Depressed about Moisture

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

  1. MonacoMike

    MonacoMike Well-Known Member PLATINUM Sponsor

    Sep 15, 2009
    Indiana lakes and Lake Michigan
    2000 Cruisers 3870
    8.2 Mercs
    85 Sea Ray Monaco 197
    260hp Alpha 1
  2. 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
    Our boat was just surveyed last week for the first time. It is 15 years old and has always been stored in a heated building. In Michigan that means it is always about 49 degrees in the winter, so not exactly warm. Wet boats do not dry out on their own in heated buildings because any moisture is typically trapped between layers of fiberglass and gel coat. So a boat that is wet in the fall will be wet in the spring. Also wetness is not easily expressed as a number that is absolute. You can however tell when a hull or stringer is wet. Locations near fittings are always suspect as are stringers, windlasses, port lights, and transom. As I sat in the cockpit of my boat in a cold "heated" inside storage building, I listened as the surveyor tapped on the hull beneath and around the boat. He then moved to the hardtop, and top deck and did the same thing. All of the tapping sounds were crisp with no dull sounds detected. He used a moisture meter as well at various locations. When all was said and done, he said, "This is a very dry boat." I told him we had replaced all of the through hulls with new and glassed the penetrations about 5 years ago. His response, "That would explain the low moisture readings I recorded around the through hulls." A little PM goes a long way in protecting your investment.
     
  3. ADR

    ADR New Member

    27
    Feb 26, 2019
    boat hunting
    on the market

    It does! Thanks for the info. I'm looking forward to watching the surveyor and his process of investigating. Will be asking questions too.
     
  4. ADR

    ADR New Member

    27
    Feb 26, 2019
    boat hunting
    on the market
    Good to know. Thx!
     
  5. boatman37

    boatman37 Well-Known Member

    Jun 6, 2015
    pittsburgh
    2006 Crownline 250CR. 5.7 Merc BIII
    Previous: 1986 Sea Ray 250 Sundancer. 260 Merc Alpha 1 Gen 1
    5.7 Merc BIII
    Same here. Had ours surveyed when we bought it in August. Surveyor tapped all around the hull and transom and checked with a moisture meter. Ours is a 2006 and all was good. The only bad spot is a soft spot on the swim platform that will be re-cored this fall. The platform is external from the boat so no chance it will spread to the rest of the boat.

    On our Sea Ray I removed all bolts, screws, and thru hulls on my transom and re-sealed when I bought it. I also installed a new transducer and drilled 1/2" holes then filled the holes with epoxy then drilled the screws into the epoxy. As sb1 said, a little PM goes a long way.
     
  6. markhpc

    markhpc Member

    30
    Apr 9, 2019
    Minnesota
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Hi Folks,

    Sorry for the long delay, had some pesky non-boat things that got in the way. :) Over the weekend we went and checked out an older 390. Sadly it was in too rough of shape for consideration, but it was interesting to check out as the transom was quite dry in comparison to that 410da we looked at a couple of weeks ago (just a little elevation near were the swim platform attached). I also discovered that my meter works pretty well on cored hulls despite the bottom paint. Looks like the owner maybe hit the dock a bit hard on the starboard side. Most of it was just gelcoat crazing but near a fitting there were was more significant damage and the moisture meter picked it right up. I could basically map out how the moisture travelled down through the hull coring below that spot and diffused out eventually becoming dry. Every boat we look at teaches me something new, so at least there's that!

    Scheduling a look at a very clean looking mid-90s 370da later this week and possibly a later 90s trojan 390 if the broker gets back to me. I'll keep the thread updated as we continue to look.
     
  7. Bentwings

    Bentwings Member

    98
    Jul 4, 2018
    St.Paul,MN
    Boatless
    Boatless
    I live in Minn too. I looked at a variety of boats over two years. While I didn’t have the tools you have I am a mech eng as well as a mech.

    Looking a cored beams as a structural member if the core is reasonably intact and supported as they are in boats I’d say it would take a hard crash to bust things up. If you are going to be on the Miss River you will be hard pressed to see much over a 3 foot wave other than from a barge wake. Even then they aren’t insurmountable compared to ocean going or Great Lakes boats. My own boat I bought last year is an 89 so pretty vintage. It’s got a solid bottom. Late last fall when it was on the hard stands I tapped on the bottom. Frankly I’m maybe to inexperienced but I didn’t find anything I thought was “soft”. I think I could tell where stringers and bulkheads were....sort of but no soft or really clunky spots.

    The recent record flood put about a foot and a half of water in the bilges for several weeks. I briefly tapped around right before it was splashed and didn’t find anything I thought was unusual. The test was in the water for a solid week with the automatic bilge pumps off...dead batteries. And only a few gallons of water. We did have some hard rains so possibly some got in that way too. It’s been another week today so I’ll check again. I think the shaft logs may have to be tightened up a little.

