Marine Survey 101, pre-survey inspection

12 Oct.,2022

 

frp fittings

Next boat ....

This engine compartment is exactly as it was when I opened the hatch. It doesn't look bad at all until you notice the can of Quick Start. This is a major clue that this engine has some starting problems. This stuff should never be used in diesel engines as it will ignite before the diesel fuel and may try to send the piston in the opposite direction before it has completed its stroke. Get yourself a big magnet and you may be able to retrieve the piston from the bottom of the lake. Next boat .....

Coolant - Next remove the pressure cap on the heat exchanger. In the photo at right you'll notice there is no coolant. This could be a serious problem. Where did it go ? You might want to check the oil next. If it is somewhat milky don't bother calling me to do a survey. Next boat ...........

Coolant - Stick your finger in the heat exchanger. If it comes out with that brown stuff we call rust move on to your 2nd choice. Next boat .....

Coolant - From the heat exchanger move on to the coolant overflow reservoir. Like the heat exchanger you should find some clean translucent red or green fluid. If you come up with mud .... move on to your 3rd. choice.
Next boat .....

Coolant If you come up with dirty black oil in the coolant reservoir, move on to your 4th choice. I usually use the coffee stir sticks for checking fluids then photograph but the black finger was more dramatic.

Let's see that's 3 surveys you didn't have to hire me for, you've saved $2,100.00 and you haven't even left the house yet ..... You owe me a beer.

Don't forget to check the oil and the gear reduction fluid.Take off the oil filler cap and look at the underside sometimes water in the oil will show up as condensation on the cap. Pull the dipstick and if the oil is milky or grayish walk away. To learn more about oil take a look at Oil Analysis, Worth While ?
Next boat ....

Check the oil and gear reduction dipsticks. This engine dipstick clearly shows beads of water or coolant.
No oil analysis required .... most likely a rebuild is required.. Next boat ....

This gear reduction unit dipstick clearly shows corrosion and mud. This transmission is toast.
You clearly did not need a fluid analysis to find this issue. Next boat .....

Just like the hoses on all the throughulls, you should squeeze all fuel, waste or A/C hoses you find in the engine compartment or anywhere else.

The hose at right being penetrated by my thumb is a gasoline fuel fill hose.

I'm sure even the most technically handicapped layman can see how dangerous this is.

I think I was the first person in 10 years to open this deck plate and look at the hose. Next boat .....

The owner attempted to seal the fuel leak on this polyethylene tank with some sort of caulking ... it didn't work.. Next boat .....

Two gasoline fuel lines with fractures jammed together with battery cables.
Scary stuff !.

Fuel filters -

Photos below show the importance of a very close look at the fuel filters, dirty fuel will shut you down in a hurry and it can be very expensive to get contaminated fuel out of your boat and disposed of. If there is a lot of water in the filter and has been there for some time, chances of internal tank corrosion are high..
Why is there air in this filter, this engine is not
going to run for long.

With an inch of water and sludge in the filter this one wont run for long either.
A fuel filter this rusty, what else didn't he maintain ?
Think he's changed the oil in the last 10 years ?

Water, waxy layer, cloudy fuel
Clean un-dyed fuel
















Clean red dyed fuel

I'll add a photo here when I dig one out of the files Photos below ..... Close examination of fuel tanks is often extremely difficult but the photos below show why the effort is justified. Sometimes I can't even get my snake camera into areas that are most suspect. None of the corrosion shown below was readily visible but I did manage to shove a camera into those spots on these boats and shoot blindly ..... these are what I got.
I could'nt see the bottom of the tank ...
but I could feel it !
Snake camera photo of underside of same tank Next ......

Air filters - Many filters are contained in some sort of metal box, open it up and look inside. If the filter element is rotten and oil soaked like the photo at right I suggest a full mechanical inspection. Next ......

On gasoline powered boats take a close look at the spark plugs. The one shown at right had not been removed for many years and is a prime example of why I stopped doing compression tests in surveys as it could be an entire day to get a broken spark plug out. Chances of getting this out intact are slim. Next boat .....

