Sloppy surveyor

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RollerCoastr, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 741, 742, 8212, 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    I've been helping a friend boat shop for over 2 years now. His budget and priorities have have all swung at least 180º and sometimes back again...

    We stumbled across a 30-year old 32 footer for sale by an estate. It's far from perfect, but it's clear that the owner understood and cared for this boat and the accepted offer is way below what one would expect. It's been sitting for almost 3 years. A sale recently fell through. We heard from a 3rd party that it the deal crumbed due to an inexperienced and unreasonable buyer. That was supported by their reaction when my buddy contacted them to purchase their survey. They demanded full price and $400 in mechanical work they invested to get the engines to reach WOT. Ah, no, that's not how any of this works!

    So he hired the same SAMS surveyor, who offered a documented survey at half-price. He re-surveyed the boat, even though it went back to storage immediately after he surveyed it a month before. Maybe that's an industry expectation?

    I read the report yesterday, and I'm not impressed. 80% of it is of course boilerplate language and disclaimers. I'm fine with that - they all are. What I'm not fine with is what strikes me as lazy and incompetent content further in.

    When someone familiar with boats looks at blue engines wearing a "350" plate on the valve covers, he doesn't think horsepower, right?? This certified marine surveyor wrote "engines reportedly 350 HP each".

    He didn't notice a crack in a transmission bracket. When my friend asked him about, he said, "I don't do engines". We understand that surveyors aren't mechanics. I don't expect him to predict a bearing failure for chrissake, but shouldn't he notice and mention a clearly-visible crack and know the difference between CI and HP?

    The report stated the vessel has an aft cabin. It doesn't. He mis-spelled windlass.

    He noted that he found elevated moisture, but provided no detail of how much or where it is.

    He provided some detail on other things, such as the model number of the stereo. It ended with RF. Um, dude, that's the model number of a Radio Frequency REMOTE.

    Are these big red flags or am I being unreasonable for a $350 survey? He's scheduled to close in few days. After reading the survey I'm wondering if hiring someone else would be money well spent.
     
  2. Stee6043

    Stee6043 Well-Known Member

    Jun 1, 2015
    West Michigan
    1997 Sundancer 400
    7.4L Gassers
    Based on your description (and assumed value of the boat) I'd be most concerned with the moisture topic. Will the prior surveyor clarify and confirm the moisture levels and locations if asked? Or can he come back out? With that I'd be pretty comfortable in closing the deal based on a successful sea trial with a good friend (you) scouring over every system during the sea trial :).

    In the "fun story" column - I thought I had a stellar survey done on my 400 when I bought it. Lots of relevant info, loads of pics, plenty of minor findings to make me feel it was a comprehensive survey. But my guy completely missed a pretty significant hydraulic fluid leak coming from the helm steering pump. Oil was dripping onto the fuse box, in plain sight, and had been for a while. He clearly didn't open that door. He also didn't peer into the shower sumps and see the electrical taped connections submerged in the water in both sumps :) Best $1,000 I've ever spent ? ha.
     
  3. b_arrington

    b_arrington Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    2018 Back Cove 34
    Cummins QSB 6.7 480
    Seems like a rather lousy survey and surveyor. I had questions about the survey on my boat that was performed for a buyer; the surveyor was happy to answer them when he had no obligation to do so. He was extremely thorough in his inspection.

    Compare your friend's surveyor experience to mine for a potential purchase. The surveyor I used spent hours going over nooks, crannies, and details. Testing every system, poking and prodding. Looking very carefully at the engine and it's performance during the sea trial. He was also able to take a detailed look at the engine. He uncovered a bunch of problems on the boat and gave context for them. He also listened to and looked at things I spotted on an earlier look at the boat.

    In the end he took my wife aside and told us to RUN away from the boat due to issues with the electrical. Do NOT buy it under any circumstances. The boat had issues with the electrical system, shaft, transmission, the (diesel) engine, and general neglect. The survey cost me about $2000 but saved me many many thousands in repairs from a badly cared for boat.
     
    Luna Sea likes this.
  4. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 741, 742, 8212, 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    Me too.

    My friend used the same guy as the previous buyers. I thought he'd offer to go over the boat with my friend there and offer a deal on the previous survey, but instead he re-performed the survey for a discount. I thought that was weird, but maybe he's obligated to?

