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.
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.
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.
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 $4,000.00, and oftentimes if the compressor is bad you will have to buy a whole new unit. At Southern Marine Surveying, we take the extra time to inspect all accessible components of the vessel to give you an unbiased, thorough report of the vessel condition.
The fuel tank vent at the upper right corner does not have a flame arrester screen or splash shield as per ABYC recommendations. On some older boats such as this one, factory hardware was not up to ABYC standards. This particular issue could cause an explosion or allow water to enter the gas tank, which would lead to a whole slew of other problems. In order to remedy this the owner should install a new modern fuel tank vent with splash shield and flame arrester.
A broken deck hatch like this is usually the result of someone stepping on it. A new hatch can cost upwards of 1,000$ 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.
In this picture we have several findings. The first and most obvious is the green bonding wire that is disconnected. Because of this the entire bonding system is compromised, and could lead to corrosion problems throughout the vessel. But where does this bonding wire go? If you look at the stringer where the rudder post bracket is mounted, there is a missing bolt! The bonding wire is supposed to be connected there. Also, if you look at the rudder post you will see there is green corrosion and leaking water. The rudder has probably been leaking for some time as the green corrosion signifies, rudder posts should never leak and in this case it probably just needs to be tightened, but if tightening does not help the vessel will have to be hauled out to repack the gland. It pays to hire a surveyor Before you purchase that boat so you know exactly what you are getting into!
At first glance the area next to this anchor windlass might look fine. But upon closer inspection and percussion testing, it was discovered there is a 10"x10" soft spot just to the left of the windlass. Soft spots on the deck aren't always a deal breaker and are fairly common on older boats, but its important to know about any before you purchase a vessel. Soft spots are usually caused by water egress by a leaking deck hardware fitting (either the windlass, foot controls. rub rail, stanchion, water fill pipe or cleat in this case) and commonly found near the bow or anchor pulpit if the boat is in a covered slip but sticks out a few feet.
Automatic fire extinguishing systems like the Fireboy Halon system seen here, can save your life (and vessel) in the event of an emergency, but only if it is periodically inspected and maintained. If you look closely you will see the inspection tag hanging on the top of the bottle. The bottle needs to be weighed and inspected on an annual basis to ensure it is operational and ready for discharge. In addition, the inspector must properly fill out the tag on the bottle to show the date and signature of inspector. Here at Southern Marine Surveying we inspect automatic fire extinguishing systems as part of our surveys to inform you of any problems or deficiencies. Safety on the water is our #1 priority, and should be yours as well.
With the freezing temperatures approaching remember to either winterize your engine(s) or plug your bilge heater in! Always use a USCG approved, ignition protected bilge heater to prevent a fire. We recommend the Twin Hornet 550w bilge heater as seen in the picture. If you have a boat over 30 feet we recommend buying two (depending on where you live and how cold the temperature gets). If you live in the extreme cold its best to fully winterize your boat and not take a chance
When looking for an older boat to buy, it is easy to overlook "small details" such as whether all the helm gauges and instruments work or not. Here at Southern Marine Surveying we test all the gauges and accessories to ensure proper operation as one of the many "small details" we take time to inspect. If it doesn't work, you'll know about it
The out of water portion of the inspection is crucial on bigger vessels because it is vital that the running gear be in good operable condition. Can you spot what is wrong in the above picture? First of all the cotter pin is missing on the prop, there should always be a cotter pin installed on the backing nut to prevent the prop from falling off if the nuts were to back off. Also, if you look closely at the Strut, you will see that the Cutless bearing (shaft bearing) is loose and sticking out about an inch from the strut. This was causing a noticeable vibration at high RPM's and needs to be addressed immediately. Here at Southern Marine Surveying we specialize in pre-purchase boat inspections to give you the information you need to make a well informed purchase.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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, leaks or bad connections.
The bulkhead fitting on the right is broken and allowing water to come into the bilge, and saturate the exposed fiberglass. This could easily sink a boat if the bilge pump is not working properly and waves are splashing against the hull side. Always examine your bulkhead fittings periodically to ensure they are intact, secure, bedded properly and not cracked. Stainless or bronze bulkhead fittings are always a better option than Marelon.
Burned looking prongs on a shore power inlet are usually caused by not using the locking rings on the shore power cords and allowing heat to build up from the un-secure connection. Many boats have burned up for this reason. In this case the inlet needs to be replaced and the owner should ensure his shore power cord locking ring is being utilized and the cord is secure, and monitor frequently for any indication of heat.
It's vitally important that shore power cord locking rings are properly utilize in order to prevent any movement/wiggling at the connection that could lead to heat and possibly fire. A large amount of boat fires are started right here. Always secure the cord so that it is not hanging or pulling down on the connection. The inlet should be secure with no burn or heat marks where the prongs go. Also if the inlet breaks, replace it, never try to repair or modify it.
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. Additionally, the wiring needs to be secured every eighteen inches to comply with ABYC recomendations, and needs to be neatly organized with zip ties and wire loom to prevent chafing.
Galvanic corrosion on an outdrive like this can be caused from a number of things such as depleted anodes, elelectrolysis at the dock, prolonged use in saltwater, etc etc. It's important to periodically check your outdrive to monitor the condition of any corrosion and to ensure the anodes are not more than 50% depleted. In the above case, the outdrive needs to be sanded and repainted, and if the corrosion has pitted the metal to where it is no longer structurally sound the entire outdrive will need to be replaced.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Milky colored engine oil. 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(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.
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.
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.
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.
The bottom inspection is one of the most critical parts of a pre-purchase boat survey. Spotting blisters like the ones sighted above, and repairing them before they become a serious problem is important to properly maintain the hull of your vessel and ensure its structural integrity and resale value.
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.
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. In the above picture the blower hose is torn and will have to be replaced or repaired.
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.
Rotten wood behind a headliner. This was caused by a leak from the horn that is installed on the deck above it. Generally speaking marine grade caulking is good for five years and any deck hardware such as horns, cleats, rail stanchions, deck hatches, need to be re-sealed to prevent water intrusion which could lead to damage like in the above picture.
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.
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.
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.
We inspect each speaker, remote, amplifier and head-unit to ensure proper operation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.