Port Credit
Marine Surveys
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Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors


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FROZEN BOAT SURVEYS

My business slows down over the winter months and I get a little stir crazy because I'm the type that needs to keep busy. So while I will survey some frozen boats (maybe) at very close to 0°C (maybe, it depnds) but not any colder, It is important that you understand the limitations of what I can tell you about moisture content and core condition of hulls, decks and stringers. All boats should be above 0c for a minimum of three days. prior to survey and boats with cored hulls should be above freezing for several more days. depending on conditions. I once surveyed a boat with saturated core that was frozen solid after a week of well above freezing temperatures. This boat was stored among trees and had no direct sunlight at all. The primary methods of determining core condition and moisture content are ......
Moisture Meters do not measure moisture, they measure capacitance (pretty much like conductivity). When moisture in the structure is frozen, it crystalizes and all that air between the ice crystals reduces conductivity so the meter gives false low readings.

Percussive Sounding (Whacking with a hammer) is the other and sometimes more reliable method of finding wet core but when frozen, the core often sounds like dry, solid core unless there is some delamination, core separation or a large void.

Thermography I also have a Flir infrared camera and it won't work either as it needs temperature differentials to create a picture. If the whole boat is at one temp ... no go unless you want to pay by the hour while I set up heat lamps. I only use this method in rare cases (even in summer) due to the complexity and time required to do it right.

While I will sometimes (rarely - it depends) survey frozen boats, you must realize that I cannot positively tell you the condition of any cored structure whether it be balsa or foam core decks & hulls or stringers or the very common weak spot of all i/o boats - the transom. It is rare to find an older boat without some degree of moisture in the core or between the laminate and the core. Please also note that on rare occasions I have seen boats just a couple of years old with large areas of rotten core and don't forget that the surveyor might not be as reliable when his fingers are frozen.

Rotten deck core is an expensive problem to fix and please also remember that I can only inspect what I can get to. Canvas or shrink wrap covers will certainly hinder examination to some degree.

If you are considering a vessel with a cored bottom and want to have it surveyed in a frozen state please consider hiring someone else as I don't like working for crazy people
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