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Bump's World - November 2020
November 11, 2020

MARINE SURVEY

You pick out the boat of your dreams. The broker told you this yacht was meticulously maintained. Visions of sailing the high seas dance in your head. Hopefully someone told you to get this dream surveyed. Really, she is obviously well maintained and the survey will cost me a thousand bucks. Fact number one, no matter what anyone tells you get the boat surveyed by a real competent marine surveyor. Also, all insurance companies require it. I have had more than one broker, who;ve worked for me, discourage surveys, because they've lost so many deals to the survey. They say pocket the $1,000.00 expense and you will be fine.

The problem is the broker has been bombarding you with how wonderful this boat is. He has stated that there is nothing wrong with this yacht many times. All positive reinforcement. You are thinking this survey will just be the surveyor saying how wonderful your new yacht is.

Surveyors think they were hired not to tell you how wonderful your new yacht is, but rather to find things wrong with her. The more they find wrong the better they did. A surveyor will find 20 things wrong with a new boat right out of the factory. A typical surveyor will find 30 to 40 things wrong. That sounds really bad. I will try to put that into perspective.

First thing to know - there is no pass or fail for a marine survey. You do not get a big stamp on your survey that says passed or failed. Based on your purchase contract, you can walk away from the deal based on the survey or renegotiate based on the survey. There are no set rules for this so you can do whatever you want. The broker can not say that based on the survey you have to buy the boat or that based on the survey you get a $2,000.00 adjustment on the selling price.

If you have a good broker, just before the survey he will start prepping you for the survey. He will explain that in spite of your new yacht being fantastic, the survey could turn out to be a very negative experience.

Second thing to know - there are very few regulations for how a boat is built. The Coast Guard is the only legal force and they require almost nothing. There are private companies that set recommendations for how things should be on a boat. In America it is ABYC, in Europe it is Veratas, and in England it is Lloyds. They make recommendations on almost everything. Size of wiring, kind and size of hoses, fiberglass laminate. Very few boat builders are ABYC certified. Some claim to be ABYC approved. So the hose from the fuel tank to the deck fill has been in the boat since it was built 10 years ago and it works find, but it is not ABYC approved so it is listed that way on the survey. So your first thought there is something wrong with the hose and it should be replaced. The owner goes, let me get this straight, the boat was built this way and the hose has never been a problem but I need to replace it?? Same with the wiring - the gauge of the wire is not ABYC compliant, but it works fine.

Third thing to know - there are 3 categories for items in the survey. Category one - is general maintenance. These are items done every year as general maintenance. Like buffing the hull. Changing the zincs. Sand and paint the bottom. Every surveyor recommends a new cutlass bearing, which you probably don't need. If the bottom looks like the surface of the moon, the surveyor will recommend stripping it, new barrier coat, and paint. That's some big money. Removing paint is more expensive than putting it on.

Category two - are items that need repair or do not work, but do not affect the seaworthiness of the yacht. Like a stereo speaker not working. You can sail around the world that way. The big one in this category is moisture in the hull or deck. Most used boats have some. It is very expensive to fix. If it is not in a structural part of the boat, it is best left alone. The surveyor might refer to moisture like cancer in your boat. Cancer, that really gets you excited about your new perfect yacht??? It's good to know how the moisture got there and how to stop the inflow. If it came in, then it can go out with proper heat treatment. If the glass or core is damaged as a result of the moisture then that's a bigger problem.

Category three - are items that need to be fixed before the boat is ever used again. Like a cracked thru hull fitting, if not fixed and it fails, the boat will sink. A water logged chain plate that is about to let go. An engine with no oil in it.

Don't ever let logic get in the way ---- I always tell my buyers that category one is expected. Category two can be negotiated if the number of issues exceed the expected number, based on the price and year of the boat. Category 3 is on the seller.

The buyer is not limited to my rules so in fact he can do anything he wants. Walk away from the deal, renegotiate, or say, hey it's a used boat and I expected things not to be perfect, so I will just buy the boat.

I have seen boats accepted with huge issues and boats rejected for nothing.

My business would be a lot easier if we did not survey boats. We need not focus on making my life easier. DO NOT BUY ANY BOAT, EVEN YOUR BEST FRIENDS' BOAT, WITHOUT A SURVEY.

Please mail comments to me at Bump@newwaveyachts.com

Bump Wilcox