12 Apr

Surveys 3: The marine survey

The Haulout

Once you’ve brought your boat to the dock by a boat lift you hop out and the lift operators take over. They manoeuvre the boat into a set of slings, adjust those slings so they miss anything important and then slowly lift the boat straight up. The thing to be careful of is that most boats have recommended sling points, but apparently they are not always the best indicators. The Hunter 386’s throughhull for the paddle wheel speed sensor is fairly close to where the sling marks are; the lift operators at Granville Island know this so make sure the slings are a bit aft of the marks to avoid damaging the paddle. Or you can take the paddle out entirely before the lift.

This was scheduled as a ‘lift and hold’ so the lift  set the boat down on its keel but left the slings supporting the boat. The surveyors had access to the whole hull but it was going back into the water as soon as they checked it so no need to set up stands.



She came out of the water with a nice collection of mussels on the keel, barnacles on the prop and, as I mentioned in a previous post, a few barnacles wedged in the speed sensor. Once she was out of the water, the brokerage’s people cleaned off the prop and and changed the anodes on the propellor shaft. Now my highschool chemistry is still a bit shaky but the theory is that when two different metals touch — bronze and steel in this case — while in salt water, a current is set up that will eat away at the weaker metal. In order to avoid your boat bits dissolving, you attach sacrificial anodes usually made of zinc that will slowly dissolve instead.

You can see the two new anodes on the prop shaft

In the mean time my surveyor, Tim McGivney and his partner Trevor Salmon from Aegis Marine Surveyors Ltd., showed up and we all shook hands. Then they went to work. What they are looking for is obvious hull damage as well as any hidden damage that might be hiding. In the case of Rainbow Hunter, they only found a few small blisters. Much like a skin blister this is where moisture has penetrated the top layer of fibreglass or gel coast and caused a bubble to form and leave a hole underneath. They aren’t a huge issue although they need to be repaired and if you have a lot that can be a big expense.

There was also a crack in the fibreglass under the moulding on the transom and another crack at the top leading edge of the keel. Again, these turned out to be mostly cosmetic and not a structural or safety issue.

Once the visual inspection is done, they get out their hammers and start tapping the hull front to back, top to bottom. What they are doing is listening to hear if the tone changes, which would indicate damage or water intrusion within the hull itself. Modern boats often have solid fibreglass below the waterline but will use a cored fibreglass system above to keep weight down and prevent the boat from being top heavy. In most cases this is two thin layers of fibreglass with a balsa core sandwiched between them. This provides structural strength but keep the weight down. But like a piece of drywall, if the core gets wet or damaged, the strength disappears and you have potential point of failure. And if the damage is not repaired, intruding water can spread through the core causing rot and the damaged area grows bigger and bigger.

The surveyors found one spot about 2 feet by 3 inches right along the bootline (the stripe that marks the waterline) that had crazing in the gelcoat and the sound definitely changed when tapping.  This would be where a hard docking occurred without a fender or perhaps a bad night at dock in bad conditions where the fender slipped out. Regardless it was a problem and will need to be addressed. Talking it over with Tim I was assured that there was no imminent danger and we could easily cruise the season and get it fixed in the fall which might be easier and more cost effective. But this was definitely something to talk to the current owner about.


Other than that the boat passed with flying colours and she was soon on her way back into the water. Back aboard the broker slowly manoeuvred her out and the backed her neatly into the narrow slip.

At this point, I needed to head to West Marine and it had been recommended to me not to pester the surveyors too much in order to not distract them, so I decided to head off to do some shopping and grab a bite. I will acknowledge that there is some common wisdom that says  you should stay and follow along through the survey as it is a prime learning opportunity, and I can see the sense in that. But for me I felt that my level of knowledge was so low that it would likely be a hindrance. I know that in my own field I don’t mind talking to others while I am working if they have a base understanding of what I am doing, but it is much more distracting if you have to stop every five minutes to go over the basics. So I left them to it.

The Survey

It was a nice afternoon so after I bought a slice of pizza I wandered the docks and enjoyed the sunshine. Eventually I ended up back at the boat and sat in the cockpit  trying to amuse myself. At this point I was hit with my traditional “what the hell am I doing?” rollercoaster jitters. Eventually I called L and we had a pleasant chat and I managed to get over most of it. Otherwise I took pictures (which is really hard to do in a crowded marina) and wandered aimlessly. I was still wondering what the hell I was doing though. Especially as the bill’s started piling up. I hadn’t realized (although I should have) that I had to pay for the lift. This came to $309. At the end of all this I will tabulate the totals and post them, but it is easily going to be over a couple of thousand dollars just to find out if I want to go through with this or not.




While Tim and Trevor were doing the boat, the broker had also arranged for their service manager to doing a complete rigging inspection. Apparently this is usually high on the surveyors’ recommendation list (turns out it was number 7 of 9) and he wanted to get it out of the way. So that was good.

Eventually everyone was all finished up and Tim was handwriting out his conclusions. As soon as he was done he went and made copies for everyone and we three sat in the salon and went over everything. First up was the recommendations. Number one was the  exhaust elbow we already new about. Two was a coolant leak. But that turned out to be the previously mentioned heater issue. Three was the hull stuff we had already discussed. Four was a possible issue with the strut bolts. It was possible they were weeping so had to be monitored, but with the coolant leak in the bilge it was impossible to tell yet. If they were weeping they would have to be pulled and re-bedded. An issue the broker had noticed in the keel that might have indicated a previous grounding was noted as most likely a factory alteration and that no evidence of grounding was present. The rest of the recommendations were all things like expired flares and notes to better secure the house batteries etc. All in all a pretty clean report.

There were also tons of other little things that will give me something to do late in the year if this all goes through. Better ventilation for the inverter, some crazing on some of the hatch lenses, stuff like that. It seems there are always things to spend money on when you have a boat.

The Rigging Report



That was it for the day and I caught a cab back to the airport and was soon on my way home. Two days later I received the preliminary rigging report. Again, nothing major but a few things that really should be serviced or looked after.


There was some issues with the upper swivel on the forestay, a crack near one of the chainplates, the steaming light bracket was broken, and the main sail was stretched and the webbing on the clew was worn. Add in a few worn bushing and sheaves, some chafed lines and an excessive amount of tape on some of the fittings allowing for water to collect and induce rust and corrosion. And the winches were all in need of servicing.

But it all adds up. So that meant there were things still to negotiate.


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