Many older power & sailboats and some current power boats have engine beds (stringers) made of FRP over wood. I broke the stringers at right with my fingers ... yup, that's what the engine was bolted to.

Get your hammer out and whack the engine beds and any other stringers. You will quickly be able to detect the sound of rotten wood under the FRP (fiberglass). Even more so if your hammer penetrates the stringer. On many of these boats the engines are secured with lag bolts into rotten wood, a less than optimum arrangement. Sometimes the bolts go into steel or aluminum plates embedded in the wood but if the wood rots they become free floating. Next boat .....

The motor mount on the left looks fine. The one on the right (same engine) is badly compressed. The chances of aligning this engine with the shaft are slim. If you see something like this, there is a good chance of a badly worn cutless bearing and in extreme cases, transmission and or shaft coupling damage. Take a close look at all motor mounts for signs of movement. Next boat .....

Follow the water intake from the seacock to the engine and you will find the raw water pump. Inside this pump is a rubber impeller that pulls water in to cool the engine. You can see the blades on the impeller at right are bent to varying degrees which is the way it's supposed to be. The problem comes over time when this stress begins to fracture the rubber. If this happens you can have as little as 2 minutes to shut your engine down or your next trip will be to your friendly diesel engine dealer. Next boat ....

You won't be opening this pump to check out the impeller but take a close look at the pump body. The 6 year old pump at right does not have a single mark on the cover plate bolts, in fact the original factory paint over the bolts is not even cracked. This pump has never been opened ! The impeller should be removed for evey layup period to allow the rubber vanes to relax back to their natural position. Depending on how you use the boat you should never go more than 3 years without changing the impeller. Next boat .....

Same problem, the bolts on this cover plate had never been removed and the pump body is badly scorched. This pump has been seriously overheated and significant engine damage is a possibility. Next boat .....

These are failed impellers. Even if the impeller looks good, change it every couple of years. I have seen brand new units that had been sitting on the shelf for a few years fail in seconds because the bond between the rubber and the bushing had failed. This pump is a critical part of often neglected routine maintenance. Next boat .....

See the soot at the exhaust elbow, this is an exhaust leak from what turned out to be a crack in the elbow. $40.00 to weld it. Carbon monoxide poisoning if you don't.

Take this one seriously as CO poisoning has virtually the same symptoms as sea-sickness.

Some will tell you that diesels are not a CO threat but they don't realize the effects of CO are cumulative.
For more info check out CO Poisoning On Boats.. Next boat .....

The patchy looking FRP at the pipe junction (blue arrow) is not a problem it's just the more shape conformable mat they use. The lateral line (yellow arrow) is a serious but easily addressed issue. That line is a crack in the muffler that has been patched with black caulking. More CO poisoning potential. Next boat .....

This improperly placed second clamp is on an FRP exhaust tube is actually forcing the hose off the pipe. The leak stains are obvious and we have another CO potential. Next boat .....

This improperly placed second clamp is on a steel exhaust pipe that is cracked. You can see that the hose is pulled back from its original position by where the paint stops. The first clamp isn't too well placed either. This boat is going to the bottom if not fixed prior launch. Your choice CO or drowning. Next boat .....

I am not a fan of V-drive installations on sailboats (engine faces stern with V-shaped transmission) as it is extremely difficult to see the stuffing box let alone inspect or maintain. The photo at right was taken with my snake camera and I could not physically reach the stuffing box hose to see if it was as bad as it looks. The only way to check this or replace it is to remove the engine. pretty poor engineering. Next boat -

This stuffing box hose is so old and has been contaminated with oil, fuel, coolant and who knows what over the years and has now turned to jello.

I can't emphasize enough, squeeze every hose on the boat. Next boat -

This flange type stuffing box has both clamping bolts bent. Wrong size ? Wrong type ? This definitely requires some investigation. On I/O boats you want to grab the drive and shake it from side to side, there should be very little free play (1/4" is acceptable) otherwise chances are good the gimbal bearings are gone, fixable but not cheap. Apply as much force as you can and try to move the drive up and down, you should not be able to budge it. Have the drive powered full left, right, up and down so you can get a look at the rubber exhaust and drive bellows. In most configurations a crack in the exhaust bellows is not a big deal other than indicating that maintenance is questionable. A crack in the drive bellows. even a faint hairline fracture, even if you only think their might be a crack, insist that it be changed as this could be a sinking issue. The bellows should be pliable. If they are hard or brittle fractures will soon follow. You'll need your mirror and flashlight to see the bellows.

