Top 10 Things to Ask When Buying a Boat ... or maybe 1000!

Ten questions just doesn't do it ... maybe it's the top 1000 things to ask ... read on!

Since announcing in November that Nine of Cups was under contract for sale and that the prospective new owner arrived with a long, long list of items to review and inspect prior to making a deposit, we've received many inquiries as to just what questions were asked and what inspections were done. Murray was more than willing to answer questions and share the "list". We decided it made sense to contribute Murray's inspection review to the blog.

Murray arrived on a Friday afternoon and came over for a "first look" at Cups. After a cursory once-over, we talked, had dinner and planned a full inspection the next day. Murray arrived around 0900 and spent the entire day with David until 1700+, pulled up every floorboard, reviewed every system, tried out all the electronics, asked questions, checked out maintenance logs and documentation, etc. He returned on Sunday for more. He's been sailing and has owned/operated/maintained sailboats since he was a kid. He knows his stuff. We are pleased to announce that Cups was up to the challenge. Of course, there was the out-of-water survey and much more, but this initial inspection started it all.

 Murray & Carol

Murray & Carol

At this writing, Cups is waiting patiently for Murray & Carol to come claim her in mid-January. We'll be there in Chesapeake for her departure and have been invited to California to see her splash in the Pacific. 

Before we begin "the list",  in case you're looking for a new sailboat, Murray & Carol are selling their 1987 Catalina 36. She is in mint condition in Southern CA. If you're interested, here's her listing: http://www.sailboatlistings.com/view/70166

 Meet Tehani, Murray & Carol's 36' Catalina

Meet Tehani, Murray & Carol's 36' Catalina


Now, without further ado, take it away, Murray ....

Below is a list of all the questions that I had for "Cups" and her owners when I conducted my personal survey of her.  Please note that this list is more of a comprehensive survey and usually conducted by a licensed USCG approved boat surveyor prior to completing the purchase of a sailboat. 

Cups review:

Hull number? 

Registered with the coast guard or state?

Number of owners? 

General history since built?

Boat Name: 

Any issues with keeping or changing her name? Any personal preferences? 

Set up for Solo sail ability? 

List of EVERYTHING on boat that is not working? Including but not limited to all instrumentation, lights, parts, etc. etc...

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Quality of bulkheads:

Any signs of separation or micro cracks/ stress? 

Any signs of Crash jibes? 

Any structural concerns at all regardless of how minor or major? 

Overall Cleanliness:

Termites? Roaches or other Bugs? Fleas or no seeums? Dirt or oils in bilge?

Review of ALL thru hull valves:

Drips, oozes, leaks or soft spots? 

Water logged thru hull joints? 

All cutoff valves operational and switchable or are any frozen? If yes list which ones? 

Material Made out of? Black Plastic? Bronze? Properly Bonded if bronze? 

When last replaced?

All hoses soft and flexible? 

Remaining Life expectancy of each if any questionable?

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Complete review of all bilge pumps:

auto and manual switches? 

Number and condition of each?

Number of Scuppers in Cockpit? Condition of each hose? 

How many hose clamps on each hose? 

Any Deck mast  joint stress marks? Recent leaking signs? 

Custom mast boot reusable?  

Electrical wiring:

House battery bank:

Age and quality and size and type of batteries

Bulges or acid leaking evidence or examples? 

Starter bank: 

Age and quality and size and type of batteries

Bulges or acid leaking evidence or examples? 

DC Power switching ?

Use of ACR? ( properly wired)

combined use?

isolated use?

Any issues or problems up front?  

Adequate battery cable sizing? Proper for voltage drop over distance and power needs?

All Battery cables properly swedged / crimped and heat shrink protected on both ends? 

Vented battery storage?  

Properly strapped?

All circuit Breakers working and clean?

Electrical wiring schematic updated and available?

Any jury rigging? 

Any signs of fire or electrolysis?

Signs of wire abrasion or quality of insulation? 

Cables properly id'd? 

Properly bonded?  Grounded? 

Quality of All crimp connections in AC/ DC panel?  

Proper use of heat shrink connectors and tubing where applicable? 

Electrical Wiring diagram available and updated? 

Any exposed green colored copper wire? 

DC-AC Power Inverter:

Name?     

Model number? 

Size?

Year?

Operational? 

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Special quirks?

