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Old 03-11-2016, 12:31 PM   #1
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Survey Lessons Learned

I am getting ready to survey a 2003 Ocean Alexander 456. Those who are curious can see her on Yacht World in Pompano Beach, FL.

I am looking for lessons learned. This is my third boat and second used boat. With so little experience, I am wondering what you would have done differently or things you are glad you did. This boat has two generators, making a total of four engines, so I am also getting an engine survey and oil analysis. I am using surveyor Brian Setler, who some of you recommended as well as numerous folks on the cruising forum.

Those of you who said a boat failed survey, what kind of things caused it to fail? In short, I would love to hear what might have made you say "I wish I had known this going in." I would love to hear about your lessons learned.

Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom.

Gordon
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Old 03-11-2016, 12:40 PM   #2
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The first lesson is, surveyors never find everything. Even the good ones. They just don't spend enough time on the boat.

So do as much poking around on your own as you can. And bring a good, bright flashlight and a camera. A voice recorder can come in handy as well so you can take running notes.
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:39 PM   #3
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How do you plan on dealing with the costs and efforts to fix bad gelcoat? Secondly, Bill is right. Spend as much time in advance as you can identifying issues before surveyor gets there, preferably with a smart friend who can assist you in checking every system and looking for water drips and leaks.
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:55 PM   #4
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Some surveyors take you along for the survey, i.e., they explain everything as they go along. Others prefer to work alone and then explain everything after. I've had both, and prefer the former if possible.

Generally you want separate mechanical surveys done on your rotating equipment. It's a rare surveyor who does the hull survey and mechanical.

Read the results very carefully. Sometimes a seemingly minor comment can have significant consequences later.

Surveys aren't pass or fail. They provide information that help you determine if you are willing to proceed with the purchase.
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Old 03-11-2016, 01:59 PM   #5
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Sunchaser,

I have already reduced price for gelcoat issues. Because I know this, it would be a bit Disingenuous to bring it up at survey.

Gordon
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Old 03-11-2016, 03:04 PM   #6
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I wouldn't hire a surveyor who would not let me tag along with him. I've had 3 surveys done and all let me follow them, with them explaining things and answering my many questions as we went.


The information I learned from them helped me to understand the new boat.
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Old 03-11-2016, 03:06 PM   #7
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Gordon,

Surveyors are not all knowing. Learn as much about the specific vessel engine, electronics, generators, energy management (think charging house batteries), fuel management, heating and air conditioning, water and sewer systems. On the sea trial you really want the engine(s) to go up to the maximum wide open throttle settings specified by the engine manufacturer. If they don't get there, you need to know why. Since it is equipped with Cummins 6BTA engines read up on them at Cummins Marine Diesel Repower Specialists. Tony Adkins is the expert on Cummins.

From my brief review on Yachtworld, that boat has just about everything. A day might not be enough to do a proper survey. I assume the price doesn't include the helicopter. I would love to see a video of it landing there and not breaking something.

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Old 03-11-2016, 03:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon J View Post
I am getting ready to survey a 2003 Ocean Alexander 456. Those who are curious can see her on Yacht World in Pompano Beach, FL.

I am looking for lessons learned. This is my third boat and second used boat. With so little experience, I am wondering what you would have done differently or things you are glad you did. This boat has two generators, making a total of four engines, so I am also getting an engine survey and oil analysis. I am using surveyor Brian Setler, who some of you recommended as well as numerous folks on the cruising forum.

Those of you who said a boat failed survey, what kind of things caused it to fail? In short, I would love to hear what might have made you say "I wish I had known this going in." I would love to hear about your lessons learned.

Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom.

Gordon
Gordon, I used Brian Setler to survey my Cherubini. While I have no basis for a comparison, I thought he was good. As already mentioned, there isn't enough time to discover everything. So you need to spend time on the boat before the survey, to find as much as you can. I went through the survey process with him and pointed out some smaller things he missed. The purpose of the survey is 2 fold. Find everything you can. Have an independent professional 3rd party document everything found for possible additional negotiations.

Brian is not an engine guy. He will find the leaks. He can tell you it has reached rated rpm (propped correctly) if you take him on the seatrial. He's not going to give you much of a mechanical analysis of the engine other that it meets operating parameters without over heating, unless something is obviously wrong. He will tell you this up front. Whether you need a mechanics survey or opinion is up to you. In my case, the engine only had 900 hours on it and I had the same make and model in my other boat. Having him document the various cooling system leaks was important for final negotiations.

In addition to engine oil analysis, you want transmission oil analysis. The heat exchanger for the transmission had a slight leak. Oil analysis showed an elevated level of sodium (salt) in the transmission oil. Final sale price was reduced to cover the cost of replacing the heat exchanger and oil change.

Ted
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Old 03-11-2016, 03:50 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the helpful comments. I also have an engine survey coming along. There are so few hours on the engines I hesitated, but then thought, I have paid lots of money for insurance over the years and never used it. This is probably no different. Yes I have also told the engine surveyor that I want to sample the transmissions as well.

Ted, did Brian settle or give you any grief about following him along? Was he helpful in pointing out systems and how they worked. As you can see this is a fairly complicated boat and one day is a short time to learn all the systems.
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Old 03-11-2016, 04:03 PM   #10
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Not all engine surveyors understand the pitfalls of after coolers. I'd suggest that unless it has been done in the past 5 years, that you negotiate for the cost of a by the Tony Athen's book servicing to be done ASAP. They can be very expensive to replace if the servicing finds one not up to par.

IMHO a set of 13 year old after coolers is a red flag if never serviced correctly.
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Old 03-11-2016, 04:17 PM   #11
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Sunchaser,

Thanks for the advice. The owner has maintenance loss of everything ever done to the boat and service appears to be by the book.. However, i will check for that specific item.

