Marine Surveys by QBC Marine Surveys, David McClay, SAMS® AMS®, Northport, New York, USA QBC Marine Surveys
Northport, New York, USA
Serving New York City, Long Island, Connecticut
New Jersey & All The US North East

David McClay, SAMS® AMS®

Principal Marine Surveyor
ABYC Master Technician
Cell: 631-764-7842, Home/Office: 631-757-9415

Top Ten Survey Findings
Marine Surveys by QBC Marine Surveys, David McClay, SAMS® AMS®, Northport, New York, USA I am sometimes asked to name the most common faults found in the course of a survey. Since I don't keep statistics on this, the following list is based on general impressions formed over the last two decades while performing 150 to 200 surveys a year. While it would be unusual, but not unprecedented, for an individual boat to have every fault listed here, it would also be very rare for an individual boat to have none of these faults. Also, it must be emphasized that this list is not exhaustive.

Anyone purchasing a boat, especially a used boat, and especially first time boat owners, should realize that there is almost always a list of things to be fixed. Even if every item on a surveyor's list of recommendations is carried out, a new list can be made after the next season. The list never really ends. My list omits any purely cosmetic issues like gelcoat scratches, dirty bilges and storage areas, water stains, or peeling finishes. It is limited to what I consider more serious findings.

So here goes.

10. Worn cutlass bearing (strut bearing). My rule of thumb is: If I can move the shaft enough for it to make a noise, then it is time to replace the bearing.

9. Old worn cracked hoses. Exhaust hoses seem to be especially prone to cracking at the top of the high loop that prevents backwash. Some hoses can be hard to access and are consequently neglected.

8. Incorrect wiring. Wire nuts, corroded terminals, unsupported lengths, wires exposed to water - all unacceptable. Owner-installed equipment is a common source of these problems.

7. Fresh water leaks. Typically at the windows and portholes or at through-deck fastenings, e.g. stanchion bases or hawse pipes. Leaks at opening ports are often due to dirt on the sealing surfaces.

6. No breaker at the shore power inlet. There should be a breaker of correct amperage, typically 30 or 50 amps, within 10' of the inlet.

5. Seacocks that don't operate. These are often in difficult to access areas and consequently never get exercised. Corrosion causes them to seize up. Very important safety item that is useless if it can't be operated.

4. Navigation lights not working. These are required by law. The stern light and, on sailboats, the steaming light are the ones most often out of order. The fault is usually corrosion at the bulb ends or bulb holders and is easily corrected with emery paper.

3. Missing or outdated safety equipment. Up-to-date flares, sound signaling devices, PFDs for each person on board, throwable flotation - all required by law. The flares expire in three years and are often years out of date.

2. Moisture and delamination in rudders. Sailboats only. At least half of the rudders older than a few years have some moisture. It becomes a real problem when so much water gets in that it causes delamination of the rudder skin when it freezes.

1. Moisture and delamination in the deck. The decks are almost always cored, often with end-grain balsa, which gets soft over time if water is allowed to penetrate it. Many things are fastened to the deck - cleats, stanchions, Genoa track, etc., and they are often under load. The original bedding compound will dry out over time, allowing water in.

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Installed October 15, 2008, Last Revised August 28, 2020 - Hosted and maintained by Don Robertson