Remaining Life expectancy ?

AC shore power battery Charger:

Name?

Size?

Year?

Remaining Life expectancy ?

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

 Properly sized wiring for voltage drop?

Engine Alternator:  

make?

Age?

Condition?

External regulator? 

Amp sizing?

Alignment with engine: Any dust? 

How many hrs?

Remaining Life expectancy ?

Mast:

Any signs of electrolysis mast paint? 

Loose wire or banging halyard noise in mast?  

Spinnaker pole and rigging setup?  

Mast properly tuned straight?

Quality of paint mast paint?

Instrumentation on top: year and quality?

Remaining Life expectancy ?

Standing rigging:

Rust? Any broken strands? Quality of all Swedges? 

Running backs?  

Remaining Life expectancy ?

Engine:  

Recent compression check?  

Any Oil sample results?  

Tranny fluid sample??  Smell ? 

Any leaks?  If so...  

Where?  How much loss?  

Last time valves were adjusted? By who? 

Raw water pump system?  Leaks or rusty? 

Fresh water pump?  Condition

Coolant levels and condition: Any leaks?  

Exhaust system: any leaking or rust? Holes? Recent joint or nipple replacements?  

Oil filtration system: 

complete review and maintenance check updates? 

Remaining Life expectancy at 100 hrs per year? 

Engine heat exchange system review:

Last replaced: drips? 

Clean Threads on drains? 

proper  Hoses? 

Soft or bulging hoses?

Quality of welds?  Signs of rust?

How often flushed?

Records of maintenance

Engine general operation:

Preheating required? 

How to Start:

How to stop:

Idle RPM speed and temp

Cruising RPM speed and Temp

Max RPM Speed and Temperature

Any less than 1 year recent overheating temp issues? 

Proper alignment? Belt dust? Vibration?

Quality of Engine mounts? 

Odd Noises? 

Bearing noises or vibration or normal wearing? 

When was last alignment? 

Fuel filtration system complete review:

 Engine heat exchanged / AC Electric Water heater:

Size?

Make?

Age and condition? 

Drips? 

Replacement of anode? 

Condition of ALL fresh water and coolant hoses? 

Hose Coolant issues?

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Remaining Life expectancy 

Fresh Water tanks:

Where ? 

How many total?

Including day tank?

Any level indicators: 

Switchable? Quality of valves?

Quality of each tank? 

Leaks? Drips or oozing?

Quality of Hoses? 

Signs of rust?  

Properly secured? Strapped? 

Remaining Life expectancy of each?

Fuel tanks:

Where located? 

How many total? Including day tank?

Switchable? 

Quality of each tank? 

Leaks? Drips or oozing?

Quality of Hoses? 

Signs of rust?  

Properly secured? Strapped? 

Condition of senders: How is it wired? Path of wire and size

When replaced for each tank?

Remaining Life expectancy 

Waste water holding tanks:

Functioning moveable  y valve(s)? How many? 

Macerator  and or hand pump? 

Age of each? 

Located Where ? 

How many total? Including day tank?

Switchable? 

Quality of each tank? 

Leaks? Drips or oozing?

Quality of Hoses? 

Signs of rust?  

Properly secured? Strapped? 

Remaining Life expectancy 

Emergency and safety equipment:

Location of all Pad eyes for tethering? 

Any Jack lines? 

Location and quality of emergency tiller? History of any use? How to use? 

Epirb?

MOB pole / system? 

Life Raft system:

Name:

size:

Contents

Years left on Cert?  When last certified?

How to deploy? 

Ever personally deployed by you for demo purposes? 

Remaining life expectancy?

Replacement cost? 

Mfgr Still in biz? 

Estimated time to deploy in rough seas? 

Beacon light or fancy upgrades?  

Electronics and Communication: inside and outside: 

Instrumentation: above and below deck

Complete detailed list of each item:

Name and Age of each:

Quality of each install?

Any quirks or issues? 

Properly Water sealed? 

Remaining life expectancy of each

SSB radio and auto tuner:

Make and model of each:

Year bought? Condition? 

Isolated backstay antenna? 

Remaining life expectancy?

How to use properly? Licensing? 

VhF Radio. Make and model? 

Quality of VHF antenna?  Splitter? 

Compatible with Vespar Marine AIS?  

Existing AIS System:  complete review.  Wireless?  Overlaying to Chartplotter capabilities.  

