Tap, Tap, Thud
Having liked what we saw, we decided to pursue buying this vessel, so we contacted our broker, Bill Full at East Coast Yacht Sales and had him schedule one surveyor for the boat and another one for the engine. When buying a boat, especially one with an engine, it’s best to have the survey performed by a competent marine surveyor. That sounds like a no-brainer – a “competent surveyor” – but there are plenty of guys out there who say they can survey your boat but may not know what to look for, nor do they have the credentials. A good surveyor will be certified by either the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) or National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS). There are general surveyors who survey all vessels, and there are ones who specialize in power boats, lobster boats, sailboats of certain types and even ages. Boats can be so very different depending on their type or age that getting a good surveyor is critical and well worth it! A boat survey is like having a home inspector come look at your house. If your boat is fiberglass, they will tap the hull and deck with a hammer to listen for signs of delamination or wetness in the hull. A delaminated hull will sound almost hollow, while a solid hull will have a solid “thud” when tapped. This is over-simplified, but you get my point.
The boat surveyor recommended by our broker was Mark Cork from Epping, NH. In order for Mark to perform the survey, we needed to have the boat hauled out of the water for a minimum of 24 hours before he could survey the boat. The reason for this is that surveyors need to look at the hull to see if it’s sound and free of defects. They also need the exterior of the hull to be dry because they use a moisture meter to check the hull below the waterline for any soft spots where water may have gotten in and compromised the integrity of the boat. Luckily, we made the arrangements to have the survey on a Monday morning; this meant the boat was to be hauled Friday afternoon, so it had the opportunity to sit over the weekend and dry out. The downside to this plan was that the boat was left in the yard over the weekend without anyone keeping an eye on the boat, and sure enough, over the weekend someone stole a set of spurs (line cutters) from the shaft. We didn’t really want the spurs, but it was a little unnerving that they were stolen.
As mentioned earlier, Mark (remember Mark, the boat surveyor?) went to work, first checking the hull for any issues, the prop for dings or ware, and finally, all the through hull fittings. Then the boat was put back in the water for a sea trial and for more analyses of the interior, electronics, water systems, electrical systems, plumbing – you name it, he checked it!
At some point that morning, Bill Hartley a specialist with marine diesel engines, showed up to perform the engine survey. Bill checked the engine thoroughly: all fluids, the transmission, he even took oil from the engine for later analysis to see what possible internal issues the engine might have (this is called an oil analysis and is a really good thing to do on a diesel marine engine).