Mechanical Inspection!!!

This afternoon was the Mechanical Inspection for our potential new (to us) boat. The mechanical inspection is an evaluation of the motor (and motor-attached) things such as the transmission.

It should be said that any used (and even new) sailboat there’s going to be problems. There’s no such thing as a pristine and perfect sailboat. That’s just the nature of the beast. You take something made of metal and fiberglass and gears and electricity and you put it into one of the most hostile environments, there’s going to be problems.

Nevertheless, the mechanical inspection is giving me a bit of pause. You see diesel engines don’t like water. They really don’t like salt water. They especially don’t like salt water inside of them, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, during mechanical inspection, it was discovered that there was water in the primary fuel filter. A lot of water. Following along, we again found water in the secondary fuel filter, which is the last guardian before the engine itself. So, did water pass through the secondary filter and get into the engine? If so, how much? The engine can tolerate a bit of water as it simply turns it into steam and expels it, but more than trace amounts is Not Goodtm.

We (don’t you like how I’m taking part of the credit even though I was simply a passive recording device) found that there is a fair amount of blow-by on at least one cylinder. In an engine, there are the pistons that go up and down in the piston shaft. These pistons need to make a seal with the shaft so that the stuff it’s compressing (fuel and air mixed together) don’t just go around the piston and refise to be compressed. if the piston does not make a seal, then fuel and air leak around the piston. This leakage is “blow by”.

There were other things too, but those are the ones that cause me the most concern as they indicate problems inside the engine. Still, we’ll have to wait for the official report before making any decisions. At the least, though, it’s likely we’ll have to negotiate the price on the boat again. Argh!

Now the hard part starts

It’s taken us more than 6 months of looking, but we’ve finally gone and bought a boat.

Well, Ok, it’s not technically ours yet.  However we made an offer on it and it’s been accepted, so the process of actually buying it has started.  We have, essentially, formally stated that we wish to buy it from the current owner and he has, essentially, formally stated that he wishes to sell it to us.  There’s more legalese involved, but that’s the basics of it.

So what is next?  Next is a whole raft (no pun intended) of things to do.  Obviously we have to finish off the purchasing process.  That requires a marine survey, a mechanical survey, and a sea trial.

What is a Marine Survey?

When you buy a house, you generally have a home inspection.  This is where you have a professional come in and inspect the house for defects, flaws, and problems.  The idea is that the inspector is working for you and, therefore, has a vested interest in finding all the problems and potential problems so that you know the condition of the house you are buying.

A marine survey is very much the same thing except that the thing being inspected is a boat rather than a house.  The survey consists of lifting the boat out of the water so that the bottom can be inspected, then going over everything with a fine-toothed comb.  At the end, the surveyor gives you the results.  At this point you can either say that you accept the boat or that the survey has found something that has you concerned.  You might then negotiate a new price, accept the boat the way it is, agree for the owner or purchaser to fix it, or you might walk away from the deal.

The mechanical survey is similar except that it’s all about the engine only.

What is a sea trial?

It’s a chance to take the boat out and see how it actually performs.  At the same time you want to turn on everything on the boat, check everything while it’s sailing, run the engine, run the water, run the heater, run the radar, the navigation system, the radios, inspect everything for leaks, and also get a bit of a briefing on how the boat works.

Once again, at this point, you have the option of accepting the boat as it is, walking away from it, negotiating a new price, or agreeing that one or the other of you will fix any deficiencies.  Of course, if you open the negotiation again, the seller has some of the same options as you.

But that’s only the beginning!!

Non-Sale related things

You need a place to keep the boat.  This involves finding “moorage” at a dock.  In these times, moorage is scarce and difficult to find.  This is no small task!

You need to obtain insurance.  Just like a car, the boat needs, at a minimum, a liability insurance in case you do something like hit another boat.  Given the cost of boats, you probably also want some sort of loss or damage insurance for you as well.

These are probably going to be the two biggest tasks in the coming weeks before we take possession of the boat in late April.