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Old 11-05-2024, 10:22   #1
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How to inspect a boat

Chartered a few times, asa 101-105 but going to buy something. How do i learn to assess a boatís condition for what needs fixing? Ive been lucky not to have a keel or rudder fall off but ive had a main halyard break in the med in a meltemi. How can i learn to determine what parts of a used boat will need replacing before i take her out?
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Old 11-05-2024, 10:49   #2
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Re: How to inspect a boat

I hope you are not expecting a complete answer here, because it takes a book to answer. In fact (Surprise!) somebody wrote the book:

Inspecting the Aging Sailboat by Don Casey

It is a classic of the literature. Not only for people buying a boat, but for people who own boats too, they need regular inspections too.
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Old 11-05-2024, 13:58   #3
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Re: How to inspect a boat

Thank you. Although an internet search gives many recommendations, the opinion of another person who has experience has value for me
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Old 11-05-2024, 14:54   #4
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Re: How to inspect a boat

boatpoker (member here) had a webpage with all sorts of useful suggestions. I can't find my reference to it but maybe someone else can or you can PM him.
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Old 11-05-2024, 16:54   #5
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Re: How to inspect a boat

Try this ... lots of photos of what to look for. I believe this is the article Mirage 35 is referring too.
Marine Survey 101

... and if you follow the links in that article I have many other related articles.
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Old 11-05-2024, 19:03   #6
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Re: How to inspect a boat

We had 3 boats surveyed before we purchased and are now near the end of a 6 month refit. We purposefully bought a fixer, primarily because we like classic older designs. We are ending up with a boat we really like and fully understand. I had worked on my father's boats for many years, so I had a good idea of what I was getting into going in. The top things that we learned from the buying process were:

It's essential that you spend the better part of a day on the boat before you have it surveyed, maybe more on a boat over 50 feet. If it's in the water try to get them to take it out and dive the hull it possible. Be sure to check the play in the rudder and cutlass bearing. The key here is to be very methodical. Start at one end of the boat and work your way inch by inch to the other end. Open every door and look in every space. Move things out of the way, empty lockers out. Make a conscious effort to look closely at every single surface everywhere you can access. Don't let your eyes just slide over things, scan every visible surface SLOWLY. This is harder than you think to do and you will get better with practice. By the way, if the owners object to any of this or try to rush you just walk away.

Equip yourself for this work. Bring a toolbag with gloves, inspection mirror, headlamp, and super bright flashlight. I'm partial to tactical style LEDs for this, you want a light that is very bright. A multi-tool and a combo screwdriver are good to have. Good binoculars for looking at the standing rigging on a sailboat. Wear working clothes and bring knee pads. A borescope is worth it for a boat that costs more than $25k imo. A plastic hammer and moisture meter are also good if you put in the time and effort to learn how to use them.

For a sailboat, put extra scrutiny on the on the three big cost centers: Engine, standing rigging, and sails. You must be able to inspect the sails very carefully (another use for the binoculars). Watch out for problems with keelbolts, osmosis, or extensive soft decks or cabin top. In most cases you will want to pass on boats with these issues.

I can't stress enough the need to put in time and force yourself to be painstakingly thorough. Have them turn everything on and demonstrate every system. It all seems like a lot and it is, but the reality of buying boats is that there will always be things broken/breaking. Weeding out the big deal breakers will almost certainly save you a failed survey at least once.

The single biggest thing is the hardest. You (and any partner you have) must not let yourself get emotionally invested until you have closed the deal. Be prepared to walk at any moment on any deal. You need to adopt the mindset that inspection is an important part of the experience and not just a hoop that you are jumping through.

Finally, if you can engage a surveyor early on ask them to come along on a survey and observe. It might take a few tries to find one that is willing but it will be worth the effort.

Good luck!
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Old 11-05-2024, 19:56   #7
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Re: How to inspect a boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffandlori View Post
A plastic hammer and moisture meter are also good if you put in the time and effort to learn how to use them.
Moisture Meter Mythology
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Old 11-05-2024, 21:10   #8
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Re: How to inspect a boat

Very good information sofar.
Maybe I can add: to contact an owners' group of that particular brand /model. That way you might become aware of specific issues, or equipment to check.
Or do an internet search of the owner/boat Often there is a sailblog, and that way you might become aware of any issues. Of course, the owner might have elected not to mention bad issues in such blog, but, reading between the lines, you might gain some information.

on edit:
big tickets item were mentioned. I would like to add a very big ticket item: electronics with auto-pilot. To a lesser extend, the electrical system. Both more expensive then standing rigging, when it need upgrade/replacing.
Other big ticket items: winches, ground tackle, prop and shaft, particular if feathering prop, genset.

Don't sweat the small stuff, like a light not working, a water pressure pump not working, some timber needing a bit of varnish or paint.
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Old 11-05-2024, 21:24   #9
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Re: How to inspect a boat

I believe one must realistically assess the intended use of the boat you're planning to buy before even stepping on the deck of any for sale. Do not look at the boat which will be most likely sailed in local waters and mostly on weekends as the boat you intend to curcumnavigate in 5-7-10 years down the line. These will be two completely different boats. And not only pricewise. There are two schools of thought here. One says right away start with the boat you will likely keep for long time and the other says get the first boat as you get the first car in high school - to train on and not be sorry if it gets destroyed in the process. I'm in the latter camp whence the advice above.

Also if it's your first boat, or first "big boat", make sure your budget includes not only the purchase price but all of the costs associated with boat ownership in your particular area. These can be considerable and often unexpected or under budgeted. The list is not exaustive but a start. Sales taxes, insurance (incl deductibles and not covered items), haul or delivery to where you'll keep the boat, dockage fees, if dockage is seasonal - winter storage fees, annual local excise taxes, harbormaster permit fees, etc., haul out and launch, as applicable, bottom painting or cleaning, annual repairs and maintenace fund set aside, etc etc.

On a $50k 25 year old boat these can easily add 50% or more to the initial purchase price and 20-25% annually thereafter. The percentages decline as you go up in price and rise as you get to the bottom priced boats but are still there year after year even when you may not use the boat as often as you thought you would prior to the purchase. Life happens, best of plans get derailed through no fault of your own and you must be financially ready to keep supporting the boat annual budget unless you sell it due to non use.
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