Notice the unpainted border around the drives, we'll talk about this below. Photo at right - Notice that the lower unit (fresher paint) appears to have been changed and that the bottom paint is in contact with the drive. Now compare that to the boat above which has a 1 1/2" unpainted border around the drives. Why ? Many bottom paints contain various metals and when put in contact with the different metals of the drive unit you create a galvanic cell which may result in galvanic corrosion of the drive. In fact i/o manufacturers will void your corrosion warranty if your bottom paint touches the drives. This fella will be buying another lower unit in a year or two.

Read more about Electrolysis, galvanic and stray current corrosion
Next boat ......

Anodes - Calling them "zincs" is mis-leading because they may be zinc, an aluminum alloy or magnesium and installing the wrong ones is a waste of time. Don't just grab what's on the shelf, get the proper anodes. Most will tell you to replace the anodes when they are 50% wasted but this is not good enough. Your anode may show no wastage or very little because it is not doing it's job.

Another critical factor is electrical continuity between the anode and the metal it is supposed to protect. So set your multimeter on ohms and make sure you've got very low resistance between the anode and the metal it's attached to. 0.0ohms is perfect but something less than 1ohm is acceptable. "O.L" (open line), this means there is no continuity between the anode and shaft, therefore no corrosion protection.

Its not good enough to have a shiny anode on the exposed surface, the mating surfaces must also be clean. In fresh water this is not usually much of an issue of shaft drives but can be a major issue on i/o drives and saildrives where all the different metals involved can create an active galvanic cell..


O.L = Open Line meaning no continuity ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS .....

Now let's play with electricity, unless you are English, my experience with Jaguars, Triumphs and Austin Healey's have convinced me that English people should not be allowed to play with electricity. These systems generate more comments in my surveys than anything else. They are neglected, abused and modified by amateur electricians (or electrical engineers) who can create lethal conditions in a matter of minutes.

I'll also show you some simple tests with your new multimeter which if completed will give you about a 98% assurance of the vessels electrical integrity.

There are a lot of if's, ands, or's and but's in the following tests but we are going to leave those to the ABYC® certified electricians and assume a basic 120volt shore power system. Some of the if's/or's include 240volt systems, generators, isolation transformers, dual pole branch circuit breakers and inverters etc. If any of this goes over your head, forget about it and leave it to your surveyor. If I see something that is beyond me I don't hesitate to recommend an electrician be consulted.

Next boat .....

Look at the shorepower cord. Is the insulating cover abraded or brittle ? If so replace it. See the little weld spots on the contact at right, that is caused by arcing i.e. electricity jumping across a small space, this will generate excessive heat and will melt down at some point..... replace the cord.

Never unplug a cord without opening the main circuit breakers As you wiggle the cord loose arcing will degrade the contact points and send your battery charger into a fit thereby shortening its life.

Next boat .....

The boat end of this cord is even worse. Poor contacts, loose contacts and just general aging can make these cords dangerous. This one's life is over, get rid of it. Next boat .....

This one went off in my hand while I jiggled it to see if it was tight. Next boat .....

With cords like those above you are playing with your life. For $75.00 get a new one. Next boat .....

Polarity is more important than most realize and very easily checked with a cheap three light tester. If the polarity is incorrect you could easily electrocute yourself working on an appliance because the neutral would be live even with the branch breaker open.

Standards require a double pole main breaker or a single pole breaker with a polarity indicator on incoming AC. Depending on where the reversal is you may be playing with live wires even though you turned of the branch circuit breaker. Reversed polarity whether at the panel or downstream outlets with a ground fault can cause overheated wires and poses a fire hazard. This condition can also indirectly contribute to "electric shock drowning".

