Thursday, June 12, 2014

Surviving the Survey

Posted by Scot

Monashee, waiting to get all shined up for sale.
You may have noticed the blog has been relatively quiescent over the last week or so.  That is because we have been getting Monashee ready to be sold.  We spent several days moving all our stuff off the boat.  Then we went to work cleaning.  The boys and I were the outside crew, polishing decks and hulls, as well as all the chrome and hardware on the boat.  Then there were all the lockers to clean out and rearrange.

Sara and Katie got to be the inside crew.  Even though they did have the benefit of air conditioning, I’m sure they had the harder job.  They started by organizing all our belongings to be moved off the boat.  We fit what we could into the van.  We also had two big boxes to be shipped home by UPS.  Everything we could live without went to Goodwill.  It is crazy how much “stuff” we managed to fit into a 40 foot sailboat.

After the boat was empty, Sara and Katie went on to clean every possible surface, from the bilges to the ceilings.  The boys and I did all the laundry so the beds and towels were all fresh and clean.  The entire cleaning process took three solid days.

The survey itself started on Monday.  Surveying a boat is a bit of a bizarre process.  It is kind of like the survey you might get done on a new house prior to buying it.  That is, if the house surveyor went in and cranked your furnace to it’s maximum output to see what it would do.  Then, he would need to run all your electrical devices at full bore until he blew a fuse.  He would also have to dig into every nook and cranny in your place, knocking off wires, going through all your drawers and closets, and spending a couple of hours tapping on all the walls and the roof with a hammer.

It's hard for me to see anything wrong with our wonderful home on the water.
The idea is for the buyer to be aware of everything that is wrong, or could go wrong, with a potential boat purchase.  In order to obtain that information, though, for some reason the surveyor needs to beat the living *&^%$ out of the boat.  So, as the seller, we got to stand quietly by as the surveyor overloaded our electical circuits, knocked sensors off our engines, left the dipstick out of the generator, ran the engines screaming at full throttle, and tracked oil around our freshly cleaned decks.  After doing all that, not surprisingly, he found a few things on the boat that did not work perfectly.  It was really hard not to take it personally, as our home for the last year, which has carried us comfortably and safely over such a long distance, was picked apart and criticized.

The way purchase contracts are written for boats, after all this is done, the buyer can walk away at any time.  Any little thing that is found on the survey can be used as a justification not to purchase the boat.  If that happens, then the seller has to start all over, cleaning up the boat again, fixing anything that was found (or broken) on the survey, and getting ready to go through the whole procedure again with another potential buyer.

It is a difficult process for the buyer, too.  The reality is that there is always something wrong with any boat.  I have said this often before, and you may wonder why this is the case.
Imagine, if you will, that you own an RV.  Now, consider what you would need to do to that RV to make it waterproof and resistant to salt corrosion. Once you have done that, imagine taking it out on a heaving ocean, and driving it up and over a wave so that it fell several feet through the air before crashing down onto it’s bottom.  Now imagine how it would have to be built to withstand that same crash over and over again, every few seconds, for hours on end.  That is pretty much what any active boat goes through, on a routine basis.  So it is no surprise that boats are an endless source of current and impending repairs.

2014-06-10 08.18.37
Monashee getting hauled out of the water so she can get beaten with a hammer.
The problem for the buyer is trying to differentiate the minor issues from the major headaches.  It is the surveyors job to point out every little thing.  Often the issues they point out are potential complications, that in fact will never become significant.  Nevertheless, in order to earn their money, they try to be as thorough as possible.  This leaves the buyer with an extensive list of “problems”.  Unfortunately, this list often lacks any kind of perspective, and it can become overwhelming.  It’s amazing anybody ever buys a boat after a survey.

Luckily for us, the list of issues on Monashee turned out to be short and relatively minor.  Our buyer was perceptive enough to recognize that most of them were insignificant.  Most of the damage done by the surveyor was minor enough that it was easily repaired.

The whole survey process took two days.  The first day consisted of a thorough going over and digging through the boat.  On the second day, we had the boat hauled out so the bottom could be inspected.  Overall, Monashee made it through with flying colours, as we knew she would.  Now, we are just waiting for the final report.  If the buyer is happy with everything the surveyor found, we could be boatless in the next day or two.


  1. Wow!! Congrats. It must be a bit bitter sweet having it come to an end but I hope it all keeps progressing smoothly.

  2. Thanks guys. It has definitely been an up and down week. All things considered, it has gone incredibly smoothly. Could be much worse. Still, it's sad to say goodbye to the boat.