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Want to buy a Wharram... how to avoid unnecessarily hiring a surveyor?

Hello everyone.

I want to buy a Wharram (in my case I'm looking for a Tiki 38) and I am not that knowledgeable about boat construction. The process would be to visit the boat and if I generally like it and the price is right for me, have it hauled out and have a surveyor thoroughly check it -- and of course discard the boat and take the loss if the surveyor's findings tell that the boat is unreliable in ways not worth fixing.

This is, however, an expensive process -- even more so in remote places where a local knowledgeable surveyor might not be available.

Can you please list symptoms of poor construction or serious damage that you've seen and which I could look at to quickly discard the boat without needing to call (and pay) a surveyor? I'm not talking about things which can be fixed at reasonable cost/effort, such as replacing a beam or a mast, but about serious stuff which would make the boat best described as a "floating wreck".



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Jordi, post pics here of your concerns regarding the boat, there is enough experience with these boats here to get a good idea of your concerns.

cheers paul.

@Jacques: Merci, ceci est très utile.

@Paul: At this moment I am not concerned about any particular boat -- rather about my inability to recognize one which a fellow forum member described as a "floating wreck" as such. Your suggestion is an excellent solution -- since I don't know, I'll rely on the knowledge of others. I'll add that step to my selection process. Thanks.

This is an interesting topic. I am in the same situation as I am in the hunt of W. cat too. Jacques suggests that the water line should not touch the step but, this is not necessarily right as the boat could be heavily loaded, nor it would indicate the extend of rot. The reality is that, is very difficult to find folts. They could be hidden in inaccessible places, where also a surveyor could miss too.

Hi Raf,

hopefully problems which are this hidden will be local, and hence usually fixable w/o great costs. I am ready to take such risk. I just think it would be worse if I built the boat myself, having zero boat-building experience.

I am not asking "how to be sure the boat is in fine condition", but rather "how to discard boats which will obviously be discarded by a proficient surveyor".

Jacques' recommendation is really good because a surveyor would probably miss THAT one... specially if she surveys the boat out of the water!



This sounds all too familiar


Merci beaucoup, Jacques -- c'est beaucoup plus que j'attendais!

My french is limited but I think generally spiking Jacque is right. One thing to be aware too is, where the boat was moored and how many years. If thats in the wet tropics, BEWARE!  the boat might have a lot of rot, or worst, rot could be well in the way and is undetectable when under paint. I live in the wet tropics and seen the horrors of timber on boats first hand as, I am a boat builder my self and worked on them.

Shoulder the cost of a surveyor it may save you a fortune in the future!

So many times I have come across people who have bought a boat without the "expense" of a survey and a great expense it turned out to be. At the very least they did not detect faults at the point of purchase and could not negotiate the cost of repair off of the asking price and at worst it was found that post purchase the boat amounted to "Constructive Total Loss" meaning the cost of putting the boat right would reach far beyond its worth when completed.

If you buy a boat that's not fit for purpose and you didn't get it surveyed, then you have nothing of any worth.

If you buy a boat that's not fit for purpose and the surveyor said it is, then you have something to fall back on as that surveyor is now responsible for any financial loss that may occur on your behalf.

If you do not have it surveyed at the point of purchase then you're usually asked to get it surveyed at the point of insurance anyway. Sooner or later you'll need one! In my professional opinion the sooner you bring a surveyor on the scene the more money you'll save and the better you'll sleep in the long run.

check beam and beam boxes .foremast tabernackle.keel from the inside and out.

@Geminidown: the intent of the question is not to do without a surveyor, but to allow me to reject "bad" boats which I would discard after survey. I agree that the cost of a surveyor is worth shouldering... unless you end up not buying the boat anyways.

Surveyors work is not guaranteed, the fees are though. I met a yachty whose boat felt to pieces and sunk at the first run after buying a boat which a surveyor past as seeworthy. Another case I worked on to repair extensive rot, was passed by a surveyor as in sound condition. The reality is that rot, like a cancer, is undetectable when is in his first stage and is painted over. Timber changes colour but it still sound strong at tapping. However, once the bug is in it, inevitably will eat away the wood.  

That's why Surveyors fees are quiet high, a lot of that fee goes to PI. If a surveyor fails to do his job correctly they're liable and in both cases mentioned above the person who paid for the Surveyors services should be compensated for any financial loss.

I don't know why you say rot is undetectable though, if you have the right tools and know where to look and for what, you'll find it!

If you are going to hire a Surveyor check their background, make sure they have extensive knowledge in the material your boat's made of.

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