|Nautilus Marine Services
Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
Clinton Evans SAMS® AMS®
SAMS® Regional Director, Gulf Region
Principal Marine Surveyor
|It happened again this week. The phone rang. I answered, Nautilus Marine Services, Clinton Evans speaking.
I need a survey to get insurance?, the caller replied.
OK let me get some information. Tell me the year, make and model of the vessel.?
Um it is a 1998 sailboat, I?m not sure of the model I just bought the boat last week.?
I assume that you did not get it surveyed before you bought it, is that correct??
Yeah, a buddy of mine told me he could save me the money that a surveyor charges. He knows a lot about boats so he looked at it. He said it was in great shape. The price made it a good deal. Now the insurance company wants a survey. Can you do it and how much does it cost??
So begins the saga of a boat buyer who bought a boat without a survey. I ave a bad feeling about how this story will end and it won?t end well. I have done dozens of them and most of them end the same way. The new owner paid too much, lots of problems are found and some of them are major.
Let me give you a couple of real life examples. Examples of where the owner told me that had he known about what was found he would not have bought the boat.
The first story is about a houseboat. It was purchased and on the way to its new berth when major problems became obvious with the starboard outdrive. The vessel was towed to the nearest yard. The new owner had called me before making the purchase but decided he knew enough about boats and he had already made a deal. The original owner was even willing to cut $5,000.00 off the price if the buyer chose not to go through the "hassle of a survey". So a survey was not necessary, or so he thought. Well, his insurance company and finance company had other ideas and I was hired to performed the survey. Three major items stood out. First, the fore deck was completely delaminated. The repair was more than the $5,000 he saved. Second, the interior walls of the vessel were covered with soft vinyl. One could see and feel that the wood behind it was dry rotted and crumbling. The seller told the buyer it was due to a leak that he had repaired. Further examination revealed termite damage not only in the saloon but under the galley cabinets as well. The third item was the outdrives. Both suffered from stray current corrosion. Both outdrives were replaced for a reported $25,000. The market value, if it was in average to good condition, was estimated at $75,000. The purchase price was $65,000.00. The surveyed condition was fair, the value at the time of survey was calculated at $25,000. So now the owner has spent between $90,000 and $100,000 on the boat.
My fee, had he hired me to survey the vessel before he bought the boat would have been $750.
The second story is about at small sport fisherman. Upon arrival I met the proud new owner who had just bought the boat. "She s a beaut, don't you think? I always wanted a fishing boat and I was able to get this one for a song. Cost me $50,000, now all I need is insurance." In this case the boat was in average condition for its age. There were the typical safety items that needed addressing, such as lack of fire extinguishers and distress signals out of date. Typical electrical problems that occur when the old owner did his own work without regard to standards and safe practices were also discovered. The issue was the new owner paid too much. The high end of the market for this make and model boat is around $35,000. The value at the time of survey was calculated at $30,000. My fee had he hired me to survey the vessel before he bought the boat would have been $525.
The point being, it does cost to have the vessel surveyed but you are money and disappointments ahead when it is done before the purchase and not after.
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