Updated: Dec 9, 2022
This series of short articles highlights some key areas you can focus on to help you decide if a vessel's condition is fitting your expectations for a purchase before you hire a surveyor.
First of all, what do we mean by "hull and topsides"? The topsides is the vessel's structure and skin between the cap rail (or deck edge) and the waterline. Hull in this context is the remaining skin and structure from the waterline to the bottom of the keel.
What you are looking for: Damage, blisters in the paint, evidence of delamination or moisture saturation.
How to look: Sight down both sides of the hull from the bow and stern, then walk the length of the boat on each side and look closely at every square inch. Be methodical and don't leave any areas out. Crouch or crawl as necessary to get at the hard to see areas. Don’t leave out the under-keel area (a mirror is handy here). Finally sound the hull (tap it lightly all over) with a small light hammer or other device that will give you a solid echo - a dull thud sound in an otherwise solid area is grounds for further investigation. While you are inspecting the hull look at each through-hull fitting checking for the fit, signs of damage, or significant pitting that would indicate galvanic corrosion.
Significant Findings: Un-repaired (or poorly repaired) damage that penetrates the outer coatings and enters the fibreglass. Numerous un-repaired blisters. Significant areas of fibreglass where tapping with the mallet produce suspect soundings. Severely pitted or damaged through-hull fittings.