Recently, with the drop in interest rates, I took the opportunity to refinance my boat, a step that has, happily, cut my payments by about 15 percent. What's this got to do with boating tips? Well, one of the bank's requirements was that I get a new survey, as it had been some three years since the last one. I dutifully went out and selected a well-recommended surveyor to do the job.
Frankly, the survey was something I was looking forward to: I was hoping that all my good work would be confirmed, and thus my ego would be appropriately "stroked". Little did I know!
First, the survey pointed up a bilge pump float switch that had gone belly-up sometime over the winter (I could have sworn I checked it last summer) and another pump that was totally dead. The former pump, of course, was in a spot accessible only to persons with six-foot arms or with a total body height of eleven inches, explaining why I might have missed it; the totally dead pump was under the floorboards in my cockpit locker. It had a broken wire. Total cost of repairs: a switch, plus a couple hours' cursing at boat designers as I fixed them.
Then, there was the running lights/anchor light switch on the flying bridge. It never seemed to work properly, and the surveyor confirmed it. I had noted the failure on a number of occasions, but failed to write it down, and my memory (which is actually deteriorating faster than the boat) failed to bring up the subject when I was doing boat chores. The fix was simple, just correct a pair of reversed wires.
But most interesting was the item found when the boat was hauled for a below-waterline inspection: the hull had developed a cosmetic crack along the keel which could be a future, major problem. By having one of the local yards correct the problem now, before it became more than minor, I could save myself some real problems! So I had the repairs made, and launched the boat again.
While my boat was out of the water, I spent some time chatting with the yard's employees about the various boats that were coming and going. One of them gave me a great analogy:
"Boat problems are like parking tickets. If you take care of them right away, they cost little. If you wait, they cost more. And if you ignore them, they cost a "lot" more, and they become a black mark against your name and reputation."
I was glad that the professional survey saved me so much later grief. Of course, if I wanted to sell my boat, it could help me. It certainly helped me refinance. And it helped me get some priorities for my boat's needs.
I recommend it to you: a voluntary survey every three years!
Even if you don't refinance at the same time.
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