Surveyors Blog - An educational glimpse of what we inspect

Out of State?

Buying a boat out of state can be nerve wracking because you can't  actually see the boat in person. Here at Southern Marine Surveying, we  understand that and know how it feels to have to rely on a surveyor to  be your eyes and ears. Because of this we take extra steps to ensure you  are informed and have all the information you need to make a good  purchase, like taking 200-300 high resolution pictures from every angle  of the boat, and taking videos of the sea-trial so you can actually see  the boat operate. Next time you are buying a boat, hire us to  professionally appraise and inspect it beforehand. 

Automatic Fire Extinguishing Systems

As good boating practice, always check to make sure the automatic  fire-extinguishing system is ready and operational by ensuring the green  helm light turns on when the ignition is keyed to the 'on' position.  Whether you have a halon or clean agent system, this is your most  critical line of defense when it comes to an onboard fire and should be  properly maintained.  

Fuel Fill Grounding Wire

In this picture we have a fuel tank inlet that is not properly grounded.  The green grounding wire is supposed to be connected from the fuel fill  inlet, to the tank, and then to a common ground on the boat, in order  to prevent an accidental spark when filling the tank with gas. This  could cause an explosion if not repaired. You can see in the picture the  ground wire is not connected to anything.  

Marine Air Conditioners

During our pre-purchase yacht inspections we test the air conditioning  unit(s) to ensure proper operation, and visually examine the unit  providing it is accessible. It's important that the drain pan is  properly draining to the sump box or bilge, and that all hoses are  double clamped at the seacock, pump and hvac unit, and are not cracked  or brittle. A replacement can cost upwards of $4,000.00, and oftentimes  if the compressor is bad you will have to buy a whole new unit. At  Southern Marine Surveying, we take the extra time to inspect all  accessible components of the vessel to give you an unbiased, thorough  report of the vessel condition. 

Improper Fuel Vent

The fuel tank vent at the upper right corner does not have a flame arrester screen or splash shield as per ABYC recommendations. On some older boats such as this one, factory hardware was not up to ABYC standards. This particular issue could cause an explosion or allow water to enter the gas tank, which would lead to a whole slew of other problems. In order to remedy this the owner should install a new modern fuel tank vent with splash shield and flame arrester. 

Broken Deck Hatch

A broken deck hatch like this is usually the result of someone stepping on it. A new hatch can cost upwards of 1,000$ and they are important to maintain to prevent water from intruding into the fiberglass or cabin. We always inspect the hatches to ensure they are not cracked or leaking water, and that the struts properly operate. This might seem minor to the average boat owner, until the repair bill comes. Parts like this can be very expensive. Hire a marine surveyor to do a thorough examination of the boat and let you know about issues like this before you buy it. 

Gelcoat Damage

Gelcoat damage like this is cosmetic in nature, but can be expensive to  repair. When you buy a boat out of state and cannot see the boat in  person, you are relying on the surveyor to be your eyes and ears. We  meticulously examine the hull and photograph it with a high resolution  camera to give you a thorough, non-biased representation of the boat's  current condition, so you can make a well informed decision. 

Battery Condition

Batteries are one of the most important things to maintain onboard your  vessel and should be routinely checked to ensure they are securely  mounted in trays or ventilated boxes with straps to prevent movement. It  is also important to check the fluid levels if they are wet cell  batteries to ensure they can operate correctly. Finally, always make  sure there are boots covering the terminals and that the connections are  secured. In the picture above, the far battery has a large amount of  corrosion that needs to be cleaned and treated. 

CO Monitors

Oftentimes boat owners will unplug their CO detectors because they can  be annoying when they falsely alarm.  This is a bad idea for multiple  reasons. It is not uncommon to read about people dying of Carbon  Monoxide poisoning, and its truly tragic because it is usually the same  story, a family is spending the night on their boat with the generator  running, CO fumes make their way into the cabin and the unsuspecting  occupants perish in their sleep. A simple way to avoid this is by  testing your CO detectors EVERY time you use your boat. On the Fireboy  Xintex in the picture above, there is a button the side you can press  which will activate a self test. It's vitally important to you and your  friends/family's safety to ensure all your CO detectors are plugged in  and operating properly. If your boat doesn't have one, consider it, you  can never be too safe 

Rudder Packing Gland

Rudder packing glands should never leak and should be periodically  checked to ensure they are dry. Any source of water coming into a boats  bilge needs to be addressed  immediately. It is vitally important that  the rudder packing glands (and shaft packing glands) be maintained to  the highest standards to ensure your vessel is seaworthy.  

