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  • Writer's pictureDeanna Sansbury

And Survey Says...

Yesterday we had the survey for the Leopard catamaran that we put a contract on.  True to Sansbury style, we  were at the marina bright and early and were excited to see the boat at the end of the pier waiting for us!

We were a bit nervous about the weather – they were calling for an 80% chance of thunderstorms and we hoped to get started before the bad weather rolled in. 

Thankfully, everyone showed up at 9:00am sharp and we were soon underway poking and prodding and examining every inch of her.  If she were a real lady, I’m sure she would have been blushing at this point.

Things started off OK upon the initial walk around, but headed south once we got into the engine compartments.  Aside from being dirty (which isn't what we wanted to see, but still not the end of the world) they had standing water underneath with a nice rainbow sheen from a layer of oil that had leaked out.

Red flag #1 and we were only an hour in.  Bad sign.

Red flag #2: The odometer that reads the engine hours (similar to a cars odometers mileage) stopped working so we had no way of knowing how many hours were even on them.  The owner also had no clue and never kept a log with the usage.  This is normally not a big deal (apparently these digital hour meters burn out all the time), but we knew the boat was in TWO charter fleets since new and these were the original 2003 engines. From what we’ve researched, being part of a charter puts some serious hours on the engine, potentially pushing the current time on these to the 10,000 hour life span. The unknown hours plus the visible wear on the engines made us very nervous.

The cost of having both engines replaced: $40,000…. a situation we’d most likely have to deal with if we bought the boat.  With our budget being what it is, this was not even an option.  It’s like buying a house knowing that you have structural damage to deal with. We were pretty deflated by this point, but still kept truckin’ on.

Next was the big haul out.  That was so cool to watch!  Because of her width, there are only two marinas that we know of on this side of the Chesapeake Bay that can haul a boat so large.  We literally had inches to spare coming in.

Once it was out of the water, the surveyor tapped the hulls for any water damage and de-lamenation issues (when the fiberglass layers separate).  We were relieved to hear that this part of the inspection checked out and the hulls were sturdy.

It’s crazy how large she looks out of the water!  We could fit our current 22’ deck boat underneath where we were standing with no problem.

Next came the part that we were really excited for… the sea trial! 

We took her out to the open waters on the bay and tested out how she handled under power and sail.  Unfortunately, this is where we experienced a few more set backs.  The issues with the engines were extremely obvious when she was under full power.  The starboard engine wasn’t getting enough fuel and nearly conked out (Red Flag #3) and the port engine was blowing black smoke (Red Flag #4).  The surveyor asked to power down so he could check the port engine and found it was leaking oil into the bilge.  This was a HUGE issue for us since we’re going to depend heavily on both engines to get around while we learn to sail!

Next up was raising the sails.  Trying to finagle the main out of the stack pack (the bag that it stores in), turned out to be a process because of all the loose lines and complicated rigging the owner had set up.  Once up, it was evident that the sails were original had were in rough shape and would have to be replaced as well.

Cost to replace: $6,000 for both sails (main & jib). Red Flag #5.

However, I must say, Matt looked pretty cool and confident in that Captain seat!

After the sea trial, the surveyor went around AGAIN to do another round of inspection.  This guy was awesome and really took his time looking at everything

We ran into another issue when he used a moisture meter to examine the topside of the hulls.  This thing was detecting moisture all over the place!  Not just a spike here and there either… we’re talking all the way in the red – or “pegging the needle” as he called it. Red Flag #6.

That about did it for us.  We went into the survey saying that major problems with the engines and hulls were two walking away points for us and unfortunately the boat had both.  Not to mention, there were about a dozen other small things that we would have to deal with as well. It stinks that we had to pay for a haul out and survey to discover these, but it’s a small price to pay for avoiding a potential disaster if we went through with the sale.

So, it turns out that this one wasn’t THE ONE, but we aren’t deterred and are going to keep looking.  We learned a lot yesterday and will look at the next boat with a bit more scrutiny and with something to compare it to.  Talk about a learning curve!  Fingers crossed that we’ll find one we love soon!

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