Date: 5 January 2016. Boat Search for
Beginners (DIY survey)
Recently a fellow wrote. He and
his bride are coming to the United States. They wish to find their
Dream Boat, or at the very least eliminate ones that will not work
for them. When the gent asked if anyone had suggestions I piped up
with the following bits of advice.
When arriving at the boat take pictures of her
exterior. You won't remember how many windows she has two weeks
from now nor the configuration of said openings. From all angles,
photograph the boat. This includes things like anchor pulpit, the
windlass (or not) forward, anchor(s) along with the swim platform,
dinghy storage spot, etc.
I recently accompanied a
friend who was looking at an Albin27' as a coastal cruiser. I
should have taken more pictures of the exterior. I took these
at the end of the visit and by then we were sure this boat
would not work for him.
My mistake was in not
taking more photos as this is a production model.
Just because this one did not meet his
current needs does not mean another
might not be better suited.
Albin27 aft cabin model
Narrow side decks
Forward hatch opens
Take copious notes, photographs of everything and most important of
all: IMMEDIATELY upon departure turn on a recorder and talk about
the boat. Some things will strike you right away.
There are two ABSOLUTE
#1) The engine
room. If you cannot easily get to all parts of
that engine, you're not going to maintain her properly. And
guaranteed (almost) that the current and previous owners won't have
done the difficult to get at stuff either. Access for this boat was
While you are in the engine room look at the bilge. This engine
started and ran okay. The thick layer of oil in the bilge was one
nail in the coffin. My friend does not want to spend time having
For a person mechanically inclined the oil in the bilge might be the
ticket to a lower final price, IF he could fix it himself. For my
friend the difficulties of getting a mechanic to show up took this boat
off his list. Workers who don't come are the bane of life out here.
Many "old timers" swear you must
be able to fix everything aboard your boat. While I agree that
would be ideal it did not stop me. That said if I was physically
able and mentally smart enough to fix this engine I would not be
shivering in 50 degree weather tonight. I'd be MUCH closer to the
#2) A working and
workable galley. Whoever cooks has 100% say in
this important area.
I'm a Galley Up gal.
While cooking and doing dishes I want to see out and
enjoy the view.
My neighbor up the canal swears that Galley Down is the only way to
Our 40'er had a galley down. Note the Seaward
Princess stove/oven combination, and the silver jigger!
Also verify there is storage space in the galley for the items you
want. Galleys really cannot be economically changed so make sure
you're going to be happy with whatever is there.
As you're looking
at various vessels and taking
lots of pictures, keep the following in mind:
You're going to need more than spare parts and tools.
Life aboard includes hobbies and having a place to stow the gear
required is essential for long-term happiness.
The head and
shower. I know of no woman who tolerates well
a head that gets wet with every shower. A separate shower is
essential. Onboard Seaweed a shower curtain keeps the head
and sink dry.
This Albin27 has a small head wet
Take a shower in there and everything gets wet.
From the helm can you see all points
on the boat? Cameras can abate that however
being able to see is enormously helpful when maneuvering in tight
Separate areas of
the boat where you can go to plot murder of the other person.
Everyone loves each other but there are times you will breathe
wrong. Having an area out of sight of the other helps maintain calm.
And remember Happy Wife, Happy Life.
Have fun. The
idea to take time to explore a variety of boats is a good one. Just
remember MOST of your time will be spent at anchor or in a marina.
The "ride" is important however life at zero knots must be
Roughing it is for kids. Women
like myself have done that. We're now into a more decadent
lifestyle and expect amenities.
The most important piece of advice I can offer is this:
partner doesn't like the boat, no epiphany will come after
During the course of our look at
this boat, these things were noted:
The bow rail wiggled.
That means the deck does have water damage. Rails should
The ice box next to the
sink would have been all but inaccessible because of
location. And it was too small. Plus there was no apparent
place to install a proper refrigerator.
Oil (a lot!) was under
Those wire cap nuts
are unacceptable. Butt connectors are required. And the
wiring is a mess with corrosion apparent in many places.
None of these things individually made this
particular boat a No-Go. It was the combination that drove the
final nail in the coffin. The gent I accompanied wants to go
cruising. If that is the case buying a project boat at any
price is untenable.
A while back I wrote a series on finding your boat. If you wish,
Finding Your Boat (part 1)
the water is fabulous. I love it and wish you well in finding your
What do you search for when looking for your dream boat?
And, how did you find her? Via online search, marina shopping, boatyard
In the Bilges,
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