And our new boat purchase saga continues…
We had travelled to Kennebunkport, seen the boat, liked it and made an offer that was accepted. Similar to hiring a home inspector when you purchase a new house, before purchasing a new or used boat, a survey is a must do! Realize that often it is not a buyer’s choice, especially if you are financing the purchase – all financial institutions, plus insurance companies, require a survey by accredited professionals.
A boat survey can actually involve two parties – a “hull survey” to inspect all interior and exterior systems including appliances, heating/AC units, plumbing, wiring, instrumentation, props, shafts, the hull, decks and bottom, etc. Also an “engine survey” while not mandatory, is a very good investment including more critical examination of the engines (two primary plus generator) and their ancillary components. An oil analysis is also usually performed. Seldom does one surveyor have expertise in everything. Before hiring anyone, it is critical to check each surveyors credentials, reviews and ratings.
Once completed, a good surveyor should provide a detailed analysis of all the components inspected, the issues found and convey recommendations as to how those issues might possibly be rectified. Here is sample survey produced by Boston Marine Surveyors (not of our boat), it’s 67 pages long!
Because there weren’t any available surveyors with good ratings or experience with Meridian’s in the Kennebunkport area, it took some time and research to line up both a hull surveyor and an engine surveyor. For the hull, we were considering hiring Dan Quigley from Boston Marine Surveyors in North Quincy, MA due to his good reviews and Meridian experience. But there was a slight issue in choosing him related to our financing and insurance coverage. The lender was ok with Dan’s ABYC accreditation, but the insurance company required that the surveyor be NAMS or SAMS accredited. Fortunately, after submitting sample survey reports from Dan to the insurance company, they gave us the go ahead to hire him. An engine surveyor was more difficult to track down but we finally hired Cummins Diesel in Scarborough, Maine. The boat has two Cummins main engines, plus a Cummins-Onan Generator with a Kubota engine
Having the surveys done wasn’t cheap. Boston Marine Surveyors charged us $1120 ($28 per foot but no travel surcharge), and Cummins Diesel charged us $1553 for the three engines plus oil analysis. Considering it took the majority of the day, it was definitely worth the expense as it provided us with the necessary ammunition to renegotiate the price while at the same time reassuring us that the boat was in decent condition.
We encountered another snafu when we applied for financing. The banks require an actual physical address which we obviously don’t have since we live in a motorhome. The resolution for this was to use our East Greenwich address since we spend six or more months there. Providing a signed lease agreement from the owner of the park satisfied the bank requirements. Whew! With those two hurdles resolved, we were able to proceed!
The broker worked with the various parties involved and scheduled the surveys for July 18th. We began arrangements for another visit to Kennebunkport, this time for two nights. We knew it would take all day and we didn’t want to drive the three hours immediately after (during rush hour). The surveys had to be closely coordinated because, due to the limited space in the marina, Her Idea was kept on the hard (on land) and only launched on an as needed basis. For the sea trial and the interior surveys, she would need to be in the water but then hauled out of the water for the hull survey. All had to be coordinated and approved by the boat yard owner.
Knowing that July was peak tourist season in Maine, as soon as we had the date, we quickly made a reservation at The Ogunquit Tides for a two night stay (the 17th and 18th) which offered cheaper rates than the peak season rates at the Holiday Inn Express where we had previously stayed.
OMG! What a mistake! Even though we knew this was an older property (as many are in this area), the photos looked nice on their website and it even looked somewhat nice outside when we arrived, but the room was a big letdown.
Electrical wall plates not screwed into the wall, splattered paint on the wall plates, a refrigerator door that opened the wrong way causing the door to catch on the hanging window curtains, hair dryer mounting hardware in a bathroom cabinet instead of installed on the wall, no access to the bed on the right hand side and a threatening note by the sink stating they would charge us $25 if we didn’t wash our dishes! Really??? There was no dishwasher, so we would be eating off dinnerware cleaned by the previous tenant? Ugh, we didn’t use their dinnerware. Are all the rooms like this or were we just the unlucky ones?
All this for the low price of $209 a night! Jeesh! What a rip off! We complained at the desk the next morning but that was useless! Definitely would not recommend this place!
Despite the lousy accommodations, we were still excited and a little nervous about the surveys scheduled for the next day. Since the action was scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m., we were up bright and early so we could grab a quick breakfast at the Maine Diner which opened at 7:00 a.m. It was decent, but nothing special.
For the survey, the cast of characters attending included the two of us, Dan Quigley from Boston Marine Surveyors, Joe Papi from Cummins Diesel, Michael Martin, the broker from Great Loop Yacht Sales and Jack Rogers, the seller. Coordinating the launch and haul of the boat during the day would require the assistance of the marina yard owner. Once all the players were present, it was decided, based on the timing of the tides and the possibility of fog rolling in, we should do the sea trial sooner rather than later.
Although there was moderate visibility at the marina, once we headed out into open water, the fog quickly thickened, limiting the visibility. Nothing like a thick fog to cast a level of spookiness to the day! Certainly not an ideal environment to run the engines up to full speed. Everyone had their fingers and, in my case, toes crossed hoping that we wouldn’t hit something! Of course we had good nav gear including RADAR and AIS and could easily see where we were on the chartplotter, but the situation was definitely not ideal. Jack, the owner at the time, was given the option to proceed or reschedule. He decided to carry on. We were all involved as lookouts while the two surveyors did their thing. Michael (the broker) even went out on the foredeck to help spot lobster pot buoys.
Fortunately, once we put the engines thru their paces and captured all the data needed for the engine survey, we turned around and headed back to the marina, still enshrouded in fog. Suddenly we heard a horn! On our starboard side, a large tourist sailboat emerged from the fog! Yikes, that was a close call!
As we got closer to the dock, thankfully the fog lifted slightly. For the next hour or so, the survey of all the interior and engine systems continued. Once those tasks were completed, the next step was to have the boat hauled for the inspection of the exterior hull.
When completed, both Dan and Joe orally presented their findings with the promise of a detailed written report within a few days. Overall it was felt that the boat was in pretty good shape for its age (17 years old) with the majority of the issues being relatively minor. However, one of the major issues to me was that the combo washer/dryer didn’t work and would probably need to be replaced (approximately $1500).
Once we had the written reports in hand, it was time to consider our options, to buy or not to buy, to stick with our original offer or counter based on the issues that were found.
Stay tuned to the answers to these questions, and more!