Outdrives

To the un-trained eye this Bravo 3 outdrive might look fine. But upon  closer inspection we see there is a drive oil leak which will probably  cost hundreds of dollars to repair. Hire a marine surveyor to inspect  that boat before you buy it! 

Through-Hulls

A raw water through-hull is basically a hole in the bottom of your boat  with a bronze (or marelon) valve (seacock) that allows water from the  lake (or ocean) to be used to cool the engine, provide water for the air  conditioner, toilet, generator, etc etc. It's extremely important to  maintain seacocks and the attached hose in order to prevent water from  filling the boat and possibly sinking it in the event a hose comes off  or other issue. This is why you should periodically inspect hoses to  ensure there are no cracks like in the above picture, and to make sure  they are double clamped at each connection. You should also periodically  exercise the valve handle to ensure it is operating smoothly, and will  allow quick closure in the event of an emergency. Familiarize yourself  with all through-hull seacock valves so that you can be prepared to  quickly shut off the flow of water and prevent a sinking in an emergency  situation. 

Cracked Fuel Lines

cracked fuel line boat

A cracked fuel hose has the potential to cause a fire or explosion on your vessel. Always ensure fuel lines are USCG approved A1 or A15 type hose and there are no cracks.  

Broken Thru-Hull Fittings

broken thru-hull fitting boat

This is a plastic thru-hull fitting that is broken. Because of this, water is now coming into the bilge and also absorbing into your fiberglass hull. This can cause de-lamination of fiberglass and could also potentially sink a boat if not repaired.  

Burned Shore Power Connection

burnt shore power inlet yacht

A burnt shore power connection is indicative of A/C power problems and can cause a fire on your boat. A good majority of boats that burn down are a result of this. 

What Not to do

shore power no no yacht

This is a Huge red flag. The locking rings on your shore power connection should be used as intended, and never broken. A loose connection as pictured, can cause a fire. 

Wire Nuts. A big NO NO

wire nuts on boat dfw surveyor

Wire nuts might be ok on an automobile, but Never on a boat! Wire connections should always be sealed from moisture with heat-shrink connections and protected from vibration by using quality butt connectors. 

Galvanic Corrosion

galvanic corrosion damage yacht

Usually Galvanic corrosion is a result of bad anodes or excessive salt-water use without proper care. In this case, the entire lower unit had to be replaced. 

Torn Exhaust Bellow

torn exhaust bellow boat

A torn exhaust bellow on an inboard/outboard motor. By hiring us to look at it before you buy it, you not only save yourself potential  money in repair costs, but you protect  yourself and your family by ensuring your boat is seaworthy and safe.  

Leaking Packing Gland

leaking shaft packing gland on a yacht

A leaking dripless packing gland has the potential to sink your boat if not repaired. Old style shaft packings are designed to drip a small amount, but dripless packings should never leak. Periodically visually check your packing glands to ensure they are not leaking (if they are dripless style). Boat Inspector in Dallas


Broken Shower Sump Box

shower sump box broken yacht

By not addressing a faulty sump-box you are assured to have future problems. On this boat water leaked into the bilge and left a nasty rust colored water line (and foul smell). The bilge should always be kept dry and clean. 

Fuel System

fuel filters yacht surveyor dfw

The fuel system is one of the most critical parts of your boat and must be maintained to the highest standards.We meticulously check all parts of the fuel system to make sure the boat is safe for operation. 

Leaking Fuel Tank

leaking fuel tank boat yacht

A Leaking fuel tank is a huge cause for concern. Not only can it cause a fire, often-times it's not accessible and/or very expensive to replace. Sometimes even necessitating cutting into the side of the boat to remove. By hiring a marine surveyor we ensure the tank is in good condition with no leaks. 

Gelcoat Gouge

gelcoat gouge yacht


A Gelcoat gouge like this can often be hard to spot. Not only are they expensive to fix, but water is now absorbing into the fiberglass which can result in future problems. A marine surveyor has a trained eye to spot gouges like this.

Blowers

yacht blower hose

Engine compartment blowers are criticaly to the safe operation of your vessel. Without a properly operating blower you risk having an explosion on your boat. Ensuring the blowers are operational, properly routed and hoses intact as per ABYC standards, is one of our most important priorities.

