Or jet engines? Or electric engines? A quick calculation shows how many specialised areas there are to cover:. But we can all agree that there are many different types of boats out there, and all the other systems on those boats add even more variables to the mix. The key lesson for boat owners is that surveyors come from a variety of backgrounds and all have types of boats with which they are more or less familiar. Sailing yachts are not just powerboats with masts and sails added to them, and vice-versa. I think I could do an average survey on one, but who wants an average survey?
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As a consumer, this means that it pays to look around a bit. Ask what they would look for in the boat you need surveyed. The key is to find a good match between the surveyor and the particular boat to be surveyed. How to perform a powerboat self-survey. Marine Surveyors Earn Their Fee.
How safe is your dream sailing yacht? Having bought a 44ft Marine Trader Trawler yacht and found a home for her in Fort Myers, on the Gulf Coast of Florida, we were now confronted with the realities of long distance ownership. In comparison to what we would have paid for a similar boat in Europe, she was an undoubted bargain. But, although basically sound, she was in need of a facelift and there were some fairly major jobs to tackle before we could take her out on her maiden voyage.
During our first visit to Florida as new boat owners, we stood on the dock staring up at our purchase. Lock Key Lady as she was then called, looked like a sad pre-fairy godmother Cinderella. Slightly shabby with a teak deck which had been painted with a shocking orange brown protective treatment, tatty hand rails, shattered side vents and rust-spotted stainless steel.
The teak-lined interior, despite suffering from a nostril-twitching mildewy odour, was in slightly better condition. The cabins were well equipped, but in places water leaks had caused some timber damage. My main concern was who was going to tackle the big jobs like sanding down and restoring the deck? Or Antifouling? And what about keeping her clean in between visits? I wondered if buying a boat so far away was going to be practical. But my misgiving came to nought as I discovered Blighty and Florida are separated by far more than a common language and the Atlantic Ocean.
Hiring subcontractors to carry out regular maintenance is part and parcel of being long-distance boat owners. We realised that as long-distance boat owners we were going to need to delegate certain tasks that we might otherwise have done ourselves — and find someone we trusted to do things for us while we were away. Local advice unanimously confirmed that the assistant harbourmaster at the marina was a much consulted oracle who could suggest the right man for each job. A detailer — or valeter — was soon on board spring cleaning the boat inside and out and restoring the previously malodorous interior to mint fresh status.
List-making also proved essential. Knowing what needed to be done and establishing a firm time frame left us feeling in control of proceedings especially when leaving the boat for fair periods of time. Naturally, the more time spent on board revealed further previously unforeseen problems.
As the list grew, so did our address list of specialists. A quote was supplied, a price agreed and by the time we arrived for our second visit, the tufty orange brown surface had been replaced by lengths of beautiful silver teak. During subsequent visits, the American modus operandi came as a welcome treat.
Shop with confidence
This attitude has been perfectly exemplified by Doug, who we initially contracted to re-seal a hatch and ended up leaving with a list of jobs from engines to electrics to plumbing to be completed whilst we were back in Britain. We were astonished when, via email, he continued to keep us updated daily, conducted diagnostic discussions and solutions with Richard and emailed photographs of work as it was completed. Beverly at the wheel: energetic American tradesmen made staying in control of refurbishments easy. Having found our boat via the internet, the web has continued to be instrumental in our quest to turn a floating ugly duckling into a fully-fledged swan.
Everything from a replacement head electric pump to a new radar and anchor windlass have been purchased either new or secondhand via eBay or other companies. Even the hardwood engraved name boards for each side and the transom name lettering were sourced via the internet, made inexpensively in Britain, and flown over to the US in our luggage. The many hours spent surfing the internet have proved providential. Whilst most items of equipment were generally less expensive to purchase in the US, some like the aforementioned safe and, most surprisingly, a complete used Raymarine 4kw twin display radar and chart plotter system were purchased on eBay very cheaply.
Although this was a daunting challenge logistically, we still managed, rather remarkably, to ship these items in our normal luggage without any problems. Registering our marina with eBay as an alternative delivery address has proved very successful, enabling goods to be bought on US eBay from the UK and shipped directly to the boat, where the helpful marina staff looks after our goods until we arrive, or indeed put them onboard for us. We have discovered however, that fabrication costs in the US can be expensive, as labour charges are generally higher than in the UK.
As a result, we use a local engineer in the UK who can create precision stainless steel items far more economically than in the US. So now, a year on, we have a clean, well equipped, smart and safe boat which would have been impossible to either buy or keep up to scratch in Europe without spending a fortune. The internet has not only revolutionized world wide boat buying and renovation, but also permits the long-distance boat owner to remain in communication and control.
You need help with a fibreglass repair, epoxy mixes, resin formulations, or other similar questions? When I became involved in my first substantial fibreglass project years and years ago building and mounting a new center console for my fishing boat I learned purely by trial and error. I turned my shed into a fibreglass emporium, breathed that sticky-sweet smell for weeks on end, and destroyed a dozen pairs of trousers. You want to avoid that process? Good move. Your helm has a hole in it? If you bought our product, you bought the help, too.
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A Primer for Steel Boat Inspection
Estimating marine repairs is extremely difficult, even for professionals. And nowhere is the statement, "You get what you pay for," more true than in the marine business. Be wary of vessel's with excessive amounts of deferred maintenance or jury-rigging. After the survey is completed, ask a yard to estimate the cost of repairs. If they can't do it, or are having a hard time estimating, chances are that you'll have a hard time paying when the bill comes due.
In addition to purchase price, interest and depreciation, the cost of ownership includes maintenance and repairs, something owners rarely consider. For new boats, maintenance is low for the first three years or so. But after three years costs start increasing significantly. Regardless of type, major machinery will often require major repairs in years There's a reason why warranties expire when they do, and that's because that's when the breakdowns begin to happen.