    What I’m saying is maybe you are being a big too analytical. Not picking on you or anything. From my standpoint, I was looking at the cabin and aft cockpit areas. What conditions I could live with. I did see a very nice 410 DA with massive cabinetry delamination. It was throughout the cabin so even if the obvious was repaired you could expect further issues. Thus was an immediate disqualifier for me. My boat is all solid with no mold. Relatively new upholstery and only 1 year old canvas. It’s got nicks and scratches plus a few I added. It really needs a buffing.

    Anyway welcome.
     
    SkiPharmer likes this.
  8. markhpc

    markhpc Member

    30
    Apr 9, 2019
    Minnesota
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Hi Folks,

    Wanted to give a status update on our search. A couple of weeks ago we found a boat that we liked. I could not find evidence of significantly elevated moisture in the stringers or bulkheads with my limited tools/abilities. My meter did go off up on the foredeck near the foremast hatch but I didn't see anything with my thermal camera (usually if it's bad enough and I catch it on a sunny day I'll see a gradient). The area isn't too big (maybe a couple of feet) and the edges of the elevated moisture were not as diffuse as I sometimes observe with my moisture meter so I wasn't totally confident that I was really seeing moisture (perhaps just a large backing plate for the windlass or something). The boat was in the water so I couldn't easily check the hull/transom/thru-hulls.

    Long story short, we put in an offer, had it accepted, and hired a well respected surveyor in our area to come out and look. At some point with his permission I'll write up a new post about my experience following him around for the day. He was fantastic and I learned a ton. He let me compare my moisture meter readings to his calibrated unit and taught me a couple of things about percussive hammering, thermal imaging calibration, and overall boat design and maintenance. Easily money well spent.

    So the gist of it: He confirmed no evidence of moisture in the stringers. Did confirm evidence of moisture in the foredeck forward of the foremost hatch, likely from the hatch leaking. He also spotted three other moisture issues that I couldn't check when the boat was still in the water:

    1) A ~12" area of de-lamination on a wetted surface due to a suspected void.
    2) A leaky thru-hull fitting with a 6" radius of elevated moisture in the coring around it.
    3) a very small strip of elevated moisture just above one of the trim tabs (trim tab screws likely need rebedding).

    So now the search for rough quotes on repair costs and more decisions. Would definitely like to hear feedback/opinions from experienced folks before we make any final decisions regarding the survey.

    Thanks,
    Mark
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
    Brando99 likes this.
  9. Creekwood

    Creekwood Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 26, 2009
    Oakville and Georgian Bay, Ontario
    '97 330 Sundancer, Raymarine C80 suite with radar, Mercury 310 Hypalon w/8hp Yammie 2stk
    2X 454 carbs w/ vDrives
    Here is my take on it. Moisture will be an issue on any older boat. They won’t last forever without seals and sealant shrinking and screw holes loosening. A 90s boat is 20 to 30 years old. At some point the moisture and rot will soften decks or stringers. Engines and transmissions will need replacement and the list goes on. That, and tech and style advances is why older boats are much cheaper. If you aren’t comfortable with that then buy newer.

    No different than cars. Cheaper to buy older cars but will need more repairs. And the day will come when the repairs outweigh the value and it will be worthless.

    When I sold my first boat it was almost 20 years old and I was asking 8,500. The buyer had a survey done and came back to me with wanting a big price reduction for slight moisture in the transom. I came back with “so don’t buy it”. After a bit of back and forth they did buy it with no major price adjustment. I will bet that boat is still on the water.

    What you are buying will not last forever. So buy the best you can find, negotiate a fair price, and use it till you sell it.
     
    SkiPharmer likes this.
  10. markhpc

    markhpc Member

    30
    Apr 9, 2019
    Minnesota
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Oh, I should mention, this is a 2003. We upped our budget to try and find something newer (I know that's still 16-17 years old!). Still getting a feel for what we should expect at different ages.
     
  11. Bentwings

    Bentwings Member

    98
    Jul 4, 2018
    St.Paul,MN
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Here is my take based on my current experience with a 34 foot express cruiser. My dog and live aboard this boat so it’s a daily thing.

    The survey revealed a pretty sound hull with most age related items. Needs a buff, stress Cracks in the gel coat. A ground fault receptacle needed replacement some cracks in motor hoses. Anchor winch didn’t work spotlight didn’t work. And a few other minor things.

    A few things he missed. AC didn’t work, voltage converter didn’t work, cabin sliding door was very stiff, cabin sink faucet leaked.generator was hard to start.

    I was able to cut 3 grand off right away for the AC. I tried to chizzle a bit more for the other things but the best I could do was fix them.

