Boat Buying Part 4

Lets continue our discussion of your first inspection of that potential new boat. We have already discussed a few items to look at on the deck how to spot potential problem areas. Next we are going to discuss going below and a few things to look at there.

As you go below and get your first glimpse of the cabin look around but also be aware of any noticeable odors. Mold and mildew may be apparent and smell is probably your first, best indicator. If present the source will need to be located and your surveyor may be able to assist. Remember this can be a serious health hazard and should be addressed. Dirty wet bilges are the most likely cause.

While we’re on the subject of odors also make note of anything that may be identified as possible black water / holding tank smells. These can be really pungent and can indicate leaks and possible deterioration of hoses.

Inspect the interior woodwork and joinery for visual condition and finish. Black spots on the surfaces usually indicate moisture intrusion and if left unaddressed it can lead to deterioration of the substrate material and sometimes expensive structural repairs. A good place to look for water marks is below all the ports, skylights and windows. Fresh water stains are usually easy to spot. Walk the wooden sole panels and note any soft spots. Open and close all doors, hatches and drawers. Note the function and fit. On a side note if your inspection takes place in the colder months wooden components have a tendency to swell somewhat and this can affect functionality as well so be sure to take this into consideration on your inspection.

Note the smell and condition of upholstery. Are there stains that a thorough cleaning may not address.

Take a look at all installed fixtures, such as toilets, facets and sinks. Note any staining and since these components also deal with water, mold and mildew may be apparent here as well.

Inspect the electrical panels both AC and DC. Do they look fairly original or are there any apparent add ons or accessories. This could be an indicator of potential bad wiring practices that may need to be corrected or replaced. Your surveyor will be able to assist in identifying these.

Open the engine compartment and give it a good visual inspection. Look for external fluid leaks on any of the components. Lines, hoses and cables should be neat and secure. Is the area in clean order or does it look like it has been neglected. This can be a good overall indicator of how the vessel has been maintained. Inspect the batteries. They should be clean, secure and all wiring should be neat and tidy.

As I have said before, as you go through your initial inspection make notes and take pictures. Load them up on your computer and look them all over again later away from the boat. On most of my vessel surveys I probably take 50-60 pictures and may only use 12 or so in the actual report but the rest are available to me for reference if I need them. You should do the same. Now your initial inspection is complete. And at this point you have to make a decision to make. Is this the boat for me or do we need to move on and see others. If you decide that you wish to proceed the next step will be to make an offer and negotiate the price with the broker. Always make the offer conditional on survey that way if your surveyor uncovers anything that may be considered a deal breaker you still have an out.

Next time we`ll talk about finding a competent surveyor, the survey report and process.

Boat Buying Part 3

In this post we are going to continue our discussion on boat buying and how to find that next boat. We’ll also go into some detail on the first preliminary inspection. Last time we talked about “curb appeal” and first impressions so that’s where we will begin. We’ll assume that its mid season and the boat has been launched and is at the dock.

As I’ve said before walking up the dock you will get your first glimpse of the boat and its right here the deal could be potentially either made or broken. The buyer’s emotions are running high at this point and a clean well-presented boat can go a long way to seal the deal so to speak. Remember this sellers.

As with any sailboat there will be lots to look at so try to break up you inspection into segments. As you board the boat try to stay on deck and start your inspection there. Walk the deck try to feel any soft spots and look for any issues regarding the condition of the gel coat. These will usually show up as small cracks known as spider cracks or crazing. These may or may not lead to more serious issues so make note of anything that appears questionable. Previous repairs should be noted as well and if possible question as to the history of why they were necessary.

Sight up the mast has look for any questionable issues there. Examine the standing rigging, looking for apparent issues such as surface corrosion cracked or bent swaged fittings. Give the furling unit s spin. Here a static test may not show any issues and testing under a sea trail may be the only way to accurately asses the condition of these units. Look at the running rigging, specifically polyester line. It should not be discoloured or feel stiff to when bent in your hands. Stiff polyester line means that breakage could eminent and replacement is the only solution. The condition of the running rigging is also a very good clue as to how the vessel has been maintained. Line replacement is usually not expensive and a well maintained boat will usually have running rigging in good condition so this is usually a good clue.

The same can usually be said for exterior canvas as used in dodgers and bimini’s so assess these items as well. Replacement of these components is usually expensive. Open the anchor locker, if equipped and look at the condition of the rode and fittings.

Inspect the cockpit for the same surface issues as the deck and cabin superstructure. Open and look inside all lockers. Clean and tidy is what we want to see here. Give all the winches a spin and feel for tightness or rough operation. Cycle the line clutches and any installed cam cleats. As I noted above running tests of components such as furling units may be the only way to accurately asses their condition and the same applies to winches, clutches and cleats etc. A sea trial is usually the only way and we’ll discuss this more at a later date.

Note the condition and vintage of the instrumentation. A well maintained boat will usually have functional and fairly up to date components installed.

A thorough examination of the hull and transom may be difficult due to accessibility but give it a look as best as you can and note any issues such as abrasions gouges, previous repairs and question anything suspicious..

Next time we’ll go below deck and discuss and continue our discussion there.