbing on the solar arch, It got progressively worse over the next 300 miles to the point where every it needs immediate repair and who knows about the rudder.

We have kids onboard and so these kinds of things are extra concerning. Not to mention cost. During purchase I was looking at two boats that were the same make and made the decision to purchase this boat based on his survey. Obviously I am concerned about resale value and safety. I think there may have been some facilitation of sale happening (maybe a relationship between the seller and surveyor)

I called the surveyor. He immediately offered to refund the cost of the survey (1000.00). That doesn't even begin to touch the repairs. He offered the refund as long as I sign an indemnity agreement. Im hesitant. Thoughts?

Im not super keen on a lawsuit but these things are going to cost a ton, I have only owned the boat for 2 months. These things are precisely why I had a survey in the first place.

Thoughts? Any good marine attorneys willing to chime in? Do I sign it and take my 1000.00 back or do I start the process?
How much is a "ton"? Is the "ton" a bid to repair from a qualified shop or a guesstimate over sundowners?
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Old 18-06-2021, 06:45   #3
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

Oh wow. Get the refund, absolutely, but do NOT sign an indemnity agreement!

He knows he's waaay in the wrong and therefore liable.

Let's get boatpoker to chime in. He'll know what you should do.

What a mess,
SO sorry!
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Old 18-06-2021, 06:52   #4
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

All surveyors have E&O insurance which is their way of protecting themselves from incompetence. This doesn’t require litigation. Simply find out who his underwriter is and file a claim with them.

Everyone who hires any surveyor should identify which company writes their E&O insurance as a first step.
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Old 18-06-2021, 07:03   #5
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

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Oh wow. Get the refund, absolutely, but do NOT sign an indemnity agreement!

He knows he's waaay in the wrong and therefore liable.
Actually, based on SV Illusion's perspective above, I rescind my hasty advice. Do not get a refund! And do not sign an indemnity agreement. (At least that part was right.)

The fact that you paid him for the survey and he accepted payment is proof that you hired him professionally. So don't request nor accept any attempt at reimbursement. (Sorry about that. I get incensed when people - especially fellow sailors - get cheated, then I spout off half-cocked...)

He then provided you with a defective product (the lame-a$$ survey).

Hopefully he does have liability insurance, because it's going to cost them a packet.

Perhaps start assembling a list of all the things that were missed on the survey and what it's going to cost to fix them...

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Old 18-06-2021, 07:05   #6
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

Haulout, removal of rudder, replacement of bearings, removal of quadrant - weld and rebush, replace linkage from steering gear to quadrant, replace end on self steering, reinstall (sundowners or estimate) going to be a lot more than 1k. Haulout is min 600.00 removal of rudder and labor easily another 1000.00, parts from jefa approx 2,000. Thats just the rudder bearings and quadrant.

The boom repair already cost me 600.00 the second week I owned the boat on a boat where everything was satisfactory. Now we all know a boat is a boat and it will obviously have things that need to be repaired. I dont mind that. But in the first month having to replace the house bank, rewire the 110, rewire half the systems, install fuses in circuits hotwired to the battery, hook up several systems that were disconnected, replace fuel filters that probably have not been replaced in years, repair nav lights that had extreme corrosion and broken bulbs that supposedly tested good at survey (no way) ... just shows the survey was poor. That is why the refund is being offered so quickly.

Re glassing in the foward bulkhead if I pay to do it ...

I mean is it really a question of how much after a certain amount? I think if someone thought I could have a good chance at recouping costs then I would go down the ugly road of a lawsuit.

Put it this way, repairs are more than $5,000 and has the potential for a lot more than that. Not to mention the valuation of the boat being way off base with the boat being through a 'cain and having the mast come down. Resale could be quite a bit harder depending on the buyer.

It just blows my mind that a surveyor would call out a cabinet handle that doesnt work or a poor gelcoat repair, but not call out the fact the mast has a splice below deck, half the running rigging is missing, gel coat repairs on the side of the hull etc etc.

