Depressed about Moisture

Discussion in 'Newbie Lounge - NEW' started by markhpc, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. sbw1

    sbw1 Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    West Michigan
    This is listed in my signature
    This is listed in my signature
    2808670-R1-015-6.jpg We had our 1993 370 Express checked with a moisture meter when it was a new boat and the stingers showed some moisture which bothered me a great deal at the time. When we sold the boat 11 years later the stringers still showed about the same level of moisture. I watched the surveyor bang away at the hull with his little ballpeen hammer. No thuds. All pings. Clean bill of health for the old girl, structure wise. Never did fix the deck leaks, however, and eventually gave up trying.
    WV 320 Dancer likes this.
  2. bobeast

    bobeast Dance the Tide SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 22, 2017
    Isleton, CA
    2002 310DA
    350 MPI w/V-drives
    They pulled the motors, cut out the wet sections of stringer, sistered in new wood, and glassed back over it. They offered cheaper alternatives including resin injection, but since these are the motor stringers I opted to have them replaced.
  3. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    I love it when a new buyer takes the time to learn. The problem is you don't fully understand the nuances of something like moisture in a boat.

    For example, the structure of a boat and its coring can fool you if you don't understand the construction. For example, The infrared photography you posted on the bow of a boat you were interested in led you to believe that the windlass area was wet. It might be, but more than likely, your photography just showed you the area Sea Ray cored with 2 layers of marine plywood which is just significantly more dense than normal balsa deck coring. You would get the same results at bulkhead areas and the center of the transom where the fiberglass/structure is just thicker.

    Wet boats usually have other symptoms as well , like the limber hole you showed. The correct fix there , instead of silicone smeared on the hole, is to grind out the limber hole liner and replace it with resin and mat.

    Use your moisture meter/ infrared camera as you search, but you will probably never find a 20 year old boat that doesn't scare you away because of construction you don't understand and know about or because of real moisture. Spend the money for a professional marine surveyor who uses multiple methods to check for moisture and who arrives at the boat with an understanding of the construction techniques the builder used.

    Good luck with your search..............
  4. markhpc

    markhpc New Member

    Apr 9, 2019
    I did take measurements with my moisture meter as well around that whole area. Where you see the heat gradient change is also where the moisture meter gradually (maybe over about 1-2ft) dropped from about 80% down to about 10-15% as you moved away. I agree; you are absolutely correct that a single tool can show anomalies like you describe.

    Absolutely, I'm all in on getting a survey if I make an offer. Just given how expensive surveys are here ($800 seems to be the going rate for this size of boat and one of our surveyors here told me he won't look at anything pre Y2K) I've at least got to do some level of due diligence myself first.
  5. susanandlance

    susanandlance Active Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Feb 10, 2011
    2007 Sea Ray 36 Sedan Bridge
    8.1 mercruisers
    Find another surveyor then.....
  6. markhpc

    markhpc New Member

    Apr 9, 2019
    We only have 2-3 in the state afaik (I think another is in training though)
  7. NorCal Boater

    NorCal Boater Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jan 24, 2008
    Covington, LA
    Cobalt CM23
    GM SB 383" Stroker" Alpha Gen I

    When looking at a boats in the size and complexity (i.e. multiple systems, advanced electronics, etc.) it is best to leave the "survey" to the professional surveyors. You can poke around and use your thermal imaging camera but it takes a professional, trained surveyor to accurately analyze the data. That is what he gets paid for. That $800 is a pretty cheap investment for peace of mind. And if you are looking at 40+ foot vessels you are going to pay more than $800 for a full survey. Are you going to poke around the diesel engines prior to an offer as well?

    It's OK to be cautious and wary and to do some amount of due diligence but I think you might be making yourself a bit nuts here. If you still have concerns though, go to a reputable boatyard that does stringer/fiberglass repair and ask the yard manager what boats he has seen with the most issues pertaining to rot. And if you do have one surveyed and the results of the survey come back unacceptable, that $800 +/- was well spent.

