Port Credit Marine Surveys
& Yacht Delivery

Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors

Did You Know you were Buying A Sandy Boat ?

BoatUS® estimates 65,000 boats have been damaged in Hurricane Sandy. A great many of these will be written off. With the economic situation in the States I believe a large number of these owners will take the insurance money and run and not return to the market for many years if ever.

A huge number of these boats will be patched up, painted and polished and put into the used boat market. Some will be properly repaired and represent a reasonable deal. Many others will be patched with bondo and sold to the unsuspecting. Hurricane Sandy boats were showing up on auction sites. within a week of the event. Be very very careful about what you buy !!!!

FROM BoatUS® ......... In terms of overall recreational boat losses, we've initially estimated over 32,000 boats were damaged in New York, followed by New Jersey's 25,000, Connecticut's 2,500 and 6,000 remaining in various states. Dollar damage to recreational boats (only) in New York is estimated at $324 million, followed by $242 million in New Jersey and $23 million in Connecticut. Previously, the single largest storm damage event affecting recreational boats was 2011's Hurricane Irene (approximately $500 million in damage to boats). In the 2005 storm season, Hurricane Wilma and Katrina damage was estimated at over $700 million combined. Click here to read the BoatUS® Catastrophe Team's report from on the ground in New York and New Jersey.
FROM a post on cruisersforum.com ..... Today I've reached my limit. I regret ever having bought this money pit, and I'm disgusted with the shady, unscrupulous, estimate doubling SOB, larcenous contractors in the marine industry. I'm frustrated and overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work yet to be done and exhausted with the study regimen required to learn all this stuff. Please forgive my rant but maybe prospective boat owners and wannabes can learn from this thread what a nightmare it can be. An old boat can wipe you out financially, emotionally, spiritually and physically. If I had it to do over knowing what I know now, I would buy a boat in much better condition that required less work and was more immediately enjoyable.(edited).

This very sad post on cruiserforum is not about a hurricane boat but the experience is all too common for people buying, not only hurricane junk (whether they knew it or not) but buying older used boats.

Andrew, Ivan, Katrina, Sandy ..... Well here we go again ! After seeing the piles of devastated boats (youtube) in New Jersey & New York, I fully expect a repeat of what has happened in the boat market after each hurricane in the US. Within a year of Katrina, patched up, painted and polished Bondo boats from the US started trickling into the Canadian market. This quickly turned into a flood and 30% of the boats I surveyed for a couple of years after Katrina were highly polished junk. Many of these boats were brought into Canada by people trying to make a buck.

Even experienced repair guys got in way over their heads and quickly discovered it was costing too much to do it right and started cutting corners. I don't remember ever giving anyone good news after surveying one of these turkeys.

After being changed over to Canadian license or registration, patched up and painted it's sometimes not easy for even a competent layman to find out where she came from or whats under the shine.

After patching these boats are often purchased by people who thought they were getting a 40K boat when in reality they were buying a 20k boat that was going to cost them 100k to make it worth 40k ..... did you follow that :)

Just because you are buying a boat from Michigan does not mean it didn't come from Louisiana or Florida or New Jersey. Be very, very careful buying any boat (other than a new stock dealer boat) that comes out of the US.

Many of these will soon be for sale

An independent may pick up a current model 24' Bayliner write off for $500.00 and try to make a few bucks but boats a little further up the food chain are more likely suspects due to the higher profit potential.

I know of brand new Katrina, 35 - 42' write-off sailboats that were bought for $2k-5k each, gussied up and sold into the Canadian market at not much below the market price for a non-hurricane equivelent. In other words there are people in the business who make a business of this and some are quite good at hiding the evidence. And no it's not just sailboats. There is also room for significant profits on 35' and up late model powerboats.

It can cost $60k - $80k to totally rewire a 40' boat after salt water immersion. (Sounds ridiculous, I know, but ask your local ABYC Certied Marine Electrician). Do you think the guy trying to make a buck is going to invest in that ? No, he is going to cut off any visible corroded terminals and move on. A corroded terminal can be easily replaced but if the terminal is rusted then you are guaranteed the corrosion has crept up the conductor. It will bite you in the wallet eventually. Even the best surveyor cannot see the bottom of the fuel tank and this is where aluminum corrosion usually occurs.

Well maintained, newly painted looking for a new home
The boat with the hole in the bottom - Is he going to contact the mfg. to determine the correct laminate schedule and re-build to specs or is he going to throw some glass over Bondo and move on ?