I have a background in the marine trades and know approx what these things will cost. The big question is going to be whether an attorney thinks its going to be worth chasing it down. The general consensus is to let it go and chalk it up to a bad survey because the stress of a lawsuit may not be worth it. But I know no attourneys and Im curious if anyone has delt with this sort of thing before?
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Old 18-06-2021, 07:12   #7
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

Sounds like you have some serious buyers remorse. It is surprising the surveyor offered a quick refund. Maybe he just didn't want to deal with the hassle.
Your description of the problems doesn't definitively point to a bad survey. If the rudder only had a small movement when you saw it, it may survey out fine. The gooseneck too may have been essentially not visible till you used it. You don't describe the actual issue with the AC system, so hard to know if it should have been obvious to the surveyor or to you when went through the boat.

Going after the surveyor's insurance is going to be tedious, time consuming and not necessarily successful. Getting your 1,000 back and signing the indemnity sounds easy.

Hope it works out for you,
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Old 18-06-2021, 07:34   #8
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

Well, on the legal side, it would come down to what sort of survey was requested. Only $1,000 for survey-without-sea trial...?

Of course that does NOT excuse the (seemingly obvious) things like the mast splice, the rudder (which you must have a record of specifically requesting and communicating about), a working electrical system (huge miss)... and other stuff you mention.

Pay particular attention to the chronology. Save all your communications with the surveyor and dates/times: When he cleared the boat and survey indicated that the boat was okay - the email that provided the final survey - and when you went ahead with the purchase, presumably after the "survey-ok".

On the face of it, a red flag I see is that you "worked in the marine trades". Did you not see or sail the boat before you bought it? A non-working electrical system would be hard to miss, not only for a surveyor (and there's no excuse for that), but why did you miss it...?

Also things like "I asked him to check the rudder bearings and their looseness". Then what reason was provided in the survey for that looseness or was it just dismissed as something that was "in the range of normal"?

Sorry, Archer, hope boatpoker weighs in soon. He's the one who will have a proper industry perspective. My experience comes from the legal side only - and not marine legal.

Sorry I can't offer better assistance,
LW77
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Old 18-06-2021, 07:36   #9
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Sounds like you have some serious buyers remorse. It is surprising the surveyor offered a quick refund. Maybe he just didn't want to deal with the hassle.
Your description of the problems doesn't definitively point to a bad survey. If the rudder only had a small movement when you saw it, it may survey out fine. The gooseneck too may have been essentially not visible till you used it. You don't describe the actual issue with the AC system, so hard to know if it should have been obvious to the surveyor or to you when went through the boat.

Going after the surveyor's insurance is going to be tedious, time consuming and not necessarily successful. Getting your 1,000 back and signing the indemnity sounds easy.

Hope it works out for you,


Thank you for the advice, I think it would be easier for sure. Dont really have remorse.

I love the boat, its awesome. Performs great, fast and very livable. But it is an investment... yes there is depreciation but I dont need to start out a huge step behind in boat repairs when I specifically asked for special attention to be given to the rudder. Had these things been pointed out before I would have easily offered less or gone with the other boat of the same model. No big deal.


Does a survey include testing batteries, visually inspecting at eye level, checking safety systems and visuals of engine, plumbing, bulkheads etc? You shouldnt call out the mast having been spliced, or nav lights not operational?

These issues are only the beginning. But yes, you could just look at the boom and see the ovalled out holes, you could grab the boom and with your hands move the boom and demonstrate the worn out pinholes at the boom end.

The rudder play was definitely excessive, and if you were in the laz, which he was and merely moved the rudder with your hands you could see the excessive play, not to mention the quadrant connection point being completely worn out. I have no doubt that should have been caught. As soon as I moved the wheel with the boat in the water there was an obvious issue. Since the survey included in the water with the sails up, you would think a competent surveyor should have easily spotted an issue.

Electrical, lift up the battery cover and see hotwired components, look at the breaker box for the 110 system and see the wires hanging out and the box not even screwed to the bulkhead bare connections underneath.