Gordon
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Old 03-11-2016, 04:27 PM   #12
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Ted, did Brian settle or give you any grief about following him along? Was he helpful in pointing out systems and how they worked. As you can see this is a fairly complicated boat and one day is a short time to learn all the systems.
It's all about attitude. Brian had no problem with me following him around. It started with, "I'd like to follow you around so that you can point out the things that you find and I can ask the occasional question." If you find something he missed, the way to approach it is, "what do you think about this?" He needs to be on your side, so be friendly never accusatory (why didn't you see this?).

He is your surveyor, not your instructor. Having him explain the complexities of multiple house batteries, isolator switches, charging systems, and how the inverter and generators interface isn't realistic within the time allotted for the survey.

Not sure how your relationship with the owner is going, but if everything is still friendly, you might specify acceptance of the survey contingent on a systems walk through with the owner (buy him lunch). Brian seems pretty sharp, but his job is to determine that everything is in good repair. Understanding logic and function of redundant systems is probably best explained by a user, especially if there have been modifications to the original systems.

Depending on how intuitive you are, it can take a day just to become comfortable with new to you electronics. It may be worth investing in a day of time with a professional to bring you up to speed on all the systems if the relationship with the owner is no longer amicable. There are probably a few people on this forum that could fill that roll for you.

Ted
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Old 03-11-2016, 04:43 PM   #13
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1 / Get oil analysis before survey !!!!!! there is no use in having a hull and fitting survey if the cost of replacing engines rules out purchasing


2/ A very"big" lesson learnt before having a survey have a written agreement with the seller on how far the seller is willing to cover repairs found on survey .
I found a very nice well presented clean craft last year agreed on reasonable purchase price that was market value of the craft with the broker but the survey came up with a list of repairs that would have cost 23% of the agreed value of the craft the seller wasn't willing to reduce the agreed price to cover repairs . So I was out of pocket for a survey, lift and airfares A $2700 lesson I wont forget.
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Old 03-11-2016, 06:33 PM   #14
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Except for the occasional crystal clear instance, "failing survey" is a subjective judgement call. Expect almost every boat to have positive and negative aspects, and to balance them to decide yea or nay to the boat.
Do not expect a 13yo boat to be a new boat, or that the seller has to renegotiate to bring it to "new" standard. Except perhaps where the seller holds the boat out to be "as new" or "better than new". Most owners will know of items which are heading towards repair or replacement but are not there yet, and the expenditure not yet required.
One thing which would greatly bother me is if I discovered the seller has done something to conceal or mislead about a fault. In that instance I would be concerned about instances not discovered and would distrust the boat.
It is true, as noted above, some issues will not be discovered despite a good survey, and only found during ownership. As good as many surveyors may be, they are not infallible.
Desirable as it may be from a buyers point of view, I doubt many sellers would agree to fix/allow for the repair cost of any "defect" a survey commissioned by the buyer might disclose.
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:01 PM   #15
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1 / Get oil analysis before survey !!!!!! there is no use in having a hull and fitting survey if the cost of replacing engines rules out purchasing

What if the owner just changed the oil a few hours ago?
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:06 PM   #16
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The first lesson is, surveyors never find everything. Even the good ones. They just don't spend enough time on the boat.

So do as much poking around on your own as you can. And bring a good, bright flashlight and a camera. A voice recorder can come in handy as well so you can take running notes.
Agree +++

I spent 3 days going over all systems & equip on our current boat. Found many items we negotiated $ to cover repair / replace.

Do some research and develop a checklist ahead of time - helps a lot keeping you on track and checking everything. You can check many items ahead of time and rule out some boats that you don't need / want to pay for a survey.
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Old 03-11-2016, 07:32 PM   #17
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What if the owner just changed the oil a few hours ago?

What if he didn't ?


Fragment should be detectable even in new oil
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Old 03-11-2016, 08:26 PM   #18
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That is going to be one busy survey if you plan to do it in a day. Engine hatches will probably need to be out and that is really going to jam up the space available. I have occasionally done the hull survey including haul-out the day before the engine survey then return for the trial run the next day. Quiet time is important to listen for whiny motors, short cycling pumps and other interesting anomolies. Hard to do that with a crowd around and all the engines and generator running.

As far as following me around during a survey that is your choice. I prefer to work through my list and come find you when I see something you should see. 95% of what I look will not matter. If there is an item in an area that is out of the way you need to know about or something important that is going to be a significant finding then we need to spend time together looking at it. If you have been aboard before me and have items that pique your interest I like to tackle those straight away.

I see the boat has active fin stabilizers. It is recommended to reseal the shafts every few years. If it has been three or four since they were done last they are probably due.
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Old 03-12-2016, 07:32 AM   #19
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Does any one know the approx. cost of replacing seals on Trac stabilizers? I read on line, that the company recommends changing every six years. But this boat saw only about 200 hours of operation since the stabilizers where installed. Does this extend their life?

Thanks gordon
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Old 03-12-2016, 08:18 AM   #20
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Keep in mind that rubber seals are like rubber impellers. They come to an end of their useful service life based upon time too. Add the prior time to your next scheduled haul-out date then calculate if you can make it or not. If you haul frequently adding a seal replacement sooner than later is not a big deal. If they do leak they usually stain the bilge and corrode the stabilizer parts which can be hard to undo. I am guessing about six hours per side but that is a swag.

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Does any one know the approx. cost of replacing seals on Trac stabilizers? I read on line, that the company recommends changing every six years. But this boat saw only about 200 hours of operation since the stabilizers where installed. Does this extend their life?

Thanks gordon
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