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Old 05-01-2013, 11:04 AM   #1
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Advice regarding soft spot on flybridge

Hi everyone, long time lurker, first time poster. After years on express cruisers and runabouts my wife and I finally decided to take the plunge and look for a trawler type boat. After looking at some classic trawlers my wife fell in love with the Europa design and we set about trying to find one in the northeast where they are not so common.

A few weeks ago we went to see a 1983 Ocean Alexander Europa, put in an offer, and did the survey yesterday. Since I was driving in from eastern CT down to Long Island, I left extremely early to avoid traffic and got to the boat a few hours before the surveyor and broker. The first thing I noticed when I was walking to the boat was a steady stream of water (not a drip) coming from a small crack in the fiberglass of the extended flybridge that is above the cockpit. The stream eventually did become a drip and ultimately stopped. As soon as the surveyor arrived I had him check it with a meter and hammer.

The moisture meter rang all around the hatch from the cockpit to the extended flybridge. This area was approximately two feet of deck around the hatch in all directions. Past that area where the meter rang there was moisture detected but it was low and didnít trigger the alarm. The only area that showed an issue with tapping was about a 1 foot area around the intrusion point which is a loose railing; the rest of the deck that rang the meter had very clear and crisp taps. I should also point out that even though it did rain the night before the deck was dry and it did not have any standing water or dew that could have set off the meter. If I hadnít seen the steady stream of water coming out of the crack I wouldnít be terribly concerned with the meter reading, and probably would not have noticed the soft spot because of where it is.

Iíd love to get some opinions here. The surveyor and I were both very concerned about this especially because there was a soft spot. The broker and the marina owner were adamant that this is not uncommon for a boat of this age, is a minor issue, and didnít think the seller would address this.

On a scale of 1 Ė 10 how concerned would you be if this turned up on a boat you were surveying. Would you overlook this, require it to be fixed, ask for a price reduction, or just walk away?

There were some other issues on the survey but Iíve rambled on long enough. Thank you for taking the time to read it and would appreciate you sharing your experiences.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:34 AM   #2
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A little more information is required. So was the underlying wood still solid so the fiberglass might just be delaminated? Is the spot a stress/support area, and/or have heavy traffic? Does it leaking underneath the area or show signs of water? Do the fasteners/screw still tighten up?

Just because its wet now does not mean its to serious, can be dried out and be repaired. It’s when water moisture for a long period of time gets trap/can not drain is the concern. In the PNW which rains for 9 months is common that a leak will develop but can not be fixed repaired until the area is dried out during the dry warm summer month.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:35 AM   #3
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Soft spot means rotten core. Rotten core means an extended time saturated with moisture. In my experience, the core surrounding the soft spot can easy extend to 5' in all directions, which in my case it did. I would consider it major. In my case the broker and owner considered it a minor issue, I believed them, they were wrong. I ended up paying for a major core removal/replacement/patch job 4 years later costing $9,200.00.

That's my experience with a soft spot. YMMV. Good luck and trend carefully.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:50 AM   #4
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hi Phil - We did not drill but my assumption is that the core is plywood, and that it is no longer solid. My reasoning is that the loose railing moves freely straight up and down and the screws will not tighten.

The spot is never going to have any foot traffic, but it's only about a foot away from the seating area that has folding chairs on it.

It is not leaking directly underneath it because of the slope of the deck moves the moisture to the outside edge of the deck where I observed the water running out of a crack. The crack did have the greenish ooze of rot.

David O - you lived the exact experience I'm having right now. The moisture meter did ring 3-4 feet around the softspot, but the hammer was clear and crisp everywhere except the 1 foot area around the intrusion. I asked the broker if the seller would be willing to repair a five foot area and was told it wasn't likely. I'm not trying to bash the broker because I actually happen to like the guy. I just want to fully understand the risks so I can make the right requests or simply walk away.
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Old 05-01-2013, 11:54 AM   #5
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Of course the broker is going to say no big deal. He wants to sell the boat. If that is all that stops the deal, contact someone who repairs fiberglass and get an estimate for repairs. Than see about getting the price lowered by that amount. Good luck
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Old 05-01-2013, 12:55 PM   #6
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Of course the broker is going to say no big deal. He wants to sell the boat. If that is all that stops the deal, contact someone who repairs fiberglass and get an estimate for repairs. Than see about getting the price lowered by that amount. Good luck
Now that's good advice! If there is a question over what is minor or major, get a repair quote - or two - from unrelated parties. Meaning they have no stake in the sale of the boat. We did the same thing many years ago, and subsequently had the sales price lowered by the repair estimate amount.
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Old 05-01-2013, 02:43 PM   #7
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It is a 1983 boat. I would ask that the seller meet you part way toward making the repairs unless of course the contract price is so low that she is a where is as is situation.
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Old 05-01-2013, 03:22 PM   #8
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Russell and Moonfish, thank you for your posts. If we pursue this we are definitely going to get quotes from other parties for the repairs.

DaddyO we really didn't get a good deal on the boat, in fact the appraisal value will be lower than the accepted bid. The accepted price came about because of the insistence of the broker that the mechanical state of the boat was maintained with an open checkbook and that structurally it was very sound...and since it had mechanical and structural issues during the survey we obviously need to revisit the negotiating table LOL
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Old 05-01-2013, 05:12 PM   #9
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I have found when buying and/or selling large dollar is to make what I feel is low reasonable offer and walk. If they counter/blink at least you know there is some room. You must have blinked? The worst thing that can happen is they turn you down!