Buy the tester with the G.F.C.I. test button (red button on tester at right).and you can also check if the outlets downstream of the G.F.C.I. are protected as they should be.

As few boats are fitted with double pole branch breakers, You must test each and every outlet on the boat. IMPORTANT - There are a few important caveats for the following tests using your multimeter.

1. The shore power should be disconnected at the pedestal.
2. All AC breakers must be on (closed).
3. If an inverter is on board it must be turned off.
4.. If a generator is onboard the selector switch must be set to "shore power".
5. When checking resistance or continuity it matters not which probe is used for ground or neutral.

Neutral Ground Bond. This is absolutely critical as neutral/ground bonds are a key contributor to "electric shock drowning". This can get complicated so I'm really going to simplify and advise you to read up on Dave Rifkins website if you want more detail

Except at generators and inverters where switching is automatic, the neutral (white) and ground (green) wires should never be joined on the boat. This practice may be acceptable at a home panel but your home does not have a DC system connected to the same ground and it does not sit in water (normally).

Unplug the shore power, turn on the main breaker, set your multimeter on the ohms function and insert a probe (red or black probe is irrelevant for this test) in the neutral (biggest) slot and one in the ground slot.

Neutral to Ground test - As in the photo at right. If there is no G.F.C.I. in the circuit you should see a reading of "O.L" (Open Line) indicating there is no contact and this is as it should be.
Red probe in neutral, Black Probe in ground As in this photo at right. When testing a GFCI protected circuit, ABYC standards require that you see a reading of more than 25,000ohms. This has to do with the G.F.C.I. itself). If all is well you will likely see a reading in kilohms or megohms (photo at right). if you see something in "ohms" range stop immediately and call an ABYC® certified marine electrician.


Red probe in neutral, black in ground
This photo shows a neutral / ground bond with continuity of 34.6 Ohms . THIS IS LETHAL !!!!!!

I see about ten boats per year like this and have no idea how many people its killed.

This outlet is a GFCI and should show at least 25,000 Ohms or 25 Kilohms.

If the boat AC and DC grounds are bonded as they should be this boat will be sending AC current directly into the water.

Black probe in ground, Red probe in neutral More on grounds and gasoline.

Unplug the shorepower cord from the pedestal (leave boat end connected) and drag the cord plug inside the boat. With your meter still on the ohms function touch one probe to the ground prong on the shore cord and the other probe in the ground opening in an AC outlet. Now repeat that process on every AC outlet on the boat.

Also touch a probe to the fuel fill fitting, gas tank and engine. It is crucial that these points have good grounds as sparks and gas mix rather well (depending on your point of view). Testing these items will also confirm that your AC and DC grounds are joined.

Joining AC and DC grounds is a controversial subject as this may create another avenue for corrosion, however ABYC's position is that your life is worth more than a little corrosion. if someone disputes this tell them to watch this youtube video explaining the death of Lucas Ritz.

Good grounds are critical to your safety. A good ground should show something less than 1ohm.

I'll add a photo here when I come
across one that fits
Next boat .....

Transport Canada construction standards prohibit AC and DC from sharing the same panel (builders say so what ?) but many new boats sold in Canada are built this way. ABYC® standards say they can share a panel as long as they are clearly separated and tools must be required to gain access to the AC side on the back of the panel.

If done properly I don't really have a big problem with sharing but .....

I also believe volt meters and ammeters on both AC and DC sides are critical .... don't see one on this panel though.
Next boat .....

Unfortunately the builder of this new boat did not separate the AC & DC sides (required by Transport Canada and ABYC®) and obviously there are no tools required to gain access to the AC side. some AC and DC conductors are bundled together. This type of shoddy work is quite common on new boats.

Even though the system at right is quite neat, imagine what it will look like in 10 yrs after many different people have played in this sand box and added lines for a/c, extra outlets, new nav stuff etc.
It ain't gonna be pretty and sure won't be safe. If the choice comes down to two boats, lean towards the one with separate panels.

Next boat .....