Damaged Exhaust Manifold

damaged exhaust manifold

A damaged exhaust manifold like this could ruin your engine by allowing water into the cylinders. Oftentimes this is caused by old age and or neglect such as not winterizing a vessel. It's important your exhaust manifolds are in good condition to avoid water ingestion. We do our best to determine the condition of the manifold but recommend hiring a certified mechanic if any doubt exists.  

Broken Thru-Hull Hose

thru hull hose boat yacht

Oftentimes the thru hull will look intact and operational from the outside of the vessel, but on closer examination the hose connected to the thru hull will be cracked or broken like this on the inside, thus allowing water to spill into the bilge. This needs to be addressed and is an important priority to avoid taking on water and potentially sinking a vessel. 

Battery Explosions

battery explosion yacht

Properly maintained batteries are critical to the safe operation of your vessel. A battery explosion caused by old age or neglect can wreak havoc on your engine compartment and has the potential to cause a fire. We examine the battery's, ensuring they are in good condition and are maintained by ABYC standards. 

Freeze Damage on Lower Unit

freeze damaged lower unit outboard

Damage like this is caused from not lowering your outboard motor all the way down during cold winter months. The accumulated water can't escape, freezes and thus causes the cracks you see here in the lower unit housing. Be sure to always have your outboard motor trimmed all the way down during cold winter months. 

Osmotic Blistering

osmotic blistering yacht boat

Osmotic blistering like this is very common on North Texas yachts due to the water temperature fluctuation in our lakes. This should be fixed to avoid future repairs and costly problems. During the out of water inspection we are sure to find all and any blisters on your vessel so that you can be well informed and aware of the problem. 

Anodes

shaft anodes yacht

Properly functioning anodes are important because they keep your boat safe from corrosion/electrolysis. We check all  anodes to ensure they are in good working condition. 

Freeze Damaged Exaust Manifold

damaged exhaust mainfold boat

The damage you see here was caused by not winterizing this engine. The exhaust manifold is cracked from water unable to escape, freezing, expanding and eventually cracking the manifold. Be sure to always winterize your engine!

Bent Prop Shaft

bent prop shaft on a boat yacht

During the out of water inspection we always check prop shafts to make sure they are straight and in good condition. A bent prop shaft can be a costly repair, and is often indicative of a grounding, which is indicative of other problems. 

Milky Oil

milky oil engine dfw survey yacht

Checking the oil is one of the first things we do when inspecting an engine on your vessel. A milky colored oil like this is indicative of serious problems (water ingestion) and is often a "deal breaker" when it comes to buying the vessel. 

Damaged Prop

damaged prop on a boat

This is a very seriously damaged prop! Often times though, the damage is not as obvious as this. Even a very slight bend or contusion on the prop can cause a noticable vibration when operating your vessel. It's important to make sure your prop is in good condition with no nicks or bends. We meticulously check the props during the out of water inspection to ensure they are in good operational condition. 

Gelcoat Stress Cracks

gelcoat stress cracks on a boat

Gelctoat stress cracks are common, and nothing to be alarmed about unless they are very numerous. However, from a cosmetic standpoint they can be an eyesore, and they are expensive to fix properly. During our survey we note any and all stress cracks so that you can be informed during the purchasing process. 

Gelcoat Crazing

gelcoat crazing boat yacht dfw

Gelcoat crazing on the transom of a 41' Searay. This was caused by UV damage over an extensive amount of time. It's important to keep your vessel waxed to prevent this kind of gelcoat damage, especially in areas that receive the most sunlight. While superficial, it can be very expensive to repair. 

Water Ingestion

water ingesion hydrolock boat dfw yacht survyeor

Milky colored oil from a boat surveyed. This indicates water ingestion and is a major cause for alarm. It's possible this could result in thousands of dollars to repair. Hire us to find things like this before you buy that boat!

Trim Cylinder Anode

trim cylinder anode bad boat dfw surveyor yacht

Trim cylinder anode(s) on an out-drive. This most Definitely need to be replaced. We recommend our customers to be sure and replace anodes when they periodically service their out-drives, to prevent corrosion and extend the life of their machinery. 