This boat was surveyed the previous year by the same surveyor for another buyer and the deal fell through. So it may be he just covered the items he called out before and said all was good.
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Old 18-06-2021, 07:41   #10
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

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Originally Posted by LittleWing77 View Post
Well, on the legal side, it would come down to what sort of survey was requested. Only $1,000 for survey-without-sea trial...?

Of course that does NOT excuse the (seemingly obvious) things like the mast splice, the rudder (which you must have a record of specifically requesting and communicating about), a working electrical system (huge miss)... and other stuff you mention.

Pay particular attention to the chronology. Save all your communications with the surveyor and dates/times: When he cleared the boat and survey indicated that the boat was okay - the email that provided the final survey - and when you went ahead with the purchase, presumably after the "survey-ok".

On the face of it, a red flag I see is that you "worked in the marine trades". Did you not see or sail the boat before you bought it? A non-working electrical system would be hard to miss, not only for a surveyor (and there's no excuse for that), but why did you miss it...?

Also things like "I asked him to check the rudder bearings and their looseness". Then what reason was provided in the survey for that looseness or was it just dismissed as something that was "in the range of normal"?

Sorry, Archer, hope boatpoker weighs in soon. He's the one who will have a proper industry perspective. My experience comes from the legal side only - and not marine legal.

Sorry I can't offer better assistance,
LW77
Thank you, I lived in Seattle at the time of purchase and the boat was in the Carib. So When I went to the boat I had about an hour or so, it was on the hard and I did not have a ton of time to go through everything. The survey was in water and out. 110 was not hooked up, and the systems that were not able to be seen until after dark or using those specific systems after moving aboard. I visually looked at the overall condition, woodwork, lifted some compartments, grabbed the rudder and moved to the other boat. Yes I do have messages about the rudder, and made those comments because I detected a possible issue. Thank you for the insight!
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Old 18-06-2021, 10:33   #11
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

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Haulout, removal of rudder, replacement of bearings, removal of quadrant - weld and rebush, replace linkage from steering gear to quadrant, replace end on self steering, reinstall (sundowners or estimate) going to be a lot more than 1k. Haulout is min 600.00 removal of rudder and labor easily another 1000.00, parts from jefa approx 2,000. Thats just the rudder bearings and quadrant.

The boom repair already cost me 600.00 the second week I owned the boat on a boat where everything was satisfactory. Now we all know a boat is a boat and it will obviously have things that need to be repaired. I dont mind that. But in the first month having to replace the house bank, rewire the 110, rewire half the systems, install fuses in circuits hotwired to the battery, hook up several systems that were disconnected, replace fuel filters that probably have not been replaced in years, repair nav lights that had extreme corrosion and broken bulbs that supposedly tested good at survey (no way) ... just shows the survey was poor. That is why the refund is being offered so quickly.

Re glassing in the foward bulkhead if I pay to do it ...

I mean is it really a question of how much after a certain amount? I think if someone thought I could have a good chance at recouping costs then I would go down the ugly road of a lawsuit.

Put it this way, repairs are more than $5,000 and has the potential for a lot more than that. Not to mention the valuation of the boat being way off base with the boat being through a 'cain and having the mast come down. Resale could be quite a bit harder depending on the buyer.

It just blows my mind that a surveyor would call out a cabinet handle that doesnt work or a poor gelcoat repair, but not call out the fact the mast has a splice below deck, half the running rigging is missing, gel coat repairs on the side of the hull etc etc.

I have a background in the marine trades and know approx what these things will cost. The big question is going to be whether an attorney thinks its going to be worth chasing it down. The general consensus is to let it go and chalk it up to a bad survey because the stress of a lawsuit may not be worth it. But I know no attourneys and Im curious if anyone has delt with this sort of thing before?
So you went all the way to the Caribbean and had just over an hour to look at your new purchase? You have experience in the marine trades and yet you come to the internet for advice on your survey and legal options?

