Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And This is Why You Do a Boat Survey

In my last post I wrote that we were under contract on a Lagoon 37.  Due to the unique nature of boat buying, here's a brief outline of the process for those that haven't experienced it.  You find a boat you like, agree upon a tentative price, and put the boat under contract.  Then the next step is to perform a survey (inspection) and sea trial (test drive).  Once that is complete, included in the contract is an Acceptance Of Vessel (AOV) date.  They buyer has the option to accept the boat, reject the boat, or possibly renegotiate based on the results of the survey.  Once the boat is "accepted" by the buyer, there is a closing and you own the boat.  That's how its supposed to go anyway (according to my understanding).

We just had the survey and sea trial on the Lagoon 37.  Until I set up the appointment, I figured these were two separate things, but apparently they are often done on the same day, particularly when you need to move the boat to the inspection location.  So, after interviewing a few surveyors on the phone, I selected one and we set up the appointment for the survey and sea trial.

We met at the boat and the surveyor started with his "cold" checks of the boat to test systems while hooked up to shore power before the engines are started. Then the engines were started, additional checks were performed and we motored our way to the boat yard for the haul out as the inspector continued to check things out en-route.

Once we got to the boat yard, we had the boat hauled-out (pulled out of the water) so we could power wash and inspect the exterior hull and below the waterline.  This is where the fun started.  Thus far the surveyor had a decent sized laundry list of items, but most of them were known or reasonably small in nature.  By hauling and pressure washing the bottom, he was able to find several items of potential concern with the hull and propulsion system.

Hull Impact?
Hull Patch?
How did footprints get here?

After the hull inspection, the boat was placed back in the water for our return trip.  On this trip we took the boat to a reasonably-sized bay to run up the sails to inspect them and see how she sails.  While motoring from the yard to the bay the captain was having difficulty keeping the boat in position as we waited for bridges to open.  Now I'm really not experienced enough to say if the issue was mostly mechanical or pilotage, but the combination of the two was adding to my concern about the condition of the boat and the safety of the remainder of this trip.

The selling agent did convince me to proceed with the sea trial so we continued to the bay and raised the sails.  We had about 10 knots of wind, and the Lagoon 37 did sail pretty well.  We didn't spend very much time under sail as we wanted to make the next opening of a scheduled bridge but it did tack nicely.  We dropped the sails, made the scheduled bridge opening and ended the day with a less than graceful reentry into the boat slip.

Based on the experience and result of the survey, we decided the boat would be much  more work than we were willing to do for our first boat so we decided to "reject the vessel" (inform the seller in writing prior to the AOV date).  It's a bit of a disappointment, but far better to have found out the issues now than after the purchase.

We also found what I think is a good and honest surveyor in Johnathan Sands of Atlantic Marine Group.  While he is based in Ft. Lauderdale, I believe he will work anywhere within Florida...and probably farther.  Give him a call if you need a thorough boat survey.


  1. Sorry this one didn't work out. But that's why you do a survey.

    Better luck with the next one.

    Fair winds,


    1. Thanks Jesse. It's better to spend a little time and money to prevent a bigger, much more expensive, mistake.