Broken Hose Clamp

broken hose clamp on yacht texas

In accordance with ABYC recommendations all fuel lines should be double clamped where possible. It's important to ensure all fuel lines are secure and properly clamped to avoid fuel spills and possibly a fire or explosion on-board your vessel. It's equally important to ensure all raw-water hoses onboard your vessel are clamped and double clamped where possible. 

Cracked Raw Water Hose

cracked raw water hose boat yacht dfw

A faulty raw water hose could sink your boat.It's of the utmost importance to maintain all raw water lines to avoid problems and ensure your safety while out on the water. Cracked, brittle and old raw water hose's need to be replaced.

GelCoat Void

gelcoat void boat dfw surveyor

Gel-coat void found on a 2013 cobalt. While this is minor, it pays to hire a surveyor to find things like this before you buy a boat. 

Hull Blistering

blistering on yacht hull bottom

The bottom inspection is one of the most critical parts of a  pre-purchase boat survey. Spotting blisters like the ones sighted below,  and repairing them before they become a serious problem is important to  properly maintain the hull of your vessel. 

Improperly Sealed Porthole

porthole not sealed correctly

An improperly sealed port-hole could lead to water intrusion and result  in stains, mildew and possible structural damage from long term  exposure. It's important to ensure your portholes and windows on your  boat are properly sealed to prevent leaks and provide optimum protection  from outdoor elements. 

Torn Blower Hose

torn blower hose on a boat

Torn blower hose on a 2006 Chaparral. Properly operating blowers are  essential to keeping you and your passengers safe from gasoline fume  generated explosions. Always use your blowers when filling up your gas  tank and when operating the engines. 

Cutlass Bearings

cutlas bearing on boat dfw

During the out of water inspection we always check the cutlass bearing(s) to ensure it is in proper working condition. Oftentimes a bad cutlass bearing will produce vibrations at various rpm's and eventually could cause damage if not addressed. 

Rotton Wood

rotton wood overhead on boat dfw surveyor

Rotton wood behind a headliner on a 1987 340 Searay. This was most  likely caused from a water leak resulting from an improperly sealed  hardware item on the deck above it. 

Trim Tabs

boat trim tabs yacht surveyor dfw

We always test trim tabs to ensure proper operation, visually check the reservoir for proper fluid level, and look at the cylinders to ensure there are no leaks. 

Galvanic Corrosion

galvanic corrosion on a boat prop

It's important to make sure the zinc anodes on your hull, out-drives, shafts, rudders (etc, etc), are in good operational condition to avoid severe galvanic corrosion like the above picture. We always check the zinc anodes on our surveys to ensure your boat is properly equipped to prevent corrosion. 

Generators

boat generator dfw surveyor

For pre-purchase surveys it's critical to not only visually check and start the generator, but to test it while it is on a "load" to ensure it will properly operate when using onboard accessories. 

Stereo Systems

boat stereo system

We inspect each speaker, remote, amplifier and head-unit to ensure proper operation. 

Bottom Paint

bottom paint blisters

Bottom paint is critical if you plan on keeping your vessel in the water. Knowing the condition of the paint before you purchase a vessel is important to keep you from future problems and as a bargaining chip while negotiating a price. 

Teak Decay

decayed teak boat

 Leaving teak un-protected like this can lead to degradation over time.  It's important to keep your teak either varnished or oiled to prevent uv  damage from prolonged sun exposure. 

Battery Switches

rotary battery switch dfw

We take the time to go through your vessels battery components to ensure proper operation, safety, and to educate you on the proper operation of battery switches and components. 

Outdrive Maintenance

corroded outdrive dfw surveyor

Proper Out-Drive maintenance is crucial to avoid costly repairs and  smooth operation. In this picture, the lower unit is moderately corroded  and will need to be sanded down and re-coated, along with a new set of  anodes to prevent future corrosion and premature failure. This was more  than likely caused by not replacing the anodes sooner, and allowing the  out-drive to sit in the water un-protected for a lengthy amount of time.   

Freezing Temperatures

freezing termperature boat sink

Cold weather and freezing temperatures can sink your boat if you do not  winterize it properly or prepare for the change in temperature. It is  important to always close seacocks and through-hull fittings, as well as  keeping the ambient temperature above freezing in the engine  compartment of your vessel by using a bilge heater. Often times, as was  the case in the above picture, people leave seacock valves open, water  inside the hose freezes and contracts, and the hose lifts off the  through hull barb, allowing water to pour into your vessel. If your boat  has strainers installed to filter raw water, it is especially  vulnerable in freezing temperatures as the water can crack and break the  sight glass on your strainer, causing an uncontrolled influx of water,  and sinking your boat. Don't be That guy (or gal)! 

