Having previously entered into contract to buy a Pearson 40, which sank en route from the survey haul-out to the marina (fortunate timing even though I had to eat the cost of the survey and haul-out), I was ready for the emotional turmoil of the survey process. I knew the surveyor would meticulously pick apart my dream vessel, exposing her every flaw. That’s what I was paying her for.
I had agreed to purchase Merope for $60,000. And in retrospect it’s funny. I could never have pulled together that much money! Boat financing is designed for the wealthy, which I was not. I was depending on the survey to turn up flaws that I could use to further negotiate the price down. Through a dramatic turn of events, I would not be disappointed.
I arrived at the boatyard in the early morning to meet my agent and surveyor. They were catching up as old friends do. Shit. Had my broker already told the surveyor what the price I had offered? Even though the surveyor is paid by the buyer and is ostensibly their client, I wouldn’t be buying another boat anytime soon, and the broker could refer client after client to the surveyor for pre-purchase surveys. Perhaps I was being paranoid, but skepticism overwhelmed me for most of the process.
We began with a walk-through, and the surveyor quickly asked me about my plans for the boat. I mentioned that I wanted to live-aboard and sail a performance vessel, and she spent the first fifteen minutes trying to talk me out of continuing the survey.
“This companionway is dangerously steep,” she started.
“Sure… but if the boat rolls, the small hatch will keep massive amounts of water from entering into the cabin,” I responded.
“The deck is shot. Do you know much it costs to replace a teak deck?”
“I do. But I can rip it all up and put down non-skid and increase the resale value.”
She accepted how I felt about the boat and began her inspection in earnest. She opened every cubby and drawer. She tested every wire and switch. After a couple hours it was time to haul-out, which went without incident. She sounded the entire hull, and the boat went back in the water, whereupon she continued her exploration of what was increasingly feeling like my vessel.
Toward the end of the seven hour process, Francoise warmed up to Merope. “I can see why you like her now. She’s not my style, but she’s a pretty cool boat.”
After a couple days, the survey arrived via email. Either my initial suspicions were correct or through some coincidence of fate my offered price was exactly how much Merope was worth. Yea… right.