This is the back side of a shared panel after a few years and a few owners mucking about in it and makes a very good case for separate panels or at the very least some form of separation of protection from loose (and conductive) gear lying up against it.. Next boat ....

If you look closely at this melted outlet you can see the conductors are solid copper wire rather than stranded.

Solid copper wire is fine in your house which does not vibrate at 3200RPM in harmony with your Yanmar but solid copper degrades over time from vibration. Most boats were fine with this for 10 years or so but as this stuff ages it can be a hazard to your family. Take a look at the cable, if it does not say "600 volt" & "boat cable" it should be replaced. If it's very stiff and difficult to flex, chances are it's solid copper.

Also note (lower right corner) the garage sale breaker panel without a polarity indicator or volt meter.

Next boat .....

Some of the older boats came without AC panels and people added their own like this fuse box someone found in a dump.

These might be fine in you workshop at home but not in a boat. Again vibrating at 2800 RPM right along with your old 1 cylinder Yanmar or Gasoline powered Atomic4 these fuses will come loose and start arcing. Another prime candidate for a melt down if not a fire.

Curiously I mostly find most of these in gasoline engine compartments which makes them a triple threat due to the potential for arcing. Next boat .....

This 2009 42' trawler came straight from the factory like this. An outlet without a junction box ! Any short in this outlet is going straight to the wood, another potential fire. Almost all Taiwan boats are built this way.

Next boat .....

Another electrical genius at work installed this main breaker without polarity indicator, ammeter or volt meter. Notice the blackened areas on the cord. Obviously something is overheating this cord .......... Same boat as above ......

This is a close up of the breaker. Note that it is a 60amp breaker on a 30amp line. Running the water heater, air conditioning and microwave at the same time will vaporize this cord long before the breaker trips Next boat .....

By law any electrical appliance (including fuses, starter motors, alternators, switches etc.) in a compartment containing gasoline must be inherently ignition proof or certified as ignition protected. Sparks and gasoline fumes are a bad mix. . The fella at right got this unprotected water heater from a big box store and stuck it next to a gasoline engine ... BANG ! This goes for battery chargers, inverters, AC outlets and anything else that can spark. Any electrical appliance or fixture in a compartment containing gasoline must be ignition protected.

Next boat ........

Rules for batteries are fairly straight forward .... they are not supposed to fly around the engine room, the electrolyte (sulfuric acid) they produce must not be allowed to spill into the boat, positive terminals must be protected (rubber boots), wing nuts must not be used, positive cables must have a fuse (except for the ones going to a starter motor). Neither chargers, inverters or un-protected fuel lines may be above batteries and they must have ventilation to the outside due to the hydrogen they produce while charging. I know this seems like a lot but its really quite simple. Sit quietly and look over the system as a whole before trying to nail down this list.

The disaster in waiting in photo at right is an all too common battery installation..

Next boat .......

The battery at right is not in a plastic box (plywood is no good) to capture spilled acid. The hydrogen produced while charging is not only highly explosive but extremely corrosive and will go right into that generator mounted over the battery, The battery is not secured at all so when this boat hits a 2' wave and that unprotected positive terminal comes in contact with the generator just above it .... massive fail ! Next boat .....

Eight golf cart batteries = 1800amps + one group 31 battery at 900amps equals 2,800 amps of hydrogen generating, sulfuric acid producing explosive power in a plywood box inside the boat without any ventilation, no fuse protection, no rubber boots on the positive terminals and an undersized and non-ignition protected battery charger in the same compartment. Sealed (AGM or Gel) batteries are not exempt from these requirements.

He was very proud of this installation .... I condemned it.

Next boat .....

The stained wood under the red battery switches is sulfuric acid leaking from the batteries under this dinette bench, they are not in plastic boxes, the positive terminal are not protected and as you can see by the little wooden grille, the hydrogen is being vented right into the cabin.

Oh yeah .... the acid is dripping through the deck on to the hull below and eating through the fiberglass.
Next boat .....

Take a close look at the batteries. Even moderate size sailboats often have 4-5 of these and they can be expensive if you buy good ones. (don't buy cheap automotive stuff). This one at right had boiled dry and the heat and expanding gas has swollen the side of the battery case. This battery will die in short order and could explode if charging continues when it has lost all its electrolyte.