    He checked "average condition" on the survey doc. His off-the-record recommendation was to buy the boat.

    I expected a description or even a drawing of where the moisture was found, but all he provided was "at the bow" and "near windshield" etc.
     
  5. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 741, 742, 8212, 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    That's more aligned with my expectations. I don't expect in-depth mechanical information, but I expect a boat surveyor to notice a large crack near the transmission and know that a 350 Crusader is an SBC.
     
  6. bobeast

    bobeast Dance the Tide SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 22, 2017
    Isleton, CA
    2002 310DA
    350 MPI w/V-drives
    A survey is an event that you as the buyer attends and participates in. Was your buddy present during the survey? I learned a lot during the survey on my boat, and I suspect the presence of the buyer would encourage more diligence.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
    b_arrington likes this.
  7. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 741, 742, 8212, 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    He wasn't, and I suspect you're right.
     
  8. Captn TJ

    Captn TJ Active Member

    829
    Sep 19, 2017
    Catawba Island, Oh
    2005 280DA
    Raymarine E80
    5.0 with Bravo 3
    I have pretty high expectations for anything I pay for - meaning it should be done right the first time. 2 yrs ago I paid $750 for a comprehensive survey on my 280. While it didn't include an examination of the engines he spent quite a bit of time in the ER looking for fluid leaks , signs of neglect, etc. It was 1/2 day while the boat was on the hard, then another 1/2f day in the water reviewing all of the systems including a sea trial where they ran the boat up to WOT.

    FYI I would never have a survey done without being there every step of the way. I learned a lot from the surveyor on the boat and various systems.
     
    JC3, Undercover and b_arrington like this.
  9. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    Like any other professions, there are probably good and bad surveyors.
    Probably best to find out as much about a particular one before hiring him.
    I went with a surveyor that came pretty highly recommended by several people in my area. I spoke to him over the phone, asked him some questions and after feeling comfortable with the answers I set up an appointment for him to do the survey.
    Having gone through the boat with a fine tooth comb before deciding to have a survey, there was specific things that I wanted to look.
    I was with him the whole day through the survey and sea trial. He did an excellent job. It was well worth what I paid him.
    I’ve recommended him to a few people since he did my boat and all have been very happy with his service too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2019
  10. sbw1

    sbw1 Well-Known Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    West Michigan
    This is listed in my signature
    This is listed in my signature
    IMG_4230.JPG I have sold two boats that were surveyed by two different surveyors. One was sold to Walstroms Marine in Harbor Springs and they used their own employee. The survey consisted of running the boat on Lake Michigan for 30 minutes with probably two of those minutes at WOT. After that they put the boat in their Travel Hoist and let it cool down. Then the guy spent an hour tapping on every conceivable structural component with a ball peen hammer and using his moisture meter.
    My Tiara got the same treatment in reverse. Lots of hammering and moisture meter checking. Then we put the boat in the water and ran it on Lake Michigan at WOT for a bit. Then he opened the day hatch and watched the motors run while we cruised at different power settings.
    In both cases the surveyors focused on the money items. Ran the genny, flushed the toilet but never turned on the stereo, TV or micro wave. I felt the buyers were looking at the systems that would be expensive to fix. While they did not know it, all of the other systems worked perfectly.
    They referenced surveyor in this post was incompetent if the description of his work product is accurate. Whatever the cost of the survey, it was wasted money.
     
    krs616 likes this.
  11. becnme

    becnme Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    146
    Oct 31, 2008
    Fort Myers
    07 44 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSC 500
    Your friend should be cautious here. A 30 year old boat will need a survey to get insured. Will he send this ambiguous survey or have another one done? The moisture section may raise a red flag for them. I would want to know the facts on the moisture no matter how cheap the boat is.
     
  12. 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
    The surveyor that did our Crownline was recommended by a few. Pickens were slim around here as there weren't many to choose from but we hired a guy named Steve Colletti here in Pittsburgh. He spent about 4 or 5 hours examining the boat on the trailer. He tapped all around and used a moisture meter all over the boat. He checked everything he could on land then we towed it to the river for about a 30 minute sea trial. He spent much of that time in the engine bay while I drove (seller was with us but didn't want to drive). He tested all electrical, all pumps, hydraulics, everything I can think of. He even went into the cabin and had me hit waves. Said he was checking for 'puffing' or something like that. In the end I got a 14 page report with about 50 pics (only about 1/2 the pics were in the report, the rest he emailed to me). He didn't do an engine survey but did listen to it and said I was welcome to hire a mechanic for that but he didn't feel the need for it.

