Buying A Sailing Catamaran – Survey/ Sea Trial and Haul-out

posted in: Sailing, Small Business | 2


The survey and sea trial are the equivalent of a house inspection done on a property prior to finalizing the deal for purchase. The buyer is responsible for hiring the surveyor and the costs associated with it. The seller is responsible for having a captain for the sea trial and gas for the vessel.
The National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) and Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) are two professional organizations that have rigorous examination programs for their memberships. Most insurance underwriters and also lenders require a survey done by a member of either NAMS or SAMS. There are horror stories about what can happen when you don’t have a good surveyor. It can be really expensive and also a safety risk if important issues with the vessel aren’t identified. The survey is also a great opportunity to follow around the surveyor to get acquainted with the vessels systems and to learn what to look for and what needs to be done on the vessel.
Another important thing about the survey and sea trial findings are that they give you a fair market value on the vessel. Post survey you can either decide to purchase as is, walk away from the deal or potentially renegotiate with the sellers based on the findings.
We have been researching for several months and had come up with a surveyor in Florida based on the recommendation of a few people on online cruising forums and from a blog we started following (also the inspirers of our blog and the sharing of our journey) Gone with the Wynns.
Brian Stetler of Stetler Marine Surveys is an experienced surveyor, and also a really nice guy, who lives in Jupiter Florida. We hired him to travel up to St. Augustine to do our survey/sea trial on this 2006 Lagoon 410 owner version that we looked at last week.
Our survey/sea trial on this vessel was over the course of two days due to the four-hour drive up for the surveyor. Normally both are done in one day and require hauling the vessel out of the water to examine the hulls, rudders, props and through-hulls etc. This Lagoon was already hauled out by the owners and has been stored on the hard so we had to “splash” the vessel and then haul back out the following day.
All the systems of the vessel are inspected including both diesel engines and the generator. Our surveyor takes oil samples from the engines after they have been run to send in for analysis. The oil sample analysis can test for sodium (from salt water) and wear metals (elements like iron, aluminum, and copper) to see if things like pistons, bearings, or gears are wearing down.  It is a useful tool to look at the inner workings and health of the motors.

The sea trial tests the engines under load and they are revved to their max RPM’s to ensure they don’t overheat. The sails were raised and inspected, as was all the standing and running rigging on the vessel.
This Lagoon has been sitting on the hard for 7 months apparently, and so the batteries had a hard time getting the port side engine to start. After she started it ran well for the sea trial and the boat performed well under all the surveyors inspections. The a/c and other basic systems work well. The hulls were in pretty good shape as were the sails. The generator would not start. The radar was not working. There are several maintenance issues and projects that were identified but most are behind the scenes and Tomas can repair.  Everything that is wrong with the vessel can be fixed. It’s just a question of how much and who will pay for it?
One of the big things that I have mentioned previously is that this vessel was chartered. The cost of a chartered vessel is much less because they have a reputation for not receiving appropriate maintenance. Even under the best of charter management it is a lot of wear on the vessel and the engines get a lot of hours on them. Everything has its trade offs in life, a newer chartered boat or an older never chartered boat. It comes down to what we can afford and what is available on the market for our time frame to get our business launched. We definitely were not looking for a boat that had been in charter but also weren’t 100% closed off to the idea due to our budget and ability to make repairs ourselves.
The survey experience was cool to get to follow Brian around and pick his brain as he examined the vessel in her entirety. It was also overwhelming because there were a lot of things that need attention and would be a lot of work and money. It was nice to get out on the water, get the sails up, and a few dolphins joined us on the sea trial as well.
The next step will be getting the results back on the oil samples and getting the report back for the survey/sea trial to decide how we proceed. We have a lot to think about!

Stetler Marine Surveys– Survey/ Sea Trial $1200
Surveyor Travel/ hotel fee $500
Oil Samples $200
Haul-out/ Splash St Augustine Marine Center- $606

Overnight Rivers Edge Marina fee- $66
Total: $2572

2 Responses

  1. You both are smart buyers..Greg Will help u. Wish i could have helped. Follow your dreams