If you see a swollen battery or smell something like burning urine when its charging...... don't ask me how I know just get it off the boat.

This is why batteries must be in a space that is ventilated outside of accommodation spaces and why neither chargers, inverters nor fuel lines may be mounted over batteries.

Never replace only one battery in a bank as the older ones will drag the new one down to their level Always replace the entire bank. Next boat .....

It is an ABYC® requirement that all batteries be contained in acid resistant boxes or trays. I often get told that this is not required for AGM batteries. I show them this photo ..... I wonder where the acid went ? Next boat .....

Remove every cap on the batteries and ensure there is electrolyte, The one at right is bone dry and an explosion candidate. Next boat .....

This gasoline fuel hose which exhibits some fine fractures is abrading against a non-ignition protected battery charger. Next boat .....

This bilge pump is obviously not working. Could it be because of the electrical connection made with tape sitting in bilge water ? Make sure any conductors in the bilge are secured above the normal accumulation of bilge water and make sure all connections are made with waterproof connectors. Next boat .....

This gasoline engine (15hp OMC saildrive) is vented into the cabin of this sailboat (little louver in front of the engine), the non-ignition protected battery charger is in the engine compartment and plugged into an AC outlet which by it's nature is not protected, The AC conductor is lying on the engine, some AC connections are not in sealed junction boxes but made with wire twist connectors wrapped in electrical tape and there is a leak in the exhaust hose. Next boat ......

See the red battery switch ..... one of the first things to do if you have a fire in the engine room is turn off the batteries, the last thing you want to do is open the engine compartment to get to the switch. Also note that the non-ignition protected charger is mounted over the batteries and on top of an unshielded fuel supply line. The batteries are in plastic boxes but those cheap plastic straps are a poor method of securement.

Ventilation of gasoline engine compartments is very simple but absolutely critical and is deserving of it's own article Gasoline Engine Compartment Ventilation Safety Next boat .....

Another topic that deserves special attention and its own article is one of my favourite, propane ! Propane is a very safe fuel if the system is properly installed. It's a very big if. The photo at right shows a "custom" propane storage locker inside a gasoline engine compartment. If you are considering a vessel with a propane installation, please, Please, PLEASE read

Safe Boat Propane Installations Sailboat Rigging -

I do not have an extended health care plan, dental plan, disability insurance or pension plan and do not go up masts. For a proper inspection you can either drop the stick or rely on my binoculars. I have on a number of occasions found serious issues that would not otherwise have been noticed without my binoculars.



Next boat ...

if you see a turnbuckle that is "blocked" like the one near right or "open" like the one on far right, there is something wrong as neither situation has any room for adjustment. Further investigation is advised, particularly around the base of the mast and at the spreaders. Next boat .......

This boat was in the travel lift and just about to be launched.

Link to USCG rigging inspection article Same boat as above ......

Binoculars and a 14x zoom lens caught this clevis pin securing the forestay that had about 1mm to move before letting go. A mast coming down that way is not good for boat or crew. Next boat .....

Mast and sleeve joint on a Nonsuch mast. Loose bolts and a crack = about $60k.

Don't forget your binoculars. Next boat .....

This is the custom made stainless steel gooseneck on a racing sailboat. I'd want my money back for this truly amateur weld.


Same boat .....

As I pushed on the boom that crappy weld let go. Fortunately the owner didn't hold me responsible.

Beware of amateur repairs. If it doesn't look right it probably isn't. Next boat .....

Sailboats should not be stored on the hard with their masts up. period.

The crack in this masthead fitting would not have been seen with binoculars had the mast been stepped. Very few surveyors will go up a mast as we don't have dental plans, drug plans, pensions or any other health benefits. Next boat .....

Take a look at all connecting points on rigging. The captions my friend Jay Stormer put on this photo says it all. This is a patch job that will not last and makes one suspicious of every piece of rigging on the boat.

Next boat .....

