A Sunseeker Hawk 27 ashore for a marine survey near Portsmouth – Trafalgar Wharf in Porchester which overlooks Port Solent Marina opposite. Sunseeker, a Poole based UK company have built up a reputation over decades for sea-kindly hulls, derived from race type hull forms and adapted for leisure use. Sunseeker hulls are well built, however do sometimes reveal some debonding particularly to the deck as this is a cored (also known as sandwich) method of construction, which allows lighter weight and/or stiffer sections than traditional single skin FRP construction. A Marine Surveyor is required to both hammer sound and take many moisture readings to ascertain any moisture related debonding issues. When conducting this part of a marine survey, I am unique in using 3 different moisture meters: A Sovereign Quantum, a Tramex Skipper and a Protimeter Aquant to allow me to fully evaluate any moisture entrapment either within the GRP laminate or within the core.
A Gibsea 76 at Gosport Marina, Gosport for a marine survey. Gibsea, also known as Gib’sea, built by Gilbert Marine in France were a smaller production builder than the French giants of Beneteau or Jeanneau, however were well built for the era. Caravela Yachts of Hamble imported these popular French cruisers into the UK in the 1980’s and 90’s, with hundreds sold. Gibsea were rescued in the mid 1990’s by Dufour and continued production.
The boats have lasted well and with the single skin FRP hull have proved robust, the internal joinery being well finished and the accommodation practical. Rob Humphreys was called in to take over from Group Graal, Jacques Fauroux and Joubert Nivelt as the in house designer in the late 1980’s, with designs such as the Gibsea 312 and Gibsea 414 being good performance cruiser / racers and achieving good results on the IRC circuit. The company was also well known for its earlier racers, such as the Flush Poker 27 and various quarter tonners.
A classic long keel traditional yacht, surveyed in Eastney Cruising Association in Portsmouth. This classic yacht had been modified with a skeg hung rudder, rather than the original design that had the rudder on the aft side of the keel, where the mouldings clearly show where the rudder heel fittings would have been. Such modification of a yacht’s design is not normally to be taken lightly, affecting the balance and the steering.
This particular yacht had also undergone major rebuild and upgrading, including removal of the previously end grain balsa cored deck structure – modifications included replacing the balsa core with Nidaplast core, a honeycomb cellular structure with reinforced polypropylene which is lightweight and rot proof, although can suffer from reduced bonding properties compared with balsa. In this case, some debonding of the new structure was found to the deck and the companionway bridgehead.
A Cranchi 33 in the slings ashore at Hamble for the underwater element of the marine survey. Most of the survey can be carried out afloat, however a lunchtime hoist is often used when the vessel is required back in the water after the survey to save cost. The Cranchi range, by Cantiere Nautico Cranchi dates back to 1870 from Lake Como, Italy.
A Fairline Squadron 48 at Saxon Wharf, Southampton for a hull only marine survey. The Fairline Squadron is a modern design, boasting numerous innovations such as the submersible bathing platform and allows a jet ski type personal watercraft to be easily launched. Large hull portlights let in natural light into the warm saloon and owner’s cabin, and the twin Volvo Penta IPS600-435 diesels give around 30 knots, while allowing pinpoint manoeuvring while in a marina, regardless of wind or tide with the modern joystick type control. Foam core in the deck and superstructure, with integrally moulded engine bearers, with transverse and longitudinal stingers gives a rigid structure without excessive weight. A marine surveyor looks for deformations and other defects in the structure, in this case some minor areas of deformations within the teak soled cockpit were found, quickly rectified by the excellent Fairline warranty team.
Quarter Tonner Marine Survey. A quarter tonner by French designer, Jacques Fauroux in 1980 and still winning 35 years later. Fully refurbished by Yachting Sports Ltd, Hamble with a converted rig to remove runners and checkstays. Yachting Sports Ltd are a company I have worked with several times: in the heart of Hamble Point Marina they are noted for their exceptional craftsmanship and are often asked to make modifications after delivery to Nauticat Yachts where one owner decided he wanted to fit a bath in the aft cabin! The joinery detail is second to none and has led them to a number of refurbishment projects on Hallberg Rassys, Najads and other blue water cruisers.