    The only issues he found was worn anodes, old bellows, fresh water pump wouldn't pump, and AC pump wouldn't prime. On the hull the removable swim platform had a soft spot (plan to pull that this winter and recore it over winter months). I had to replace the AC pump and the fresh water pump filter was plugged. Other than that everything checked out good. The only other thing that needed replaced was the canvas. I put the biminis up when we looked at it and they looked great. We never took the side panels out of storage and the seller said they were in perfect condition so we took her work for it. Big mistake there. Because we were told they were good the surveyor never looked at any of that.

    Even after fixing all of that the boat is still worth about $5000 more than we have in it so I feel good about it
     
  13. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 741, 742, 8212, 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    Follow-up to this:

    The surveyor wasn't returning phone calls and wanted an additional fee to perform a sea trial, so I joined my buddy and the broker at the boat on Saturday.

    15 mph winds, moderate chop on the bay. The damned carbed Crusader 350's fired off better than my MPI Mercs. I took the helm and we did several take-offs (she definitely likes tab), turns, WOT runs etc., then he stepped up to do some docking maneuvers. (he's coming out of a single I/O)

    He decided to ask for a grand off for the survey findings. That put the offer under half of the asking, but the seller/estate accepted and he closed.

    We took her over to our marina and put her in her new slip. His family joined him later, as he scrubbed the whole outside, canvas, cockpit, steamed the salon carpet, cleaned and cleared the cockpit gutters, and I don't know what else.

    Over the winter I'm going to encourage him to explore options to extend his tabs or add drop fins. I think she'd run a lot better with some more stern lift. I'll also of course suggest several DSC VHF options to choose from...

    Overall I think he got a good boat at a great price. I will be steering people away from that surveyor, and direct people toward the broker. (actually a CO-broker, but he responded like he was in line for a $50k commission)
     
  14. hottoddie

    hottoddie Well-Known Member

    Jan 11, 2012
    Boston/Cape Cod
    1986 Sea Ray 390 EC
    Garmin 4212 Chartplotter
    Garmin 24 HD Radar
    Garmin 546s Plotter
    454 Crusaders
    When someone familiar with boats looks at blue engines wearing a "350" plate on the valve covers, he doesn't think horsepower, right?? This certified marine surveyor wrote "engines reportedly 350 HP each


    Blue engines are usually Crusaders. Crusaders with the 350 on the valve covers are 454 big blocks rated at 350hp. My experience with surveyors is mixed and I would be asking for clarifications on the moisture issues. BTW a 32 yo boat is bound to have some moisture so don't expect the boat to moisture free.
     
  15. RollerCoastr

    RollerCoastr Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2007
    Cedar Point, OH / Miami, FL / MacRay Harbor, MI
    1997 400DA
    340HP 7.4 Mercruiser Bluewaters
    Garmin 741, 742, 8212, 24HD, Intellian I2
    1999 280BR
    Twin 250HP Merc 350 Alpha Ones
    350 on Crusaders is CI - small blocks. The BB's would say 454, and were often rated at 310 HP anyway. That confusion makes me feel better about the surveyor though! (a little) lol

    I couldn't agree more, and one of the reasons my buddy has been boatless for over 3 years is that he struggled to accept that. He's let some pretty nice boats go because of those expectations.

    This pre-purchase survey read like an insurance survey to me. finding: "elevated moisture at bow" recommendation: "initiate drying procedure and re-bed related equipment". I don't find that helpful. The nav lights and windless, ahem, windlass are all mounted on the pulpit. The cynic in me wonders if he just put that in there.
     
  16. Captn TJ

    Captn TJ Active Member

    829
    Sep 19, 2017
    Catawba Island, Oh
    2005 280DA
    Raymarine E80
    5.0 with Bravo 3
    Boilerplate language. That's why I want to be there with the surveyor - so that he can show me the wet area.
     
    RollerCoastr likes this.

Share This Page

Show Sidebar