View Full Version : "The Survey Says"

03-06-2000, 01:02 PM
The moment of truth has arived. I just received the survey for the 38' lobster boat. The following is the observations for the Outside of Hull, Decks and Superstructure. This is a bit long but I wanted to provide as much information as I could so that all of you could make informed comments:

The wooden hull is in generally good condition. The carvel plankiing is sound and it was reported that the boat had been re-fastened two years ago. Transom is good condition. The boat is hogged slightly in the after end and some of the bottom planking has pulled away form the transom. Cotton caulking has been inserted in this opening and has contributed to forcing the plank out. It would be recommended that this caulking be removed, flexible synthetic caulking be installed and the affected plank be re-fastened to the transom. Keel, deadwood, sternpost, horn timber and skeg all in good condition. Shoe at bottom of keel is pulling away at the after end and one other area. The after portion of the port sheer guard is rotted as is the after end of the starboard guard which extends only to amidships. There is no starboard guard form amidships aft.

Main decks in fair condition with some plywood delamination and craking noted in some areas. Cockpit deck fibergass covered and in generallyn good condition with the exception of the area around the hatch where there is delamination and som rot in the plywood. The after portion of the port toe reail is rotted as well as several other areas in the port and starboard rails. Mooring bitt and deck fittings in good condition and securely mounted. Deck block for forward eye is rotted.

Trunk cabin sides and ends in generally good condition, however rot was noted along the bottom edge in the forward end and in the forward starboard corner. Trunk roof somewhat spongy and the plywood is lifting at some locations aroud the edges. Pilot house sides in generally good condition, however rot was noted along the bottom edge in the forward end and in the forward port corner. Pilot house roof slighly spongy but in otherwise generally good condition. Windshields in good condition. Keeper on starboard windshield is pulled away and mounting block is broken. Pilot house windows and fixed ports in trunk in good condition. Facia in good condition with the exception of some rot in the ater end on the port side in the pilot house. Some rot also in the bottom framing memeber of the winter back. Handrails in good condition and securely mounted. Cockpit ceiling and coamings in good condition. Engine box in good condition. There is no escape hatch forward and it would be a good idea to install one on the trunk roof.

That is a portion of what was documented. I can tell you that the price I will be paying is fairly low due to certain cercumstances. The question is, is the "Marie Anne" a good bet. Let me know what you all think.

03-06-2000, 06:55 PM
JW is right, the first question I ask any customer about any boat is, "Do you love this boat?" All the other questions flow from that. I've got a customer right now who's buying a 24 foot lobster boat that's in generally good condition, but will take a lot of work to get it to the point where it fits his vision, and the engine's shot on top of that, but he's willing to pay me to do the work because he loves this boat. And, hell, with a sexy name like 'Marie Anne,' how could you go wrong?

03-06-2000, 09:28 PM
I am not a builder,just an enthusiest who has been there a few times.So, with seasoned citizen(spelled geezer) mindset I say yes it is true you gotta love her...but will you still love her in the morning.Some boat love affairs are like closing time at the dance hall when every thing starts looking good.

03-06-2000, 11:16 PM
ironmule,the jury is still out on one of those.Your quite right however with your point.

Bob Cleek
03-07-2000, 12:17 AM
Do you remember when your used-to-be-best-friend told you not to marry your first wife?

Reality rears its ugly head. FUGGEDABOUDIT! Just take a deep breath, turn and walk away. Even if you DO love her. Get away before she grows on you.

Rule number one with women, boats and waffles. You always have to throw away the first one.

Frankly, I'm not impressed with your surveyor's report. I may be harsh. I don't know him. Heck, he could be Giffy Full himself, but the report seems VERY equivocal. He sounds like what we used to call in the brokerage business a "seller's surveyor." Repeatedly, he says this or that is in "fair" or "good" or "servicable" condition, and then quailfies it by saying it's a "little spongy." HEY! There's no such thing as a "little spongy." If it is half rotten today, it will be all rotten tomorrow. All those places with rot? You will have to replace all of them. Period. This is particularly so with the plywood.

Another thing that concerns me about the survey, although I realize you are giving us excerpts here, is, what about the really important structural stuff? The INSIDE OF THE HULL? He seems to gloss over it. What about the frames, stringers, carlines, and so on. I'd bet ya a buck you've got rotten deck beams everywhere you've got rotten plywood decking.