Another shot from Jay. I have never found it necessary to discover cracks in stainless rigging with dye testing, a magnifying glass has always been sufficient . Lower terminals like the one at right tend to fail before the uppers since dirt can wash down the wire into the swage. Stainless steel corrodes in the absence of oxygen so the dirt builds up and holds water which becomes stagnant (de-oxygenated) and things corrode from the inside. The very obvious crack in this terminal shows that it must be replaced. It is advisable to change the entire shroud rather than patching in a new terminal to old wire.
Next boat .....

By the time you see a deep pit like this one in a shroud toggle it is too late ............ This is the result

This would be catastrophic in a 20 knot blow. Next boat .....

The tight fitting vinyl tube over this shroud has trapped a lot of moist dirt.

Wet dirt,
De-oxygenated moisture.
Corroded stainless.
Rigging failure.

Get rid of these things. Next boat ......

Large areas of chainplates on many boats are not accessible for inspection whether behind built in cabinetry inside the boat or embedded in wood like the one at right.

Remember stainless corrodes from lack of oxygen.

In fresh water this will not usually be a problem in your lifetime but in salt water, designs like this are beyond dumb. This plate is in continuous contact with damp wood which is really bad for stainless. Now throw in a little salt and it may not take long to create a dangerous condition. So what if your rig falls down look at all the money you saved by buying that ex-charter boat.

. Next boat .....

What you see on these chainplates looks like minimum surface corrosion but the stainless is rotten on the inside.

Also note the elongated holes, this plate has been stretching.

Many riggers advise pulling plates every 7-10 years for inspection if in salt water and about 15yrs. in fresh...... I have never seen it done ......
until after they break. Next boat .....

The owner of this boat was incensed when I condemned all his chainplates. My client (buyer) wisely walked from the deal.

The owner cleaned the plates with some abrasive and took all the surface rust off. They actually looked not bad except if you looked really closely you could see a great many near microscopic pits.

What's so bad about microscopic pits ? Read on, I'll get to it. Next boat ......

This fella tried to stop his chainplates leaking by covering them with FRP. All he managed to do was create the perfect environment for corrosion.

A number of 70's and 80's boats were built this way so take a hard look for any brown weeping stains.

The factory boats built this way often have the FRP so thick that neither the hammer or moisture meter are of any use.

If you're prospective purchase has a propane appliance you should also review Safe Boat Propane Installations.



Marine Survey Checklist.
After studying Marine Survey 101, I suggest you print this checklist and take it with you for your boat inspection. It will help keep your self-survey on track.

Sea Trials
It ain't just another boat ride. Sea trials from a surveyors perspective.

And now that you have all this down pat, perhaps you'd like to know How To Become A Marine Surveyor. So if you made it this far you may have found some value in my tips. I don't think you want to print this off and carry it around so I made up a Printable Checklist that you can take with you on your next inspection. It is laid out to help organize your thoughts and hopefully help so that you don't miss anything. I have posted a number of Sample Marine Survey Reports, my own and from a few other surveyors. We all do things a little differently to take a look to see what you should or could expect in the way of a report.

Listed below are three very good links for those who want to know more about rigging inspections

After investigating a number of catastrophic failures and some fatalities the USCG put together this Guide to Rigging Inspections.

Lewmar put together a very good step by step to Winch Servicing.

Navtec put together this Guide to Rigging service

Not everyone agrees with what I have to say here so like everything else online, take it all in, weigh it, chew it and spit out what you don't like.

Stoopid Boat Tricks by Builders, All the stupid things builders do and whether or not its worth surveying a new boat.

Stoopid tricks by Boat Owners, Perhaps even worse than what the guilders do.
Once you have the boat, the best advice I can give you is a link to this website of Marinehowto.com articles. They are without a doubt the best online resource for anything you want to tackle on your boat and cover just about everything. I strongly disagree with his position on moisture meters but the rest of it is impressive.

Don't waste money on a moisture meter to aid in boat buying, just accept that all older boats will have some moisture in them and that if the issue is enough to make you walk from the deal, then it will be obvious by other means discussed above. Check out Moisture Meter Mythology and Moisture Meters on Boat Hulls.