    About 10 years ago I was living in Northern California and found a boat in Southern Cal that my wife and I fell in love with. It was a 1986, 52' Cockpit Motor Yacht. It checked all the boxes and we loved everything about it. We negotiated an accepted offer, scheduled a sea trial and I bought plane tickets for myself, my wife and our broker. We flew down, sea trialed the boat and all went well. Survey was schedule and at that point is was determine that the boat and particularly the engines, had about 8 years of deferred maintenance. It would have cost over $10,000 to bring everything current....just on the engines and genny. We then became frightened about what else might not have been done. We made the decision to walk away. The cost for that decision with 3 plane tickets and survey?....about $2400. But it turned out to be the best $2400 we ever spent on a boat. Three weeks later we found a much better boat for less money in Northern Cal. BTW....I've purchased 5 boats from 26'-52' that I have had surveyed and never once did any surveyor use a thermal imaging camera.

    The moral? Buying a boat can be pretty stressful without adding more unnecessarily. Look for a boat you like and let the professional surveyors do their job....and enjoy the process.
    markhpc likes this.
  8. markhpc

    markhpc New Member

    Apr 9, 2019
    Thank you for the insightful response NorCal! Do you guys run into many stringer/transom rot issues on the coast with salt water? The impression I've gotten has been that it's more common with freshwater and one of the reasons carver was early to the party with hollow stringers as they are based out of Wisconsin. For reference, the article that got me interested last year in doing some of this kind of analysis myself was from a surveyor that recommended following a sort of "pre-survey" checklist: Survey 101.htm

    He does in fact talk quite a bit about pre-survey engine checks you should do. ;) He also has a very good article here talking about the limitations and behaviors of both moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras: meter mythology.htm

    I don't think you really need a heat lamp for decks with enough sunshine hitting them though. I've gotten some extremely clear temperature gradients for spongy and cracking deck areas on older boats that the moisture meter also picks right up on.

  9. ENstig8or

    ENstig8or Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 4, 2013
    New Jersey
    2003 Sea Ray 450 Express Bridge.....

    2016 Sea Ray 21 SPX BR
    Cummins 480CE (450)
    Mercruiser 4.3L (21 SPX)
    markhpc likes this.
  10. ttmott

    ttmott PhD in OCD GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    Mark - I think you are doing exactly the right thing; becoming knowledgable, using some great tools, and asking the right questions. This will set you up, when you do find the right boat and move to the professional surveys to ask the pertinent questions and ensure you are getting what you paid for. I make the surveyors earn their money; we sit down for at least an hour right after the survey and go over what they did and first impressions based upon experience. This last boat I bought I sent the hull surveyor back to the showers a couple of times until he got my questions answered. He is a well respected surveyor in Eastern Fl and has done all my surveys and knows I'm an informed buyer; we have a very good working relationship. A great example of what you are questioning (low IR signature on the bow area) is something you could have the surveyor take a closer look at; it's a professional dialog. I think the more you use the tools you have the more informed you become; keep it going!
    markhpc and MonacoMike like this.
  11. markhpc

    markhpc New Member

    Apr 9, 2019
    Thank you for the kind words and encouragement ttmott. We just got 6" of snow dumped on us here in MN, but once the weather improves there's another 410DA and a 410EC in the area I'm going to go look at so I can make some comparisons. Since most of the boats I've looked at so far have been from the 80s and 90s, I'd like to get a better idea of what to expect from boats that are a little newer (though still almost 20 years old!). Amazing how time flies.
  12. Todd320

    Todd320 Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    Jul 21, 2016
    St. Petersburg, FL
    2007 Sea Ray 320DA
    Twin V-drive 5.7L 350 Horizon
    . That’s the type of moisture to be depressed about. Don’t worry about the moisture on the boat, find a boat you love and get in the water! Good luck!
    SkiPharmer, JVM225 and techmitch like this.
  13. SkiPharmer

    SkiPharmer Active Member

    Jul 27, 2014
    St. Croix River, MN
    "Apres Ski" is a 1995 Sea Ray Sundancer 330, Twin 454 MerCruiser V-Drives
    Twin 7.4 Liter Mercruisers V-drives
    Amen. Like I told you Mark, find a boat you like, if you think there are issues, have a professional look at it and get their opinion. Boating is way too much fun to have so much anxiety over a problem that can be found and fixed. Go make memories!
    WV 320 Dancer likes this.

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