Pactor Modem: how to use?

Weather mapping: how on cups? 

Radar:  

Make and model:   Condition and overlapping to chart plotter? 

Any Issues? 

Range:

Remaining life expectancy

Chartplotter?

Make and Model?

Year bought? 

Remaining life expectancy

In/outside? How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Any extra cards? 

Knot meter 

working?  

Accurate?

Location of thru hull sender internally removable for cleaning?

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Remaining life expectancy

Depth meter:

 Location of transducer? 

What depth is it set to on instrumentation? 

Remaining life expectancy

Both Autopilots complete review:

Makes and Model numbers:

Parts? 

Issues?

Leaks? 

Amps per hr of each under normal seas? Under heavy seas? 

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Remaining Life expectancy of each? 

AM fM Cd player radio:

Make and model?

Year installed? 

Properly working? 

Blue Tooth Compatible?

Inside / outside speakers working?

Quality of sound and condition of speakers and mounting?

Fade from outside to inside?

Remaining life expectancy

Renewable energy monitor: 

Very awesome:  replacement parts? 

Any issues with accuracy? 

How does it compare to traditional monitors?  Solar wind and shaft alternator. 

Wires? Remaining Fire hazards? 

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Remaining life expectancy?

Solar panels:  

How many?

Actual Watts of each? 

How many Ah from total combined on a hot sunny day in Florida? 

Diode isolated against shady spots? 

Year bought?

Make and model? 

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Remaining life expectancy of each?

Any issues? 

Hot water diversion system?

Wind Generator: 

Min wind required in knots to get "usable energy" 

 Max output? Ah

Remaining life expectancy left? 

Ah generated at 

10 knots? 15 knots? 25 knots? 30 knots?  

Mounting system?

Proper wire size to allow for voltage drop over distance? 

Remaining life expectancy

Windlass:

Make and model?

Year installed? 

Leaks? 

Power consumption by electric or hydraulic? 

Location of switch? 

Breaker? 

Proper wire size to allow for voltage drop over distance? 

How is it wired? Direct to house? Ect?

Chain counter? 

Does the chain ever slip or fall off? 

Enough gravity fed weight from chain locker? 

How do you clear any knots or kinks?

Remote operation from Cockpit? 

any issues? 

Remaining life expectancy

How to operate? Any tricks or special tips? 

Inventory and review of all ground tackle 

Anchor chain:

Size:?

Grade?

Condition? 

Length?

Marking length vs color code: 

Any breaks or splices or weak spots?

Remaining life expectancy?

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Plumbing:

Forward Toilet: 

Brand? 

Year installed? 

Any quirks? 

Aft Toilet: 

Brand? 

Year installed? 

Any quirks? 

shower? Forward or aft? 

Proper draining?

Fresh water rinse deck shower? How to use? Any issues? 

Fresh water drinking pumps and plumbing:

Location of all pumps:

Year Installed and quality of install? 

Galley:

Sinks drain properly and quickly? Condition of plumbing?

Katadyn Water maker: complete review 

GPH?

AMPs per hr. 

Quality of water?

Quality of membrane?

Year mfg?

Availability of parts

Quality of hoses?

How is it wired? Path of wire and size

Any important issues or faults

Lighting:

All Nav lights working?  If not why?

Any repetitive shorting or fast burnt bulbs?

Tri- color Mast head?  

Sailing issues:

 How bad is Listing?

Any apparent Hobby Horsing while under sail / power? 

Winch review

Complete list of size and location of each (self tailing or non.)  

  Last serviced? 

  Spare parts? 

Any quirks?  

Reefing review: 

At mast base or led back to cockpit.  Jiffy reef? 

Sail inventory:  complete review of each:

Make, size, year, condition, remaining life expectancy:

 Mainsail:

Headsail

Staysail

Trisail? 

Storm Jib?

Halyards, Sheets, Lines: complete review of each:

condition, remaining life expectancy:

Furling systems: complete review of both Schafer systems:

Headsail Furling:

Operation: 

Ease of use:

Quality of bearings:

Quirks? 

Position of blocks

Staysail furling system: 

Operation: 

Ease of use:

Quality of bearings:

Quirks? 

Position of blocks

Yup ... that's it ... a pretty comprehensive list. Inspecting and buying a boat ain't easy.