I can get you a deal on this one

Many "For Sale" signs in this New Jersey Marina
Clue - The photo at right shows deep pitting on the inside surface of a mast on a new boat that sunk at the dock. The stray current in the water around the destroyed marina did this damage within two days. The exterior surface of the mast looked fine. This mast is worthless.

Look for corrosion wherever aluminum contacts other metals. i.e. rivets on windshield, aluminum radar arches.

Stray current corrosion pitting inside mast
Next two pictures are of same boat.

Clue -
New or late model boats with painted topsides (like the one at right) rather than gelcoat and painted over HIN codes.

I put the chalk marks on the hull at right because my magic hammer detected some large voids. This one year old boat had a newly painted hull.... are we suspicious yet ?

Obviously the buyer was going to walk so the seller offered to open up the void and repair any damage ? Here's what we found...........................

(A). shows an area of filler which the repairer says is not theirs.
shows the pin hole pattern typical of CoreMat, this is well below the waterline where the manufacturer says there isn't any CoreMat.
These light grey areas are where the outer skin is separated from the CoreMat. So what happened to this boat, was the original lay-up this bad or did
many hours of impalement (she had been holed just below the area pictured) and beating cause massive sheer stresses which separated the layers?
(D) shows that the separation continues upward and outward. How far ? I don't really know and the only way to find out is to keep grinding until you come to the end.

This victim of Katrina had been holed, sunk and improperly repaired with an impressive cosmetic coverup. My client wisely walked away.

Shiny new paint on a current model. Suspicious ?

What is it thats only skin deep ?
The next three pictures are from the same boat.

he engine compartment (right) sparkles however ...

She ain't pretty she just looks that way).
Same boat

difficult to access areas (at right) showed extensive corrosion such as this electrical terminal I could not get into this area but my snake camera could. If the terminals look like the one shownat right it's a safe bet, the entire conductor (and how many others) is shot.
Same boat

This aluminum fuel tank is corroded around the copper fitting (also viewed with my snake camera) and is typical of galvanic corrosion enhanced by salt water. What about the bottom of this tank and all the other difficult or impossible to get to fittings.
The two photographs at right show internal and external views of the same area on the starboard side amidships. On the inside surface a vertical fracture through the laminate runs above and below the hull deck joint while on the external surface, a cosmetic repair effectively hides this damageotographs at right show internal and external views of the same area on the starboard side amidships. On the inside surface a vertical fracture through the laminate runs above and below the hull deck joint while on the external surface, a cosmetic repair effectively hides this damage
Another skin deep beauty
Surveyors do not dismantle boats or use tools to gain access to areas in the vessel. Insist that the broker, dealer or owner remove all fasteners from sole panels, power panels, or fastened hatches and you might find something like the fractured liner at right which was a clue to serious grounding damage that had been very nicely covered up with a 'cosmetic' repair on the exterior
Lift the floor boards for more clues
One More Clue -
Don't you find it curious that there is over spray on the serial plate of the reduction gear on this current model boat ?

Now some brokers/dealers/repairers will be honest and tell you the boat came from salt water or even that is a hurricane boat but there are still many areas in any boat that are extremely difficult or impossible to get to without dismantling the boat. You pays your money and you takes your chances !
As I said there are honest people refurbishing hurricane boats and there is nothing wrong with this as long as the repairs are well done and there is full disclosure. I am just suggesting that as a buyer you must be even more vigilant than usual. The difficulty in detecting some of these repairs has caused me to decline requests to survey hurricane boats as the liability is not worth the risk. Many of these boats were written off by insurance companies and sold for salvage (scrap). Unfortunately the law does not require disclosure of this fact as it does with used cars.

Warning !
There is another rather ugly scenario that I am keeping an eye out for it. Many of these boats came from where sewage treatment plants are of questionable efficiency and few marinas have pumpout stations (those that do exist rarely work) and even fewer boats bother to use their holding tanks. One must also consider the massive pollution that occurs after hurricanes. After a boat has taken on a couple of feet of this sweet harbour water, how long before mould and bacteria starts to creep out of those freshly varnished plywood bulkheads ? Combine some sewage with the bacteria in much more organically active salt water and you could have a very unpleasant brew fermenting in those stringers, bulkheads and teak paneling.

If you really know what you are doing or if you just like to roll the dice, buy a boat from these guys Yacht Salvage, Certified Sales or these guys National Liquidators. at least with these guys you will know it was a salvage boat.

Feeling lucky ? If you still think you can beat the odds, at least read Marine Survey 101 before you open your wallet. It might help you avoid a costly mistake.