Sounds to me like you went on the cheap and got what you paid for with both the survey and the boat. I find it no surprise that your "surveyor" is willing to kick back a thousand bucks to end this.
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Old 18-06-2021, 10:44   #12
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

My 0.02 cents here.
Get your money back if you can. $1000 in the hand is better than not having it at all. Legal action is costly and you dont always win.
Fix the problems one at a time . Its just nuts and bolts put together by people. You can fix it whatever it is.
You already said that you love the vessel. Get her fixed up and enjoy it.
Boats are terrible investments.....they only depreciate.
We own boats because we love them and the cruising life.
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Old 18-06-2021, 11:34   #13
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

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My 0.02 cents here.
Get your money back if you can. $1000 in the hand is better than not having it at all. Legal action is costly and you dont always win.
Fix the problems one at a time . Its just nuts and bolts put together by people. You can fix it whatever it is.
You already said that you love the vessel. Get her fixed up and enjoy it.
Boats are terrible investments.....they only depreciate.
We own boats because we love them and the cruising life.
Hmm, my thoughts too. Just a comment about the mast, if the join was behind a panel, I don't think you can hold the surveyor liable because few of them will start dismantling boats. By the same token, they don't climb masts or check engine compression etc.

Take the refund and move on.

Pete
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Old 18-06-2021, 11:40   #14
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Re: Surveyor was drunk during survey - What do I do?

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So you went all the way to the Caribbean and had just over an hour to look at your new purchase? You have experience in the marine trades and yet you come to the internet for advice on your survey and legal options?

Sounds to me like you went on the cheap and got what you paid for with both the survey and the boat. I find it no surprise that your "surveyor" is willing to kick back a thousand bucks to end this.
Yes bro, I flew all the way there to decide between two boats, and I look to the forum because I am not a lawyer. I know the survey quality, thats obviously not what I am asking... and there is no question about the poor quality of it, legal advice or the thoughts of other cruisers to help me make a decision about what I am going to do is what this kind of forum is for. Sometimes in the middle of situations a clear view from fellow people who may have been in your situation is just what is needed. Negativity...no so much. Judge me ... whatever, thats just crap that comes with forums and facebook.

As far as marine trades, yes I have rebuilt rudder bearings (on smaller boats) and engines etc, done boat bottoms and a fair amount of general work of much different designs, replanking, seams, paint etc. The marine trades are a big spectrum of different kinds of work. Did I have the time to properly go through a 50 ft boat of a design I am not familiar with no I didnt, thats why I opted to find a surveyor and paid him. He lowered his price based on his recent survey of the vessel. Was I willing to pay more yes, I had several thousand more budgeted for survey. Did I go through the boat and check the big things to determine if she was worth a survey yeah as much as I could, I flew 15 hours there and 15 hours back to get as much time as possible looking at two boats and survey both if needed. I opted to not survey or purchase the second boat based on the first survey.

Unfortunately after purchase it became obvious that a fair amount of hiding of superficial and cosmetic things had been done by the previous owner, and that is the worst situation you could ask for because it is tricky. I was hoping a surveyor could look at the mechanical and perform sea trial because when I looked at her she was out of the water and I was unable to stay several days to splash her.

Do I wish I made time to go through her more...of course I do. Do I feel I could do a better survey? Yes I do now. Unfortunately, where I lived surveyors are not folks I ever questioned because every survey I had performed in the past was of good quality. No I didn't have more time. Especially when I have kids at home and circumstances will not let me.

Now it just means I have more to do... whatev.

To make assumptions about those kinds of things is pretty lame. I definitely didnt go on the cheap my friend. Give me a break.

#stirthepot
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Old 18-06-2021, 11:46   #15
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Hmm, my thoughts too. Just a comment about the mast, if the join was behind a panel, I don't think you can hold the surveyor liable because few of them will start dismantling boats. By the same token, they don't climb masts or check engine compression etc.

Take the refund and move on.

Pete
Yeah, i see what you're saying and that I am unsure.... you can see the rivets from the splice 4 ft up the mast from the deck to the boom. I missed it, wasnt looking for it. And was preoccupied and shouldnt have been. But a surveyor..thats his job. The panel for the mast step and mast is a pullout made for inspection, it would be like removing the engine cover. You put your finger in the hole of the panel and lift. takes about 5 seconds.
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