Testing for soundness in 2018

January 8, 2018 By In Uncategorized No Comment
Testing hull sounds

Hammer testing the hull is part of a boat survey

Happy New Year to you and I hope all your wishes and dreams come true for 2018.

Last year saw record numbers of survey enquiries and for me there were two significant changes on previous years. Yachts are being presented for sale and survey in much better condition and with updated specifications. Plus, my ‘Eyes & Ears’ service has increased.

I noticed that owners and maintenance contractors are keeping vessels much cleaner, updating equipment and navigation instruments. Brokers are providing more photographs with their sales literature, in one case over one hundred and twenty pictures were included covering every angle of the boat possible. It all helps a surveyor like me, get a good idea how the boat has been looked after and, as I have said before, a well maintained and clean boat is easier to survey and inspect.

Eyes & Ears Service

The ‘Eyes & Ears’ service, now in its third year, has gone from strength to strength with over ten clients using the service last year. Basically if the prospective buyer can’t visit a vessel then I go and look, take pictures and write a short report of what I see. I take a more in-depth look at the boat as it is not me who has to fall in love with it. The system works well and is inexpensive.

How often do boats fail surveys?

I had two vessels fail survey last year. A really lovely, immaculate 15 year old sailing yacht, presented and maintained extremely well, had at some time hit a sand bar and the resulting shockwave through the vessel’s structure had broken the internal moulding to hull joint. It can be repaired, the vessel is not a write-off but, it is an expensive repair, in this case 20% of the sales price.

The second was a 75 foot motor cruiser with massive de-zincification of the port bronze propellor, rudder and through-hulls. They would need to be replaced. The starboard propellor, rudder and through-hulls were not affected at all. Internal earth bonding was checked and in good order. Eventually the reason for this problem was discovered, The vessel moored in the next berth had poor shore power connections and stray currents were causing the problem to the surveyed vessel.

These problems were first discovered by the use of ‘acoustic hammer testing’ or more simply hammer tapping. The process goes back to the age of steam trains when the ‘wheel tapper’ tested all the cast iron wheels of the train for cracks and weak points (it’s the same principle). On a good piece of steel, fibre glass and wood, if the sound from the tap is sharp and long then it’s OK, but if it’s dull and short in tone then there is a problem and further investigation is needed. For me the hammer is the best tool I have in my bag.

Have a good start to your season and keep in touch. Call or email.

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