The longer you own it, the more it will increase as things wear out and breakdown. The first big hit usually comes when an engine or generator goes bad somewhere between years. Obviously, if you own the vessel this long, suddenly the annual average takes a big leap. If you're buying used, then you have to be prepared for this, whether it's an unexpected blister repair job, or some other problem that's not covered by insurance. Of course, with a used boat, that fifty or hundred thousand you saved off the new price more than makes up for "big bill.
The point is that in compiling averages, over time we know that costs can be reduced to annual percentages for which an owner should be prepared. After ten years even more. This accounts for all types of maintenance from bottom painting to pump replacements and engine overhauls. Moreover, this assumes that there is little or no deferred maintenance, and for a boat owned since new. If you're getting into a used boat with considerable deferred maintenance, that annual average can increase dramatically, especially when serious problems gang up on you all at once.
Marine surveyors universally recommend new boat surveys, not just because they want the business, but because new boat surveys often turn up as many defects as used boat surveys. Not only can the surveyor tell you a lot about the quality of the boat you're buying, but he can help you get those problems fixed before you take delivery and head off warranty problems before they become problems. See also More on Cores. Diesel engines over three years old should be subjected to a full survey. Engine surveys are expensive, but the cost is nothing compared to the repair costs you may face.
As with any surveyor, seek out the best you can find. Engines over 5 years old should either have a compression test or the injectors pulled and the cylinders inspected with a boroscope. See also It's Got Recent Overhauls!
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The way to find the best surveyor in your area is to ask people who know and are willing to give you an honest answer. Its a mistake to take recommendations from yacht brokers or others who have a conflict of interest. Insurance agents, company claims offices and yard managers are in a good position to know which surveyors know their business and who aren't in the pockets of brokers. If you want a good surveyor, choose your surveyor carefully.
Drift Boat and Raft Maintenance for Fly Fishermen
The next most important consideration is to make sure that the surveyor has adequate time to do his job, along with good working conditions. The surveyor can't do a good job if he's being hustled by a broker or seller. Nor can he do a good job if too many people are present on the boat. As the buyer, you should accompany the surveyor so that you're available to see things first hand. Sea trials should be conducted in open water, not restricted waterways. A brief run up a river or the Intracoastal, interspersed with no wake zones won't do. If weather conditions don't permit an open water run, be prepared to reschedule another day.
Its extremely important to give the vessel a good run. After the survey, avoid letting a broker rush your decision. They all say that if you don't sign today, they got someone who will tomorrow. Its the oldest con in the book. Surveyors need time to consider their findings, and the survey is not really finished until he has written his report. Most surveyors get their reports done in a day or two, so give him adequate time to finish his job.
Make sure that your purchase agreement allows you to cancel the deal if the vessel does not meet your standards. Include a stipulation that the sea trial must be conducted in open water for a minimum of two hours. If the seller warrants that he will repair any defects, make sure that you get that in writing, preferably with a maximum dollar amount attached.
It is not wise to allow the seller to repair deficiencies himself. The reason should be obvious, but many buyers overlook the possibility that the repairs that the seller makes may not be satisfactory. Indeed, they often aren't. The best procedure is to negotiate a dollar reduction to the sales price and make the repairs yourself, even if there is an element of uncertainty as to cost.
Of course you should get cost estimates on deficiencies, and better still a contract price. If you can't get away from the seller making repairs, at least stipulate in the contract that the repair firm must be mutually agreeable to both buyer and seller. What you're looking to avoid is the shade-tree mechanic who doesn't do the job right. Remember that the broker represents the seller, not you, the buyer. If you want to believe their representations, make them put it in writing. That way you have a contract, not just a sales pitch. Don't be too quick to condemn an otherwise good boat that has a major problem such as a bad engine.
If you've done your homework and have researched more than just a few boats, you know what is available and at what price. The old saying that the devil you know is better than the one you don't applies. If you can get serious defects repaired well within economic range, you'll probably end up with a better boat than the next one you look at. The reason is simple: If the problem has manifested, it has become known. When you're looking at boats of comparable age, chances are those boats are also well on the way to having similar problems.
Therefore, the more problems that can be discovered and repaired, the better off you'll be. Make quality a major consideration. Don't try to get the largest vessel that your budget will allow. Better to take a step down in size and a step up in quality. If size is a major consideration, seriously consider used versus new as a means of staying within your budget.
Look beyond glamorous interiors, luxurious upholstery and racy designs: the beauty may only be skin deep. Calculate the full cost of ownership, including depreciation, interest, insurance, dockage, fuel and repairs.
Figure maintenance as an annual percentage over the period of ownership. Seriously consider gas rather than diesel for boats under 35' for which you don't expect to get much use. Once you've decided on several possibilities, take a tour of a marina or boat yard and see how the products of those builders hold up over the years. Talk to their owners and see what they have to say.
Consult a surveyor before you buy. Most surveyors will be glad to help you make a choice. Make your purchase decision only after you've read the survey report. Consider the advantage of getting major machinery or parts overhauled or replaced based on a reduction in price. David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close. Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in , he has conducted over 5, pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.
Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:. In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from nearly 80 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in Published by: D.
Pascoe All rights reserved. Web site: Maintained by Junko A. Home All Articles Books. In , David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age On November 23rd, , David Pascoe has passed away at age Biography - Long version. What Does an Overhaul Entail? See Details. Readers Worldwide Nearly 80 countries Countries List. Browse Chapters with Excerpt at DavidPascoe.
Mid Size Power Boats. Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats 2nd Edition. Chapter 1 What is Pre-Purchase Survey? Marine Investigations.
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