A Westerly Oceanquest 35 at her berth in Hythe Marine Village near Southampton after a full pre-purchase marine survey ashore there. I am a previous employee of Westerly Yachts myself (Westerly Yachts Ltd came after Westerly Marine Construction, which was founded in 1963, folded in 1980) and traded from 1981 to 1991, thereafter the new company, Westerly Yacht Construction merged with several other local builders, starting with Victoria Marine and later Rival Bowman and Starlight. The Westerly Oceanquest is in effect a revamp of the previous generation of Ed Dubois designs, the aft cockpit Westerly Falcon in this case, which shared the same hull as the Westerly Seahawk centre cockpit. The designs are all a fairly typical Westerly designs: High beam, high freeboard to accommodate a large saloon, well built with some might say overbuilt GRP work, at a time when resin costs were sky rocketing again it is easy to see why lighter designs, particularly from France were so much more profitable.
A Heavenly Twins HT27 cruising catamaran in the slings at Southsea Marina, Portsmouth for a marine pre-purchase survey. These sturdy cruising catamarans are often used for low budget blue water cruising as they offer a huge amount of accommodation for a relatively low cost with their small length – thus making mooring fees, hoisting fees and ancillary maintenance costs much lower than one might find with larger yachts. This type has been found to be very stable and several of the type have made long distance passages without incident. As with any older vessel, a marine surveyor is on the look out for structural issues, this one had major GRP work to the bridgedeck area some years ago by JWS Marine Services in Southsea. Rudders can also be an issue with this design, often appearing fairly weak and in need of reinforcement.
A Jeanneau Sunrise 34 undergoing a marine survey for insurance purposes at Gosport Boatyard. These Jaques Fauroux designs were moderate in displacement, beam, sail area and shape, giving a comfortable boat to sail with no major vices, being much less beamy than more modern designs. Jeanneau started building in GRP in 1958 and the Jeanneau Sunrise model production ran from 1984 to 1989 with over 600 of the type manufactured. Jeanneau are now part of the Beneteau Group, having been briefly run as a cooperative. This model design with one double aft cabin are very good value on the second hand market. Typical areas for a marine surveyor to be wary of are the underwater surfaces having high moisture content and/or blistering, although being a single skin construction below the waterline there is no concern of moisture within the core below waterline. Keel studs are typically encapsulated with GRP and are therefore not an issue, and the cored deck can often have areas of high moisture which requires monitoring.
A Hallberg Rassy 40 in the water at Hamble Point Marina, Hamble for a Tonnage Measurement Survey for British Registration. The tonnage measurement is fairly straightforward, accurately measuring the length overall excluding bow rollers and other overhangs, the max beam excluding rubbing strips, and then the depth at half length. The depth measurement is less straightforward, requiring the tonnage measurer to estimate the centreline height at deck level excluding the coachroof, thus estimating the deck camber and measuring to the upper side of the keel, or bilge if a keel sump exists. The resulting measurement gives an idea of the volume, or tonnage, of the interior, for holding cargo such as wheat, wine or beer!
A classic Princess 45 by Bernard Olesinski and built by Marine Projects in Plymouth. These timeless designs may be getting elderly but are very much in demand. This particular marine survey at Shamrock Quay in Southampton was for an insurance renewal, often required when vessels are over 20 years old in order to check the structure and systems are safe. With a well built, single skin hull and substantial GRP laminate lay-up, these designs may well outlast more modern lighter alternatives.
Beneteau First 40.7 Survey at Gosport Boatyard. These popular fast cruiser racers came under the spotlight when a tragic keel failure was attributed to the failure of the internal tray matrix, which is bonded to the hull at manufacture. The bonding of the tray matrix to the hull can be difficult to establish and a marine surveyor must be vigilant, checking for any signs of movement, cracking, repairs, internal moisture and careful hammer sounding around the matrix structure.
An X372 by X-Yachts, later replaced by the X362 Sport, and similarly a highly effective IRC racing competitive yacht. The Niels Jeppesen X Yacht range have always been competitive under the IRC rating rule, the X332 in the UK becoming so prevalent in the previous decade a one design fleet often numbered over 30 in key regattas such as the HRSC Winter Series, the WSC Spring Series and Cowes weeks. The cored GRP construction adds rigidity without excessive weight, although debonding is a key defect for a marine surveyor to check for, by hammer sounding the hull and deck carefully.
A Sunseeker Superhawk 34 marine survey in Saxon Wharf, Southampton. These classic Don Shead / Sunseeker International race derived deep v performance hulls are very much in demand. With a single skin FRP hull and cored decks, these Sunseekers were built very well. With performance capable of over 40 knots, a timeless design.