Might want to talk to banks/finance as to what they think is a fair value and what they would loan on the boat? Also talk to insurance companies as to what they will insure for? Both are a good source for information. I like using third unknown parties/persons, then they know you may not have the final say. I mean fair is fair as you don’t get to talk to the owner.
If there is a next time at least ask US. When I bought the Eagle actual price was less than appriased and the bank was willing to loan, however it was the insuranc company that set the low value being an old one off boat. No money out of our pocket. Don't blame me, its the dang insurance company!
If you want a good deal you may have to make several low ball offers and be willing to walk. These boots were made for walking is the song that goes through my mind as I walk out the door! I love Pretty Woman when she cames back and told the clerk, BIG HUGE MISTAKE!
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:14 PM   #10
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I just closed on a boat today that has a wet spot in the hull.

The seller discounted the price the amount of the estimated repair plus extra for the additional cosmetic work required to make the repair unnoticeable.

Only if you really like the boat and can feel comfortable with what's required to repair should you purchase it in my opinion.
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Old 05-01-2013, 06:30 PM   #11
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Based on that information then yes it certainly sounds like you should be renegotiating.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:40 PM   #12
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Having just bought a boat I'm fully aware of the emotions. Resist them, this is a business transaction plain and simple. If it doesn't make dollars, it don't make sense. Never be afraid to walk away if you are at all not satisfied with the terms.
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Old 05-01-2013, 09:46 PM   #13
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Having just bought a boat I'm fully aware of the emotions. Resist them, this is a business transaction plain and simple. If it doesn't make dollars, it don't make sense. Never be afraid to walk away if you are at all not satisfied with the terms.
Amen
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:34 AM   #14
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There are 2 prices for a boat, one before,one after, survey.
The defects becomes yours once you buy, everyone else will lose interest then. Your "power" then evaporates.
Fortunately the affected area sounds small but by the time the penetrating rot is excavated, area reinstated and repainted, it will cost. And it sounds like there are other issues for "adjustment", when it was a major selling point there were none. Rely only on your own assessment inquiries and advice, not broker/seller assurances. And if you are not happy, be prepared walk.
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Old 05-02-2013, 05:29 AM   #15
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Sounds to me like that soft spot is an extension of the roof over the rest of the cabin.????

IF that is the case the failure might not be confined and the cabin top may need to be removed.

Did it on a Californian and even with the owner doing all the install ( I just laid up the replacement) it was time consuming and not cheap.

The owner had built a wooden boat from scratch so understood good construction.

A boat yard probably will not have the expertise for the repair.

However if the soft spot is simply local , by laminating glass on top of the area , thick enough, a reasonable repair would not require chopping out the core .

This would be cheap and easy , and very low skills are required.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:03 AM   #16
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Are you really buying a 1983 boat and expecting to NOT have to make repairs?? Surely that is unrealistic...you need to have an OVERALL budget in mind, made up of two parts, the Purchase cost and the Re-fit/Repair cost.

I have an OA, 1985 and there are several OA owners on this Forum. Can you post a photo of the boat at least, if not the problem area: you might get some solid advice then.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:47 AM   #17
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No Aquabelle I am not expecting to buy a 30 year old boat that doesn't need repairs. I am asking how people purchasing a boat would approach a soft spot on an extended fly bridge. I am trying to avoid the exact experience that the second person to respond (David O) had.

Here is a picture of the spot
Click image for larger version

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Old 05-02-2013, 08:59 AM   #18
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...we really didn't get a good deal on the boat, in fact the appraisal value will be lower than the accepted bid.
Owner pays for everything on the survey or me and my cash takes a walk if the above is true.
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Old 05-02-2013, 10:48 AM   #19
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No Aquabelle I am not expecting to buy a 30 year old boat that doesn't need repairs. I am asking how people purchasing a boat would approach a soft spot on an extended fly bridge. I am trying to avoid the exact experience that the second person to respond (David O) had.

Here is a picture of the spot
Attachment 18914
OMG Jason - Be VERY sure you check everywhere for water intrusions. Check the stringers carefully if they are wood-beam cored. And, as many have suggested - Be prepared to "Walk Away"... there's another great boat around the corner. Be careful not to buy a big headache and financial drain.

BTW - I love Mystic Sea Port. Back in mid 60's we used to often visit by boat, from LI, NY. Last time I visited was late 1990's, on a land trip from SF.
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Old 05-02-2013, 11:21 AM   #20
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I have a Europa with the same problems you describe...dont trust the survey results as the hammer and moisture meter only point out the worst spots. see my thread "dissasembly of flying bridge-experience anyone?" describing the whole thing..I note the deck has been coated on your boat...sometimes they coat the deck trying to avoid repairing the damage properly. that never works..wood rot grows even when dry..unless fixed it will proceed to eat your boat. you would have to start at the bridge and work your way back. I found all round the hatch, accross the stern and all four corners were bad but repairable. It will be better than new when I am done. your choice is - do you want to spend time fixing...or cruising? I think of it in terms of how much fuel that money would have bought...
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