Now, for the coup d'grace. Somebody's done a "bananas in the crankcase" job on this boat. She's hogged. This means MAJOR degenerative structural problems are at work. (Read the chapter on floor timber repairs in Bud McIntosh's "How to Build a Wooden Boat." He addresses the problem in a similar boat there.) The hogging is bad enough that the planking at the transom is pulling away. (REMEMBER, THIS IS A REFASTENED, NAILED BOAT, ISN'T IT? She's got a couple of strikes against her already.) Someone pounded a bunch of caulking in there to stop the leak, and obviously did nothing about the CAUSE of the leak. Your surveyor is blowing smoke up your butt if he thinks you can repair this kind of problem with a tube of goo.

Just about any wooden boat can have rot somewhere and it doesn't mean it's a junker. Replacing rotten spots is almost routine maintenance. HOWEVER, when a boat has as much decay as this one in spots your surveyor can SEE, imagine what's there that he didn't see! In practice, you can cube the rot you see to get an idea of what you will find when you start pulling things apart.

I know the feeling of falling in love with a boat. I've done it once or twice. Same as with women. A good boat and a good marriage can last a long time. A bad one of either is living hell. If this boat were a woman, your survey would read like this:

"GREAT PERSONALITY! REALLY SWEET! Sure, she has a missing front tooth and a big cavity in the other one, plus some really bad breath, but nothing that some toothpaste and a set of false teeth won't cure. One boob is bigger than the other by half, but an implant will cure that. She's got a colostomy bag, too, but is otherwise serviceable. No money. Six kids. A mean ex-husband who's still obsessed with her. There's a bad scar down one leg and she limps, but does okay with her leg brace. BUT BOY, CAN SHE COOK!"

You get the picture?

There have to be other lobster boats a lot like this one that will strike your fancy which don't have the serious and probably terminal problems this one does. Sure, you can fix just about anything, but the cost/grief of fixing this one is way beyond what she is worth. Ask yourself this... why hasn't somebody else bought her yet? Why isn't she being used right now? There are good reasons why.

If she's yours for what is really a giveaway price, and you just want something you can abuse for a summer and then burn on a deserted mudflat, well, maybe... sort of like "One-night-stand Sally with the bag over her head." But LOVE? Never.

Sorry to rain on your parade. You'll thank me in the morning, I think. Just my $.02. I'm sure everybody will jump on me for being such a spoilsport, but when they do, ask then to send you a $100 towards the restoration fund and see if they are still your friends then. LOL

Keep looking, my friend. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your princess.

John R Smith
03-07-2000, 04:15 AM
Jeez, Bob's done it again. Hit the nail right on the head, that is. Every last one of us should print out his reply above, frame it, and have it on the wall right above the telephone that we are going to use to call the owner of the boat and tell him "yes".

I've done it with boats, I've done it with cars (autos for you lot) and I've done it with guitars. Let my heart rule my head. Fell in love with the thing. Refused to see the rot / rust / cracked headstock. Paid too much. Spent months of my life trying to fix it up. Spent half my salary paying someone else to fix it up. Given up in despair and sold it for a fraction of what I paid. On one memorable occaision I drove my beautiful Mk VIII Jaguar to a scrapyard and paid them to take it off my hands.

Now I've probably just done it again (see "Lulu"). Will I ever learn? Mac, don't do it. Instead of buying a cheap lobster boat, find the very godamm best lobster boat there is and pay the price. It will be cheaper overall, and you will have more fun (lots more fun).

Classic Boatworks - Maine
03-07-2000, 05:25 AM
Bob is right on the money with this one, Mac. It sounds like a standard fishboat. This is why so many are lost at sea. She'll never make a yacht.
Now really, doesn't it strike you as odd that the surveyor would say "spongy" and "in good condition" in the same sentence?
We have yet to see spongy wood in good condition.
The hogging is probably the worst of your problems and would indicate to us something is wrong with your main structure that is not going to be cheap to fix. (And here in Maine where we only charge $25 per hour ... that is saying a lot!)
You would be best to look for another boat.

03-07-2000, 06:57 AM
Bob, You are a mean sonofabitch. and I wish you lived in my neck of the woods. We could go out looking at boats together. Mister McIntosh you need to listen well and send Bob double what you paid the suryor. The former is a crock and the latter (is a crock too but) is not as silly as he looks and after you have printed out and read his post out loud to everybody that matters start looking for a better one for less money.
P.s There is one out there.

[This message has been edited by Mobjack46 (edited 03-07-2000).]

John R Smith
03-07-2000, 07:53 AM
Hey Mobjack, how come you know what Bob looks like? ("not as silly as he looks", above). You mean you've met him? Seen a picture? I'd imagined him as kind of raffish, with a big handlebar moustache and bow-tie... come on, tell us!

maurice poulin
03-07-2000, 09:47 AM
Mr McIntosh, do not despair all is not lost!

These folks are right. I found this autentic chinese junk that I fell in love with. A thing of beauty, all teak and mahogany. Forget that it was spongy at best or that it served as a playhouse for kids at my friend's place thousands of miles from the sea. I was sure it was the boat for me. Forget that I could likely have had for free. Forget that I have never sailed or built or fixed a boat. I was obsessed by her. Alas, reality struck me one evening after a few beer on the deck of this boat... and I walked away. In vino veritas, I guess

But! In the meantime I found this forum and its community and I have learned so much. I now have a set of plans for my new project which I started building already(half model)LOL. I am in love again and just as obsessed. I now believe it's not the boat that we fall in love with, it's the craft!



03-07-2000, 12:17 PM
I love brutal honesty. It was more infatuation than love. Luckly, I will not be forced to chew my arm off in the morning. I will continue my search for my "Dream Lobster Boat". Thanks

Bob Cleek
03-08-2000, 12:56 AM
My pleasure, gents! It's always nice to know we've saved another one!... Hey, Mac... you ever think of talking to Classic Boatworks of Maine about building you a brand new laaabstah boat? You might have to make payments to the bank, but I bet you'd be a real happy camper and get every dime of your investment out of it down the road. Just a thought...

03-08-2000, 05:30 AM
So you can take the lust out of boat building but ya can't take the sales commission out of Bob. LOL

Bob Cleek
03-08-2000, 11:05 PM
My California Yacht and Ship Broker's sales license expired years ago! I couldn't take a kick-back if I wanted to! LOL (Well, I COULD... but it would be naughty!)

03-09-2000, 03:46 AM
A honest man and a good strong boat. Thats what they like.

Dale Harvey
03-09-2000, 08:10 AM
Before finding this website and getting hooked, I had thought about useing this infernal machine to start a website to talk potential boatbuyers out of thier folly. Thought it would be possible to get a lot of paying wives to subscribe. Then here's Cleek doing it for free! I think it might be benificial to start a thread in Miscen. on Surveyor horror stories.

03-09-2000, 10:03 PM
Just found this forum, and figured out how ot log on. The discussion on the survey of the lobster boat probably saved me from making a terrible mistake. There are considerable tooth marks on my arm from previous bouts with the bar closing follies.
I don't need more. I could use some advice on where to look, though, for other good
looking wood sailboats. I'm looking for something 30' or over, to live aboard. And affordable. My wallet won't open without a survey (buyers', but this forum looks like a place to find some good help in my search.

Bob Cleek
03-09-2000, 10:50 PM
Check out previous posts on live aboards. While the pocketbook can't always manage it, the best way to go is to buy a boat in as good a condition as you can afford. No question about it, you will have plenty to do even on a boat that's in good shape. It's the old wrecks that promise "the most boat for the least money," that have given wooden boats a bad name. Check out WB classifieds and identify the brokers that specialize in good wooden boats in your area.

Stephen Hunter
03-10-2000, 07:33 AM
Mcintosh. If you're into lobster boats you'd be in heaven around here (Prince Edward Island, east coast Canada). There's always many for sale and cheap too (usually under 5000 can). The standard construction is spruce strip planking edge nailed, over tamarack frames. They're not built to last forever as they are work boats but many people convert them to pleasure.If you would ship from Maine. Why not from the Canadian Maritimes.Your dollar is almost double our's

03-10-2000, 12:26 PM
Stephen. I would gladly consider such oportunities. But, being on the West Coast, I rely on the net to search for the perfect boat. If you know of any site that includes these vessels, please let me know. I will try my hand at finding such a site, but any help would be appriciated.

03-12-2000, 08:03 AM
Along the lines of a new boat. I just got my copy of national fisherman yesterday and in "Around the Yards" they featured a new 42' loster boat. Designed by Carroll Lowell, cedar on oak, bronze fastened, w/ a 500HP MAN diesel and 2:1 reduction gear. It was built by George Emery (on spec) at Tenants Harbor Boat Yard in Tenants Harbor ME. Will go 24 knots at 2150 rpm. "Come out, go for a rid and make me (George Emery) an offer." If you're really serious about a lobster boat this one looks like a winner.


Wayne Jeffers
05-23-2001, 06:00 PM
To the top with ya!