Article on Raw Water Seacocks

cracked raw water hose dfw surveyor

As I was speaking to a customer the other day, he asked me why I  emphasise so much the importance of maintaining a vessels  seacock/through-hull valves. Well here is why. That seacock valve is the  only thing keeping water from coming into your boat should a hose fail.  In such an emergency it is Critical that you are able to close the  valve thus stopping the flow of water into your bilge. A bilge pump will  Not always save you and should be considered a last ditch safety  mechanism. Also, if a through hull is not properly bedded it can cause  water seepage/leekage which could lead to hull delamination among other  things. So That is why I spend so much time inspecting every vessel  through-hull seacock. In my mind there are few things more important on a  boat.    

Corroded Battery Terminals

corroded battery terminals dfw boat

When battery terminals are allowed to get corroded they cannot operate efficiently and will often times exhibit reduced power output. It is important to keep your battery terminals clean and free of corrosion. 

Galvanic Isolators

Galvanic isolators on boats

Having a galvanic isolator installed on your vessel will help to  preserve your zinc anodes and reduce the amount of corrosion being  incurred on your underwater machinery by preventing stray D/C current  coming into your shore power ground wire while at a marina. At most  populated marinas, boats that are moored act as one giant battery since  they are all connected by the shore power ground wire. A Galvanic  Isolator prevents the stray dc current from coming onto the vessel, thus  reducing and preventing corrosion caused by this problem. However, even  with a Galvanic Isolator it is still Crucial to continually monitor and  replace zinc anodes when they are no longer serviceable. 

Bent Prop Blade

Bent Prop Blade

This damaged prop was knocking against the rudder making a loud banging sound with every revolution of the blade. However, sometimes a damaged prop will not give off any tell tale signs of damage. This is especially dangerous because even if you cannot feel a vibration or noticeable indicators, the damaged propeller is still causing a harmonic/vibration that can cause damage to machinery (such as shaft bearings) with continued use.  

Gelcoat gouge to FRP

A gelcoat gouge with exposed fiberglass as in the picture, is mostly harmless if it has not ruptured the hull and is above the water line. However it is important to prevent moisture from saturating into the fiberglass, so if the gouge is below the water line it is especially important to repair it. 

Leaking Strainer

Raw-water strainers are susceptible to leaking and need to periodically  be checked. They are especially vulnerable when temperatures dip to  below freezing allowing the water inside to freeze, expand and rupture  the glass. It's always important to periodically check your strainers to  ensure they are not leaking and securely bolted down. 

Water Pumps

A leaking fresh water pump is often the culprit when water is spotted in the bilge or inside a cabin space. Make sure the connections are thoroughly snugged onto the barbs with hose clamps to prevent leaks. Sometimes with age the actual pump housing can also leak, in which case replacement is necessary. 

Battery Ventilation

Batteries should always be installed in a ventilated space and never in a  cabin area unless it is a sealed gel type battery. In this picture we  have a battery installed beneath a bed storage space inside an enclosed  cabin for a tunnel thruster. This battery is a wet cell battery and is  Not installed in a ventilated compartment as per ABYC recommendations.  Also, it does not have boots installed on the connections which is also  against ABYC recommendations. This needs to be replaced with a sealed  gel type battery or have a means of ventilating the space installed.  When traditional wet cell battery's charge they can emit toxic fumes  that can cause an explosion or poison occupants. This is why it's import  to always ventilate battery compartments. 

Shower Sump Box Reminder

Shower sump box's often get neglected because many owners don't even  know they exist. If the pump inside the box is broken or clogged,  condensation from your A/C unit and water from the shower cannot be  drained properly. Usually what happens is the box will overflow,  spilling soap scum and nasty water into your bilge where it will sit and  stagnate. This can not only produce an unpleasant smell but also  standing water can cause fiberglass and wood rot if left unattended.  It's important to check on your sump periodically to ensure it is  working properly. 

Broken Bilge Pump Float Switch

Without a properly operating automatic float switch your bilge pump does not know when to turn on. It is imperative that the float switch is operating correctly in order for the bilge pump to effectively remove water from the bilge. During our pre-purchase surveys we always ensure proper operation of the bilge pumps.