The Survey That Wouldn’t End

We met our broker at 6:45 for breakfast at a great little diner less than 10 minutes from the marina. After breakfast, we made the short drive to the marina, arriving at 8:00 as planned. The seller’s broker met us and let us come aboard the boat. So far, so good.

The planned order of the day was that the hull surveyor (I’ll refer to him as the HS) would start at 8:00 in the engine room, and the engine surveyor (the ES) would show up an hour later at 9:00. By that time, the HS would be done in the engine room and would move on to the rest of the boat while the ES did a more thorough review of the mechanical bits and pieces.

The idea was that I would shadow the ES once he got started, and Janet would follow the HS around taking notes as he reviewed the structure of the boat and the electrical and mechanical systems. From 8:00 till 9:00, I stayed in the engine room with the HS as he did a cursory review of the engines, looking primarily for abnormal amounts of corrosion, checked seacocks to make sure they all opened and closed, and checked hoses and belts for deterioration. I was surprised at the number of seacocks there are in the boat. A seacock is a sort of valve that is installed anywhere there is a fitting through the hull to allow water to be drawn in for cooling the engines or the generator, to pump water back out of the boat, or for any of several other purposes. Since a seacock is located on what would otherwise be a hole in the boat, it is very important to make sure that if anything goes wrong, the seacock can be closed. Here was the first snafu of the day. We determined that some of the seacocks were located in areas that made it almost impossible to touch them even when the engines were stone cold. After running for several hours, the engines would be so hot that trying to operate those seacocks would likely result in some severely scorched flesh. We spent about half an hour trying to figure a way that they could be modified so they could be operated with hot engines, and this kept the HS from being done in the engine room when the ES showed up. Rather than delay him further, the HS decided to move on, and wait until later to examine the generator.

The ES came aboard with an impressive collection of tools and guages and proceeded to connect them to both of the main engines. Once everything was hooked up, it was time to fire up the Detroit Diesels. The seller’s broker was our boat captain for the day, so from my post at the engine room door, I relayed the order to fire ’em up to him, and waited to hear the Detroits roar. And waited. Nothing. I went up the stairs to the helm to make sure he’d heard me, and there he was pushing the start button, but nothing was happening. He got on the phone to the yard’s mechanic, and was told that the problem was a defective battery selector switch and that we just had to “wiggle it”. Well, we wiggled and cussed and although we had a couple almost-starts, we finally had to admit that the engines just weren’t going to start. So, the ES took matters into his own hands and went off to the yard to fetch a mechanic. He found one who came back, removed the defective switch, and jury-rigged a hot-wire connection that would have made a car thief proud. It wasn’t pretty, and it sure wouldn’t pass a Coast Guard inspection, but it was effective – the engines started.

Those big old Detroit Diesels are LOUD! After about an hour of running the engines at various speeds and switching between several different guages, the ES pronounced himself satisfied with the engines under a no-load condition and said we could haul the boat and then do a sea trial to see how they performed under a load. By this time, we are about two hours behind schedule, so as the yard moved the boat to the TravelLift, we went to the broker’s office to eat the lunch he’d sent out for.

After lunch, we walked over to where the boat was just being lifted from the water. They hauled it a few yards so it was suspended over pavement and then started to pressure wash the bottom. Even though it has a fairly fresh coat of anti-fouling paint, there was still a fair amount of marine growth on the bottom that had to be scraped off by hand. Now I would have expected this to go pretty quickly, but they were using scrapers the size of tongue depressors, and the speed with which they attacked the job confirmed that they were being paid by the hour. By the time the bottom was scraped clean enough for the HS to get a good close look, we were about three and a half hours behind schedule. Once he had documented the condition of the hull’s wetted surface, the HS indicated that we could splash the boat again and proceed to the sea trial.

The area where the marina is located is on a dredged canal, so the “sea trial” was going to be limited to a series of back and forth runs up and down the canal. For the most part, this went without any major problems, although it did reveal a significant vibration on the port side, and the starboard engine ran much hotter at wide open throttle than the port engine did.

By the time we finished at 8:30, we were all hot, tired, smelled of diesel exhaust, and just wanted a cold beer and a soft bed.

We’re waiting now for the written survey report from each surveyor, and for the results of the oil analysis from the engines, transmissions and generator. Once that’s all in, we will have to decide how we want to modify our original offer to account for the issues that the survey revealed, and then it will be up to the seller to accept or reject our revised offer.

We hope we can reach an agreement, because neither of us is looking forward to starting this whole process over.

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About TwoCaptains

The TwoCaptains are Jim and Janet, both US Coast Guard licensed boat captains home-ported in Daytona Beach. We recently sold our 1990 Ocean Yachts 56' CPMY "Magic Carpet", and now we're in the hunt for a replacement.
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