The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Buying a Fibreglass Boat—Hiring a Surveyor and Managing the Survey

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:

  1. Is it even possible to assure that the boat we plan to buy is sound in hull and deck?
  2. 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.

About Steve

Many of you will be familiar with Steve’s fantastically informative web site and monthly ezine. He has also repeatedly and generously shared his expertise in the comments here at AAC.

You can read more about Steve here, but the key things to know are that:

  1. He ran one of the best boat yards in the business for many years.
  2. He has been on the sharp end of fixing a lot of bad shit, much of it missed by poor surveys.
  3. He is considered by the boat building industry as one of the foremost experts on fibreglass construction (and much else).
  4. 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:

More Articles From Online Book: How To Buy a Cruising Boat:

  1. The Right Way to Buy a Boat…And The Wrong Way
  2. Is It a Need or a Want?
  3. Buying a Boat—A Different Way To Think About Price
  4. Buying a Cruising Boat—Five Tips for The Half-Assed Option
  5. Are Refits Worth It?
  6. Buying a Boat—Never Say Never
  7. Selecting The Right Hull Form
  8. Five Ways That Bad Boats Happen
  9. How Weight Affects Boat Performance and Motion Comfort
  10. Easily Driven Boats Are Better
  11. 12 Tips To Avoid Ruining Our Easily Driven Sailboat
  12. Learn From The Designers
  13. You May Need a Bigger Boat Than You Think
  14. Sail Area: Overlap, Multihulls, And Racing Rules
  15. 8 Tips For a Great Cruising Boat Interior Arrangement
  16. Of Cockpits, Wheelhouses And Engine Rooms
  17. Offshore Sailboat Keel Types
  18. Cockpits—Part 1, Safe and Seamanlike
  19. Cockpits—Part 2, Visibility and Ergonomics
  20. Offshore Sailboat Winches, Selection and Positioning
  21. Choosing a Cruising Boat—Shelter
  22. Choosing A Cruising Boat—Shade and Ventilation
  23. Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying a New Voyaging Boat
  24. Cyclical Loading: Why Offshore Sailing Is So Hard On A Boat
  25. Cycle Loading—8 Tips for Boat and Gear Purchases
  26. Characteristics of Boat Building Materials
  27. Impact Resistance—How Hull Materials Respond to Impacts
  28. Impact Resistance—Two Collision Scenarios
  29. Hull Materials, Which Is Best?
  30. The Five Things We Need to Check When Buying a Boat
  31. Six Warnings About Buying Fibreglass Boats
  32. Buying a Fibreglass Boat—Hiring a Surveyor and Managing the Survey
  33. What We Need to Know About Moisture Meters and Wet Fibreglass Laminate
  34. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 1, How We Shopped For Our First Cruising Sailboat
  35. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—Part 2, The Boat We Bought
  36. US$30,000 Starter Cruiser—How It’s Working Out
  37. Q&A, What’s the Maximum Sailboat Size For a Couple?
  38. At What Age should You Stop Sailing And Buy a Motorboat?
  39. A Motorsailer For Offshore Voyaging?
  40. The Two Biggest Lies Yacht Brokers Tell