Lots of good advice here.

05-23-2001, 09:13 PM
Muh daddy always told me "son, if'n it still looks good to yuh in the mornin', marry it". So, take your sleeping bag, spend a night on her, and poke around with an ice pick....and if you still want it, go ahead....however...there's at least on posting here that knows the meaning of "coyote ugly" and I suspect that's what you've found.

05-24-2001, 09:50 AM
I see from your profile that you're in the Seattle area. So am I. Bob Cleek covered the situation perfectly. I'ld be curious to know who the surveyor was, I have a pretty good idea who it was. There's lots of good boats available up and down the West coast ( including British Columbia). You'll probably get the best bang for your buck In British Columbia, and if you need the name of a reputable wood boat surveyor up there I can refer you to one. With depressed ecomomies involved with the fishing industries there are excellent opportunities to find a good commercial wood boat and do a yacht conversion with out bastardizing the proportions and lines. Don't go for the "Marie Anne", and get a buyers surveyor for other boats that you might be considering. Where's this Lobster boat located? I'ld like to go see it if it's around Seattle. Seattle yacht designer Robert Perry has a design for a Lobster boat/Lobster yacth. In fact one was pictured in WB not to long ago. Talk to him if your interested in a new. Buy with your head and your wallet, not your heart. Good Luck.

05-25-2001, 09:00 PM
if you mess around with a frog long enough you may realize that she isn't such a bad frog afterall... especially is she's cheap.

so if it looks good and you can fix it - then do it... and if you can't then learn how... it'll be fun - even if the vessel is a wreck and the whole deal takes 3 years.

good luck.

On Vacation
12-20-2003, 05:24 PM
Bob CLeek says:
"Rule number one with women, boats and waffles. You always have to throw away the first one"

LOL, Not in my house. Without woman, will never be able to afford boat, so says she. Standard equipment, Woman, fishing pole, bait, cooler, and slave rower, me. Ain't I lucky!!!! :D :D

Jim H
12-20-2003, 06:04 PM
Thanks, Oyster. :cool:

On Vacation
12-20-2003, 06:49 PM

12-21-2003, 06:19 AM
I Purchased a boat on Ebay several months ago. i saw her with only a few hours left on the auction. The phrase "needs some work but can be used as is" still haunts me. Luckily,it is worse than I expected but better than it could be. The hull was about what I expected but the cabin and deck looked great until I started sanding. 2000$ to buy her and probably about the same to fix her (materials only). And it is only a 20' cruiser. Fixed it would probably bring about 5000$ if I paid someone to fix her it would probably cost about 6000$ I am guessing. But the wife and kids really like her. Part of her charm is her unique looks. If someone without skill or tools had bought her it may have been an expensive bonfire. I wont give you advise either way, other than take off the rose colored glasses, make a decision, and stick with it. An old boat is combination of a head and heart decision.

Rick tuk

09-25-2006, 07:23 AM
Haven't read all the posts but I get the gist. I fell in love with my second boat, but she was a Vertue.
Surveyor's report went to 8 pages, but overall the hull was very sound, and there was some rot above the waterline. I went in with my eyes wide open, and a very substantial reduction in price.

After 3 years I'm still working on the boat, but I'm also sailing her, and I'm enjoying the restoration work. I guess a lobster boat is going to be more than 25ft LOA, and the timbers a lot more substantial. Think about it!

Andrew Craig-Bennett
09-25-2006, 11:12 AM
This thread should be preserved, containing as it does one of Bob Cleek's finestn injections of reality, and pertinent observations from the much lamented John R Smith.

It should, imho, be right at the top of "FAQs";)

09-25-2006, 08:15 PM

Some old friends gone by, too.

Lew Barrett
09-25-2006, 11:22 PM
I think you can attack many aspects of a larger boat's deficiencies, if that's your want, but a hogged boat is one to avoid at all costs. A few planks never scared me, but fighting rot all over the boat is a bad deal whatever the thing cost. Some of 'em should be somebody else's project, and some of 'em are just too far gone, and that's the way it is. Cleek nailed it; I only wish I'd gotten there first so i could have been the one basking in the glory:D

Lew Barrett
09-25-2006, 11:24 PM
And it is only a 20' cruiser. Fixed it would probably bring about 5000$ if I paid someone to fix her it would probably cost about 6000$ I am guessing. But the wife and kids really like her. Part of her charm is her unique looks.
Rick tuk

Considering "it's boats" and with this math, you're doing fine!