    I bought the boat with the idea of live aboard.

    The items were fixed.....for long enough to close the deal and move the boat.

    The single worst thing that was missed was the water in the fuel tank. I probably should have walked away after the first sea trial when there were problems with both motors. I gave a second chance. The second sea trial failed too...same thing.
    Finally after the boat was pulled out of the water and supposedly the tank was drained.....it was not.

    I bought the boat after a good third sea trial. I took the boat out myself for a day of practice with a big boat in a busy channel. Then a few days later I took it upstream. Less tha 5 miles into the trip one motor quit just as I was entering my first experience with lock and dam. Then 40 more miles on one motor, another lick and dam, misty cold day then two hours of darkness on the river. I learned a lot that day.

    Then repairs, I nursed the AC back to life for a month of blistering hot weather then replaced it with a new unit for 2 grand. Then the cabin door seized up, it took two of us a coupe hours to get it open. Mean time the voltage converter was not working so the batteries went dead unless a motor was running.

    Nav lights and spotlight failed then the horn didn’t work. Finally the anchor winch seized up.

    So I’ve spent the entire summer fixing things. Fortunately I can do most of this myself. I will say my boat is dry. I just checked the bilges and I haven pumped them in a month and they have very little water in them.

    Be sure you check over all the day to day things. The cabin sliding door was a huge project requiring moving the entire helm station.

    Poke around behind the access panels and look at the plumbing and wiring. A found a mess with both. However my neighbor’s Carver is just as bad. Pull up the hatches and look around. My shower screen and pump were covered with a slimy mess. Be sure to check the sea cocks operation. I one that is extremely stiff. It really needed replacement.

    One last thing, winterizing if you live where it freezes. Read up and watch videos. You need some equipment and I used about 20 gallons of “pink” as the boat stuff is called.

    These older boats are full of surprises.

    I’ve lived Day to Day here for two full months now and learn something everyday about boats. You really need to learn to fix things yourself as marina help is very expensive.

    Sorry for the long post but I just wanted to point to things missed on the survey or just lightly covered.

    I just noticed you are in Minnesota. If you are somewhere near Inver Grove Heights give me a PM and maybe we can chat.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  12. El Capitan

    El Capitan Active Member

    396
    Jul 9, 2014
    Chicago IL./Vero Beach, Fl
    1970 SRV 180 w 2.5L Mercruiser.
    2000 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer
    120HP Mercruiser
    If there’s a hole in the hull ( engine tackle) and the hull is kept in slip, you will find moisture.

    There are no 15-20yr old dry hulls. The better question is if the moist reading is within the allowance by insurance companies.

    Once you get water intrusion it will continue to spread like a wet napkin.

    It typically starts at the transom (engine/drive tackle, thru hulls) and works its way to mounts, stringers and bulkheads and deck. Often times it rots the fuel tank.

    The only exception is the owner who swears his boat is the exception to the rule.
     
  13. markhpc

    markhpc Member

    30
    Apr 9, 2019
    Minnesota
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Thanks for the reply guys. One of the reasons I jumped on this boat was that the stringers actually appear to be very dry. Transom overall was in good shape too minus some elevation near the one trim tab. It's the deck, thru-hull (above the waterline), and 12" area of de-lamination that concern me on this particular boat. There was more water in both the engine and forward bilges than I was hoping to see, but not sure where it was coming from. It had just rained that night.

    How do insurance companies judge moisture readings? These meters don't tell you absolute numbers. My surveyor didn't explicitly give any values (as well he shouldn't) in his report, just noted evidence of elevated moisture levels.
     
  14. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

    596
    Sep 12, 2009
    IL
    281
    V8
    It's not the purported elevated moisture that is the issue. It's the rot and deterioration that follow. Once you "see" the moisture, get out the hammer and sound it. Then to be really sure, some destructive testing is in order -- the old drill bit.
     
  15. markhpc

    markhpc Member

    30
    Apr 9, 2019
    Minnesota
    Boatless
    Boatless
    Surveyor did use percussive sounding to find the hull delamination. Is destructive testing typically employed when moisture is found during the pre-purchase survey process? I'm sort of on the fence regarding whether I should walk away at this point or try to further investigate and/or negotiate for fixing the issues.
     
  16. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

    596
    Sep 12, 2009
    IL
    281
    V8
    Not until you own it. Depending on the area, some owners might go ahead and check. Only you can make the determination. But, about 17 years ago a bot my boat. The surveyor found "elevated" moisture readings, here and there. I called him asking for clarification -- what does it even mean. Got vague answers. Went ahead with the purchase. Enjoyed the boat for 17 years. Only now are a couple of moisture issues showing up - after 40 years (that will be my winter thread).
     

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