Whenever the subject of buying a boat comes up, the horror stories about surveys that failed to find serious, or even catastrophic, structural problems are sure to follow (I have one of my own). This applies to any material, but let's focus on fibreglass.
Given that, I would argue that the two most important questions those of us considering buying a fibreglass boat need to answer are:
- Is it even possible to assure that the boat we plan to buy is sound in hull and deck?
- And, if the answer is yes, how can we actually do that?
And here's the thing, if we take those questions to a bunch of different people, we get a bunch of conflicting answers...and a bunch more horror stories...no help at all.
So, like so many things in life, the key to arriving at a good answer is not to try and parse all the conflicting opinions and anecdotes (especially not the anecdotes), but rather to learn enough about the subject to find the few, the very few, who actually know what the hell they are talking about, and then ask them the right questions.
(By the way, if you want to learn more about this decision-making process, which can help make all aspects of our lives better, I strongly recommend reading Principles by Ray Dalio.)
To get those vital questions answered, I spent a fascinating, focused and deeply informative hour and ten minutes on the phone with Steve D'Antonio.
You can read more about Steve here, but the key things to know are that:
- He ran one of the best boat yards in the business for many years.
- He has been on the sharp end of fixing a lot of bad shit, much of it missed by poor surveys.
- He is considered by the boat building industry as one of the foremost experts on fibreglass construction (and much else).
- He now makes his living inspecting boats and supervising new builds, most of that work for those with deep pockets who can afford to hire the best.
Start From The Top
I started by asking Steve the big questions above:
- Q: Is it even possible to be reasonably (there is no certainty in life) sure that a fibreglass boat is structurally sound before buying her?
- A: Yes
- Q: How?
- A: Read on: