Getting the boat survey done

The boat survey was on Friday 9th August. The surveyor was Peter Hopley of Acorn Engineering, Manchester – a personal recommendation from the boat yard. He wasn’t cheap at £500, but it was money very well spent.

First, she was docked at the boatyard’s own dry-dock (this cost a further £100 – their daily rate for docking). I really wanted to be there to see her engine started and  but as Emma and I arrived at 10am, she was already there and the dock drained.

Tingletrees in the dry-dock at Taylor's Boatyard
Tingletrees in the dry-dock at Taylor’s Boatyard

It was amazing to see her out of the water. Her hull was covered in tiny shells, algae and – eek – the odd spot of rusty pitting. As I walked around the boat I had to keep my sensible hat on, reminding myself that she wasn’t yet mine and that the survey would give me a clear indication about whether this boat was actually worth buying.

I felt sick with nerves when Peter and his assistant Sue arrived. What if the hull was badly pitted and would sink in a year without thousands of pounds of plating work? What if he told me it was just a big pile of junk?? The £600 for the survey + docking was no small fee and not something to be taken lightly! After a friendly chat with Peter and Sue I knew things were in good, experienced hands and I wandered off into Chester to kill a few hours while they got to work.

Later that day, my dad arrived to see the boat for the first time and find out how things were going. By this point Peter and Sue had been at it for a good four hours and were able to tell us plenty about the Tingletrees.

The number one most important piece of information was the hull – it was sound – hurrah!! She had one or two patches where a bit of spot-welding might be necessary within the next year or two, but I wouldn’t need to think about replating her for a long time yet. I nearly cried with relief.

The hull

A surveyor uses ultrasound to spot-check the thickness of the steel hull. On this boat, the thickness ranged between 3.5mm in one spot, to 6mm in others, averaging at around 5, 5.5mm overall. This doesn’t mean a lot without knowing the depth of any pitting (where rust has eaten into the metal) on the hull – you can have a boat 10mm thick but if it has pitting of 9.5mm you have a serious problem.

The pitting on this boat was not too bad, but Peter pointed out one or two spots which would need some attention – these could be sorted with spot-welding (a far cheaper alternative to replating the hull which can cost thousands of pounds.)

Peter and Sue surveying the boat
Peter and Sue surveying the boat

By the time Peter and Sue finished up they had been surveying the boat for five hours. They’d angle-ground a lot of crap off the hull in order to take ultrasound readings of the thickness and given me lots more information than I’d expect when I’d booked a hull survey only.

I took away two important things: a) the knowledge that the boat was worth buying, and b) a greater understanding of many boat parts, how they worked, and how to make/keep them safe.