At the Hornet Services Sailing Club, Gosport, this beautiful Sweden 370 was hoisted for me to conduct a full condition survey, also known as a pre-purchase survey. The Swedish craftsmanship and quality is one of the best, this 1999 model from Sweden Yachts with FRP cored hull and a lead keel was built with no expense spared. 16 years later, the quality of the original manufacture was evident, with no recommendations necessary within the hull and structure sections of the survey report. The Hornet area, adjacent to Haslar Marina in Gosport, is right next to HMS Alliance.
A Sigma 362 Marine Insurance Survey at Universal Marina on the River Hamble. These classic single skin FRP hull David Thomas designed, Marine Projects built cruiser racers in my opinion are under-rated compared with the more well known Sigma 33 OOD and her bigger sister the Sigma 38 OOD. With a little more displacement than your average cruiser / racer, these yachts sail well and rate well under IRC handicap, as I recall clearly when we raced against one called Software Mistress a few years ago!
A Nimbus 3003 Scandinavian quality powerboat in the slings at Gosport Boatyard for a “lunchtime hoist” for a marine survey. These are high quality open plan powerboats, single screw and no surprise, a Volvo Penta single diesel. With large cockpit and a sunroof, the gallery is outside making it fantastic for those lovely summer days.
A Fisher 37 from Northshore Yachts in the Sea Lift at Haslar Marina, Gosport for a marine survey. The sea lift at Haslar Marina is ideal for hoists in the Gosport area of Portsmouth Harbour for 1 hour lifts for the purposes of a marine survey. The Fisher 37 is a heavy traditional motor sailor by Northshore Yachts at Itchenor, who also made the Vancover blue water cruisers and the Southerly range of shallow draft cruisers.
This 1989 Princess 45 Marine Survey for insurance renewal in Hamble reminded me just how good these Bernard Olesinski / Marine Projects craft were. A real pleasure for a Marine Surveyor to inspect, this one had the twin Cats which didn’t leave a lot of room around the engines – the fuel tanks are one weak point.
For a qualified marine surveyor this classic Nordic Folkboat in Lymington was a pleasure to survey. This one by LM Glasfiber of Denmark, unusually had a self draining cockpit, an option from new. This one has been extensively cruised and was in excellent condition. Being over 20 years old, this was an insurance survey for the current owner.
This Contest 55 in Lymington was undergoing a major refurbishment project when as a Marine Surveyor I was asked to supervise the project. The critical moisture level below the waterline was accurately established using the latest testing equipment, reading both the laminate and the internal end grain balsa core, prior to a full epoxy treatment with WEST system 105.
Dehler 36 CWS marine survey for insurance renewal at Hythe Marina Village. These Dehlers were built to last, the quality of these elder boats is well known and hence they fetch very respectable prices when they come onto the market, compared with more recent yachts and other marques.
Sealine SC38 Marine Survey at Swanwick Marina on the River Hamble. These popular UK built sports cruisers have a fully opening sunroof over the cockpit and helm position plus overhead hatches allowing plenty of light below in the saloon.
Beneteau First 47.7 Yacht Marine Survey in Hamble. This Beneteau First designed by Bruce Farr and built by Beneteau as a performance cruiser racer has been well travelled, including two Atlantic trips and a long stay in the Caribbean. Recently resprayed in Awlcraft by Desty Marine in Hamble she represents an excellent value fast cruiser.
Discovery 67 yacht marine survey at Berthon Boatyard Lymington. The Discovery range of solid cruisers are one of the best from British boat builders. These long range capable yachts have cruised the world in style, this one already has an ARC behind her. Equipped with all the luxury equipment including a/c to make life onboard pleasant.
Contest 50CS Marine Survey in Medemblik, Holland where she was originally built. This great go anywhere cruiser was being sold by the original owner, who has already cruised the world in her. In great condition and ready to go around the world again, one of my favourite cruisers!
A Southerly 49 shallow draft pilot house saloon with in mast roller furling and staysail option. These solid cruisers by Northshore have twin rudders to take the ground in the shallowest of waters. This particular example has already been down the Canal du Midi, possibly one of the largest yachts to do so.
Oyster 485 from 1994 in immaculate condition. A thorough maintenance programme on this blue water cruiser has kept her in great condition. These British built go anywhere cruisers are world renowned for their high quality and sea keeping qualities.
A Princess 45 marine survey in Hamble Point Marina. These classic Bernard Olesinski designs are sought after for their legendary sea keeping qualities. Built by Marine Projects in Plymouth, the structure is still strong after 26 years.
Bavaria 44 Yacht Marine Survey at Universal Marina on the River Hamble. These high volume mass produced budget cruisers have taken the market by storm since the early 2000’s. Popular with charter operators and the private buyer and offering exceptional value.